Whistler, British Columbia provides some of the most beautiful and accessible outdoor activities in all of North America.
No matter your lifestyle or skills, Whistler provides you a chance to experience the immeasurable beauty it has to offer. One of the main deterring factors for many in their travel to Whistler, however, is finding a place to stay.
Thankfully, campsites are plentiful in the greater Whistler area. With some willingness to plan ahead, you’ll be able to create a once in a lifetime trip to British Columbia. The Provincial Parks and endless amount of Crown Land gives visitors quite a few chances to find a place to call home for as long as you need.
Car Camping in Whistler
Car camping locations are not overly difficult to find in Whistler. While you will not have unlimited options in or right around Whistler, you do have a great chance to camp within an hour!
The beauty of the sites is that you’ll barely know you’re close to town.
If you’re the type who’s willing to go off road, pick up a backroad map book and see all of the options you have on the local Crown Land.
The Nairn Falls Campground is located within Nairn Falls Provincial Park. Nairn Falls Provincial Park is only 25 minutes north of Whistler. You’re able to enjoy the amenities in town, but head back to a wonderful camp site at the end of the day.
You’re technically located within the Village of Pemberton and are only about five minutes from the town center. The primary camping season is between mid-May and September 29. Reservations are accepted, but there are first-come first-serve options for you as well. The fee for camping is $22 per party per night. While it has room for camper vans and RV’s, it’s a great place to pitch a tent for the night.
While you’re in the park, make sure you hike the Nairn Falls Trail. While it’s only 3 km, it’s a beautiful option that provides you with a great view of Nairn Falls and the Green River. There are a couple other shorter hikes if you’re looking to stretch your legs. Fishing is also available for folks in the Green River. Access is fairly simple, and it’s a great place to wet a line.
The campground has drinking water accessible via hand pumps and they’re shut off during the winter months. For bathrooms, you’ll have pit toilets! The campground doesn’t have amazing facilities, but everything is clean and well-managed. If you need a place to stay that’s easily accessible, then choose Nairn Falls. You won’t have to worry about any dangerous wildlife encounters, but still get a nice taste of the outdoors.
Cal-Cheak is a seasonal campground located about 15 minutes south of Whistler. It’s a first-come-first serve campground with over 50 campsites available to use. These campsites are divided into three different areas around Callaghan Creek and Cheakamus River. You aren’t able to camp here between November and April.
You’re able to easily pitch a tent or sleep in your car at all of these campsites. There’s no power, but for only $15 a night, you’re getting a great deal. The location is hard to beat if you’re interested in spending quite a bit of time in Whistler.
In terms of facilities, you won’t find running water, but you do have pit toilets! This is more than enough for car camping. If you take along some freshwater, you can cook and do some self-care if necessary. The river is located right next to the campground, so if you need a quick shower, that’s a good option! Beware, it’s quite cold, but on those hot summer days, it feels great.
You’ll be surrounded by massive trees, so shade isn’t an issue on any of those days that may be exceptionally hot. They’re beautiful to look at, but you also can walk across the suspension bridge, take a hike along the miles of local hiking trails and do some other general sightseeing. You get the best of both worlds with this campground: privacy and proximity! Beware of leaving out food. It’s not uncommon for black bears to make their way through the campground looking for an easy meal.
Stawamus Chief Provincial Park Campground
The Stawamus Chief Provincial Park Campground is one of the more unique campgrounds you’re going to find near Whistler. It’s 45 minutes south of Whistler in Squamish! It’s a great location that gives you easy access to highway 99 that runs right up to Whistler.
This campground has 15 shaded vehicle-accessible sites that are first-come first-serve. They’re accessible between April and October. They’re a great option for those looking to stop over for the night. You won’t be able to have a campfire here!
Now, you also have access to 47 walk-in sites within five minutes from the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park parking lot. Technically, you have to carry all your gear to your campsite, but they’re located so close to your vehicle that it doesn’t present much of a challenge. Within these walk-in campsites, you’ll find a central cooking area with a sink and prep station for your food. You even have access to food storage lockers to keep things while you’re out for the day.
The cost for the drive-in and walk-in sites are $10 per day per person.
Stawamus Chief Provincial Park is a popular location for tourists. Recently, there has been an online parking pass system introduced, so make sure you get yourself registered before you visit. The Stawamus Chief First and Second Peak are fan favorite hikes that will test your abilities but provide some phenomenal views.
RV Camping in Whistler
RV Camping in Whistler is also fairly simple.
