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Whistler is stunning in any season, that’s a fact! But in my opinion, the prettiest season in this mountain resort is Fall. Yep, from September through to November, the town is ablaze with autumnal colors, and as you walk along the Village Stroll, you’ll hear the crunch of crisp leaves beneath your feet – to me, that’s the best sound in the world!
Plus, this time of year is much quieter, so you can enjoy many of Whistler’s best tours and activities like ATV’ing and downhill mountain biking without the crowds (and often at a discounted rate!) It’s also the best time of year to go hiking – the trails around Whistler are exceptionally pretty in Fall, and you’ll literally be stopping every few minutes from snapping some photos of the colorful Fall foliage.
There are so many reasons to visit Whistler in Fall – from the mild weather to the cheaper activities, and so in this blog post, I’ve put together a fantastic list of the 15 best things to do in Whistler in the Fall. There are some crowd-pleasing activities like hiking to the Trainwreck out at Cheakamus, but there are also some very Fall-esque things to do, like checking out a pumpkin patch.
Why Visit Whistler in Fall
Visiting Whistler in Fall is a great idea; well, that’s what the locals will tell you – it is, after all, their favorite season. The Summer crowds have left, and it’s too early for the influx of skiers/snowboarders, so you’ll likely have the Village Stroll (lined with Autumnal trees) pretty much to yourself. And because it’s officially ‘quiet season,’ many of the activity providers and restaurants in town will be offering significant discounts.
Plus, honestly, the Fall colors here are out-of-this-world; there are no drab brown leaves to be found in Whistler in Fall. No, no, no, feast your eyes on a mixture of bright greens, golds, rusty reds, and deep violets. Add Whistler or Blackcomb Mountain to the background, and your jaw will literally drop on every turn. Whistler is just so so pretty this season!
Not forgetting that the weather is great this time of year – not too hot and not too cold, so you can enjoy many outdoor activities without worrying about the weather! Without a doubt, Fall is the perfect season to plan your Whistler itinerary!
Whistler in Fall FAQs
Whistler Fall Weather
Whistler is one of the best Fall destinations in BC because the weather is mild, averaging 11 Celsius (52 Fahrenheit) during the day, but keep in mind that it can drop as low as 3 Celsius (37 Fahrenheit) at night. September is, of course, the hottest month during Fall and typically boasts warm Summer-like weather with temperatures reaching as high as 19 Celsius (66 Fahrenheit)!
The one downside to Fall in Whistler is that rainfall tends to be pretty high, with an average of 38 days of rain across the whole season. As you’d expect, November is the wettest month with a huge 17 days of rainfall! Therefore, it’s necessary to pack wet weather gear like a good raincoat and waterproof shoes, so you don’t get caught out!
Remember that layering is your friend during this season in Whistler, meaning that the weather can change quickly, so by wearing plenty of layers, you won’t be too hot or too cold. Clothing items like scarves, cardigans, light sweaters, and beanies are essential for this season especially in the early morning or evenings once the sun goes down.
The daylight hours are starting to get shorter coming into Winter, too. In September, you’ll be spoiled with 13 hours of daylight; in October, it reduces to 11 hours; and finally, in November, you’ll get just 8-9 hours of light. So, keep this in mind when booking activities.
FUN Things to do in Whistler in Fall
1. Hike to Joffre Lakes
Fall is the best time of year to hike to Joffre Lakes – one of the country’s most popular and scenic trails! The trail starts outside the town of Pemberton and is just under an hour’s drive (61.6 kilometers/38.2 miles) from Whistler.
This 9.4-kilometer (5.8 miles) round-trip hike is rated as moderate and leads to not one but three stunning, bright blue lakes. These lakes are aptly named the lower, middle, and upper lakes, and they are at their prettiest from September to November because of the Fall sunlight that reflects off tiny grains of glacial rock flour. In fact, the water color in these lakes in Fall is best described as “Gatorade blue.”
Plus, in the Fall, all those pesky mosquitoes that plagued Summer visitors have disappeared, making for a more pleasant experience!
