Vancouver - Whistler

Old Mar 6th, 2023, 08:37 PM
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Vancouver - Whistler

My wife and I are considering doing a Vancouver/Whistler trip in the middle of June while the grandparents watch the kids. We will have about seven days and we will fly into YVR. We are big mountain town people and our favorite spots in the US rockies are Telluride and Jackson Hole. With that being said would it be too much to do a couple of nights in Vancouver, and if so where do you all suggest, and the rest of the time in Whistler? One of the big motivating factors for us is dining, scenic outdoor hikes, and cool weather. I loathe going to mountain towns with no AC in the summer and it is in the high 80s every day. We live in Houston so we get more than our fair share of heat so I go to cooler climates to escape it. Any and all suggestions are welcome, and if anyone feels Whistler is not a good summer destination I am open to that reality. Thanks in advance!
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Old Mar 8th, 2023, 09:38 PM
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Don't everyone answer at once lol. Also if any native Canadians recommend Banf over Vancouver/Whistler I am all ears too.
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Old Mar 12th, 2023, 07:45 AM
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As you see these forums are not very active. Try Tripadvisor
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Old Mar 13th, 2023, 03:13 PM
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You can just call us Canadians. Native Canadians suggests you're looking for Indigenous perspectives, which is amazing, but I think you're just wanting input from folks that live in Canada.

It's true that TripAdvisor is super active and this forum isn't, and I don't know why.

Banff vs Whistler/Vancouver is kind of like apples and oranges. Like the difference between spending time driving around Montana at Glacier National Park, or going to San Francisco with a side trip to Tahoe. They're totally different vibes, they offer different things, and you experience them quite differently.

I have quite a few thoughts. I'll share them shortly in another post - just need to run out, but your question hasn't been forgotten.
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Old Mar 17th, 2023, 11:03 AM
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Some thoughts:

June is still too early for alpine hiking in the Coast Mountains (the mountains in Vancouver and Whistler that hug the Pacific coast all the way to Alaska). The alpine's snowbound until July. But you could easily spend your time between Vancouver and Whistler in June doing lower elevation hikes. Generally temperatures are cool in the morning and evening, but pleasantly warm when the sun is out by day. But you could also get grey, overcast, cool days with some rain. It's essentially the Pacific Northwest, but you don't get thunderstorms or torrential downpours, generally. If it rains, it's often just a light sprinkle. And there's so much hiking and wilderness and rugged mountains right in Vancouver too - it's home to lot of temperate rainforest wilderness, with hikes in the canyons, to waterfalls, and so on.

Take a look at VancouverTrails.com and look at the various hikes in the North Shore (the mountainous suburbs of Vancouver in North Vancouver and West Vancouver at Cypress Mountain, Mount Seymour, and Grouse Mountains) and along the Sea to Sky Highway, the highway connecting Vancouver through Squamish to Whistler and up to Pemberton, the rural community a short drive north to Whistler. There are literally hundreds of hikes. But pay attention to the season of the hikes - each hike listed on that website has the season listed. If the hike says July-October, then it will still be snowbound in June.

I'd also call Whistler more of a resort town than a "mountain town", although it's definitely a community set at the base of the mountains. To me, mountain towns similar to Jackson Hole or Telluride would be Fernie, Nelson, Revelstoke, and Rossland, which are in a part of BC known as the Kootenays, about a day's drive (i.e. 7-9 hours) east of Vancouver. They are authentic mountain towns, perhaps more like Telluride or Jackson Hole, where they once were working class mining towns or forestry/logging towns that are now mountain lifestyle towns that cater to the locals who live there, with fantastic craft breweries, unique locally-owned shops selling local products, vibrant little restaurants, and a resident population who live there to go downhill mountain biking/mountaineering in the summer, and skiiing/snowboarding in the winter. The mountain towns in the Kootenays are generally off the radar of tourists, but are on the radar for serious outdoorsy mountain folk. I'd call them local secrets. They're less famous than Banff or Whistler, but only because the world hasn't discovered them yet.

Whistler didn't exist until some folks from Vancouver decided to build a ski lift there in the 1960s, and then a resort was built there in the 80s and 90s, which then attracted more permanent residents. It's a new community on the world stage. But Whistler as a resort town is a ton of fun. It's more of a work-hard play-hard lifestyle town. While it attracts tourists, it doesn't bring in mass tourism crowds, and generally attracts tourists who are there to play in the mountains. It's also home to lots of families, professional athletes (especially downhill mountain bikers, skiers, snowboarders, and mountaineers) and temporary workers working the ski season (many from Australia). Whistler Village is designed to be walked, they don't allow cars in the village. You leave your car parked the entire time you're there and walk from your hotel to all the restaurants, pubs, cafes, shops, art galleries and spas, as well as to the gondolas and chairlifts that take you up to the alpine where the dramatic mountian scenery is. It's where you go if you want to spend your morning and afternoon hiking, bikking, golfing, or playing (ziplining, bungee jumping, white water raffting, canoeing/kayaking, etc.) and then spend the rest of the day doing apres - drinking beers on the patio, eating really well, partying it up, or pampering yourself at a luxury spa or resort. And then you do it all over again the next day. There are also some famous provincial parks just outside of Whistler that are famous alpine hiking destinations - Garibaldi Provincial Park (home to famous hikes like Black Tusk and Elfin Lakes, and Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, which has become so popular you need to reserve a hiking spot on the day you wish to go) - but again, June is usually just a few weeks too early.

