The Whistler Blackcomb Resort area is located in the Coast Mountains. While the base and village experience rain, snow blankets the mountains and glaciers. Squamish and the ocean are less than an hour south, and between Whistler and Vancouver is the massive Garibaldi Provincial Park. Lakes dot the land from deep in the valleys to high in the glacier moraines. Wildlife frequents the entire area, too, so all the normal precautions are expected.
Integrated into the municipality of Whistler, Alta Lake was once known as Summit Lake – a name that was changed because there were too many lakes of the same name in the province. Surrounding the lake are both homes and accommodation options, as well as an ecological park, and it’s an excellent spot for fishing, kayaking and swimming.
On the north end of the village, the Sea to Sky Highway runs alongside Green Lake. Head across by canoe or boat to reach Parkhurst Ghost Town – an abandoned lumber community that harkens back to British Columbia’s important forest industry.
Approximately 21mi (33km) farther inland from Whistler is the bedroom community of Pemberton – a destination unto itself and, for some, a more affordable alternative to the resort area. About a 30-minute drive from Pemberton is Lillooet Lake which, like many of BC’s valley lakes, is long, narrow and deep. It’s easily accessible from Highway 99, and its shores border First Nations territory.
Approximately 39mi (63km) from Whistler is Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. It’s easily accessible, located above the switchback turns on the Duffey Lake portion of Highway 99, and is home to three glacier-fed lakes, which exhibit the deep-turquoise color associated with glacial water and lie above 3,937ft (1,200m).
Farther up on Highway 99 is Duffey Lake. It sits on the east side of Cayoosh Pass, and the descent on the west side leads into the Fraser Canyon region. A real wilderness area, it’s an excellent place for spotting bears and fishing. During the winter, it’s important to check road conditions before climbing the passes.
Daisy Lake Reservoir is a dammed water reserve for the town of Squamish, south of Whistler. It’s the first body of fresh water after leaving the fjord that leads to Squamish and marks a transition from the coast to a more alpine region. The former townsite of Garibaldi is near the lake, and the valley origins are volcanic. It’s a popular area for kayaking, so be sure to make a stop there if that’s your bag.