Hiking to the upper lake is approximately 3.5 km each way and will take 4 hours to return. It’s quite a steep climb up to the lake, and a reasonable fitness level is recommended – allow 2-3 hours to reach the upper lake. But returning is much quicker, thankfully, as it’s pretty much all downhill. If you have limited time, you can hike the short and sweet 5 minutes (200 meters) from the car park to the lower lake but keep in mind that this is the least scenic of the 3 lakes.
Important: You must now book a day pass in advance to visit Joffre Lakes until Oct 10. This can be done on the BC Parks website for free. Luckily, this hike is less busy in the Fall so you have a better chance at snagging a pass.
2. Explore the bike trails around town
Biking is easily one of the best activities to do in Whistler in Fall. So, if you’re in town in September, October or November, why not consider renting a bike for a few hours and exploring some of the trails and lakes surrounding Whistler?
One of the best biking trails to explore in this season is the Lost Lake Trail (view pictured above), which can be accessed from the Upper Village (across from the Four Seasons hotel). There’s a large network of trails here suitable for beginners to advanced bikers. The popular loop trail here passes by the Lake itself, where you can enjoy a refreshing dip or a hot drink from the kiosk. What’s great about the Lost Lake Trail is that because it follows mostly through a wooded area, you’ll be treated to plenty of views of Fall foliage!
Or a slightly easier option is the paved Valley trail which connects many of Whistler’s lakes and neighborhoods. It’s a huge 45 km trail, but we recommend taking the trail from Whistler as far as Nita Lake, which is 4 km each way, and stopping for a coffee at the luxurious Nita Lake Lodge, which overlooks the Lake of the same name. This specific stretch of the trail can be pretty congested in Summer, so the quieter Fall months are the perfect time to get out and explore it by bike!
If you’re still not sure which trail to take, don’t worry, the bike rental companies have maps and can give you great advice on where to go depending on what you want to see.
You can rent bikes from Summit Sport in Whistler Village, and they have a variety of bike types to choose from. Plus, their prices are reasonable at $14-20 CAD per hour or $55 for the day.
Note: If you want to do some serious downhill mountain biking in Fall, be sure to read on for our review of Whistler Bike Park!
3. Check out a pumpkin patch
You can’t visit Whistler in Fall and not visit a Pumpkin Patch, after all the tradition of picking a pumpkin is synonymous with Fall! Luckily, there are two awesome Pumpkin Patches in the town of Pemberton, about a 25 minute drive from Whistler.
The first is new-to-the game and is located at The Beer Farmers in Pemberton Meadows. Wander the fields here, take in the views of Mount Currie, and take your pick from over 10 varieties of pumpkins to carve a spooky face when you get home. There’s no entrance fee you simply pay for your pumpkin when you’re done.
What’s great too is that when you’re done picking out your pumpkin you can head over to The Beer Farmers for a delicious beer! The Pumpkin Patch at The Beer Farmers opens on October 1st each year.
The Pumpkin Patch at nearby North Arm Farm is another firm favorite among local families and visitors to Whistler every Fall. Here, you can either select your pumpkin out in the field or select one in their barn, but remember the pumpkins are priced by weight, so, remember that before picking up one the size of Cinderella’s Pumpkin Carriage!! There’s also Wagon Rides for the little ones every weekend in October. After you’ve selected your pumpkin head to their onsite cafe for some delicious food and coffee!
4. Ride the Gondola
One of the best things to do on a Fall weekend in Whistler is to ride the famed Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which spans between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain. It’s a long 11-minute journey between the two and is a whopping 4.4 km (2.7 miles) in length, making it both the highest and longest unsupported span of any lift in the world. Yep, this gondola holds an impressive three world records!
On the journey, the views of the valley floor below are breathtaking, especially in Fall when the leaves of the trees are ablaze with color. But in fact, the best scenery can be seen from one of the many hiking trails up here – would you believe there is over 50 km of trails?
