Accessible Adventures in Whistler
Whistler’s natural beauty and outdoor adventures draw people from all around the world to visit this spectacular mountain town. It is a town of inclusivity where kids can explore a wheelchair-accessible playground in the centre of the village, adrenaline-junkies can go ziplining or bungee jumping, or try a new sport such as downhill mountain biking on four wheels instead of two or sit-skiing.
Whether accessibility in Whistler is at top of mind due to mobility issues or if you’ll be travelling with anyone in a stroller or wheelchair, visiting Whistler is an easy choice with an emphasis on accessibility and inclusion, for everyone.
Whistler’s Paralympic Legacy
As the Host Mountain Resort for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Whistler had to improve its accessibility and in turn, is now one of the most accessible places in the world. Whistler hosted ninety-per cent of the Paralympic events for athletes that required accessible accommodation, access to training venues, getting around the village to enjoy the celebration, and more. New athletic venues popped up, such as the Whistler Olympic Park (nordic sports) and the Whistler Sliding Centre, allowing for the advancement and progression of these sports in the community.
The Whistler Athletes’ Centre in Cheakamus Crossing was one of the most valuable assets gifted from the Olympic and Paralympic games as it provides 80 fully-accessible lodge-style rooms that allow for athletes to train and stay in Whistler. It also has a fully-accessible gym that athletes of all ages and abilities can enjoy and share the passion for the sports they love.
Accessible Adventure in Whistler
Whistler offers endless opportunities for indoor and outdoor fun with many activities being accessible to those with mobility issues. If you had an activity in mind and are unsure of the physical requirements, the tour companies will know best so give them a call or email as your safety will be the most important.
Here are some activities that are fully-accessible or are able to be modified to fit your needs and requirements.
Peak 2 Peak Gondola
From Whistler Village, ride the wheelchair-accessible Whistler Village Gondola to the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain where you can check out the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic displays, have a bite to eat, and soak in the sights.
From the Roundhouse, hop on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola which connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains via the world’s longest unsupported span (3.024 kilometres). On the Blackcomb side, the Rendezvous Lodge has dining options, restroom facilities, retail space, and an alpine theatre. Come full-circle by downloading on the Blackcomb Gondola which drops you in the Upper Village.
Superfly Ziplines offers a mobility-friendly ziplining experience in the wilderness of Cougar Mountain, a fifteen-minute drive north of Whistler. The three-hour-long tour includes four dual ziplines connected to each other by a series of boardwalks through the forest. The views from the lines are phenomenal with untamed wilderness and snowy peaks in the distance.
The tour runs year-round in the rain, sun, snow, or cold but that won’t matter as you’ll be too distracted by the views and adrenaline rush. Travel between the platforms is with a trail-rider (a passive device used to transport an individual rider in singletrack terrain) and by vehicle to your starting point.
With the rushing glacial water of the Cheakamus River flowing underneath you, take the plunge on British Columbia’s highest bungee jump with Whistler Bungee. You can jump year-round off the 160-foot bridge and yes, they’ll even throw you and your wheelchair off as well! The staff at Whistler Bungee have been doing this for over twenty years and have an impeccable safety record, so knock bungee jumping off your bucket list by doing it in Whistler.
Enjoy this uniquely Canadian way of travel by going dogsledding during your trip two Whistler. Canadian Wilderness Adventures offers a magical experience through the old-growth forests of the Callaghan Valley via sled pulled by an exuberant troupe of dogs. You’ll work with the professional musher to harness and stage the dogs before riding a mellow mix of open and winding trails. The tour does require transferring out of a mobility device to the sled that is low to the ground.
For those looking to escape the elements and stretch your brain muscles will love Escape! Whistler’s unique escape rooms. Groups of between two and six people have forty-five minutes to crack the clues to break out of the rooms successfully. Hosts are standing by with walkie-talkies should you require any clues, and once you’re out you will be talking about it for the rest of the night. The Pinball Machine room and Buried Cabin room are both wheelchair-accessible.
