Posted by: Pip Campbell
PHOTO Blake Jorgenson / Destination BC
A ride in the cheery red cabins of the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola is one of the most iconic things to do here in Whistler, summer or winter. Visible from Whistler Village as a delicate string of beads stretching from mountain to mountain, the appeal of riding the gondola is clear but how one actually gets up there? Not so obvious.
We’ve collected some of the frequently asked questions about sightseeing on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains into a handy guide to the ultimate day in the alpine. So grab your cameras and smart phones and let’s go…
The Basics | Tickets Times | Know Before You Go | Get to the Gondola | The Ride | On the Mountains
What is the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola?
The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola links Blackcomb and Whistler, the two mountains that make up part of our skiing, biking and hiking paradise. It’s a feat of engineering boasting the longest unsupported lift span in the world (3.024 kilometres or 1.88 miles). It’s also the highest lift of its kind with an elevation of 436 metres (1,427 ft). Needless to say with those numbers it offers some pretty spectacular views of the village, valley and surrounding mountains – 360 degree views in fact.
Where do I get tickets?
The tickets to ride the gondola are called PEAK 2 PEAK 360 Experience tickets and they can be purchased online in advance with or without accommodation, at the Whistler Visitors Centre (on the day only) or at any Whistler Blackcomb Guest Relations office or ticket booth, located at the base of the lifts.
Insider Tip: Purchase and pick up tickets the day before you plan to go up to save time – straight to the lifts, no messing around. If you buy them with accommodation the tickets can be delivered direct to your hotel.
How much are tickets?
Check out the current advanced ticket price – note tickets bought on the day are a little more expensive, which is another reason to buy early.
I’ve got a season pass for the Whistler Bike Park – can I take a day off biking and ride the PEAK 2 PEAK?
Absolutely. If you hold a bike park season pass for the current year OR a winter seasons pass, you get unlimited access to the PEAK 2 PEAK and can go straight to the lift with your RFID card. There are also discounts for EDGE cardholders, Twilight pass holders and multi-day bike park passes – pop in to Whistler Blackcomb Guest Relations to get the discount on your PEAK 2 PEAK tickets.
Sunshine and wildflowers: A picturesque day in the alpine.
What does the ticket include?
The ticket includes much more than just the ride on the PEAK 2 PEAK. It also get you:
- Access to all the open-air chairlifts and gondolas operating that day including upload, download, the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, the 7th Heaven chair and the Peak Chair
- A behind-the-scenes look at the machinery and incredible engineering behind the Gondola from the PEAK 2 PEAK Viewing Gallery
- Inspiring alpine videos and talks in the Samsung Alpine Theatre (times vary)
- The 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games display inside the Roundhouse Lodge (Whistler Mountain)
- On-mountain dining for purchase at multiple restaurants on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains
- Access to over 50 km of hiking, running and interpretive walking trails in summer
Good to Know: You can go back and forth on the gondola as many times as you like to soak up the views while it is operating but your ticket is only valid for a single upload – so once you come down from the mountains you cannot go back up on the same ticket. Ask at Whistler Blackcomb’s Guest Services about a seasons pass if you think you might like the flexibility to come and go.
What are the operating dates and times for the gondola?
Check out our mountain hours of operation for more information – the times vary during the year. The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola closes for scheduled maintenance at regular intervals, usually during quieter months so check the dates as you plan your trip to avoid disappointment.
The Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler is open over summer with washrooms, restaurants and patios, shops and more.
Where should I park for the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola?
The closest parking to the lifts is in the Day Lots, located between the Upper Village and the Village Stroll. It’s less than 10 minutes walk to the lifts from the free lots 4 and 5 or approximately 5 minutes from the paid lots 1 and 2.
What should I wear to go sightseeing?
Weather conditions and temperatures will change as you go from Whistler Village in the valley to the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola in the alpine. It is often 5 – 10 degrees (celcius) cooler on the mountain, and layers are recommended so you can adjust your temperature accordingly – check out the alpine weather conditions on the day for a better idea of what to expect. A light jacket can help cut wind chill and comfortable closed shoes can stop your toes getting cool as you ride the chairlifts – they are also great for walking around on the mountain top.
In summer the sun can be strong up high so sunscreen and a hat and sunglasses are recommended – just be careful they don’t fall off when you are peering down from the chairlift! In winter time you will need to walk through the snow to get to the terminal so dress warmly and wear waterproof boots with good soles for comfort.
Do I need to bring anything else?
A sense of adventure and your camera or phone for photos are a good start! There are restaurants, washrooms and shops on the mountains. If you plan to hike the alpine trails other gear is recommended such as sturdy shoes, food and water as well as a trail map.
From the Roundhouse Lodge it’s a short hike down to the Peak Chair which whisks you up to Whistler Peak for yet another viewpoint.
Right. I have my tickets. How do I get up there?
