Everything to Do in Whistler’s Callaghan Valley
Whistler’s Callaghan Valley is a hotspot for all things tourism, all year round. The Callaghan Valley is a massive area that has many facets, encompassing Callaghan Lake Provincial Park, Olympic Park and Callaghan Country. These names are often used interchangeably to reference the entire area.
With seemingly endless backcountry terrain, towering waterfalls and views to die for, the Callaghan Valley is the epitome of Whistler life. The Callaghan Valley weather in the winter is cold, regularly dropping into and staying in the negatives, so layer up in your thermals. That being said, bluebird days are common, so don’t forget your sunglasses and your high light lens.
Summer days in the Callaghan Valley bring gorgeous weather and ample hours of daylight to enjoy hiking, touring and exploring. Read on to learn of the best ways to spend your days in the Callaghan Valley.
Where is the Callaghan Valley near Whistler?
Just a 14km skip south of Whistler Village, the 10km Callaghan Valley Road is an entrance to an epic Whistler experience. It’s really easy to get to. If you’re in the main village, hop on the 99 South (the only highway). You’ll drive through Creekside and eventually get down to Cheakamaus (on your left) and Function Junction (on your right, another awesome place to check out while you’re in Whistler). Once you pass these lights, it’s a straight shot another five km south. It’s the first (and only) turn off on your right onto Callaghan Valley Road.
As of October 1st in British Columbia, you must have winter tires, and this goes without saying on Callaghan Valley Road and into the Callaghan Valley. The conditions get very slippery and build up quickly. The roads leading to Callaghan Valley hikes are often unmaintained, so carry chains for an extra peice of mind.
No car? No problem. It’s such a loved area that we want to help everyone see it. Shuttles from Creekside and the Village are available.
The Callaghan Valley in the Summer
From canoeing and kayaking to fishing and hunting, the Callaghan Valley weather allows for activities for everyone. Pack your lunch, lots of water and good hiking shoes as you can easily spend dawn until dusk in the valley.
3 Must-Do Hikes in the Callaghan Valley
Callaghan Valley hikes are endless and lead to more and more trails to discover and conquer. That being said, a lot of the hikes are moderate to difficult, making them a great challenge for avid hikers. Proper preparation, gear and general fitness are highly recommended. Want to dive deeper? Hiking is a great way to explore Whistler.
- Alexander Falls
Don’t let the mere 2.5 km description lead you to think this hike is a piece of cake. Loose gravel and constant moisture from the falls makes the descent a bit tricky-good shoes and balance are a must. If you don’t feel confident, you can soak in the view at the lookout above. Access to Alexander Falls is just a few hundred meters past the Callaghan Country sign over the bridge once you enter Callaghan Provincial Park.
- Cirque Lake
This one is for the adventurous, as you need a kayak or canoe to access it. While a great hike to do, many people simply don’t, out of lack of convenience. This means you have a good chance of getting the hike all to yourself. You can bring your vessel or rent one locally. A 2.6 km paddle will feel like the brunt of your efforts, but a steep 2 km hike is waiting for you once you dock your boat (aim for the beach area to the right of the waterfall). A bit of a scramble up but well worth the pristine, glacial lake.
- Madeley Lake
Madeley Lake is just beyond Alexander Falls and is a gateway to several more lakes and Callaghan Valley hikes such as Rainbow Mountain, Beverley Lake and Sproatt Mountain. Madeley is great because there are endless options with varying degrees of difficulty. You can hike for one km or 26. Bring bug spray and be bear aware in these areas as you venture into the more dense forest.
Don’t Forget About Camping in the Callaghan
The Callaghan Valley hikes are great when finished with a campfire. Hike lovers often like to set up camp to really enjoy their efforts. Callaghan offers lots of camping options. Since it is a provincial park, there are designated camping areas and camping elsewhere is strictly prohibited. Preserving the natural beauty, protecting our bears and wildlife and conserving the environment are top priorities, and camping is structured around this. Before you set up camp, make sure you’re within the provincial park regulations, (under “Facilities Available At This Park”) and always pack in pack out.
Why Locals Love The Callaghan Valley, Summer Edition
There truly is something for everyone in the Callaghan Valley, especially with the warm summer weather. If hiking isn’t your thing or you just want to mix it up, the list of activities is plentiful. The Callaghan Valley is a hotspot for tourists and locals alike, and here’s why.
