Twenty minutes before lifts stopped turning on a perfect Whistler ski trip, we were still finding fresh powder. Whistler Blackcomb is just that big. Everywhere we skied at Whistler Blackcomb, the kids discovered new routes, new glades, and new jumps. After spending two full ski days exploring the duel mountains, we could only say we’d had a ‘sampler’ of what this resort offers to families.
Whether you have an ideal 3-4 ski days at Whistler Blackcomb, or just a short few like we did, Pit Stops for Kids is happy to share our top sections of the mountain for families, including runs, lifts, lodges, and dining.
Where to ski or snowboard on a Whistler ski trip:
The best thing about Whistler Blackcomb’s mountain layout is the fact that no matter where you are on either of the mountains, from peak to base, beginner (green), intermediate (blue), and advanced (black) runs are available. This means families can ride the lifts together even if they’re of different ability levels, and even young kids and novice skiers and riders can experience the whole resort. Our favorite sections of the two peaks for kids (of any level):
1. Jersey Cream area of Blackcomb: This area is accessed by the Solar Express lift (from Wizard Express at the base), and provides expert to beginner runs situated high enough on the mountain to be challenging but just below the tree-line (to keep out of the wind). We spent the majority of our time here, alternating between the double-black-diamond Jersey Cream Bowl and its many side runs (most of which are intermediate). The Green Line (beginner) offers a fun alternative to those not so sure about moguls and steeps. For those wanting to go higher up, the Glacier Express loads adjacent to Jersey Cream.
2. Whistler Family Zone: Located on Whistler Peak directly across from Blackcomb after off-loading from the Peak 2 Peak Gondola (or off the Whistler Village Gondola), this Family Zone is a relaxing place to try out new skills without fear of fast skiers or riders nearby. Marked by bright green flags, the Family Zone offers groomed slopes and is placed next to one of Whistler Blackcomb’s many Nintendo Terrain Parks. It’s easy for kids to dip in and out of the terrain park (every feature is clearly marked as S (small), M (medium) or L (large) and still meet up with non-jumping family members. If your kids like easy glided skiing or riding, look for the large wooden arch marking the entrance to a not-so-steep tree glade filled with powder and trails (when snow levels permit).
3. Blackcomb lower mountain: Younger kids will like the numerous intermediate runs off the Wizard Express (and parents will like that the Blackcomb lower mountain gets less traffic than the Whistler lower mountain). When they’re ready, take intermediate and beginner kids up Solar Express for new terrain, including another Nintendo Terrain Park. (Look for the magic ‘castle’ play area nearby…though we had trouble finding it in deep snow, even with signage!)
Tip: If you’re new to the mountain, a great way to orient yourself is to ride to the top of Blackcomb and take the Green Line (beginner) all the way down. This cat-track trail, marked ‘Easiest Way Down’, traverses the entirety of Blackcomb while winding slowly down. Parents can get a feel for the mountain while kids get their ‘feet wet’. Plus, we clocked it: it’s a 30 minute run!
Where to eat and rest:
Whistler Blackcomb is very big, which means that traversing to your favorite pit stop could take a while, depending upon where you are on the mountain. Families will waste time getting from Point A to Point B if they’re not careful. The good news is, there are dining options on both mountains, of course. Our best advice: no matter where you eat, try to avoid the two largest lodges, Roundhouse and Rendezvous, during peak lunch hours (12-1pm).
1. Glacier Lodge: Located at the base of Jersey Cream and Glacier lifts, this smaller lodge is just enough off the beaten path to be an ideal lunch spot for families. (Also recommended is Crystal Lodge, but it’s so far off the main lifts it may take too much time to get to.)
2. Rendezvous Lodge: As long as you avoid the peak lunch hour, Rendezvous is a good bet (and easy to get to from either Whistler–take the Peak 2 Peak–or Blackcomb). Even during the busy holiday season, we didn’t have trouble finding a table or getting through the cafeteria-style dining area. Tip: even adults can order kid meals, which are a great value at $8.99 and include an entree, two snacks (all healthy options), a piece of fruit, and a drink. If the kids finish eating before you do, let them go downstairs to the Nintendo gaming area, where they can play the latest Wii and Nintendo DS 3D games for free!
3. Try to avoid Whistler Village at lunch, as this congested area will delay your return to the slopes. The exception: if you’re staying at a ski-in-ski-out hotel. During our stay at the Fairmont Chateau, we were able to ski down to the hotel, eat a healthy meal in our room, and be back on the hill within 45 minutes. It was worth returning to the base to skip the lunchtime crowds (and hassle).
Riding the Peak 2 Peak:
At some point, you’ll want to cross between Whistler Peak and Blackcomb Peak, and while you can return to the Whistler Village and ride the Excalibur Gondola to the Blackcomb side, you’ll have far more fun riding the Peak 2 Peak. Located between the Rendezvous and Roundhouse lodges, the Peak 2 Peak takes about 20 minutes to ride. This is a great time to adjust clothing and gloves, eat a snack, or simply warm up! The views are jaw-dropping (as is the height!). Your lift ticket includes the Peak 2 Peak, so take advantage of it!
Don’t be surprised if you experience less than 30 percent of Whistler Blackcomb in one day, and don’t be afraid to ride lifts all the way to the peaks (when open). There will be an easy way down option every time!
As I disclose whenever applicable, my family and I experienced Whistler Blackcomb as guests of the resort. While we appreciated this opportunity to share tips and advice with other traveling families, it not come with the expectation of a positive review.