The most popular things to do here in Fall listed below:
1. Lakeside Loop – This 9.5-kilometer loop track starts from near the Solar Coast Chairlift and ends at Blackcomb Lake. Once you reach the lake, enjoy a picnic and the stunning color of the lake! It’s important to note hiking this trail late in Fall may not be possible due to snowfall, so plan for this in September.
2. The Skywalk – walk along cliffs and over steep bridges while connected to a safety harness on this awesome guided tour! This is a popular option with adventure-driven families!
Important to note – In Fall, the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola is open on weekends only up around mid-October. After that, it will be used to transport skiers/snowboarders during Whistler’s winter and will be closed for sightseeing. The date changes annually due to weather, so be sure to check this out before you go.
5. Join an adrenalin-filled ATV or Buggy Tour
One of our very favorite tours we ever did in Whistler was a buggy tour! In our small 4-wheel utility vehicle, we cruised the mountain tops taking in panoramic views (when we weren’t splashing in the puddles, that is.)
We did this specific buggy tour and loved every minute of it. Although neither of us had ever driven a buggy before, plenty of instruction was provided before we hit any of the serious trails. Our guide brought us up to the top of the mountain for a scenic photo stop before we headed back down. We learned a little about the mining days in the area and had a few laughs racing down steep hills.
The buggy vehicle is pretty much like an ATV, except it was slightly larger and had a cage around it. We both could comfortably sit side by side, as opposed to an ATV where one rider must sit in the back.
If you prefer to ride an ATV, that is possible too. The same company, Canadian Wilderness Adventures, runs this specific ATV tour that takes you on an almost identical route as the buggy tour. Both are fun and have rave reviews, so you really can’t go wrong.
Buggy and ATV tours are some of the most popular things to do in Whistler in the summer, but they can also be done in the Fall until around the beginning of October. Of course, this depends on the weather each year, so be sure to check online to see if they are still available during your planned visit.
6. Treetop Canopy Walk
As we all know, the most impressive thing about Fall is the Fall colors, so why not see these vibrant autumnal tones from high above the tree tops on a Tree Top Canopy Walk. It’s a unique way to explore the old-growth forest near Blackcomb Mountain, which is filled with fir, cedar, and hemlock trees.
On this tour through a network of suspended bridges and stairways, trails, and boardwalks, your knowledgeable guide will explain all about the forest and point out the differences between the old one and the new forest. Some of the bridges are 200 feet (61 meters) above ground, so it can be pretty scary for those afraid of heights. But regardless, I urge you to try it out; it’s such a cool experience!
This tour takes place in the same spot as ziplining (as I’ll detail below), but no ziplining is involved in this tour. The tour is 2 hours long and costs just under $70 per adult, while kids under 5 are free!
7. Hop on a float plane tour
No matter the season, there’s no better way to explore Whistler than from the air. But the town probably looks its best from above in Fall, when it’s awash with red, orange, and yellow foliage. Plus, it’s one of the most romantic Whistler activities!
But thankfully, if you’re visiting Whistler in Fall, you can hop on a float plane instead of the more traditional helicopter or fixed-wing plane. This is a truly unique way to explore the skies above Whistler. If you’re not familiar with a floatplane – it’s essentially a fixed-wing plane that can land on water. So, on this tour, Whistler’s lakes become your landing strip!
But as well as that, your flight will take off from the water too, which can seem a little nerve-wracking at first because you feel like you might run out of the lake before the pilot can take off. But not to worry, your pilot lifts you out of the lake effortlessly. And soon, you are high above Whistler, taking in the epic scenery.
Although fun, scenic flights around Whistler are not cheap. You can get the 30-minute scenic flight around Whistler we did for around $200 CAD, and if you can afford a little more, you can add an alpine lake landing and lunch for around $350.
If you fancy seeing snow-capped mountains on your tour, book it for late Fall (end of October to end of November), as this is when the snow starts to fall in the area!