Get hooked on the growing sport of axe throwing at Forged in Function Junction. Enthusiastic hosts will teach you the ropes of throwing an axe before igniting your competitive side through fun games. Throwing and the playing of the games can be modified to suit your needs and the hosts will have you laughing and fully-addicted in no time at all.
Arts & Culture
Whistler is a hub for arts and culture with many venues supporting local and international artists, and the art, history, and culture of the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations people. The Audain Art Museum is a stunning museum inside and out, with an extensive permanent collection from celebrated British Columbian artists and evolving exhibits from the rest of Canada and around the world.
The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) embodies the spirit of partnership between two unique Nations who wish to preserve, share, and grow their traditional cultures. The visitor experience includes a guided tour which includes a traditional welcome song, fifteen-minute film, and an exhibit tour.
Whistler Adaptive Sports Program (WASP)
The Whistler Adaptive Sports Program (WASP) has been around for twenty-years with 3,000+ lessons taught in eighteen adaptive sports. They are committed to introducing individuals with a disability to sport, recreation, and therapeutic sports programming. WASP empowers individuals through access to one of the world’s best mountain resorts, providing them with the environment, support and opportunity to become physically active and focus on their abilities rather than disabilities.
Programs are accessible to both children and adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. Whistler Adaptive serves locals in its community and visitors from across Canada and around the globe. For those visiting Whistler, you can sign up for ski, snowboard, nordic skiing, biking, and watersport lessons and programs through their website.
Accessible Accommodation in Whistler
Whistler has many great accessible hotel options to fit any price range. Call ahead to guarantee an accessible room, as many of the hotels only have a few but reserve them especially for guests who truly need them.
The Aava is located across from the Whistler Conference Centre and has five accessible rooms, all with queen beds and a roll-in shower. It is also pet-friendly and offers daily housekeeping, year-round outdoor heated pool and hot tub, fitness centre, and you can rent a GoPro for free during your stay.
The Crystal Lodge is located in the heart of Whistler Village and has two fully-accessible deluxe king rooms with roll-in showers. It has lowered fixtures and hand-rails and is also a pet-friendly hotel. It is steps from the Whistler Village Gondola, restaurants, cafes, shopping and so much more.
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
The Fairmont is located in Whistler’s Upper Village and offers guests a luxurious experience with slopeside accommodations. Each room has a beautiful view of Blackcomb Mountain or to Rainbow Mountain in the valley, with accessible options available. The pool, hot tub, and fitness areas are also accessible, and you’re minutes from the Blackcomb Gondola, shops, and restaurants. The Fairmont is also pet-friendly and their staff are incredibly helpful and gracious hosts.
The Westin Resort and Spa
The Westin is a stone’s throw from the Whistler Village Gondola and offers eight accessible rooms (studios and one-bedroom units) that have roll-in showers, lowered fixtures, and access to the pool, hot tub, and fitness areas are accessible. The Westin is pet-friendly and has shops, restaurants, a spa, and a cafe on-site
Getting Around Whistler
Whistler is a pedestrian-friendly village that can be easily walked as it is without steep grades or long distances, and offer many benches, restaurants, and shops along the way. The Resort Municipality of Whistler created a fantastic accessibility map which indicates the best routes for those with mobility challenges, accessible washrooms, and barrier-free zones. Whistler’s Valley Trail is also fully-paved and great for hand-powered bikes, but do be aware some routes can get steep (noted on the maps as a black diamond).
If you have to travel further out, Whistler’s public transit system has a wheelchair-lift and Resort Cabs has wheelchair-friendly vehicles that must be requested at the time of calling.
Planning your trip to Whistler with accessibility in mind has never been easier, and continues to improve and create seamless experiences whatever your ability and mobility levels are. World-class experiences are available to all, no matter how adventurous you choose to be. Come see why those with mobility issues choose Whistler year after year as their destination of choice for accessibility, fun, and making life-long memories.