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A Weekend in the Wild | 48 Hours Camping in Whistler

water fall, forest, and pacific north west

Whistler is more than just luxurious hotels—it’s also home to some of the best camping near Vancouver. Wake up to breathtaking views and pristine alpine lakes just outside the city. 

There are lots of accessible camping spots right on your doorstep. You don’t have to endure hours of hiking with a heavy backpack to truly experience the Canadian landscape.

To make it easy for you to escape the city, we’ve selected our top picks for scenic camping spots around Whistler.  All you need to do is pack your bag and join us!

A Quick Camping Trip to Whistler — It’s Easy

Planning a quick camping trip can be tricky. But Whistler takes the guesswork out of that planning, making it easy to camp near Vancouver. A Whistler weekend is perfect for campers as there are lots of activities to do, so you won’t have to sit around the campsite all day (unless you want to).

Where to Car Camp in Whistler

Nairn Falls Provincial Park

Woman resting on a hike alongside the Lillooet River to Nairn Fa

Its often refreshingly cool in the trees, bring layers!

  • Rate: $22 Per Party
  • Directions: 20 Minutes North of Whistler on the HWY 99

Nairn Falls Provincial Park is located 32km north of Whistler and is home to a jaw-dropping, rock-sculpted, 60-metre waterfall, which can be viewed up close by walking a short, 1.5km trail from the main car park. 

The park features vehicle accessible campsites, so pull up and enjoy the ease of car camping for just $22 per party per night. Bookings are easily made through the BC Parks website.

Our favourite camping spots here are those on the edge of the high cliffs that tower above the mighty Green River. As you fall asleep at night, listen to the gush of swirling, glacial-fed water as it tumbles through the valley below. This campground is an ideal base from which to explore the natural wonders of the Sea to Sky corridor.

Cal-Cheak Campground 

  • Rate: $15 Per Night
  • Directions: 3km North of Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, on HWY 99.
  • Book: First Come First Serve, No Reservations

Camping in Whistler doesn’t have to involve a tent. Cal-Cheak is a vehicle-accessible campground named after the Callaghan and Cheakamus Rivers that intersect at this spot. 

Located just 20 minutes south of Whistler Village, Cal-Cheak is a convenient camping choice. Although you can’t reserve a space here—it’s first-come, first-serve—the area is usually quiet because it’s not a Provincial campground. 

The huge sites are only $15 a night and are nestled between old-growth trees, creating a secluded and peaceful atmosphere – the perfect place for a quiet Whistler weekend getaway.

Riverside Resort 

  • Rate: $92 Per Night Off-Season, $135 Per Night Peak Season, $200 a Night in Winter
  • Directions: 8018 Mons Road, Whistler, British Columbia

If you arrive in Whistler in an RV, head straight to Riverside Resort. This campground, located just north of Whistler and within walking distance of the village, is open year-round and is fully equipped for all of your needs.

Camping here certainly doesn’t feel like your authentic Canadian wilderness experience. The on-site amenities include full washrooms with heated floors, Wi-Fi, laundry service, and an on-site cafe. The location is the best part, as it is close to the stunning Green Lake and surprisingly tranquil.

Rates depend on the season, starting at $92 for the off-season, $135 for peak season, and $200 in winter. We recommend checking their website for dates and 2023 rates. This is also the only place where you can legally camp within the municipality of Whistler.

Where to Pitch a Tent in Whistler

Alice Lake Provincial Park

Garibaldi Mountain from Alice Lake

A sneak peak at whats in store for you at Alice Lake Provincial Park

  • Rate: Starting at $23 Per Night or $120 Per Group
  • Directions: Situated off Highway 99, Approximately 13 km North of Squamish

Alice Lake Provincial Park is located between Whistler and Squamish, close to Cat Lake and just off the Sea to Sky Highway. This unspoiled campground boasts many walk-in sites, but these do get booked up in the summer months, so we’d recommend making a reservation in advance.

This is a very well-maintained area, and the impeccably clean washroom facilities with showers are a welcome luxury! There’s a brilliant (and not too strenuous) six-kilometre hike, known as the Four Lakes Trail, that loops around the Provincial Park and takes two hours.

If you prefer to relax, spend the day on the large, grassy beach area on the lake’s edge. Alice Lake Campground is perfect for families and is easily accessible. Rates start at $23 for a site, and they also offer group bookings from $120. 

Cat Lake, Squamish

  • Rate: $15 per Night, Walk In
  • Directions: 30 min South of Whistler Village on HWY 99
  • Book: First Come First Served, Cash Payment at the Site.