8. See the train graveyard on the Trainwreck hike
One of the best hikes to do in the Fall in Whistler is the popular Trainwreck hike, which, yep, you guessed it takes you out to a collection of abandoned, graffiti-covered train carriages in the forest near Cheakamus.
Better known as the ‘train graveyard,’ these carriages were derailed back in the 1950s, and to get the train tracks re-opened as quickly as possible, workers simply moved the carriages off the tracks and into the forest. And that’s where they remain to this day! There are a total of 7 carriages here!
The reason this particular hike is so pretty in the Fall is that, on your route to the trains, you’ll pass over a suspension bridge that is surrounded by Fall foliage.
The official trail to the train graveyard begins on Jane Lakes Road near the Whistler Olympic Village. And it takes an easy 30 minutes each way.
If you have a rental car and fancy a shorter hike, then you can access the train graveyard from a small parking lot just off the Sea to Sky highway. It’s less maintained but only takes 10 minutes to reach the trains. You can find the location of both trails as well as the parking lot to start the trail on Google Maps.
Alternatively, you can visit the Train Graveyard on this guided sightseeing tour of Whistler which also includes a visit to a “hidden” waterfall.
9. Join a bear watching tour
Fall is also the best season to go on a bear-watching tour, that’s because in early Fall especially, the bears are roaming the woods and trails around Whistler more frequently in search of food to fuel them for their Winter hibernation.
The best (and safest way) to see bears in the wild in Whistler is on a bear-watching tour accompanied by an expert guide. On this tour, you will be taken out to see Whistler’s most famous residents – the black bear in its natural habitat, which is typically in the Callaghan Valley or out towards Pemberton. The guides know exactly where to go and are passionate about bears, so all safety precautions are adhered to; plus, you’ll learn so much about bears!
As we mentioned, September to early October is the best time to view this iconic Canadian creature in the wild, as from November, they start to go into hibernation!
This highly-recommended tour costs from $189 CAD and are between 2 – 2.5 hours long!
10. Go ziplining!
Whistler is home to some pretty epic ziplining tours. I bet you didn’t know that Whistler has the longest zipline in all of Canada and the United States. Yep, the Sasquatch ziplining experience, operated by Ziptrek Ecotours is over 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) long and is one of the best things to do in Whistler – trust us, we did it and had a blast!
Take in breathtaking views from your seat over 7,000 feet above ground and get your adrenalin pumping. When we did it, I couldn’t believe how fast we went. Apparently, it’s normal for people to reach speeds of up to 150 km/h (93mph)! It was exciting and our favorite zipline experience to date.
However, it’s worth noting that the Sasquatch zipline is only open until October 11th before closing for the Winter season! With that said, there are other ziplining experiences that you can do year-round in Whistler.
Another great ziplining tour Ziptrek Ecotours offers year-round is the Eagle Tour which includes access to 5 different ziplines, including a thrilling 2400 ft zipline! Take in awesome views of both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains as you walk across steep suspension bridges and viewing platforms that connect the different ziplines. This particular tour lasts between 2.5 – 3 hours, and along the way, your guide will teach you all about the trees and plants that thrive in this area.
This zipline experience starts at $170 CAD per adult and can even be done in all weather conditions. You should book this ziplining tour in advance as it is one of the most popular activities in Whistler in Autumn.
11. Kayak the River of Golden Dreams
Craving a more peaceful experience in Whistler in the Fall, why not join a kayaking tour down the picturesque River of Golden Dreams?
This particular tour takes you between two of Whistler’s largest lakes – Alta Lake and Green Lake. Starting at Alta Lake, you’ll paddle down the mouth of the river; this is an easy start as you will be paddling with the currents. Keep an eye out for geese, beaver dams, and the surrounding fall foliage along the way!
When you end in Green Lake, you will be picked up and taken back to Whistler Village, so you don’t have to worry about kayaking back again! This 3-hour guided tour includes all equipment and costs from $130 CAD per person.
You can book your kayaking tour down the River of Golden Dreams here!
