Immersed in the Canadian Wilderness | Camping Near Whistler
The lakes, forests and mountains of Whistler deserve your attention. And what better way to really pay attention than to spend a few nights al fresco, sleeping in the great outdoors. Luckily, there are loads of awesome, accessible campgrounds in Whistler. Every one offers fresh air, beautiful views and the chance to slow down and get back to nature. Swim in the lakes, hike through the forest and later share stories around the campfire – it doesn’t get much better than this.
With so much to choose from and so many things to consider, it’s worth doing your research before embarking on your camping trip. Luckily, Whistler locals know a thing or two about camping near Whistler. So we’ve put together this handy guide to everything you need to know, and some of our favourite spots to spend the night.
Camping in Whistler – What You Need to Know
Whether you like to live in luxury or want to go fully off the grid, there’s a campground for everyone in Whistler. From full-service RV sites to rustic backcountry spots with little more than a pit toilet, choosing the right site is vital. Read on for some of our suggestions for the best of each kind of campsite. If price is important to you, make sure you do your research before you go. Even backcountry sites normally have a small reservation fee (around $12) and a night at an RV park will cost closer to $60-70.
Camping is one of the best ways to really experience the true outdoors around Whistler. But to have the best experience, it pays to be prepared. Here are a few things you should know about camping in Whistler before you head out.
Plan for the weather
While we’re normally graced with gloriously hot summers here in Whistler, a dry night is not a guarantee. Between June and September, temperatures range between 20 – 35°C during the day. But there’s always a chance it could rain, and the nights get a lot cooler. So bring plenty of layers, rain gear and a three-season sleeping bag so you’re guaranteed a good night’s sleep.
Bears? Where!? Whistler Wildlife
If you’re spending a night in the great outdoors, there’s a chance you’ll come across some of our local wildlife. While they’re great to watch, with all the wildlife you should keep your distance, and never feed them. And this advice is most important with our resident black bears. They may look goofy and friendly, but it’s never safe to approach a bear, even to snap a photograph.
If you come across a bear, make lots of noise, stand your ground and it will likely wander off pretty quickly. Never ever feed a bear, and keep all food securely stored in your car or a bear box when you aren’t eating. We love our bears and want them to enjoy their habitat as much as we do – so do your bit to protect them by following Bear Smart principles all the time in Whistler.
Staying Safe while Camping near Whistler
While Whistler is a world-class, luxurious resort, things are a little different once you head off to a campground – which is partly why you want to go, of course. That being said, it’s worth being aware that not all campgrounds are staffed, especially in the backcountry, and you may be far from help if something does go wrong. You may not always be within phone signal either, so don’t rely on your cellphone to call for help.
By planning ahead and being prepared you can avoid any sticky situations while camping in Whistler. Here’s some must-dos when you head for a camping trip in Whistler:
- Bring plenty of water (or be sure there is drinking water available at the campsite)
- Stock up on food that will last your whole trip
- Bring a first-aid kit for minor injuries
- Have a map of the area and know where you’re going
- Let someone know where you’re going, and when you plan to be back
- Bring plenty of layers, rain gear and be prepared for weather changes
- Check whether you will be able to have a campfire – there are often fire bans in place in Whistler to protect our town from wildfires
If there’s anything you aren’t sure about – just ask! Locals are always happy to help and have plenty of experience planning awesome camping trips around Whistler.
Now that you know what to expect, on to the fun stuff: choosing your ultimate Whistler campground.
Where to Car Camp Near Whistler?
Who doesn’t love car camping? You can bring along all the little luxuries to make yourselves a comfortable camp, and plan some daytime excursions to explore the local area. There are plenty of great car camping spots along the Sea to Sky – here’s some that we love.
- Cal Cheak
This cool little campsite in the woods is a great choice for exploring Whistler. Just a 10-minute drive south of the village, the campsite sits on the banks of the rushing whitewater of the Cheakamus River. There are about 50 campsites available first-come, first-served, and a spot costs just $13 per night for a group. Most sites have a fire pit so you can cook up a feast (as long as there isn’t a fire ban) and plenty of space for the kids to run around and explore the forest.
- Nairn Falls
Follow the highway through Whistler towards Pemberton, and you’ll come to the beautiful Nairn Falls campground. Just a short walk from the impressive Nairn Falls themselves, the campsites are perched high on a cliff over the Green River – a tumbling class 4 whitewater river cutting through a deep canyon. There’s some great hiking around Nairn Falls and easy access to both Whistler and Pemberton for mountain biking, whitewater rafting and fishing. Camping at Nairn Falls costs $22 per night, per party.
- Madeley Lake
For a more rustic and remote experience, Madeley Lake is an amazing spot to spend the night. About 20km south of Whistler, the campsite is reached via a pot-holed logging road – take it slow! The bumpy ride is worth it though when you arrive at the campsite to find yourselves almost totally alone by a sparkling alpine lake. Camping here gives you access to some of the best alpine hiking in Whistler to Rainbow Lake and Hanging Lake. And camping at Madeley Lake is free – even more reason to brave the drive up here.
Where to Camp in the Backcountry Near Whistler?
