Exploring the Wildlife in Whistler

Whistler, British Columbia, is unrivaled as a travel destination for discovering the great outdoors. Its towering old-growth forests, lush valleys, frothing rivers, and placid lakes take you to a world guaranteed to evoke reverence and awe. Its diversity of mammals, fish, and birds cannot be matched anywhere else.

A black bear in the distance on a spring meadow.Aside from the “typical” tourist draws like black bears and deer, Whistler boasts indigenous species you will not find elsewhere and many ways to penetrate their secrets. Canoe tours are a wonderful way to explore Whistler’s rivers and lakes, its trout and salmon. ATV journeys into remote alpine areas reveal the pika and whiskey jack, or hawks and osprey. Ride a gondola up a mountainside to capture deer and bears from a unique vantage point. [As bears hibernate, plan a summer trip if you want to see them.]

You can explore the environs around Whistler on your own, but guided tours are a better option. The guides are adept at spotting animals blending into their surroundings and have a wealth of information about the ecosystem and the animals’ habits–rainbow trout spawning in late Spring, Kokanee salmon in late Summer and early Fall; marmots (whose whistling sound gave Whistler its name), burrowing under the ground.

Aside from the wildlife, the region itself enhances your understanding of how ecosystems are interrelated. Towering glaciers, coastal cedar and hemlock forests, magnificent and isolated lakes, valleys, and mountains–all present breathtaking wonders. Hike the Valley Trail along Crabapple Creek or Millar Creek to probe the secrets of the land at a pace encouraging minute discovery. Glide a canoe or kayak through the River of Golden Dreams past the homes of otters and beavers. Climb aboard a helicopter and soar above the realms of Great Horned Owls and Coastal Mountain black-tailed deer. Every season offers something different and wonderful.

Reasonably priced tours are available from many reputable companies. If you are interested in water tours, for example, consider Whistler Eco Tours. Their experts will refine your paddling techniques and take you on stunning waterways like Alta Lake. Whistler Wildlife Viewing Tours specializes in guided tours giving you the best chance of seeing the wildlife you want with other enthusiasts and naturalists. Whistler Blackcomb–Bear Viewing and Ecology Tours shows you how the wildlife, vegetation, glaciers, and rainforests, while both robust and fragile, are dependent on each other for their survival. They take you through these alpine regions in the comfort of 4×4 mountain trucks. The Climate Change Tour, guided by Whistler Blackcomb’s environmental manager, clarifies how this ecosystem is reacting to temperature and climate changes and how Blackcomb is making a difference by altering its carbon footprint.

Most people have a romantic notion of the magnificent diversity of life in the Canadian wilderness, but a trip to Whistler brings it into sharp focus. You will see gentle wetlands merging with imposing snowcapped peaks and wildlife oblivious to the “civilized” world outside its borders. The hardest part will be leaving once your vacation has ended.