Largest Skiable Terrain

Whistler Blackcomb, or just Whistler, is undoubtedly one of the most well known resorts in the world. Located on the incredibly beautiful Canadian West Coast, 2 hours from Vancouver, Whistler Blackcomb brings life to the phrase “sea-to-sky”. When you visit Whistler, a short drive is the only thing separating the mountain and the Pacific Ocean.

Once two separate ski areas, the Whistler and Blackcomb peaks were joined together in 2003. These ski areas were both so large that they were 2 of the top 5 largest ski resorts in North America respectively. Combined, Whistler Blackcomb is now the largest ski resort in North America.

That size means a heck of a lot of terrain for any kind of skier and rider. With 467+ inches of snowfall each year, it’s no wonder Whistler is considered one of the best ski resorts in the world.

Let’s get into it and see what all that terrain at Whistler Blackcomb is all about.

Fun Fact: The town of Whistler was so named for the native population of Hoary Marmots, who make a very loud and shrill whistling noise! The first surveyors of the area heard this call, and the Whistler name stuck!

4.7

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Whistler Blackcomb is huge. There’s no shortage of terrain for every level of rider.
  • check-mark
    Whistler is a year-round destination, so the amenities in town are lively, well kept, and there’s no shortage of things to do.
  • check-mark
    The resort is streamlined. The lifts are great, the mountain is well organized, the staff is professional.
  • check-mark
    Epic pass access creates good value for multi-day visits.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markEveryone knows about Whistler, expect insane crowds on peak days of the season.
  • check-markAs a coastal climate mountain, the snow can be wet and heavy, and storms can create whiteout conditions.
  • check-markDay passes are over $100 per pass.

Where to Book:

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort Bottom Line

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort 2023 Guide

Resort Profile

  • Chairlifts: 37 incl. 5 gondolas, 2 high-speed six packs, 12 high-speed quads, 3 fixed-grip chairlifts, and 15 surface lifts.
  • Avg. Snowfall: 467+ inches
  • Season: mid-Nov to mid-May
  • Runs: 200
  • Beginner: 20%
  • Intermediate: 55%
  • Advanced/Expert: 25%
  • Whistler Vertical: 2,140-7,160 ft
  • Blackcomb Vertical: 2,140-7,992 ft
  • Kids Ski School: from 3-12 and 13-18 years old.
  • Accommodations: Multiple hotels and rentals located in the village.
  • Daycare: On site.
See the complete list of the best Ski Resorts here!
Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort Profile

The Resort

The thing about Whistler Blackcomb is that if you aren’t able to find riding here that you love, it probably doesn’t exist. This is because with over 8,000 skiable acres of terrain, Whistler Blackcomb is the biggest ski resort in North America. What was once two separate resorts, competing for business, has now become a unified mega-resort that has a massive amount of terrain from easy to expert.

Whistler Blackcomb has 8,171 skiable acres of terrain with 7,169 feet of vertical. Within this, you’ll find over 200 marked runs, and the ability to get into the backcountry. The resort receives an average of 467 inches of snow per year, which is absolutely absurd when you put it in perspective (yeah, that’s like 40 feet).

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort

Be prepared for snow that’s a little different, though. If you’re visiting from states like Colorado or Utah, the light, fluffy blower powder you’re used to is not the norm in Whistler. Whistler Blackcomb is so close to the coast that it falls into the maritime snowpack climate. This means that the snow has a higher moisture content, so it’s heavier and wetter.

Backcountry skiers rejoice as this correlates to a far more stable snowpack than we experience in the continental zones. The other side of this coin means that frequent and heavy storms blow in off the water, dumping wet, concrete snow and creating nasty conditions for visibility. Though with plenty of sunny days per year you can expect to have some beautiful bluebird days to get deep in the plentiful snow the coastal weather brings.

Should you be caught in bad weather, don’t worry, your trip isn’t over. There are several gondolas that don’t just service the base area. You can get to quite a few more sheltered places on the mountain in the comfort of an enclosed gondola.

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort Cable Cars

The resort is serviced by an extensive and modern system of lifts that total almost 40 lifts and gondolas between Whistler and Blackcomb peaks. Getting from the base areas to skiing is easy with great gondola access. One of the best gondolas is the Peak 2 Peak gondola which spans between the two peaks.

With many of the lifts in Whistler’s employ being high-speed six-packs and quads, you’ll be able to get around the mountain quickly. This is a great feature of the resort, as one of the downsides tends to be the crowds. Whistler didn’t become one of the top destination ski resorts in the world without also accruing quite the following. Every year visitors flock to Whistler Blackcomb, making it almost un-skiable on some peak days of the season. It would seem that this is the norm for many resorts now, so just plan accordingly and aim to visit on non-peak weeks.