If you want to really explore the backcountry around Whistler, you’ll have to get there on your own two feet. Which is no bad thing, as the hikes to Whistler’s backcountry campsites are universally beautiful. With so many soaring peaks and glimmering lakes, it can be hard to know where to begin. Here are three accessible, popular backcountry campsites to start your love affair with the Whistler backcountry.
- Panorama Ridge – Taylor Meadows Campground
Starting about 20 minutes south of Whistler, Panorama Ridge is one of the most iconic hikes in the area. On a sunny day, it rewards you with endless dramatic views, gets you up close and personal with Black Tusk, and definitely gets the legs burning. It’s for sure worth spending a night at Taylor Meadows campground halfway up the hike. Nestled in an alpine meadow full of wildflowers (and wildlife), the campsite feels far removed from the rest of the world. We’d definitely recommend booking in advance ($12 per person) as this is one of the most popular campgrounds in the peak of summer.
- Russet Lake
If you don’t have a car with you, one of the best ways to experience the backcountry is to spend a night at Russet Lake. The campsite can be accessed from the top of Whistler mountain – take the gondola and Peak chairlift to the summit. From there, you’ll hike the stunning High Note Trail, which takes you past your favourite ski runs before meandering over ridges until you reach Russet Lake. You’ll see plenty of people on the trail, but by the time you reach the campsite, you’ll be surprised by the solitude.
- Wedgemount Lake
To really earn your beer the next day, commit to spending a night at Wedgemount Lake. This icy-cold alpine lake has a stunning turquoise colour that doesn’t look real (but it is). And it’s set off by the beautiful backdrop of an ancient glacier tumbling towards the water. But to see those views for yourself, you’ll have to tackle over 1100m of elevation gain over a short 7km hike! It’s steep, it’s thigh-burning, but it’s oh so worth it. Waking up in your tent on the lakeshore is something you won’t forget for a long time.
Where to Park Your RV in Whistler?
The most comfortable and luxurious way to camp in Whistler is to bring your RV. Plus, it’s a great way to find accommodation in Whistler for an affordable price, without compromising on comfort. There are some great options for RV camping near Whistler that are the perfect jumping off point for your Whistler adventures.
- Whistler RV Park
About 18km south of Whistler, the Whistler RV Park is open year-round for RV users. All their sites are full service, with power, water, picnic tables and fire pits and cost around $60 per night. There are brand new bathrooms and showers available on site too. The Whistler RV Park is in a great location, with easy access to hiking around the Callaghan valley, and only a short drive into Whistler. And if you don’t fancy leaving the site, there’s plenty of fun to be had at the frisbee golf and whiffle golf courses!
- Riverside Resort Campground
You can’t get a better location than the Riverside Resort in the heart of Whistler. Located right on the pedestrian Valley Trail, only a short walk from Whistler village, the Riverside Resort has everything you need for a Whistler vacation. There are campsites for everyone, from full-service RV sites for $72 per night, to rustic tent sites for $43. The onsite Riverside Cafe is well-known for it’s healthy, hearty breakfasts and its patio – the perfect spot to enjoy a cold beer in the sun.
- Alice Lake Campground
Between Whistler and Squamish, Alice Lake Provincial Park is a beautiful spot to spend a few days of the summer. With over 50 RV sites clustered around a beautiful lake, this forested campground is as idyllic as it gets. The water is warm enough to swim all summer, and the lakeside parks are perfect for lazing in the sun or throwing a ball around. There’s also fantastic hiking around Alice Lake Provincial Park. Each campsite is only $35, plus an additional $8 if you want electrical hook-up.
Perfect Adventures to Pair with a Camping Trip in Whistler
The best thing about camping is getting to spend endless days enjoying the outdoors with the people you love. And there are so many ways to get out in nature around Whistler. Here are some of the best.
- Shooting Adventure in Whistler
Fancy yourself as a Canadian woodsman? Practice your marksmanship with a trip to the gun range just north of Whistler village. You’ll be supervised by experienced guides who will teach you everything you need to know and keep everyone safe. Kids over 10 are more than welcome too and can try the special kids’ package to have their first every shooting adventure.
- Fishing the Lakes of Whistler, BC
Spending a day fishing on the lake is the perfect family activity. Especially in Whistler, where the fish are plenty and ready to bite. Everyone will come home satisfied after learning the ropes from long-time local fishing guides. There are great catches to be found all year around here – but our salmon is the most famous. If you’re intrigued, find out more about how to plan your fishing adventure in Whistler.
- Hiking Whistler’s Mountain Trails
As we might have mentioned, hiking is one of the best ways to really explore Whistler’s rugged mountains and dense forests. And to get the most out of your experience, it’s worth booking a guided hiking experience. You just need to bring your hiking legs and plenty of snacks, and your guide will take care of the rest. They might choose rugged alpine ridges or mysterious forest trails. Whichever it is, you’ll be sure to have the most memorable day.
Camping in Whistler, BC | Your Next Vacation?
Camping near Whistler is for everybody – so there’s no excuse not to start planning your camping trip now! Pick your favourite Whistler campground, convince your favourite people to join you and choose your favourite summer activities. It’s sure to be a trip to remember!