You can rip the trails while the lifts are open, but once they’ve shut down you’re going need someplace to recharge your legs, repair your bike and get ready for the next day’s riding. If you’re putting in some time at one of British Columbia’s great bike parks like Whistler, Sun Peaks or Silverstar you’re staying at an established resort that will have a wide range of options for any budget. Let’s look at some of the options open to you if you’re planning to hit the Whistler Bike Park for a week/weekend or riding. Start by closing your eyes now as you’re living the dream.
At the top end of Whistler accommodation are the Hilton’s, Westin’s and the likes. All top notch world class accommodations. However, if you would like more room for all the fun toys you’re going to bring (bikes, bikes and more bikes) and you prefer the finer things in life, we suggest looking to Whistler Platinum; Whistler accommodations and vacation rentals made easy. They provide access to some of Whistler’s best and most sought after accommodations, and in the summer time are priced reasonably enough that they won’t break the bank. Visit their website for more information and to inquire about rates. Typically you can rent a home that will sleep 8 – 10 easily and still have room for all your toys. Summer rates start at $350 – $500 which boils down to $35 – $50 per night/per person based on 10 people. Not bad when you consider all the amenities that you’ll have access to.
Guests at Aava Whistler have access to free tools, a bike wash, FREE GOPRO rental and mounts plus bike valets who store your bikes in their secure bike room (only valets have access to this room). They also have complementary lockers just off the parking garage where you can keep your stinky gear out of your room. This is the bike-friendliest place in Whistler; they’ll loan you a cord so you can download footage from their GoPros to your laptop and if you don’t have a laptop they’ll give you a disc of your footage for $10. Rooms will run you anywhere from $99 to $250 a night during peak season, but check their website for advance booking and length of stay discounts as well as special rates if you’re taking part in the Trek Dirt Series. They offer a lot of flexibility to host groups because they know that no-one likes to ride alone. They also provide a pool, sauna and gym as well as a covered outdoor area with a complementary BBQ. On top of all that Aava is also an official Crankworx sponsor so the athletes stay there for the event in August. You might find yourself sharing a beer in the hot tub with the Athertons or Brian Lopes. And if they trust this place with their bikes, so can you. They hire a lot of bikers as staff, so you can get information on the trails both inside and outside the park. Check them out at aavawhistlerhotel.com
Your most flexible option is the RV. You can fly into Vancouver and drive straight to Whistler. You’re not spending money on a rental car that sits in a garage and you’re not tied to a reservation. It’s no secret that there are great trails in Pemberton, Squamish and beyond (most listed here on bikepirate.com) and an RV is a great way to access these riding areas without worrying about reservations. Whistler allows free overnight parking in Lot 5 of their public parking area if you want to be close to the action and can live without hook-ups. It’s rough, but you’re not far from the supermarket and the beer store, and the community centre showers are just a short drive away. You can also opt to stay at Riverside Resort camping area. Riverside will charge you $57 per night for a full-service site to $35 for partial service and they provide heated showers, laundry and free WiFi, none of which is available in Lot 5. You can rent an RV from CruiseCanada, from about $200 a night with unlimited kilometers and they’ll rent you a bike rack for a flat rate of $40 regardless of the length of your trip. You can find all kinds of deals and special offers on their website. Conveniently they have locations in Vancouver and Calgary so you can access a huge range of biking from either city, or you can travel from one city to the other and really explore British Columbia’s trails. A CruiseCanada RV can hold from 2 to 6 people, so it’s a great way to roll with a crew and be able to carry enough gear to keep your bikes in working order. You can also cook meals in an RV which is can save you a lot of money when you’re on the road.
If you like to rough it a little bit more you can always pack a tent. You’re not going to be able to stay in lot 5 since you’re not in a vehicle, but there are a couple of options like the Riverside Resort in Whistler or Nairn Falls Provincial Park just south of Pemberton. Most provincial campgrounds in BC will cost you about $20 to $40 a night depending on the size of your group and the number of vehicles you have. These camp sites will have water, electricity, outhouses and sometimes showers and flush toilets. In Whistler the Riverside Resort for $35 per night over the busy summer months, less if you visit in the early or late season. Like we said earlier, it has all kinds of amenities that make life in the forest a great experience – not to mention it’s located in the north Village. Nairn Falls has outhouses and running water, but no showers, laundry or other such luxuries. You can check out BCs provincial parks at the BC Parks website. If you’re looking to save a bit of coin and you like to be closer to the rugged side of the outdoors you can search out the Forest Service camp sites. These are always more rustic and out of the way and you can locate them through the Ministry of Forests and Range. The more popular sites will have a steward who camps at the site during the summer and maintains the area, sells firewood and collects fees, but the more out-of –the-way sites operate on the honour system. The Cal-Cheak site near Whistler will cost you $11 a night and it’s more natural than other camping sites, but it doesn’t have luxuries like showers and running water. All these sites will have fire pits and picnic tables, and the ones with stewards will also sell you firewood. Please respect campfire bans that might be in effect during the dry summer months.
If you’re camping with no access to electricity or water/showers, you can head to the community centre for a shower; Meadow Park CC in Whistler will charge you $8 as a drop-in fee. And if your clothes get too grungy you can take them to the South Side Diner for a quick run through, or just hang them out under someone’s dryer exhaust for a while – kidding, kind of. Smelling clean is really almost the same as being clean… isn’t it?
These days there are are a ton of options open to mountain bikers and there’s so many deals and specials going on that you can really do anything you want. It’s great to see how important mountain bike tourism has become to the BC’s economy. From bike parks to catered tours and from the Whistler Westin to the RVs in Lot 5 the most important thing is that we’re getting out riding and having a great time on the trails. Do you have any favourite places to stay in Whistler? If so, share them with us via the comments section below. We’d love to hear about them.