In Whistler the ski slopes and après patios are great places to catch up with friends, but not everyone skis and sometimes it’s nice to get away from town for a while.
Beyond the village there’s plenty of places to escape and the Callaghan Valley, located just 20 minutes south of Whistler by car or shuttle, is the perfect example. It’s close enough for an easy day trip but far enough to be away from it all, it’s right out in nature and there’s a ton of things to do once you get there – perfect for just hanging out.
Earlier this winter the girls from @GoWhistler and I took an early day from work to get some much needed fresh air and chill time. It was a brilliant afternoon filled with memorable moments, from the road trip to watching ski jumper soar, wandering the snow-covered forest and lazy fireside chats. Check out the photos from our adventures below.
The minute we turned off Highway 99 to drive up to the Callaghan Valley it felt like the adventure had begun. Directions to the Callaghan Valley are here – it’s a short drive but note winter tires and winter driving skills are essential. Option B – grab a shuttle from Whistler.
Ski Callaghan combines two massive recreation areas known as Callaghan Country and Whistler Olympic Park. The Whistler Olympic Park side (the one with the genuine bonafide Olympic Games signs everywhere) has the best access to all the activities, so we pulled in there.
Basecamp for the Day
Love this daylodge – washrooms, yummy food, gear and the start of all the trails. It makes for a fun community feel with everyone gearing up and heading out from the same place, and the staff are super friendly and helpful. There’s a big patio too – a little snowy the day we went but perfect for people watching on a sunny day.
The amount of gear you can rent here is phenomenal! Cross country skis, toboggans, fat bikes, snowshoes and even Chariots on skis for parents who want to tow their kids on the nordic skiing trails. Lessons also provided for people like me who have never seen cross country skis before…
Need for Speed: Bromley Baseboarding
One of the totally unique things you can do out here is Bromley Baseboarding. None of us had ever tried it so we figured it was a must do to get our blood pumping after sitting in the office all day. It’s a super fun, no-experience-needed sliding activity on a custom made track through snowy trees. It’s only accessible by chairlift so that gives you an idea of the elevation.
The Bromley Baseboarding guides give you plenty of instruction on how to go fast (and slow down) using your body and the sled. There’s plenty of time to play on the practice track before you graduate to the bigger, longer, steeper runs. Sarah and I get schooled while below Em showed us how it was done (so serious!).
Once you get your technique dialled and move onto the real tracks you’ll find them LONG and FAST – Em was far gone before I even had the camera ready. Those trees though…
The baseboard track ends at the ski jumps. We timed it perfectly to catch the practice session for the Canadian Ski Jumping Team, so here we are chilling between laps and watching them soar. These guys take off at over 80km/h and soar over 100m on each jump.
Our next need was for some cardio, so Em grabbed rental snowshoes, Sarah and I strapped on our own and we headed out from the Callaghan Country side to find Alexander Falls, one of the Sea to Sky’s gorgeous waterfalls.
I love snowshoeing. It’s so easy to do, and it can take you to some absolutely beautiful places in winter that you can’t reach by car or normal hiking. With all the fresh snow out that day it didn’t take us long to find ourselves deep in the silence of this magical forest – not another soul around.
A little up, a little down and we made it to Alexander Falls which was almost completely frozen. The viewpoint was the perfect snack and snow play spot too.
Here Sarah inspects dreamy pillows of fresh snow on the return leg. We’re definitely not getting our breath back on an uphill climb. (Side note, did you know that getting outdoors is good for your health?)
Adventures After Dark
By the time we got back to the lodge the daylight was fading rapidly…but Wednesday nights at the Callaghan they turn on the lights until 9 PM for skiing, snowshoeing and fatbiking when conditions are right – plus you can explore other trails with your own headlamp if you feel adventurous.
There’s something extra special about being in the snow at night-time. It’s quiet, the light reflects through the clouds and falling snow dances gently in pools of light.
There were plenty of people out and about with groups and families sliding and chatting under the lights. The $5 Wednesday specials on entry, rental and skiing make the evening attractive and affordable – not a bad way to spend a night at all.
To round off a perfect day, we sought out the firepit to warm up. They keep this going on Wednesday nights, and everyone is welcome to toast marshmallows and hotdogs here. The firepit is right by the well-lit toboganning area, making it a great spot for parents to keep warm while the kids play.
After all that sliding, spectating, snowshoeing and hanging out at the firepit we headed back to the lodge for a bite to eat . Did we sleep well after this? You betcha – dreaming of next time we come out. Fatbiking or cross country skiing with the dogs – who’s in?
Whistler’s got a ton of things to offer away from the ski slopes. Learn more about discovering winter beyond the village at Whistler.com and for more memorable moments, follow @GoWhistler on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Images thanks to Pip Campbell and Emily Smith.