Banff is totally different and I'd save Banff for another time. Banff is a 10-hour drive away from Vancouver, an entire time zone east, kind of like the distance between Seattle and Missoula, Montana. Banff National Park is lovely but the town is super touristy. The town is essentially a cluster of hotels, souvenir shops (most selling tacky made-in-China "Canada" trinkets), and restaurants that cater entirely to international tourists. There is very little local authentic community there or any other industry. Because the town is located within the boundaries of the national park, it is heavily managed and regulated - no condo rentals, full-home rentals on AirBnB, for example. You can't live in the town unless you work for a business in the town. Everything is regulated because it's a wilderness conservation area. So no ATVing, no white water rafting on its rivers, no scenic flights, no cabins being built into the forest, etc. Banff has also become a victim of its own success. Think hordes of tour bus crowds at every scenic lookout, and parking lot closures because of too many cars, hiking lotteries at the most sought-after hikes, and hotels at 100% capacity, where 3-star hotels charge 5-star prices. You and everyone in the world will be there in June.. The landscape is gorgeous, but for me, Banff is about passively gazing at mountian scenery from your car, it's less about playing in the mountains. Whistler is the opposite. It's not meant to be passively gazed at, it's meant for active outdoorsy people first and foremost. Banff has more dramatic mountain scenery and is na absolutely a stunning alpine hiking destination of course, but June will be too early to access the alpine there too. Come back in late July, August or September for that. Whistler's alpine hikes go from July until October, usually, and the most dramatic scenery is often only accessed by advanced, long-distance, alpine hikes. This is why Banff is so popular for mountain scenery seekers - you don't need any skill to access it. Whistler's glaciers and turquoise lakes can't be driven to - you have to work hard to access them.

Vancouver's a major modern city in a dramatic setting - not a mountain town, though its many districts are small and walkable and easy to access without a car. Culturally it's like a hybrid of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Sydney Australia. But Vancouver's unlike those cities because of the wilderness right in the city itself. In June, people will be playing at the beach, enjoying the long days (it gets dark after 10pm), hiking in the forests, and being outside as much as possible. For an outdoor lover, Vancouver can't be beat. And the restaurant scene is the best in western Canada, especially if you love authentic Asian cuisine (i.e. authentic Chinese like Shanghanese, Taiwanese food, Japanese izakaya, sushi, Korean food, etc.), fresh wild Pacific seafood like kushi oysters, Dungeness crab, Sockeye salmon, halibut, ling cod, spot prawn, as well as farm-to-table dining. The recently-published Michelin Guide does a pretty great job of showcasing some Vancouver highlights: https://guide.michelin.com/ca/en/bri...er/restaurants And if you like craft beer, Vancouver's like Portland - dozens of craft breweries in the city, dozens more in the suburban outskirts, and all the way up in every community all the way to Whistler. Including in Fernie, Rossland, Revelstoke and Nelson the Kootenays.

I don't know if you're still here or not, but there are my thoughts. Hope it helps!

Last edited by BC_Robyn; Mar 17th, 2023 at 11:42 AM.
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Old Mar 17th, 2023, 11:44 AM
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Also, I wouldn't worry about needing air conditioning here in June. Most locals don't have air conditioning.The afternoon heat is a dry heat, and it's always cooler up in the alpine in June. While the climate is changing and we could have a freak "this has never happened before ever" heat wave (it happened two summers ago), if you want cool weather and hiking, it's the perfect time to come. Generally by the time you're back in your hotel room, it will be cool outside. You'll want to wear a light jacket.

Last edited by BC_Robyn; Mar 17th, 2023 at 11:52 AM.
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Old Mar 18th, 2023, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by BC_Robyn View Post
Also, I wouldn't worry about needing air conditioning here in June. Most locals don't have air conditioning.The afternoon heat is a dry heat, and it's always cooler up in the alpine in June. While the climate is changing and we could have a freak "this has never happened before ever" heat wave (it happened two summers ago), if you want cool weather and hiking, it's the perfect time to come. Generally by the time you're back in your hotel room, it will be cool outside. You'll want to wear a light jacket.
Wow, I really do appreciate your in depth response as it is immensely helpful! I feel like you could take your response in this thread and turn it into an article for tourists looking to visit these areas! It was well written and comprehensive. Unfortunately I just booked our airfare and accommodations to Banff NP. Though I did choose to stay in Canmore instead of Banff as I read enough reviews about Banff being too crowded and touristy to turn me off. Plus the hotel costs were outrageous haha. Your response almost makes me want to switch my trip to VC/Whistler but at this point Iím not sure I want to do the work ha. We may do a few days in Banff NP but might stick to some less popular hikes near Canmore. I just hope the crowds do not completely ruin it for us. I remember hating Yellowstone because it felt more like a theme park set in the mountains than actual alpine wilderness. The Grand Tetons, while busy, felt much more authentic.

Again, thank you so much for taking the time to write that amazing response to my original post!
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Old Mar 18th, 2023, 08:01 AM
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You're welcome!

I'm sorry I didn't post it in time, but you know what? I know you'll have an amazing time in Canmore. You will find Banff touristy in the same way you found Yellowstone (I'd say Banff is Canada's Yellowstone), but Canmore will feel a bit more authentic as a homebase, and honestly, the crowds aren't there to hike, they're only there to snap a quick picture next to the famous lookouts. So you can easily avoid the crowds by hiking. I may have been a tad harsh with my assessment of Banff, too, not because it's terrible, only to set expectations. You'll have a terrific time there. It's famous for a reason!

Also, Whistler and Vancouver aren't going anywhere. You'll just have to plan another trip there another time.

Last edited by BC_Robyn; Mar 18th, 2023 at 08:04 AM.
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