12. Downhill Mountain biking
If you’re a fan of the thrilling sport of downhill mountain biking and you plan to visit Whistler in the Fall, then you’re in luck. The late biking season (from September to October) is, according to the locals, the best time to ride Whistler Bike Park. That’s thanks to quieter trails and cheaper tickets.
Plus, the higher rainfall in these months gets rid of the dust, and so the trails are muddier – so biking at Whistler Bike Park is a fun experience in the Fall, and you’re likely to finish your day on the trails with a thick coating of mud!
The Whistler Bike Park is typically open until mid-October and is the top lift-accessed bike park in the world. There are over 70 trails spread out over 4 zones up here including Garbanzo, Fitzsimmons, Peak, and Creekside. And because each zone is so varied, this bike park can boast the title of having the biggest rideable terrain of any bike park across the United States and Canada!
The best thing also is that there’s a trail for every ability here. If you’re a beginner, start with EZ Does It, ride up Fitzsimmons Express lift, and ride this easy trail down to Whistler Village village. Other easy tracks include Del Boca Vista and Crabapple Turns. For riders with more experience, blue trails such as Ninja Cougar and B-Line are great options. It’s worth noting that there are Expert and Pro trails here, too, but these are usually very steep and technical and only recommended for those with a heap of experience!
It costs $83 CAD for a one-day pass to Whistler Bike Park.
You can rent bikes from Evolution on Whistler Green, Garbanzo Bike and Bean Rental on Mountain Square, and Whistler Sports Rentals on Gateway Drive.
13. Hike to Brandywine Falls
Brandywine Falls is another hike that’s best done in Fall – the trees will have changed into their autumn coat of bright orange and rust, and the falls are extra fierce thanks to the heavier rainfall synonymous with this season.
What’s great, too, is that this hike is super-short at just 5-minutes each way from the parking lot, so that you can spend more time at the viewing platform taking in the huge 70 meter (230 feet) waterfall and the stunning Autumn scenery.
You can find Brandywine Falls, a 15-minute drive from Whistler on the way to Vancouver, and it’s one of the best stops on any road trip from Vancouver to Whistler. The car park is signposted on the highway and easy enough to find.
14. Explore the fall foliage
I’ve spoken a lot about the colorful Fall foliage dotted throughout the Whistler area from September to November, but where exactly are the best places to see the colorful leaves? Below are the best spots to see the Fall foliage in all its blazing glory –
Rainbow Park – located at Alta Lake, a 45-minute walk from Whistler Village, this is one of the best spots to see the vibrant autumn colors as many deciduous trees (trees that leaves change color) dot the lakeside. On a sunny, calm day, you may be treated to the trees reflecting on the lake’s surface – making for an awesome photo!
Valley Trail – Whistler’s popular Valley Trail, which connects most of the town’s lakes and neighborhoods, is a great place to take some photos of the fall foliage while getting some steps in at the same time. This paved, flat, and tree-lined trail is exceptionally pretty in the Fall months, and you’ll likely be crunching through crisp leaves for most of the way.
Brandywine Falls – as mentioned above, this 70-foot waterfall isn’t the star attraction on this short 5-minute hike during the autumn months – that accolade goes to the colorful trees that surround the waterfalls between September and November.
Trainwreck hike – the hike into the famed ‘train graveyard’ is a firm favorite among locals during the Autumn season, and it’s easy to see why – this trail through mostly evergreen forest is especially moody during this time of year. Keep an eye out for colorful mushrooms along the way, and be sure to snap lots of photos at the suspension bridge.
Related Read: For more epic fall foliage, besure to head to Banff in the Fall. Here, you can hike popular trails like the Larch Valley Hike to see epic colors!
15. Dine out (for cheap!)
If you’re a foodie, then I have to let you in on a local secret; the best time to dine out in Whistler is during the Fall. That’s because, at this time of year, many of the best restaurants in town offer excellent dining deals.
So, take this as your sign to try out fine dining eateries like Bearfoot Bistro, the Rimrock Cafe, or Araxi! Or popular restaurants like The Mexican Corner and Sushi Village, which are notoriously hard to get a table at during the busier Summer and Winter months.