While you’ll be a bit more limited in your ability to travel on forest roads, there are plenty of RV specific campgrounds that give you peace of mind that your rig is going to be safe while you’re out adventuring for the day.
Riverside RV Resort and Campground
Riverside RV Resort and Campground is one of the most well-known RV Campgrounds in Whistler. As a result, it’s going to be one of the more expensive campgrounds in the area! However, the amenities you receive make the price a bit more worth it. During peak season, an RV site is going to cost you $72 per night. With this rate, you have access to hiking trails, beach volleyball as well as free showers.
Free showers and propane BBQ stations are also on-site! With your site, you also get full hook-ups and have water and sewer. At the resort, you can also rent cabins and yurts if you’re wanting to get out of your RV for the night. While you’re on the grounds, you’ll feel as if you’re in a bit of a resort! You don’t have to worry about any animal encounters and you’re just minutes away from any amenity you may need. If you’re looking for seclusion, this isn’t where you’re going to find it.
Whistler RV Park and Campground
The Whistler RV Park and Campground is in a great location. It’s one of the better locations you’ll find for an RV park. It’s located only 17 km from Whistler and is the only snowmobile friendly accommodation in Whistler.
At the park, you have a cafe, full restroom facilities and laundry. From May 1st to October 1st, you’ll be paying $65 per night during the week and $70 per night on Weekends. The campground requires 2-night stays during the peak season. In the non-peak season from October 1st to May 1st, you’ll pay $50 per night.
You have miles and miles of trails right outside your door at Whistler RV Park and Campground. You even have a chance to try out their new outdoor ping pong tables when you’re hanging around your campsite.
You’re located right outside of Brandywine Falls Provincial Park and within minutes of the Brew Lake Trailhead. No matter your preference, you’ll find something to do at the Whistler RV Park and Campground. It’s reasonably priced and you truly feel as if you’re in the outdoors while staying at this RV Park. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time if you’re planning on staying here! It fills quickly.
Squamish Valley Campground
If you’re able to be fully self-reliable, you can stay at the Squamish Valley Campground with your RV. For $20 per person per night plus $10 per night for your RV, you’ll have a great location right off the Sea to Summit highway. The campground itself is 195 acres and you even have a private sandy beach right on the property. It is a seasonable campground and you’re able to stay there from April through October.
Outhouses are plentiful along campsites, but you won’t have any water or electricity. Again, if you have a generator or solar, you’ll be just fine. You’ll just have to fill and dump your water if you have an extended reservation. If possible, bring your own drinking water as well.
You have great fishing, canoeing, rafting, mountain biking and golfing opportunities right around you. Squamish and Whistler are the outdoor recreation capitals of Canada. For a reasonable price, you can spend time right in the heart of it all.
Overlanding in Whistler
The beauty of Whistler is that there are dozens of forest roads located all around the area. While many of these are active logging roads, you have the right to drive on them to find a beautiful location to park for a few days.
Again, most of Canada is Crown Land, so you have every right to camp in many areas. As long as you’re respectful of the land, you won’t run into any issues.
Gotcha Peak and Gott Peak via Blowdown Pass
This is a hiking trail outside of Whistler, but the access to the trailhead is via the Blowdown Forest Road. A higher clearance vehicle is necessary to get all the way up the trailhead. Once you’re there, there is ample room to park vehicles and camp. Again, make sure you have the decency to clean up after yourself once you’re parked.
Due to some of the more challenging driving, this drive will take you a little over an hour to complete. It’s located right between two separate peaks. You can scramble 20 minutes up Gotcha Peak and have breathtaking 360 degree views all around you. Gotcha Peak isn’t as straightforward, but if you’re a bit adventurous, you’ll find your way to the top.
The lake is beautiful but beware of bugs. You’ll definitely want to wear bug nets when spending time in this area. They’re aggressive and no amount of bug spray seems to keep them away. If you’re willing to put up with this, you’ll be able to spend time in some of the most beautiful country in the world with few people disturbing you. It’s a true overlanding adventure.
You’ll have to pack in all of your necessary goods. Make sure you don’t forget anything because you’re likely not going to want to make a trip down to the nearest grocery store. If you’re willing to take it slow, you’re in for a treat. The hikes, sightseeing and overall serenity of the area are remarkable.
One of the closest mountains to Whistler is Cougar Mountain. Essentially, if you head 10 minutes north, you’ll find yourself in a large pattern of forest roads. As you travel up the mountain, you’ll find yourself looking down over Green Lake. High clearance 4×4’s are recommended for some of the forest roads you’ll be traveling.