It feels almost futile to try and discuss skiing options for different levels of riders. Whistler Blackcomb is so expansive and diverse that they don’t have a trail map, they have a trail atlas. We won’t try to distill the massively variable terrain of Whistler Blackcomb into this article, but know that there is more than enough riding for every skill level to keep you busy for an entire season or more.

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort Landscape

For riders that are on the cusp of advancing their skills to new heights, Whistler is a great place to be. There are easier blues and easier blacks amongst the more challenging runs, making this resort a great place to access a huge amount of terrain that will challenge you to progress without throwing you in over your head.

Beginners will have access to terrain that suits their ability level at both Whistler Peak and Blackcomb Peak, however, sticking to Whistler is probably a better bet. There are purpose-built greens at Whistler, whereas the greens at Blackcomb are a bit more of an afterthought, with less interesting terrain, and often resulting in ending up on a cat track.

Whistler’s best beginner area is probably the Ego Bowl. This is a great area to move away from the bunny hills and get into the middle mountain. The Ego Bowl area is actually sectioned off for beginners, so you won’t have to worry about more advanced riders flying past you. Don’t cordon yourself off to just one area though, try heading up the Peak or Harmony chairs to access one of the best beginner runs in North America: Burnt Stew Trail. This run is scenic, long, wide, and mellow, making it a great way for beginners to get a taste of the big mountain while staying comfortably within their ability level.

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort Skiers

To our intermediate riders: just get to Whistler Blackcomb! Over 50% of the resort is dedicated to intermediates. This means you have over 100 runs to explore. You could likely spend an entire season finding new ways to explore the mountain.

Experts will find that they are well served by some challenging terrain at Whistler. If you need steep chutes, cliffs, and terrifying entrances to get your fill, your cup will be overflowing. Experts will find that skiing runs like Couloir Extreme or the S&S Couloir are a rite of passage. The Extreme is a world-renowned run, considered one of the most terrifying in the world. Don’t worry though, the entrance is dependent on conditions, and often you can work out a way into the 50 degree slope without having to drop from the lip.

There’s no shortage of runs that induce an adrenaline surge at Whistler Blackcomb.

If you fancy freestyle riding, Whistler’s park builders are in a class of their own. World-renowned for their incredible features and park management, they build everything from beginner parks to huge features that pros will sharpen their skills on. If you’re new to riding park or just want to dip your toes in, check out the small parks like Big Easy at Blackcomb or the Habitat Parks at Whistler.

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort Intermediate Skiers

Small doesn’t mean boring! These beginner parks have a ton of the same features you would see in a more advanced park, just at a more manageable size. If you’re a seasoned pro, head on over to the Highest Level terrain park, massive features abound for advanced riders only. Even if you can’t ride those features, it’s pretty great to sit off to the side and watch some of the skilled freestyle riders throw huge tricks.

Truly there is no shortage of terrain at Whistler Blackcomb. The resort has everything you could hope to find, and it’s all in one place. Even should you spend an entire season in Whistler, you will likely not exhaust your options for getting down the mountain.

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort Terrain

Getting There

Whistler Blackcomb stretches from the water to the sky above the town of Whistler, British Columbia on the West coast of Canada. If you are visiting by plane, the nearest major city with an international airport is Vancouver on the West Coast. Van is about 120km from Whistler, a roughly 2-hour drive along the beautiful sea-to-sky highway. There are many direct flights to Vancouver from major American cities as well as international locations like London and Sydney.

As of October 1, 2022, COVID-19 border precautions are no longer in effect when entering Canada.

Accommodations

A great part of visiting Whistler Blackcomb, is that you’ll be in one of the premier skiing destinations in the world, but still find that your travel budget is met. Whistler advertises six distinct areas in which you can find great lodging options.

If you’re in the market for mountain vibes and convenience, Whistler Village is probably your best bet. This is a pedestrian exclusive area that is truly the heart of the mountain scene at Whistler. You’ll have a plethora of restaurants, shops and activities at your disposal all within walking distance no matter which lodging option in the village you choose.

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort Accommodation

Similarly convenient and beautiful is the Upper Village, located at the base of the Blackcomb area. Other options that are slightly further off the mountain are those like Whistler Creekside and Whistler Valley, both just short drives from the skiing.