Araxi, for example, offers a 5-course tasting menu from Sunday to Thursday during the off-season; it is typically priced at around $40 CAD per person. While the Mexican Corner offers a 3-course menu for as low as $21 CAD, and Sushi Village’s $21 CAD menu and drink deals can’t be beaten!
Related Read: If you’re more of a coffee person, there are also some amazing cafes in Whistler!
16. Check out a Fall festival!
The Fall season brings a plethora of awesome events to Whistler, like the large and popular Cornucopia food and wine festival and the cool Whistler Village Beer Festival. Below I’ve detailed 4 of the best Autumn events happening in Whistler for you to check out –
Whistler Village Beer Festival is a must for beer-lovers and happens in early September at the Olympic Plaza. It’s a jam-packed two days of beer tastings, food trucks, and live music!
Whistler Writers Festival is held from October 13th – 16th and has been going for the past 20 years. Now held at the iconic Fairmont Chateau Whistler and has grown significantly from a small group of book lovers in a living room to what it is today – workshops, readings, and speaker panels by some of the best local and international writers.
Cornucopia – this event is arguably Whistler’s most popular and biggest event and is held over 10 days in mid-November. There’s a whole array of smaller events happening throughout the village at this time, like wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, winemaker dinners, and so much more! This event is the best way to experience Whistler’s renowned food and drink scene.
17. Scandinave Spa!
And finally, one of the best ways to relax in Whistler during the Fall months is to spend a couple of hours at the gorgeous Scandinave Spa. With a pretty forest backdrop, the walk into these baths in the Autumn months alone is enough to make you feel zen.
Scandinave Spa is located a 10-minute drive from Whistler village; it’s a silent spa (no talking, just whispering) and boasts both thermal and cool baths, massages, and areas to lounge and rest. They even have a eucalyptus sauna and a cedar and Finnish sauna. Plus, there are hammocks in the rest area, which you can sink into and take in the scenery.
There is something really special about Fall at Scandinave Spa!
Related Read: visiting Scandinave Spa is also an awesome Winter activity in Whistler!
Where to Stay in Whistler in Fall
As you can imagine, Whistler is a mountain town filled with great hotels.
Our go-to hotel in Whistler is the Adara Hotel. For us, it is the perfect mix of luxury and affordability with everything you need for a comfortable stay. They offer underground parking and are only a one-minute walk from the Whistler Stroll, so you can park your car and leave it while you explore Whistler Village. They also have a beautiful outdoor pool and hot tub offering mountain views – perfect for relaxing on a Fall evening. The loft rooms are our favorites and most also offer mountain views from the upstairs patio.
For budget travelers, Pangea Pod Hotel is a great option. It’s a basic hotel with pod-style rooms with clean, well looked after facilities. The location is also really good right in the heart of Whistler Village. One thing to note is this is not your typical hotel and it does lack privacy due to the style of rooms. However, for location and price, it’s the best low-cost option.
For luxury travelers, I obviously love the Four Seasons Resort Whistler, but another option slightly cheaper is the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre. Its location is perfect for luxury travelers because it’s only 250 meters from the closest gondola/chairlift. On top of that, it has all the luxury facilities you’d expect such as a heated, outdoor pool and 2 hot tubs with mountain views, a fitness center, a spa and wellness center, as well as an included breakfast. Oh, and all suites have a full kitchen!
Those are just a few of the many amazing places to stay in Whistler – read our blog for more info!
Thanks for reading!
There are plenty of amazing things to do in Whistler in the Fall, and this list is just a selection of my favorite Fall activities. In fact, I could easily include 17 more incredible things to do. I hope this blog post has given you inspiration for your upcoming Fall vacation to Whistler.
If you enjoyed this blog, be sure to browse the rest of our blogs about Whistler including a few favorites:
21 BEST Stops on the Drive from Whistler to Banff
ULTIMATE Guide to Visiting Whistler in December