These roads are quite active from loggers and many are only 1 lane, so make sure you have room to back up and move out of the way in case you run into any logging trucks. They have the right of way. As you’re up in the mountains, you won’t have access to any amenities. It’ll be up to you to make sure you have everything you might need.
Off Roading tools, shovels, axes, GPS and distress signals, are all great to have with you at all times. It doesn’t take long for you to get completely alone as you’re traveling north of Whistler. Also, you’re entering country with more wild animals, so keep yourself on high alert at all times.
Head up Cougar Mountain Road and take an offshoot on to any logging road that you might see. They’ll lead to adventures! Make sure you’re confident with your 4×4 setup before you take any significant risks.
Again, Canada is filled with Crown Land that gives people endless options for entertainment. You could spend years exploring the forest roads around Whistler and still not see everything you might want. Purchase a Backroads Map from a local gas station or outdoors store in Whistler and you’ll quickly be able to see some of the options at your disposal.
Many great locations are passed via word of mouth. Ask questions to the locals and it won’t take you long to find yourself completely alone in the midst of nature.
Backpack Camping / Tent Camping in Whistler
If you’re up for the challenge, one of the best ways to experience Whistler is with your own two feet. There are countless backpacking trails for you to explore.
There are even more minimally blazed trails for you to explore. Take off into the bush and it won’t take you long to find a secret spot filled with amazing beauty.
Russet Lake is a great Backpacking Trip to get your feet wet. You can start the hike in the middle of town at the bottom of the gondolas of Whistler Mountain. Russet Lake is the goal on this hike, but there are offshoot trails that provide some other great experiences. As of July 2021, you’ll need to secure a free permit at discovercamping.ca
Throughout the hike, you’re going to gain around 4,600 feet of elevation! This is fairly significant, so make sure you’re in decent shape before you decide to tackle it. Also, make sure your pack isn’t overly heavy. You’ll want as much power and strength as you can manage.
The best part of this hike is that there’s a hut at the top that can sleep around 30 people. At its peak season, make sure you get here early to secure a place to sleep. If sleeping with all sorts of people isn’t something that interests you, there are numerous tent pad areas that are cleared out and have rock walls. Since you’re exposed, you want to make sure you set up your tent, so the rock wall blocks as much wind as possible.
Weather can turn quickly when you’re at the top. Be prepared with enough warm and dry clothes to keep you comfortable while you explore. It’s a great place to make a home base while you’re out exploring what else the area has to offer. It can work as a 2 or 3-day trip depending on what you want.
Helm Creek Trail
Helm Lake is a 20.4 mile out and back hike about 20 minutes south of Whistler. You can start at the Cheakamus Lake Trail Head. There’s even a campground there if you’re looking to get your adventures started in the great outdoors.
This hike is going to gain nearly 5,000 feet throughout its entirety. It’s by no means easy, and the first part is especially challenging. You’ll find yourself staring at the Black Tusk nearly the entire time. If you’re up for the challenge, you can hike all the way to the top. This is a great hike throughout both the summer and winter. As long as you’re properly equipped, you’ll find yourself in some amazing country.
Make sure you pay close attention to recent updates and alerts. This trail has been closed in recent years due to bear activity. Carry bear bangers and bear spray if you have it. Also, do not hike alone! Bring people and make sure you stay loud to let any threatening wildlife know you’re nearby.
It’s a beautiful trail with water, wildflowers, wildlife and everything else that makes a hike entertaining. Be willing to work hard, and you’ll be rewarded with some astonishing views.
Panorama Ridge is a highly popular loop hike that is about 20 minutes south of Whistler near the town of Garibaldi. The hike starts at the Black Tusk Trailhead. It’s 17 miles and you’ll gain over 5,000 feet as you’re hiking. The beauty is that it’s an entire loop, so you’re seeing something new the entire hike.
If you’re up for it, you can absolutely hike this trail in the winter. Snow spikes or snowshoes may be required, but not absolutely necessary. Like any other Whistler hike, make sure you check the weather before you go. It can turn on you fairly quickly and it can be miserable if you aren’t prepared.
The views are well worth all of the effort! Due to its popularity, you’re not going to need to be as nervous about animal encounters. Be with people and you’ll be more than okay.
Packing it in: Whistler Camping
Whistler, British Columbia is an adventurer’s dream. If you’re feeling like you want a more relaxed trip, you’ll find it. If you’re wanting a dangerous, adrenaline pumping adventure, it won’t take you long to find one.
As long as you do some research on where you’re going to lay your head at night, you can spend weeks out here without running out of things to do.