The 5 Best Car Camping Spots Near Whistler, BC

One of the best things about summer has got to be hitting the road for a camping weekend.

By: Emily Haggar

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It’s hard to beat the comforts of car camping, and if you happen to be in the Whistler area this summer, there’s a whole range of options to choose from. Whether you’ve got an old van ready to tuck into one of the backroads, or your idea of camping doesn’t include a tent at all, Whistler has something for you.

The Sea to Sky Highway (HWY99) is one of the most beautiful scenic drives in Western Canada, winding its way from Vancouver to Lillooet. With three adventure towns to explore (Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton), endless ways to play in the mountains, and landscapes that will stay in your memory forever, it’s hard to think of a better place to do a summer camping trip.

1. Cal-Cheak

Photo: Emily Haggar

Where the beautiful Callaghan and Cheakamus Rivers converge, there is a great campsite aptly named after these two turquoise rivers. This is a quiet area, shaded by huge stands of West Coast forest, and easily accessible from HWY 99 (about 20 minutes south of Whistler Village). Hiking and mountain biking trails, plus a unique suspension bridge are all within a few minutes walk from the camping area. Rarely full, this hidden gem is a fantastic place to set up a base camp to explore the surrounding Whistler area. Brandywine Falls is just 3km to the south, with both highway and trail access, while Garibaldi Park is a short distance further. This is as close as you can get to backcountry camping within a developed campsite. Learn more.

2. Nairn Falls Provincial Park

Photo: Emily Haggar

About 20 minutes north of Whistler lies Nairn Falls Provincial Park, encompassing 171 hectares of pristine forest, river and mountainside. A short trail leads from the campground to an impressive set of waterfalls, where you can watch the pretty Green River tumble through a canyon and series of potholes. Other short walks take you to the riverbank (pictured above), at the base of Mt Currie. Situated close to Whistler and 5 minutes south of Pemberton, this popular campground fills to capacity on nearly all summer weekends, so a reservation or weeknight stay would be your best bet. Learn more.

3. Callaghan Lake

Photo: Emily Haggar

Slightly out of the way, but still accessible by car is the subalpine camping area in Callaghan Lake Provincial Park. There is a small informal area for tent camping at the edge of Callaghan Lake, and if you arrive with a canoe or kayak, the best campsite is on a small island, about 15 minutes paddling distance from the parking area. This high elevation lake is perfect for fishing or enjoying the water. The scenery is nothing short of outstanding, with snowy glaciated peaks towering above the lake. The rough road is best suited to high clearance vehicles; however, all types of cars seem to make it up there somehow too. Learn more.

4. Riverside Campground

Photo: Emily Haggar

If glamping is more your style, Riverside Campground is the place. Located within walking distance of Whistler Village, this 40 acre camping area has everything from riverside tent sites to cozy cabins and yurts. A deluxe RV area that’s open year round, amazing views, and a yummy café round out Riverside’s offerings. The amenities of Whistler are just a few minutes away, making this the ultimate basecamp for exploring all the restaurants, trails and activities you can fit into a day. Learn more.

5. Camp along the Sea to Sky Highway

Photo: Emily Haggar

Sometimes it’s fun to discover a cool little hidden spot, away from the developed campsites. Camping is permitted in the Cheakamus Community Forest so long as you practice Leave No Trace and respect any campfire bans in effect. There are lots of areas to tuck a van or tent into the forest, and this area beside the Green River is a great one. With space for about a dozen tents, you can drive right down to the river and spend a peaceful night under the stars, free of charge. Just north of the Emerald neighbourhood, you’ll see signage for Wedgemount Lake and Whistler Paintball. Turn in here, and there are campsites on both sides of the river as soon as you leave the highway.

If your travels take you further south, Porteau Cove is a fantastic oceanside drive-up campsite and Lillooet Lake has lots of great beach camping north of Pemberton. There is so much to explore in the Sea to Sky area, and this small list is just the tip of the iceberg to get you started. Be mindful that you’re in bear country and keep an eye out for fire restriction sign boards located at the north and south ends of Whistler. Learn more.

The open road is waiting. May your days be full of adventure!

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.