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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to all those questions guests frequently ask

Frequently Asked Questions

This section provides answers to typical guest questions. Please click on a question below to view the answer. Please feel free to Contact us in the event your question is not answered here

Trip Questions

DO YOU OFFER GROUP DISCOUNTS?

Yes, Backroads offers group discounts. If you are prepared to gather a group of friends together for some fun, we are prepared to provide you with the benefits of your patronage.

DO YOU OFFER DISCOUNTS FOR KIDS OR SENIORS?

Children (under 12) 50% off when traveling with two adults on the River of Golden Dreams.

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN A TOUR?

All equipment and a free shuttle (if required) are included in a tour package. This includes equipment such as life jackets, paddles and rain gear. Backroads Whistler has by far the best fleet in the valley.

DO YOUR TRIPS OPERATE IN WET WEATHER?

Certainly! Mountain weather can bring squalls followed by radiant sunshine. Canoe / kayaking down the river in the rain is a very fun experience. Remember the song “Rain drops keep falling on my head…”? You’ll think you’re crazy but once you’re out in the rain you will be loving life.

We are prepared for all kinds of weather. Backroads provides, free of charge, the waterproof jackets necessary to keep you dry and warm clothing to keep you toasty.

IS LUNCH INCLUDED?

Lunch is not included in the tours. Please bring some snacks and water with you. You will be doing physical exercise and most likely will appreciate the snacks and water. This is especially important if you have young children with you.

WHY SHOULD I HIRE A GUIDE?

Many people ask us this question, especially given that nature is out there and ready to be explored if you have the equipment. The best thing about guides is that they know all the secret spots in the Whistler mountains, rivers and forests – like finding that hidden beaver lodge or quiet secluded lunch spot with great views. If you just want to relax and enjoy your tour they can explain what you’re seeing.

If you want to challenge your skills or improve your paddling they can turn from guide to instructor. This is especially true for our river trips. Have you ever been on a lake and the wind comes up only to find you’re going the wrong way or can’t keep the boat into the wind? Our instructors will teach you how to steer the boat so this is never a problem again. You’ll remember this for the rest of your life.

Our guides are first aid certified, certified in their sports and carry industrial quality VHF portable radios should we require assistance.

WHAT SHOULD I BRING TO GO CANOEING OR KAYAKING?

Depending on the weather and activity we recommend

  • Short sleeve t-shirts
  • Short pants
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Suntan lotion
  • Sunglasses
  • A hat
  • A camera

As mountain weather changes quickly a warm sweater or wind shell and shell pants are a good idea. Food is not included in the tours unless prearranged so consider bringing a light snack and some water.

WILL THE RIVER BE HARD FOR ME TO PADDLE?

One of the great aspects of the River of Golden Dreams is you’re going with the flow of the water, not alot of paddling, some steering yes but it doesn’t have to be a workout unless you want it to be

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO PADDLE THE RIVER?

We list the River of Golden Dreams as a 3 hour round trip. Water time is 2 to 2.5 hours. This all depends on river water flows and how much you paddle. Our trip starts out on Alta Lake which allows you to ‘warm up’ and get used to your boat’. Typical guests cant’ wait to get out on the water, paddle like crazy for a few minutes then kick back and enjoy the view, then paddle a bit more. It takes 20-30 minutes of easy paddling to get to the river entrance. River time is about 1 ¼ to 1 ¾ of an hour. This all depends on how fast or slow the river is flowing. Guests who are keen for a work out and are actively paddling will do the trip much faster. We have lots of options for them to maximize their trip time. i.e. Paddle down to the south end of Alta Lake and around the far shore or out and around Green Lake. Spring and fall paddlers get unlimited time out on the water, bring a lunch and speak to us for more details on this.

DO YOU OFFER CUSTOM OR SPECIAL TOURS?

Backroads Whistler has provided customized experiences and memories ever since we started in 1985. We have refined our list of activities to what most of our customers do most of the time. With notice we are happy to adjust itineraries and plan adventurous unique tours with you.

WHAT IF I CAN'T SWIM?

All our guests are provided with life jackets that are approved by the Canadian Department of Transportation. In the unlikely event that you should fall in the water our jackets will bring you to the surface. Our guides are trained in boat handling and safety as well as some that are trained life guards and instructors in these types of sports

Please let our staff know before departure if you or anyone else going on the trip cannot swim.

WHAT IF I HAVEN'T BEEN IN A CANOE OR KAYAK BEFORE?

Hiring one of our guides will get you straight in the canoe or kayak and quickly up the learning curve. Backroads offers tours and instruction for all abilities.

DO I NEED A GUIDE?

Do you have some paddling experience? If not you need a guide. Do you find that when you are paddling on a lake you get blown around in the wind? Yes you need a guide. Our guides will teach you paddling techniques that you will enjoy on the river and wherever you may paddle. Little or no paddling experience – Yes you need a guide. Family with small children – Yes you need a guide. Should you complete your guided tour and feel that the guide did not represent value, we will not charge you for the guide.

“I am so glad you recommended the guide for us. It really made the tour special” is the feedback we regularly receive from guests!

DO I HAVE TO PADDLE BACK UP THE RIVER?

No. You do not! When you get to the end of the River of Golden Dreams, we have a shuttle bus to take you back to Lakeside Park or Whistler Village.

WHAT'S THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO PADDLE THE RIVER?

Up here, high in the mountains the winter snow pack and spring/summer/fall temperatures combine to change water levels in the river up to a meter (3 feet) in 24 hours.

In early summer the water can be running quite well, guides are definitely recommended.

Once the winter snow pack has melted (early August) water levels drop considerably and the river becomes very mellow. Still, you never know what’s around the next corner, whether it be a beaver dam to swhoosh over, birds bursting off the water in front of your boat or a bear on the river bank. This is one of the fun aspect of this river, it’s different every time you paddle it and people come back year after year to paddle this river.

About Whistler

WHERE IS BACKROADS WHISTLER LOCATED?

Backroads Whistler is located in beautiful Lakeside Park on the shores of Alta Lake, just minutes south of Whistler Village. When exiting the village onto highway 99, turn south toward Vancouver, pass under the traffic lights at “Blueberry” and make your next right on Hillcrest Dr. There is a sign at the intersection that says “Alta Vista and ‘Lakeside Park”. Follow the signs to Lakeside Park.

Here’s our location on Google Maps

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET TO THE LAKE?

Where appropriate, the Backroads Whistler complimentary shuttle service is offered. The following times are a general guideline based on driving time:

  • 4 minutes to the water front

DATES OF OPERATION

dates

HOW DO I GET TO WHISTLER?

By Plane, from Vancouver: Contact Whistler Air ( 604-932-6615) and fly in style in a float plane and be here in 30 minutes.

By Rental Car, from Vancouver: Drive on Highway 99 North to Squamish/Whistler. Pass through Squamish and head on up to Whistler. Distance 142kms. Duration: 1hr 40mins. Try Hertz or Thrifty car rental services.

By Bus / Taxi / Limousine: There are a variety of bus lines and limousine services which operate from the city and the airport, which can drop you off at the bus loop in the center of Whistler Village. Sometimes a limousine is cheaper than a bus if you are traveling in groups of 5 or greater.