If you are looking for more budget accommodations you would be suited to look at Pemberton. There are still luxury accommodations in Pemberton, but being that you will be about 25 minutes by car from the ski area, you are likely to find slightly more affordable options here.

The truth is, you can’t go wrong. Whistler has recognized that it is a world-renowned destination for both winter and summer activities. As such, the accommodations have all been made immaculately nice so as to provide incredible stays for all who visit.

Pro Tip: If you visit the Whistler Blackcomb website, you’ll find that they offer the lowest price guarantee for booking lodging. No matter what you find, booking it through Whistler Blackcomb’s resort website will get you the best deal. This extends to lift tickets, rentals, lessons, and transport options as well.

Facilities

Whistler is effectively a year-round mountain playground. While you are most likely visiting because you’ve been drawn to world-class skiing, there is no shortage of things to do in town or on the mountain that doesn’t involve clicking into a pair of bindings.

Winter activities include things such as cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating, scenic gondola rides, and snowshoeing. Aside from outdoor pursuits, Whistler has a colorful native history that you should definitely take the time to explore to better understand the cultural history of this area of North America. Check out the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. When you’re done there, delve into the local art scene and kill time exploring museums like the Audain Art Museum.

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort Facilities

If you’re feeling a bit tired from bombing the hill at Whistler Blackcomb, it would be well worth your time and good money spent to stop in for a day spa experience at the Scandinave Spa. You’ll be treated to hot and cold pools, massages, and traditional spa treatments with a Finnish touch.

Whistler is a trendy mountain town, and as such, you’ll find your desire to shop is met. You’ll find stores catering to all you need from daily necessities and clothing to ski gear, luxury items, and souvenirs.

Expect to find all of the traditional amenities at many of the hotels you stay at, including laundry facilities, fitness centers, and breakfast.

Families and Kids

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort Families And Kids

Whistler Blackcomb is a great resort for families and kids. The resort is massive. With over 8000 acres of skiable terrain, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Newer riders and kids will find plenty of interesting and diverse greens to keep them occupied, while the more experienced riders in the family will have no shortage of intense and big terrain to challenge themselves.

As previously mentioned, Whistler operates a great ski school that offers lessons in group and private settings for kids ages 3-12, and teens ages 13-18. Lessons are for both skiing and snowboarding, so no matter what interests your young ones, there’s a professional instructor to get them up to speed in no time!

If your children are too young to ski, or simply haven’t caught the winter sports bug yet, Whistler Blackcomb offers fully-licensed childcare in 3 locations. For your convenience, there are locations at the Whistler base, the Blackcomb base, and the Creekside area. They take children ages 18 months to 4 years, and drop-off times are from 8-10 am each day. Make sure you leave enough time in the morning to fill out their paperwork before hitting the slopes!

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort Kids

For Beginner Riders

Whistler Blackcomb is an incredibly good resort for beginners. There are a great variety of green runs littered across the mountain. Beginner skiers will be able to get themselves down from almost anywhere on the mountain by using a variety of green runs. You also will not be limited to just one mountain if you’re a beginner. Both the Whistler and Blackcomb peaks have a smattering of easy runs to enjoy cruising!

If you’re hoping to learn to ski at Whistler, you almost couldn’t pick a better place. Whistler didn’t become one of the most ubiquitous names in the world of skiing without picking up a world-class staff of ski industry professionals along the way!

Children’s ski school takes kids from ages 3-12 and offers lessons in group and private settings for both skiers and snowboarders. Teen lessons start at age 13 and go up to teens age 18. They will also be able to take both group or private lessons for skiing and snowboarding. The same goes for adults, everyone over 18 will have access to lessons for both skiing and snowboarding in group and private settings.

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort Beginner Riders

Besides the highly skilled instructors, a sweet perk to the lessons at Whistler is that ski school gets to skip the lift lines!

Note that for true beginners, there is the option to purchase a beginner lift ticket. These tickets are $40 for adults and $20 for children. While they do limit you to just a couple of options for lifts and runs, if you are brand new to skiing, a $40 lift ticket surely beats a $200 ticket for runs you won’t even be able to enjoy!

For Snowboarders

Snowboarders and welcome at Whistler! In a lot of ways, Whistler is a snowboarder’s mountain. It’s got everything from wide-open runs, perfect for carving, to glades with deep powder that will allow snowboarders to cut through the trees. Whistler is also known as a world leader in terrain park building. Their park team is made up of some of the best. Snowboarders will find tons of features for freestyle riding across their many parks and pipes.