Of all the camping in Whistler, Cat Lake is one our preferred spots. A favourite among locals in the summer, this beautiful site is just a 30-minute drive from Whistler Village and offers everything you need for a night under canvas for just $15 a night. 

It is a popular swimming hole because of the warm water, small beaches, and docks, making it an idyllic location to relax in the sunshine. The car park can be reached just a couple of kilometres from the Sea to Sky Highway, and from there it’s only a short walk to the campsites.

We love Cat Lake as it is some of the best camping near Vancouver, but be aware that it is a popular spot with young campers on the weekends. So if you’re looking for something quieter, visit mid-week or check out Alice Lake, described below!

Upper Third Lake, Joffre Lake

Crystal clear water, mountains and forest of Joffre Lake Canada

One of the most popular hikes around Whistler is Joffre Lakes

  • Rate: $5 Per Night

Drive north of Whistler for about an hour and you’ll reach Joffre Lakes. Once a hidden BC gem, their beauty has made Joffre Lakes an Instagram sensation and gained a reputation for being mildly overcrowded. 

The total round trip hike is 11km, and it’s at the Upper Third Lake where you’ll find the campground, consisting of 26 wilderness sites. The sites are priced low at just $5 a night, and although there are no facilities, it is still a steal of a deal. 

Most tourists don’t venture past the lookout point due to the rock scrambling, but keep with it and you will be rewarded with one of the most beautiful camping spots imaginable. 

Once the hordes of tourists descend back down at the end of the day, you’ll be able to fully appreciate this tranquil environment. You need a valid backcountry camping permit to stay overnight, so book your permit before you leave.

Garibaldi Lake, Whistler

  • Rate: $10 Per Night
  • Directions: There Are Five Different Trailheads Along the Sea to Sky Highway between Pemberton and Squamish, All Are Vehicle Access. Starting from Rubble Creek is the Shortest Round Trip.

One for the more adventurous campers, Garibaldi Lake is a fantastic experience for those willing to brave the 18km round-trip hike. The trailhead is at the end of Daisy Lake Road in Whistler, but don’t let the 6-hour hike put you off, as you will wake up to one of the most amazing sunrises of your life. 

The fee is $10 a night for a camp spot, with 50 sites available. However you will still need to make a reservation through BC Parks. This is definitely one for the more advanced campers or those looking for some adventure. 

Cheakamus Lake, Whistler

  • Rate: $10 per night
  • Directions: 2.5 km South of Whistler at Function Junction. The Logging Road to the Trailhead is on the Left-Hand Side After 500 Metres. It is 7.5 km From the Highway to the Parking Lot.

Cheakamus Lake has the most mellow of the hike-in access camping spots in Whistler, making it an easy option for camping near Vancouver. The campground is 3km from the parking area, and the trail is mostly flat. 

If you are new to backcountry camping, this is a perfect place to start. The waterfront views are still outstanding, and you won’t be discouraged by the hike into the campground. This is a trendy spot at $10 a night, so make sure to book your reservation online.  

Top 8 Activities in the Wilds of Whistler

The appeal of camping in Whistler is that you can experience the remote, beautiful, wild side of BC and take advantage of all of the comforts and conveniences that come with a world-class resort. 

After enjoying breakfast cooked over a campfire, drive into Whistler Village for the afternoon and take part in an adrenaline-filled adventure. Whistler has so many activities, especially during the summer months, so tear yourself away from your relaxing campsite for a day and head out on a thrilling excursion. Here are our top picks of things to do:

  • White Water Rafting

There’s nothing quite like racing down BC’s freezing cold, glacial-fed rivers on a raft. Grab a paddle, slip into a wetsuit, and head out on an exhilarating white water rafting tour. With The Adventure Group, you can choose from three varied and exciting trips (Green River, Cheakamus River, or Elaho-Squamish River), depending on the level of thrill you’re after!

  • Go Bungee Jumping

Do you think you’ve got the nerve to throw yourself off of a 160-ft (53-m) bridge? 

Whistler Bungee, 15 minutes south of the village, might just be this town’s most extreme activity and will make your heart race. But at least the breathtaking scenery, including spectacular basalt column cliffs, old-growth forests and the glittering Cheakamus River, might take your mind off the jump just a little. 

  • Cool Forest Ziplining

Want to experience BC’s beauty from the air? If that’s a YES we hear you cry, strap yourself into a harness and soar down Superfly’s ziplines. 

You’ll be taken high up into the mountains in an off-road vehicle and make your way back down via a network of boardwalks and four thrilling ziplines up to 100 km/hour speeds! Admire the magnificent views of the valley below from high up on Cougar Mountain and let the wind rip through your hair!

