Enjoy a "360 Experience" in Whistler
Whistler is famed the world over for its stunning alpine landscapes, encompassing miles of snow-capped peaks, ancient glaciers, teal-blue lakes, dense coniferous forests and wildflower meadows at every turn. One of the best ways to make the most of this abundant natural splendour is via the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, a record-breaking chair lift linking Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains that’s frequently rates as the resort’s most outstanding and popular attraction.
Purchasing a ticket for the 360 Experience grants you access to a fantastic world of high alpine scenery, hiking and photo opportunities, along with myriad other activities, and all with minimum effort! Read on for all the information and inspiration you need for an epic day of scenic sightseeing on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.
The 360 Experience
The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola is both the highest and longest lift of its kind in the world. With its glass-bottom cabins, it provides a bird’s eye perspective over the valley up to half a kilometre below, along with sweeping panoramic vistas across the dramatic landscape in every direction. But riding the lift itself is only the start. Once you’ve reached the mountain peaks, the opportunities for a full day of alpine adventures abound.
Upon arriving at the mountain summits, spend some time admiring the awe-inspiring vistas and making the most of the unique photo opportunities. From the top of Whistler Mountain, accessed via the open-air Peak Express lift, you’ll be treated to views over the mighty peaks and glaciers of Black Tusk, the Tantalus Range and the magnificent Garibaldi Provincial Park. Meanwhile, from the 7th Heaven Summit on Blackcomb marvel at jaw-dropping perspectives across the lush Fitzsimmons Valley and be sure not to miss the Inukshuks for an iconic Whistler shot.
If you fancy stretching your legs and gaining multiple perspectives on the surrounding landscapes, there are several interpretive circular walks that will take you around the main landmarks and scenic highlights on easy gravel paths. A popular 1-hour stroll around Whistler Summit provides the perfect introduction to the alpine terrain with plenty of lookout points and information boards along the way. Meanwhile, Blackcomb’s 7th Heaven Summit provides access for glacier skiers and boarders in the summer and offers the perfect vantage point for watching the action.
There are a whole host of other fun-filled memorable activities to enjoy as part of the 360 Experience. These include free and custom guided tours, running trails, a labyrinth of giant snow walls, along with plenty of seasonal events and activities such as the Snow Play Zone, wildlife watching and wildflower bloom spots.
To ride the gondola you’ll need a PEAK 2 PEAK 360 Experience ticket. These can be purchased online in advance, or on the day at the Whistler Visitors Centre or at any of the ticket booths located at the base of the lifts. Tickets bought on the day are slightly more expensive. Another reason to buy in advance is to save time so you can go straight up the mountain without delay. Whilst you can go back and forth between the two mountains as many times as you want, each ticket is only valid for a single upload. If you want the flexibility to ascend and descend the mountain more than once during the day, purchasing a season pass may be a better option.
Your ticket grants you access to much more than a lift up the mountain. You’ll also get:
- Access to all open-air chairlifts and gondolas on the day
- A chance to marvel at the incredible workings of the Gondola at the PEAK 2 PEAK Viewing Gallery
- Free access to the Samsung Alpine Theatre which hosts alpine videos and talks
- A tour of the 2010 Olympic Game display inside the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain
- On-mountain dining options from several popular Whistler restaurants
- Access to a 50 plus kilometre network of hiking trails and interpretive walks during the summer season.
Opening dates and times:
The Gondola operates throughout most of the year, although it does close for scheduled maintenance at various intervals. Be sure to check the hours of operation before your visit to avoid disappointment. The prime time for riding the gondola is during the summer months, when warmer temperatures and access to hiking trails attract the crowds, although winter sightseeing is also a popular option.
How to access the gondola:
The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola transports you from roughly two-thirds of the way up each mountain all the way to the respective summits. To reach the terminals, you can take the Whistler Village Gondola from Skier’s Plaza (for Whistler Mountain) or the open-air chairlifts that leave from the Upper Village for Blackcomb Mountain. The latter operates in summer only, and is probably best avoided by those wary of heights. All these lift facilities are included in the overall ticket price. We recommend completing a loop for the ultimate experience, ascending one mountain, crossing on the Gondola and returning via the other mountain.
How much time to spend:
The Gondola ride between the two mountains takes 11 minutes one-way, whilst ascending or descending each mountain from Whistler Village takes 25 minutes. This means you’ll need a minimum of 2 hours to complete the entire experience. But if you want to admire the scenery, snap lots of photographs or explore any of the additional activities on offer, you’ll want to allow plenty more time. You can easily fill a day taking in the views, touring the displays, enjoying an interpretive walk and relishing the fantastic dining options.
Both mountains are home to several tempting eateries, offering everything from a quick snack to full-course dining extravaganzas, all with an emphasis on the finest and freshest ingredients. For a quick and delicious energy boost in summer, try a delicious cone of locally made Lucia Gelato on Whistler Mountain. During the winter months, the Harmony House tea hut is the perfect place to warm up over a hot drink and freshly-baked scone. Meanwhile, Blackcomb Mountain is home to Horstman Hut, offering a wonderful range of hearty stews, meats and soups on its sunny ridge top patio.
For something extra special, there are several renowned mountain restaurants serving up an exquisite range of culinary delights to hungry hikers. Christine’s on Blackcomb is especially recommended and specialises in gourmet comfort food paired with some of BC’s finest wines. Or why not go the whole hog and attend a mountain-top barbeque on Whistler Mountain? BBQ buffet dinners are held at the Roundhouse Lodge every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings during the summer. You’ll need to purchase a separate ticket, but enjoying the mouth-watering spread accompanied by live music and a stunning sunset, is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
From the top of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, you can access over 50km of hiking trails to further explore the area’s beautiful landscapes and rugged terrain. Best of all, as the Gondola transports you swiftly above the tree line, there’s no need to expend valuable energy getting up high. Instead you can spend the entire day admiring gorgeous views of volcanic peaks, glacier-fed lakes and densely forested mountain slopes.
Whistler summit is the gateway for numerous high alpine routes, including the world-class High Note Trail, whilst Blackcomb Mountain is the launching point for the signature Overlord trail extending into the backcountry wilderness of Garibaldi Provincial Park. For more details on these and plenty more of the area’s best hiking experiences be sure to check out our dedicated article on hiking in Whistler.