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Whistler/Blackcomb In The Off-Season: The Best Time To Go?

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From fly fishing to skiing, golf to bicycling, shopping to hiking — I think spring in Whistler is the best time to visit

In This Whistler/Blackcomb Article You Will Discover:

  • The Best Time to Visit Whistler/Blackcomb
  • Whistler Fly Fishing 101
  • Spring Skiing At Blackcomb
  • And More!

En route to Whistler Village’s Hot Buns Bakery for a Banana Nut Crepe, I pass a man carrying skis and wearing shorts and flip-flops.

Yes, skis in one hand, ski boots and snowpants in the other — and flip-flops on his feet. No image could sum up Whistler/Blackcomb in May better than that.

Here I am, peeling off layers in the mid-teen-degree-Celsius Whistler Valley weather, and just 1,000 metres above, it’s snowing in a winter wonderland. I had been skiing two days ago and fly fishing yesterday. This is why I love visiting Whistler in May. When it comes to outdoor adventure – you’ve got options!

Spring Skiing

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Blackcomb has awesome skiing well into May.

While the arguably more famous Whistler Mountain shuts down at the end of April, its doppelganger, Blackcomb, stays open each year right until the end of May, thanks to the massive glaciers the mountain is famous for.

For those of you who haven’t skied Blackcomb: don’t go thinking it’s Whistler’s ugly sister. This mountain is every bit as fantastic, virtually as enormous and actually preferred over Whistler by many locals. At 2,284 metres in elevation (7,494 feet), Blackcomb offers 100-plus trails, 17 lifts, 1,382 hectares of terrains (3,414 acres), three terrain parks and at least one run that’s a whopping 11 km long! Most of this is open right until the end of the year too — weather dependent. As of May 9 of this year, Blackcomb still had over 300 centimetres of snow pack, meaning skiers and riders can still downhill from the top of the 7th Heaven right into Whistler Village.

Often, spring skiing on Blackcomb means above-zero temperatures, blue ski, wonderful corn snow and goggle tans — but watch for heinous fog banks that blanket the mountain. Spring brings the pea-soup too…

Perhaps best of all is the utter lack of crowds in May. In December, one can spend half the day in lift lines, but as I saw last weekend in Blackcomb, May is a veritable ghost town on the hill… double that on weekdays. Expect non-stop laps.

Finally, May has the cheapest lift ticket prices of the year too — $55, as opposed to more than $70 in the peak winter season.

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An 18-inch cutthroat caught on Alta Lake in May on a sculpin pattern fly.

Whistler Fly Fishing

Would you believe it was actually fly fishing that brought visitors to Whistler in the first place? And thankfully, the fishing has only gotten better — owed to a lake stocking program run by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. Local lakes are stocked regularly with hard-fighting rainbow and cutthroat trout. While most lakes are catch-and-release, there are a few (Lost Lake) where you’re allowed to take a trout home for dinner, so make sure your hotel room has a kitchenette. (Check the BC Fishing Regulations first.)

In May, stop by Whistler Fly Fishing to stock up on your leeches and baitfish flies — if you’re unsure, you can even hire a fishing guide for the day. But if you’ve cast a few flies in your time, take the three- to five-weight rod, some light leader and three-pound tippet and start your day at Alta Lake, less than a kilometer southeast of Whistler Town Centre. Here, you can cast right off the Fairhurst Fishing Dock, at Alta Lake Park, and hit some 15-inch plus cutthroat trout.

In May, these trout are voracious — eagerly striking at big, bushy flies that pass by their jaws. Belly boats, canoes and pontoon boats will put you into even more fish. (Canoe rentals are available at Alta Lake.)

From there, you can wade the shoreline of Green Lake — try the mouth of the River of Golden Dreams, at the south end of the lake and accessed from the Nicklaus North subdivision — or head to Lost Lake, right in Whistler’s Upper Village, for some late-afternoon casting. Again, shoreline fishing is an option but a belly boat will work better. There are many more lakes to choose from — Nita and Alpha, for two — and great river fishing throughout the Sea-to-Sky Corridor as well.

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Take leeches, baifish patterns and you can even try chironomids. Don’t understand? Hire a guide!

Penny Pincher’s Delight

In May, hotel accommodation right on the Village Stroll in Whistler can easily be had for less than $100 per night. Try that in December! It’s one of the best hotel bargains in BC at this time of year. Furthermore, local retails shops have their end-of-year blowout sales in May, with special prices on last-year’s ski and snowboard equipment as well. Further, while all the restaurants Whistler is famous for are still open — none are too busy, so dining reservations are rarely needed. For those interested in the gastronomical side of Whistler/Blackcomb, Dine In Whistler runs until June 30 of this year — where three-course meals can be had for as low as $19 at select restaurants.

Finally, for the golfer: Nicklaus North has special low rates in May: $99 per round, as opposed to $150 in summer; and Whistler Golf Club offers rates at $109 per round, about a 30 per cent discount from summer.

Yes — Affordable Whistler is not an oxymoron. In May, anyway.

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Also Read: Trading Snow For Sun: Why You Should Visit A Ski Town In Summer

About the author: David Webb is a Vancouver, BC-based travel writer, photographer and magazine editor.

6 comments… add one
  • Skying and fishing…can there be a better combination?

  • Douglas Mar 4, 2014

    Hello there! This is my first visit to your blog!

    We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in
    a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us beneficial information to work
    on. You have done a marvellous job!

  • Mikes Sep 5, 2011

    I think this is one of the best opportunity to ride on the whistler who are making a plan to visit some where in the holidays they can go there.

  • Erin May 10, 2011

    Also Whistler Yoga Conference takes place in May.
    A great conference for the experienced Yogi!

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