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Camping in Whistler | From Parking to Picnics

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Camping in Whistler takes planning – while there aren’t many Whistler campgrounds they are an incredibly popular and affordable option when visiting Whistler. Avoid disappointment and have the best trip ever to Whistler by planning ahead and reading the tips below to save money and have a stress-free holiday. Fill your nights with a crackling campfire, marshmallows, and tales of your days’ adventures.

Camping in Whistler – What to Expect 

Get ready for camping in Whistler.

Whistler has two campgrounds that book up months in advance for the busy summer season. Some have walk-in sites that are first-come-first-served but are quickly filled on weekends and holidays. Camping in BC you also have to be aware of fire bans, wildlife, and restrictions to keep yourself and the environment safe, so it’s definitely worth doing your research before hitting the road.

 

  • Seasons

 

Whistler’s summer season begins mid-June and runs until the first weekend in September (Labour Day Long Weekend). This is the busiest time to go camping as kids are on summer holiday and the weather is ideal, but if you’re looking to skip the crowds and camp try travelling during the shoulder season (mid-April to mid-May; September-October) or midweek.

 

  • Weather

 

Once the spring melt starts around March, the local lakes unfreeze and trails clear for endless outdoor endeavours. Summers can bring hot, beautiful days that cool down in the evening and sunny crisp days as the leaves change at the end of September.

While winter tent camping can be an option for those looking to explore the backcountry and have the appropriate training and gear, many campgrounds close in the winter months. Some campgrounds stay open year-round for those travelling in an RV (Whistler RV Park & Riverside Campground) and offer serviced and winterized sites.

For the majority of people, camping will happen between the months of May to October where the weather is warmer and camping is much more comfortable.

What to Bring  

Read first, before packing for a Whistler Camping Trip!

 

 

Whether you’re staying in an RV or in a tent, the most important thing to bring on your trip is layers. Temperatures during the day may be warm, however, at night the cool mountain air can dip the mercury and have you wish you brought a warmer jacket or sleeping bag. A waterproof jacket and sturdy shoes are also must-haves when visiting Whistler so you can adventure in all conditions.

There are many companies in Vancouver that rent RVs and campervans or rent camping gear such as tents, backpacks, and sleeping bags. Along the Sea to Sky Highway there are grocery stores, a Walmart, and Canadian Tire to stock up on camping necessities should you have forgotten anything.

If all else fails, Whistler has many fabulous bars and restaurants if you decide to treat yourself. There are also bear watching tours available in town should you wish to learn more about your furry neighbours and view them safely within a vehicle with a trained guide.

Do’s and Don’ts of Camping in Whistler

Do Don’t
Leave a bare campsite Leave out food, toiletries, dirty dishes, or garbage
Call ahead to reserve a campsite Show up last minute expecting a spot
Check the fire report prior to lighting a campfire Light a campfire if the fire danger is high
Pack it in, pack it out Litter the outdoors with toilet paper and garbage

Backcountry Camping Near Whistler

There are many fantastic backcountry camping opportunities in and around Whistler, most that require a reservation in order to camp there. Reservations allow for crowd management and also puts money back towards maintaining the backcountry sites so we can continue to camp in these spots for many more years.

While there are backcountry sites that do not require a reservation, here are some options for backcountry camping in and around Whistler that you can reserve and are fabulous (and all end up at lakes).

Cheakamus Lake 

Glacier-fed Cheakamus Lake lies at elevation 915 metres surrounded by mountains that tower to 1,600 metres above its thickly forested shoreline. The parking lot fills up quickly with day hikers so arrive early to hike three to seven kilometres to the Cheakamus Lake campground and Singing Creek campground.

It is an easy hike in an old-growth forest that takes you to the five-kilometre long lake that has a total of seventeen lakeside camping spots between the two campsites on the lake. There are pit toilets and food hanging facilities available, and fires, dogs, and motorized vehicles are not permitted. Black bears frequent the area – use caution when travelling through the area and never feed or approach them.

  • How to Book: Discover Camping website
  • Price: $10 per adult; $5 per child + $6 per night tent fee
  • Open year-round

Garibaldi Lake 

Garibaldi Lake is a turquoise-coloured alpine lake in British Columbia, Canada, located 37 km north of Squamish and 19 km south of Whistler.

