We were hanging off of a cliff somewhere deep in Whistler’s scenic Callaghan Valley. I couldn’t see the ground below from behind the wheel of our luxury Porsche Cayenne. Our Porsche Driving Experience guide Mike was gesturing to continue but surely, it was madness to accelerate into open air, wasn’t it?
I could do this. I had just learned how.
My family assured me they were fine and I pressed the accelerator gently to get us up, over and down the incline. We were met with stunning mountain views and the satisfaction of having driven some pretty wild terrain in a rather fine automobile. For adventurous travelers seeking a thrilling driving experience that combines beauty, excitement and luxury, the Porsche Driving Experience Whistler is where it’s at.
You can even take the kids, if you can take the back seat driver chatter, that is.
Porsche Driving Experience Whistler
The Porsche Off-Road Driving Experience is a three-hour driving journey created by Porsche and Canadian Wilderness Adventures, in conjunction with the Four Seasons Whistler Resort. This luxury driving experience is a unique and thrilling way to discover some of the off-the-beaten path gems that exist in the Whistler valley.
The drive winds southwest from the Village, past Whistler Creekside and along the scenic Sea to Sky highway into the rugged backcountry of the Callaghan Valley’s logging roads. As you can imagine, this is a summer-only driving experience, as it takes place on a specially designed off-road course that becomes a popular backcountry snowmobiling route in winter.
Launched in June 2018, the journey provides an incredible driving experience for local and international visitors, and showcases the amazing engineering and power of the Porsche Cayenne. It’s a great opportunity to drive a Porsche, which proves itself to be far more than just a West Van weekend cruiser. In other words, this powerful car can move, and do tricks.
Going Off-Road in the Porsche Cayenne
Our driving experience took place on the Father’s Day weekend in June, and it certainly meets the criteria for a memorable experience in honour of dear old dad, especially if he’s a driving kind of guy, as my husband is. We met our driving guide Mike MacWilliams, known as “Mike Mac” in the Library of the Four Seasons Resort to sign waivers and get introduced to our half day off-road adventure.
Both my husband and I were going to take turns driving the Cayenne, and we’d brought along our back seat drivers – our two teen sons – for the fun and the inevitable criticism. FYI: Drivers need to be 21 years of age and fully licensed in order to participate. Passengers must be at least 10+ years old.
Our adventure consisted of Mike in the lead car and our family following in our Cayenne. The ground rules were simple. “If you pass me, I’ll assume you’ve stolen the car,” said Mike. We had no problem with that, and tuned our walkie talkie to his frequency for in-car communication. It was just us on our driving day, so the chatter was easy.
For larger groups, Canadian Wilderness Adventures has an entire seven-car fleet, with an instructor leading the convoy of white sports cars through the valley.
The Driving Experience emphasizes safety first, hence the no passing rule, and that the guide is always in charge. As a local who’s lived off-grid, Mike is intimately familiar with the rocky terrain and narrow dirt roads that wind through the tall pines of the Callaghan Valley.
After a short but rather fast drive down the highway, we turned off the pavement and accelerated along bumpy gravel roads, navigated deep potholes, and forded through puddles and streams. Our whiter-than-white 2018 Porsche Cayenne SUV quickly became coated in a fine brown dust, proof of the off-road worthiness of our adventures.
We stopped frequently to take in Mike’s instructions and watch him perform the almost acrobatic driving that we’ll follow up with. While I’m familiar with the Cayenne’s handling on the mean streets of Vancouver, taking it up and down hills and along cratered backroads is a whole other story.
A Luxurious Beast of a Car
And that’s the point of the Experience in a nutshell. It’s meant to showcase the off-road capabilities of the Cayenne. Yes, it’s a super comfy luxury SUV that can pass just about any sports car on the highway in a flash. But the engineering and mechanics of the car, including the adjustment of height clearance to miss boulders and obstacles, and the ability to set off-the-center locking differential for potholes and ruts so the tires won’t spin at the same time, is what will really impress drivers when you get into the wilderness.
The car’s ability to safely navigate steep grades and hills is also impressive. We practiced driving up embankments, including one where I was petrified we were going to roll over. But the car didn’t budge, even when Mike pushed hard on the vehicle, which was sitting at a 28% grade. The kids were laughing hysterically while I whimpered, but the Cayenne stood fast.
The driving antics are great fun and I enjoyed learning about the Porsche Cayenne’s impressive mechanics. The Whistler location really sets this driving experience apart from just another day out at the track.
It takes a bit of effort to get to the Callaghan Valley, which was developed as the venue for the Nordic events of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Driving a luxury vehicle through mountain forests while enjoying the scenic views of the Garibaldi range and stunning Alexander Falls makes this experience all the more worthwhile and special.
As far as fun family adventures go, the Porsche Driving Experience in Whistler is an incredible day of rugged adventure combined with the elegance and comfort of a luxury vehicle. I’d characterize it as a ‘peak Whistler’ experience. Our kids found it to be ‘great, crazy fun’ and I’m sure they can’t wait until they have the chance to get behind the wheel themselves in the near future.
Then it will be my turn to be the back seat driver.
Disclosure: The Travelling Mom thanks Canadian Wilderness Adventures and Tourism Whistler for hosting our Porsche Driving Experience. As always, her opinions on driving fast are honest and her own.