Visit Whistler Olympic Park (Get Active or Competitive)
Whistler was the proud host of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Whistler Olympic Park is a monument to a slice of Whistler’s history. You can hike up the ski jumps and get a taste of what the Olympic Games were like. If you’re the real athletic type, plan to be in town for:
- The Redbull 400
An independent or team race up the ski slope. 400 meters on a nearly 40-degree angle will have your legs burning and you’ll finish with an epic sense of accomplishment.
- Tough Mudder
Each year, tough mudder comes to Whistler. The Olympic Park is a beautiful setting with lots of (literal) ups and downs to make the course extra tough. Whether you want to participate or volunteer, it’s a day of challenging fun in a park that has made history.
- Bear Tours in the Callaghan Valley
The Callaghan Valley is a great place to spot bears, even just on the road on your way in. You can book an organized tour to make sure you hit all the hot spots, or you can simply keep your eyes peeled. The deeper into the valley you head, the more likely an encounter becomes. If you’re on the search on your own, make sure to read up on how to be bear smart beforehand. Never feed bears or get too close, and remember, we are visitors in their home.
- ATV Tours
ATV tours are one of the best ways to explore the mountains and the Callaghan valley by 4×4 Ranging from beginner tours to advanced backcountry, it’s a great activity for the whole family, a date or a group. Tour companies offer various vehicles from smaller 4x4s to large razor buggies and will find something that fits your skill level. Need more inspiration for family friendly adventures in Whistler?
Mountain biking, hunting, fishing, sightseeing, disc golf, kayaking and canoeing are just a few of the ways you can spend your summer days in the Callaghan Valley.
3 Adventures in Winter in the Callaghan Valley
As the temperatures drop and the snow begins to fall, the activities stay plentiful. Trade out your runners for snowshoes, your ATV for a snowmobile and your kayaks for cross country skis. Regarded as one of the best areas for Nordic skiing, the Callaghan Valley is full of winter fun.
From the Callaghan Valley to beyond, Whistler is chock-full of winter adventures, these are just a few.
- Nordic Skiing & The Backcountry
One of the reasons that the Callaghan Valley is so popular is the seemingly endless backcountry. With an average snowfall of 245 cm, there is lots of time to play.
2. Journeyman Lodge
For a true backcountry experience, Journeyman Lodge is the way to go. Various backcountry options are available and you will feel at peace. Unwinding in a sauna at the end of a huge day of exploring and fine dining at your fingertips are just a few of the amenities this Callaghan Valley Lodge has to offer. Make your backcountry tour an experience you’ll never forget by booking a room in the snow-lovers paradise.
3. Nordic Skiing & Cross-Country Skiing
The terrain in The Callaghan Valley is pristine for Nordic and cross-country skiing. With over 130 km of groomed trails for all skill levels, the fun never ends. Toboggan hills for the kids and optional after-dark skiing on Wednesdays makes for an unforgettable experience. You can even bring the dog.
The Best Winter Activities in The Callaghan Valley That Don’t Involve Skis
As mentioned repeatedly, the Callaghan Valley is for everyone. So, even if you don’t ski, you can still have the time of your life.
Try something new this winter and explore areas you didn’t think possible. A great activity for the whole family, not to mention great exercise. You’re not alone if you don’t have snowshoes of your own; you can rent them. Get ready for a workout as you’ll feel it in your legs in the morning!
- Dog Sledding
Immerse yourself in the magic (and save your legs) while bonding with furry friends. Perfect for the kids, a date, or a group event. While the ticket price is in the higher range, you’ll get to help harness and stage the pups, learn the commands, and get tons of great photos.
Essentially the winter version of ATV’ing, you’ll feel the power of snowmobiling as you rip through the winter wonderland. Offering various options for beginners, you can also choose to simply sit back and enjoy. Feeling confident? Choose the Mountain Explorer Tour and experience the Callaghan Valley at dusk.
Why Wait? Visit the Callaghan Valley Today
We think this is probably enough to convince you that the Callaghan Valley is a bucket list trip, but don’t take our word for it. It’s as good as it sounds, and it’s even more spectacular to experience for yourself. No matter what time of year, if you’re looking for an escape in nature or to simply try something new, the Callaghan Valley is the obvious choice!