  • Whistler by Air

Another spectacular way to get an aerial view of BC’s outstanding landscape is from a helicopter. Soak in the scenery on a Blackcomb Helicopter tour and fly over Whistler Village, Cheakamus Glacier, and the stunning Garibaldi Provincial Park.

On their 24-minute BC Experience Tour, you’ll even have the once in a lifetime chance to set foot on a 12,000-year-old glacier! Talk about that for a day to remember.

  • The Great Canadian Sport of Axe Throwing

If you’re unlucky enough for the heavens to open on you during your camping trip in BC, you might be searching for an indoor activity to keep you dry. Of course, there’s nothing worse than getting your only pair of camping shorts soggy in the rain, so shelter from the weather at Forged Axe Throwing and continue your authentic Canadian adventure experience! 

Anyone over the age of 10 can take part, so whether you fancy yourself as a lumberjack or have never picked up an axe before, head down to Function Junction (a short, 10-minute drive south of Whistler) and try your hand at this sport!

  • Ride the Famous Bike Park

You might know that Whistler Blackcomb is North America’s largest and arguably most popular ski resort in the winter, but did you know it is also a world-class bike park in the summer? The bike park is perfect for first-timers and die-hard bikers. You can learn more about what to expect through our guide on the Whistler Bike Park.

  • Get a 360-Degree View of Whistler Valley

Just because you are roughing it in the Canadian wilderness doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to the Whistler Blackcomb Peak 2 Peak. Catch the Whistler gondola and find yourself located high above the clouds. Here you can access the Peak 2 Peak, a 4.4km-long gondola with fantastic valley views. 

  • Can You Escape Whistler’s Escape Rooms?

Another activity to get you out of the rain is Escape! Whistler. Forget the card games around the campsite—get your brain working and challenge your camping buddies to see if you can work together. 

Located in the Whistler Hilton, each room will need teamwork to complete within the 45-minute time limit. With six themed rooms, you will forget about the weather and focus on escaping before the timer runs out. 

Bear Aware: Camping Around Whistler

  • Be Fire Smart

    camp fire and marshmellows

    Summer in Whistler usually means fire bans. Check in advance before you light up.

You probably know it, but in BC forest fires are a massive deal. The past few years of fires have had a devastating effect on forests and wildlife in the province due to human mistakes. So if a campfire ban is in effect, abide by it! 

Don’t start a fire to warm yourself up or roast your marshmallows, as just one spark could burn down a forest. Check out the restrictions before you set off, and pack an extra layer or two if you think it’s going to be a chilly night! 

  • Be Bear Aware

Camping in Whistler also means you’re camping in bear country! We share our beautiful backyard with some pretty incredible wildlife, but while black bears might look cuddly, they should never be approached, and you should always follow Bear Smart principles.

Most campgrounds around Whistler have bear boxes on-site, specifically designed to keep your food out of bear bellies. Always store your food in these boxes. Bears have even been known to be attracted to scented bath products, including toothpaste, so don’t leave these in your tent while you’re sound asleep either. Always be bear aware!

  • Be Prepared for No Cell Service

Although you might be just a short drive from the heart of Whistler Village, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re safe from the wilderness. You might not have a cell phone signal at some camping sites in BC, so be aware that you may not be able to rely on it if you find yourself in trouble.

If you’re heading further into the backcountry, make sure you bring enough water, as some sites may not have access to drinking water. Also, pack a first-aid kit, plenty of layers, enough food, and a map. Finally, always tell a friend where you’re heading and when you plan on getting back.

Forget Something? Where to Get Camping Supplies in Whistler

It’s okay, we have all started to unpack the car at the campsite and then realised that we left some essential items at home. Luckily, Whistler has everything you need to avoid having to turn the vehicle around. 

For groceries and liquor stores, the Whistler Village is your one-stop shop. There is a large market called Fresh Street that has everything you could need. There is also a BC Liquor store located across the marketplace parking lot. 

If it is a Sunday, you will need to venture out of the village for liquor. We recommend the Nesters Liquor store, located in the Nesters Market, or if you are North of Whistler, the Whistler Liquor Store is located in Rainbow Plaza. 

Function Junction is home to Home Depot, which can help you out with ropes, tarps, and other items you might require. For clothing, the Escape Route in the Village Stroll will be your best stop. Or you can always visit Arcteryx and Patagonia if that is more your style. 

Camping in Whistler – The Perfect Wilderness Mini-Break!

Camping in BC is one of the best ways to truly experience this magnificent landscape. Whether you’re keen to fully immerse yourself in the remote backcountry, fancy a fun-filled weekend outdoors with the kids, or want to relax in your RV surrounded by mountains, Whistler has a camping option for you. And remember, when enjoying Whistler’s wonderful campgrounds, leave no trace!