Your Complete Guide to Powersports in Whistler (brrapp anyone?)
You know that feeling of joy after reaching the top of the mountain by foot, bike or skis? The “type two fun”, where it’s only after you’ve worked incredibly hard that you can truly enjoy and appreciate the fruits of your labour – the views, the accomplishment of your efforts and the exceptionally fun ride down. Now imagine doing it 10 times as fast, covering twice as much ground, seeing twice as many views and with the sweet brappity brappity brap sound of a motor under you, effortlessly making it all happen. Sounds pretty fun right? This is what we call “type one fun” my friends. The only questions is, what kind of “type one fun” brapping do you want to spend your time doing in Whistler?
Pick Your Poison
Getting 50-1200cc’s under you can be a bit intimidating, so if you are new to the sport and want to give it a whirl, there are a few spots for you to get a handle on your brapping in a controlled environment first. Canadian Wilderness Adventures has a plethora of power sport touring experiences between the Callaghan and Whistler Village for you to experience. Whether you want to get behind the wheel or you want to sit in the passenger seat and enjoy the local wildlife and stunning views, they have you covered with 4×4 Jeeps, ATV’s, Off Road Buggies and even Electric Bicycles – if that’s your thing. Alternatively, The Adventure Group offers a variety RZR tours for the varying adventurers out there. Just 15 minutes North of Whistler at Cougar Mountain is where their tours start but they certainly do not end there. Both companies offer snowmobile tours in the winter time if powersports all year round is your jam. Be mindful you must be age 16 with a valid driver’s license to operate any of their vehicles. For the dirt bikers out there, head to the perfectly manicured Pemberton Motocross Track which offers track time for the beginners and the littlest of kids, right up to the adult expert riders. For an unguided adventurer there is no shortage of trials trails around town – just get out there and get after it!
That said, before you pull out your own ATV or sled and start brappin down the highway, I should preface the “just go out there and get after it” with some guidelines for powersports in British Columbia. First and foremost, it is important to understand that all off road vehicles must be registered prior to use on Crown land. Insurance on Crown land is not mandatory but it is recommended. However, the moment you use a Fire Service Road (FSR) you’re required to carry $200,000 liability insurance and if you cross any highways, you are required to have basic insurance coverage from ICBC.
For your personal safety, helmets are mandatory on all ORV’s with the exception of a closed in 4×4 vehicle, such a Jeep. Riders are expected to use lights in low lighting situations. If your vehicle is not manufactured with lights, a standard white bike light in the front and red light in the back will suffice. Vehicles that are manufactured with seat belts come with the expectation for them to be used and all drivers/passengers over the age of 12 must carry valid government ID on them. If you’re kids meet the manufacturer weight and age limitations, don’t worry about getting a babysitter, just bring them along!
Go, No Go
Now that you have the basics covered, you should know where exactly you can take your machines and get out there for a good brap in our backyard. If you’re going to get into powersports, knowing where the local Forest Service Roads are is valuable information both for summer and winter activities. Consider areas such as the Callaghan (but be cautious as only the west side of the valley is friendly to powersports), Sproat and Cougar mountain as access points to get out there, right here in Whistler. This is also also where the guided ATV, RZR and Jeep operations run their tours.
Squamish offers an exceptional trail network around Brohm Ridge and Cat lake for trials riding in the summer and sledding in the winter. If you want to head the extra mile, make your way to the Hurley about an hour Northeast of Pemberton for some of the finest pow brapping you can get.
Crown land in and around Whistler is open to sledders, that said no motorized vehicles are allowed in and around the Rainbow Lake / 21 Mile Creek watershed. The watershed is an important resource for those living in Whistler but for all our downstream neighbours as well. We all like the fresh clean water, diverse habitats and wildlife that make the Sea to Sky corridor so special, right? Then it’s simple – respect the signs for non motorized vehicles in this area all year around. Weather you see other people there or not, the rules still apply. Take extra note when sledding towards the Pemberton Icecap as certain aspects are protected like the beloved Solitude Glacier – this is a no go zone.
For more details on specific areas to take your machines, check out the BC Backroad Map book. Alternatively, BCORMA, ATVBC or the BC Snowmobile Federation have access and information on clubs for powersport enthusiasts throughout British Columbia.
The benefits of these clubs include learning about your local trail networks, connecting with other local riders, organized events, updates on trail conditions and maintenance, safety concerns and sweet sweet discounts, because we all know, powersports ain’t cheap!
Be Safe, Respect the Trails, HAVE FUN
Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned veteran, we are all out there to have fun. So while you’re doing that, consider the conditions of the trails and respect that a club or several club members groomed these trails for your personal enjoyment. Do not forget to pack out what you pack in. With a motor under you, this should be easy.
While you’re ripping up and down dirt roads and snow covered mountains, be mindful of the conditions, weather and terrain traps so you can all finish your session high five-ing and cheers-ing to another fine day in the mountains on the back of your pickup truck for some “Apres Brap”.
What is a great day in the mountains without Apres. The key word here is Apres… meaning after. Drinking while brapping, definitely not a good or legal idea. You can Apres a few different ways in Whistler. Whistler’s Best Apres is chalk full of ideas for your post ride muddy and exhaust smelling selves. Longhorn and Tapley’s patios always welcome those looking to enjoy a refreshing cold beverage with your buds after a day of radness, or simply pop in, grab some Apres Lager and take your Apres back to the tailgate of your truck. Either way you do it, embrace the true apres of this tradition ie keep the drinks for when you’re brapping is done.