Home » 2001 Cross Country Road Trip

Whistler, BC

Monday, July 23, 2001 - 9:00am by Lolo
170 miles and 3.5 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


A large part of our trips involve National and State Parks, and they are truly some of the most beautiful places on earth. But they are places to visit, not places that people, except for park rangers, call home. That's what made Whistler so incredible to us. People actually lived and worked and went about their daily lives in this outdoor paradise. We've felt that way a few times before and since, in such cities as Moab, Utah; Breckenridge, Colorado; and Jasper, Alberta. What was it about these places that had such a draw for us? It was more than just their natural beauty--it was attitude. There was such a sense of vitality and enthusiasm in them. They seemed to function with a whole different set of priorities and criteria for success than you'd find in a metropolitan area. Completing a difficult rock climb or mastering a new mountain biking skill were more important than how much money you made or the kind of car you drove. As a result, these places attracted young (and young at heart) outdoor enthusiasts in great shape that loved nature and all the recreational opportunities it had to offer. I'm sure we, as well as our kids when they are out of college, will wind up living in a place such as this someday.

Mountain Bikers at WhistlerMountain Bikers at WhistlerEnough with the philosophizing. We arrived at Whistler late morning after driving the very scenic Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) from Vancouver. The kids were quite excited about this stop as they had heard that there was snowboarding on a small section of the mountain as well as mountain biking down the ski trails. It was Tommy's 10th birthday, so we wanted to make it good. Not sure where to start, or where to stay, we stopped at the Visitor Center to get some information about camping and recreational activities. Lucky we did. Based on our campground guides, we thought there were no campgrounds in the Whistler area. At the Visitor Center we learned about a new campground, the Riverside RV Resort and Campground just a few miles north of Whistler Village. It was probably one of the nicest commercial campgrounds we've even been to. Our site was right on the beautiful glacier-fed Fitzsimmons Creek with spectacular views of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. The Whistler Valley Mountain Bike Trail passed right by our site and provided us with a great way to get into the Village. This campground even had winterized sites so that RVs could camp here in the winter and ski at what is one of the premier ski resorts in all of the North America.

This was great. After the rough couple of days we'd been through, things were finally picking up. Since it was Tommy's birthday, we hopped on our mountain bikes and rode the Whistler Valley Trail into the Village. Tommy already had his destination in mind--the Adventure Zone, a kind of extreme outdoor amusement park. Although not cheap, it certainly was fun. The kids both tried the rock climbing wall and then had a great time bungee jumping on a trampoline, where they went about 25 feet in the air and did some midair flips. Very fun.

The next morning we decided to do the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, which had more than 100 miles of trails down the mountain, theoretically for all levels of rider. From the lift ticket line, we had a great view of the mountain, which might not have been a good thing. We watched in awe as bikers, many of them clad in full-body armor, came barreling down the trails, leaping off rock edges, hopping over rocks and logs, catching air, and numerous other unthinkable things. What were we getting ourselves into? All four of us were pretty experienced mountain bikers and had even done some quite technical stuff in the past, but this was definitely something new.

We glanced over at Tommy, who had just turned 10 yesterday, leaning confidently against his Toys R Us bike. Knowing that bike would never survive the jarring of these trails, we went to the rental shop and asked for the smallest bike they had. Now we were ready to hit the trails, hopefully, not literally. We brought our bikes onto a gondola which whisked us up the mountain to the start of the trails. As we were deciding on our best route down, we overheard some people talking about black bear sightings. Oh great, like I really needed something to add to my anxiety level.

There were trails for all levels of rider and they were marked just like on the ski slopes--green circle for beginner, blue square for intermediate, and black diamond for expert. We wisely chose a beginner trail. Good thing, because the expert ones included riding off of steep rock faces and flying through the air for about 20 feet. Even the beginner ones were pretty tough--very steep and twisty with rocks and logs to get over. I never thought going downhill could be so tiring, but my arms were exhausted by the end of the day from gripping the brakes so hard and making the tight turns.

After a few successful descents and a little more confidence, we decided to try one of the skill centers to practice some technical stuff. Like the trails themselves, the skill centers were also designed for each different ability level. Once again, we wisely chose beginner. I don't even want to know what the expert one looked like. The skill center gave us the opportunity to ride our bikes along narrow planks, including 90 degree turns, across see-saw ramps, over obstacles, etc. A lot of it is up in your head. If you're not willing to commit, you're not going to do it. Amazingly enough, Tommy on his rental bike was doing it, and quite well at that. Andrew, always the humble one, referred to this experience as demonstrating his "non skills." I didn't do too good either.

It really was a great day and lots of fun! Whistler is definitely a place to come back to.


Whistler, the premier ski resort of North America, is located about 2 hours east of Vancouver. Getting to Whistler is part of the fun. The spectacular Sea to Ski Highway (officially Highway 99), which is considered to be Canada's most scenic road, begins at sea level in Vancouver, hugs the coastal mountains along the shores of Howe Sound, and then ascends into the spectacular lake and mountain country of Whistler.

Although Whistler is mainly known for its winter activities, it is also becoming a popular summer resort for outdoor enthusiasts with such activities as canoeing, kayaking, and rafting the glacier-fed rivers and lakes in the valley, fishing, golfing in one of its 4 designer golf courses, hiking, and mountain biking.

Whistler Village, which lies in a beautiful valley at the base of the mountain, is very compact and best explored on foot or bike. Miles of paved bike trails connect everything in the village and the surrounding area. The Adventure Zone, located in the heart of the Village, has lots of activities for kids of all ages, such as mini golf, a rock climbing wall, bungee jumping on trampolines, a trapeze, and much more.

Whistler is also a mountain biker's heaven. Besides the miles and miles of trails along the rivers and lakes of the valley, there is the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, where there are over 100 miles of trails down the mountain. Lift tickets for the gondola are about $39 for an adult and $35 for a youth over 12 (Canadian dollars). There are trails for every level of rider, from gentle cruises through a forest for the beginner to steep rock faces and twisty turns for the expert. Besides the trails, there are 3 skill centers with obstacles and ramps, each designed for a different ability level.

A few miles north of Whistler Village is the Riverside RV Resort and Campground, located in a beautiful setting on the glacier-fed Fitzsimmons Creek with spectacular view of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. The Whistler Valley Trail runs through forests and along the river right through the campground and then on to the Village. There is also a complimentary shuttle service to Whistler Village. The campground is open all year round and has log cabins and winterized RV sites.

Whistler location map in "high definition"

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