Whistler Blackcomb: How to ski North America’s largest resort

Every winter, more skiers and snowboarders pick Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb than any other resort in North America. It is stunningly large, with the most skiable terrain (8,171 acres) and highest vertical rise (5,280 feet) on the continent, and each of its two interconnected mountains is bigger than other top-tier destination resorts. The result is virtually every snow condition, level of challenge, and type of terrain you could imagine.

“If you can’t find your favorite terrain here, you can’t find it anywhere,” wrote the editors at Ski Magazine, who ranked it North America’s best for 2017 – for the third year in a row. Conde Nast Traveler, Global Traveler and Travel Weekly are some of the many other publications rating it North America’s best, while London’s skiing-obsessed Telegraph awarded it best in the entire world status.

So what’s the big deal? 

Whistler Blackcomb claims 8,171 acres of designated in-bounds skiing, including more than 200 marked trails, plus expansive bowl and glade zones, with even more available to experts hiking its ridges (it is also one of the few resorts that operates on-site heli-skiing, with access to another 430,000-plus acres).

This terrain is served by a vast network of three dozen lifts, including three new ones for the coming season. The highlight is a 10-passenger gondola that replaces two chairs previously required to get from the bottom of Blackcomb to the top, now a much faster single-ride ascent – for 4,000 skiers per hour, the greatest capacity of any lift in the U.S. or Canada. 

This is part of the single biggest investment year in the resort’s history, $52 million spent by new owner Vail Resorts. The group “immediately poured a ton of money into improving the customer on-mountain experience in preparation for the 2018-2019 ski season,” said Rick Reichsfeld, president of Alpine Adventures, a ski tour packager. He noted other improvements including new high-speed 4- and 6-passenger chairs and additional on-mountain dining. The company also added Whistler Blackcomb to its multi-mountain international season pass, the Epic Pass, meaning skiers who hold the season pass for their home mountains –  including thousands in places like New York, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Denver and Boston – can now ski here for free.

The user-friendly pedestrianized village is also a big attraction of Whistler, and matches the mountains in scope with more than 100 dining and drinking options of every ilk. You’ll also find hotels, condos and rental homes in every price point, up to luxury full-service resorts from Four Seasons and Fairmont.

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