The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola terminals are approximately two-thirds up the mountains so to get there you need to walk up and down. Just kidding! You can choose to upload Whistler Mountain via the Whistler Village Gondola that leaves from Skier’s Plaza OR upload Blackcomb Mountain via the open-air chairlifts on that leave from the Upper Village. You can download either way and you don’t need extra tickets for these lifts, it’s all included in the price.
PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola Map courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb.
The access points vary from season to season – the open air chairs are only available in summer. Spring, fall and winter upload is by the enclosed Whistler Village Gondola only.
Insider Tip: Make it a loop – go up Whistler, across the PEAK 2 PEAK and down Blackcomb. Or vice versa! Visitors who are wary of heights may prefer to stick to the enclosed Whistler Village Gondola cabins.
Can I upload at the Creekside Gondola?
The Creekside Gondola is running for sightseeing and bike park access, but it does not connect to the PEAK 2 PEAK at this stage. You need to purchase a separate sightseeing ticket to ride up the Creekside Gondola to the Raven’s Nest.
There’s nothing quite like uploading on Blackcomb Mountain on a chairlift – keep your eyes open for bears on the way up.
Do I need to book a time to board the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola?
No. There are no reservations required for the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola as it runs continuously during the day. Simply upload and walk the short distance to the terminal to catch your ride.
Do I only get one shot at riding the gondola?
You can go back and forth on the gondola as many times as you like to soak up the views while it is operating – plenty of time to check out the views on all sides, take photos and simply enjoy the ride. If it is busy you might be asked to disembark on either side so other visitors can take their turn.
Will I need to wait in line?
It depends on how many people are on the mountain that day – wait times vary. Lines are usually longer on weekends and during holiday periods so you might need to allow yourself extra time to board the gondola.
Insider Tip: Go midweek to avoid the busiest times.
Glaciers, forests, meadows and scree – just a few of the incredible alpine features visible from the gondola.
How long does it take to ride the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola?
The gondola ride is 11 minutes long, making it 22 minutes if you want to go for a round-trip. However (here’s the important part) it takes approximately 25 minutes upload to the PEAK 2 PEAK and 25 minutes to return to the Village. So we recommended you leave at least 2 hours for the sightseeing experience to give you time to upload, ride the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola and return to the Village.
If you plan on doing any of the other things included in your ticket (dining, hiking, viewing the gallery, riding the Peak Chair) or taking lots of photographs then give yourself more time. That way you can avoid scurrying to make your tee-time/dinner reservation/massage appointment.
The PEAK 2 PEAK stops running overnight, so uploading after 3 PM isn’t recommended as it means you will be hustling to catch the last ride of the day – or could miss out on the gondola ride altogether.
Insider Tip: Go up early, plan to stay the day. Why rush?
Is it the best ice cream spot in Whistler? Locally made Lucia Gelato served on the mountain top.
What exactly is there to see up there?
All the majesty. At higher elevations the landscape completely changes and this sightseeing trip is a fantastic way to experience the pure and rugged beauty of the Canadian Coast Mountains. In summer time the forest makes way to wildflower meadows and scree slopes, boulder fields and towering peaks like the mighty Black Tusk. You can discover jewel-like hanging lakes under distant peaks and massive glaciers in ancient valleys. Depending on the day you might see wildlife: bears, deer, marmots, chipmunks and whiskey jacks are common. You also get a great view of the Village, plus watch people hiking, biking, climbing and more. We did a post on the unique things you can see and do in the alpine in summer, check out the photos for a better idea of what’s up there.
In winter the mountains are covered in snow and the chances of seeing wildlife are greatly reduced, but there’s nothing like gliding above the ski fields on a bluebird day and watching the skiers and boarders fly past below.
Good to Know: Every day is different and on very cloudy days the views can be partially or completely obscured. It’s still an amazing feeling being up there in the mist and the clouds but if you desire blue skies keep an eye on the weather when planning which day you are going to go up.
The PEAK 2 PEAK is also open for sightseeing in winter – no skis or snowboard required.
Is there anywhere to eat?
Absolutely – each mountain has several restaurants for casual and full service dining. It’s safe to say the on-mountain patios have some of the best views in town, so a meal or even an ice-cream break up here is well worth it.
Friday, Saturday and Sundays during summer you can stay up in the evenings and have dinner with the Mountain Top BBQ Series – a separate ticket is required for this and it pays to pack a light jacket in case the temperature drops as the sun sets.
Bring your own picnic or choose from casual or full service dining options with views like this on Blackcomb Mountain.
Are there any hiking trails on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain?
Yes, there is a trail network on each mountain, offering a range of trails from short loops on easy gravel paths to longer more technical hikes to hidden lakes and lookouts. Depending how much time you have you can choose a short loop of an hour or less or a more advanced hike (2 – 4+ hours). View the Whistler and Blackcomb trail maps and stay tuned for our Insider’s guide to alpine hiking, coming shortly.
Is there anything we missed? Let us know in the comments below. For more ideas on what to do this summer from lakes to peak, visit Whistler.com.