Garibaldi Lake is a stunning alpine lake that is turquoise-blue in colour and attracts visitors from around the world. The hike the Garibaldi Lake is quite strenuous and follows a number of gravel switchbacks before reaching the lake. The trail is nine kilometres long and has an elevation gain of 920 metres and once at the lake, there are fifty reservable sites, pit toilets, two day-use shelters, and a park ranger who manages the campground.

Taylor Meadows is another campground nearby that is not lakeside, however, has forty reservable sites, pit toilets, two day-use shelters, and is closer to Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge. Both Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake campgrounds do not permit fires, dogs, or motorized vehicles.

  • How to Book: Discover Camping website
  • Price: $10 per adult; $5 per child + $6 per night tent fee
  • Open year-round

Callaghan Lake

Located 8.5km up a rough potholed logging road, Callaghan Lake offers informal vehicle accessible campsites on a first-come-first-served basis. This road is usually deep with snow until mid-June and cars without clearance may struggle to get to the lake. The current camping area is an informal, confined area at the end of the road, close to the lake.

This camping area can accommodate four – six tents or high clearance camper trucks. Camping is available only in snow-free months (mid-June to end of October) and there is no fee to camp. There is a pit toilet but no garbage or water facilities to pack out what you pack in and come prepared.

  • How to Book: first-come-first-served (no reservations)
  • Price: free
  • Open: mid-June to end of October

Just looking for a hike? Here are a few adventurous suggestions.

Car Camping Near Whistler

There are two Whistler campgrounds and one just outside of Whistler that works for easy car camping, however, they are well-frequented and often busy or booked up. Two allow for reservations (Whistler RV Park and Riverside Campground) whereas Cal-Cheak is rustic and first-come-first-served. Whether you’re looking to hook up to a fully serviced campsite or something a bit rustic, Whistler has a few options for you. 

Big views from Whistler RV Park.

Whistler RV Park

Located 18 km from Whistler Village is Whistler RV Park – the largest campground in Whistler with 146 sites. They offer fully serviced sites, water, sani-dumps, and bathrooms with free hot showers. Enjoy amazing views of Black Tusk and Whistler Mountain from this site that is also close to other recreational opportunities such as Brandywine Falls. Serviced sites are reservable however, tent sites are not at this Whistler campgrounds.

  • How to Book: on their website (Whistler RV Park) / tent sites are first-come-first-served
  • Price: from $45/tent site to $60/serviced site
  • Open year-round

Riverside Campground

Riverside Campground is located 3.6km north of Whistler Village and offers a variety of accommodation options from walk-in tent sites to serviced RV sites and even log cabins and yurts. This family-friendly campground is right next to the Fitzsimmons Creek, has a playground, and is incredibly close to hiking, biking, golf courses, and amenities. Spots for the summer book up incredibly fast, so reserve far in advance. The on-site restaurant, Riverside Cafe, is fantastic if you don’t feel like cooking breakfast in the morning.

  • How to Book: on their website (Riverside Resort Whistler)
  • Price: non-serviced walk-in sites from $45/serviced sites from $67
  • Open year-round

Cal-Cheak Rec Site 

An easy place to get out of the village for the weekend.

Cal-Cheak is a first-come-first-served campsite, no reservation system exists. There are over fifty-five campsites to chose from in three separate areas between Callaghan Creek and Cheakamus River. Many sites are large enough for RV’s, but no power or sewage services on site. There are pit toilet, fire rings, and is heavily treed providing shade from the hot summer sun. Black bears frequent the area so be aware of food and garbage and pack into your car when you are not in the site.

  • How to book: unreservable
  • Price: $13 per site
  • Open: May 1 – October 31

 

Camping in BC, especially Whistler, takes some pre-planning and can involve some changes of plans but is absolutely epic if it all falls into place. Enjoy amazing views and experiences at a fraction of the cost of a hotel room, and enjoy sleeping under the stars next to a crackling campfire.

Always do your research beforehand and reserve campsites or have a solid back-up plan, check the fire report to see if you can have campfires or not (if not, propane fire pits are typically allowed), and as always – leave no trace and pack out what you pack in.