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort Snowboarders

Apres Ski

When the riding is done, the day is not over, not at Whistler Blackcomb. Whistler has what many have claimed is the best apres scenes in skiing. There are plenty of spots on the mountain, in the village, and in the town of Whistler to kick back and relax after a day on the slopes.

With plenty of options come many different atmospheres as well. If you’re in the mood for something more elegant to relax with a drink, your group would be suited to visit the Garibaldi Lift Co. SKI Magazine once called the Garibaldi Lift Co. one of North America’s best apres bars.

You don’t have to drink with a pinky up in Whistler though if that’s not your vibe. Many skiers at Whistler will appreciate the laid-back atmosphere of Merlin’s Bar & Grill. Merlin’s is an old-school party spot that locals and visitors alike just can’t get enough of.

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort Apres Ski

Heading down into the town of Whistler, you really get to pick your poison. Due to Whistler being a year-round tourism destination, the apres scene is pretty cultivated. You’ll be able to find everything from breweries and taprooms, to bars, clubs and nightlife venues. Check out higher-end options like the Bar at Araxi, or the Ketel One Ice Room if that’s the mood you’re in. For dedicated ski bums looking to blow off steam, head to Moe Joe’s Nightclub or Garfinkle’s.

One of the beautiful things about visiting Whistler Blackcomb is the pedestrian nature of the village. It’s so easy to get around in Whistler that if you aren’t feeling your first apres choice, just mill around town until you find another!

The Bottom Line

Whistler Blackcomb deserves its title as one of the world’s premier ski resorts. The town of Whistler is incredible. It has great accommodations and activities in a beautiful locale in British Columbia. The skiing is otherworldly. The snow is consistent and deep, the season is long, the mountain is massive, and the terrain is world-class. It’s uncommon that one is able to speak in such sweeping generalities, but when considering Whistler Blackcomb it isn’t out of pocket to say: If you can only make it to one ski resort in your life, Whistler Blackcomb is the place to go.

It might go without saying, but this kind of praise doesn’t come cheap. You’re going to want to save your pennies before making a pilgrimage to Whistler. As is de rigueur with modern ski resorts, the cost of “in the village” lodging and lift tickets is getting out of hand. Whistler Blackcomb is accessible on the Epic Pass, though. Provided you make pre-season plans to score an Epic Pass, this can be a very affordable way to ski Whistler Blackcomb.

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort Bottom Line

With the praise of Whistler comes not only the price, but the crowds. Whistler Blackcomb is not a hidden oasis of incredible terrain. While the terrain is incredible, Whistler is consistently in the forefront of the world of skiing, and the people have listened. Where the Epic Pass is resort pro for the cost, it does become a con for the crowds. Epic Pass has seriously increased the influx of visitors to many resorts, Whistler Blackcomb included. On a powder day, or during peak weeks of the year, consider visiting a smaller, independent resort that doesn’t live on a mega pass.

All that being said, we think that Whistler is worth it overall. Plan ahead, save up, take some vacation days, go there on a non-peak week, and you won’t regret it.

A Brief History of Whistler Ski Resort

The town of Whistler, BC sits in a valley between Whistler Peak and Blackcomb Peak. It was first surveyed in the mid-1800s, and traveling through the area would become a principal route for prospectors and trappers. It didn’t take long for rumors of the area’s incredible natural beauty to get out.

whistler-blackcomb-ski-resort-history

The ski area was opened in the 1960s after the location was almost selected for the 1968 Olympics due to its incredible untapped potential. Unfortunately, this Olympic bid fell through, but still, skiing only grew in Whistler! So much so that it was awarded the 2010 Winter Olympics to much fanfare.

Related Reviews

4.7

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Whistler Blackcomb is huge. There’s no shortage of terrain for every level of rider.
  • check-mark
    Whistler is a year-round destination, so the amenities in town are lively, well kept, and there’s no shortage of things to do.
  • check-mark
    The resort is streamlined. The lifts are great, the mountain is well organized, the staff is professional.
  • check-mark
    Epic pass access creates good value for multi-day visits.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markEveryone knows about Whistler, expect insane crowds on peak days of the season.
  • check-markAs a coastal climate mountain, the snow can be wet and heavy, and storms can create whiteout conditions.
  • check-markDay passes are over $100 per pass.

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FAQ

Frequently asked questions

Where is Whistler ski resort?

The town of Whistler is located at the base of the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort, 2 hours East of Vancouver. Busses shuttle back and forth between Whistler and Vancouver daily.

What is the biggest ski resort in North America?

Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America. Joined in 2003, it has 8,171 skiable acres.

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