An Insider’s Guide to the Perfect Weekend Camping Trip to Whistler
You’ve checked the forecast, and it’s looking good for the weekend. You’ve had enough of the city grind and are desperate to immerse yourself in some good ol’ BC beauty and fresh air, even if it’s raining!
Camping around Whistler or camping in Whistler BC is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a reminder of why you live in this part of the world. Camping doesn’t have to mean hiking in with a heavy backpack (although with the right context and friends this can be pretty damn great). We’ve created a weekend schedule for a car camping trip, based off of what we tell our city-folk friends to do when they come up this way for a little adventure.
Our Recommendations of Where to Camp in and Around Whistler
A 20-minute drive south of Whistler Village, this is a car-accessible camping spot called Cal-Cheak, named after the two rivers- the Callaghan and Cheakamus- which converge at this very spot.
Old growth trees surround the camping sites, and a short walk takes you to a nearby suspension bridge. If you’re lucky, you may spot some of the local or visiting whitewater kayakers racing along the river while you’re wandering across the suspension bridge.
A short 3km journey to the south takes you to Brandywine Falls, a must-see waterfall, and Garibaldi Park is just a bit further beyond this, providing access to breathtakingly beautiful hiking trails.
This site is a first come first served campsite, so no need to reserve a spot in advance. Bare in mind it closes for the winter, but when open in the Spring, Summer and Fall, it costs $13.
The location of this campsite couldn’t be better. It’s close to Function Junction, so on your way too and from – stop by and hit us up! We’ll show you how to hone your ax throwing skills, sell you firewood, and teach you how to handle the axe. Plus, Coast Mountain Brewing is also located here (a great choice for delicious craft beers) as well as PureBread bakery which can satiate your need for delicious baked goods.
If you’re looking for something a little further away from the Village, why not check out the Madeley Lake campsite, about 17km from Whistler Village. This beautiful, remote mountain lake is about a 40 minutes drive from Whistler Village. Depending on the time of year, you may need a 4×4- so check updates online before you try to get there.
The lake doesn’t get as crowded as the main lakes down in the valley, scattered around Whistler Village. If it’s sunny, this is a great spot to blow up a floatie and pontoon across the lake.
If you’re looking for a more active adventure, why not hike one of the trails that begins at the lake. For example, you could hike to Hanging Lake or even hike all the way to Whistler Village (it’s about a 23km or a roughly 6-hour hike).
Hot Tip: This is a free of charge campsite.
What to Pack While Camping Around Whistler?
You’re probably going to be camping when it’s at least somewhat hot and somewhat sunny. Since you’ll be car camping, this means you have ample opportunity to pack heavy and bulky things that make your trip much more luxurious. Aside from the obvious (tent; sleeping bag; sleeping pad; warm clothing) some things we’d like to suggest from our own experiences in the bush:
- BBQ (if in summer check fire ban specifications before packing and using)
- Bocce ball (everyone loves a bit of organized fun)
- Spike Ball (amp up that competition!)
We know some people like to bring bangin’ speakers with them. Don’t get us wrong; we love a little nature party. However, be respectful of your camping neighbours and don’t blare music all day and all night unless everyone is on the same page. People come out to camp often for a nature-detox, not thumping music from someone else’s camp.
The Schedule: Your 48-hours Camping in Whistler, BC
We know if you’ve never come to Whistler before for a camping trip, the options are a little overwhelming. From the camp grounds, to the activities, to the dozens of restaurants, how can you fit it all into one weekend? We got you. Here is the perfect weekend in Whistler – from yours truely.
Friday Evening: Welcome to the Woods
Grab groceries: You’ll want to grab yourself some food for the woods before you set up at the camping site. If you’re driving from Vancouver, you can stop at one of the big supermarkets in Squamish, or if you’re already in Whistler, you can grab supplies at Olive’s Community Market on the south end of Whistler, Creekside Market in (you guessed it) Creekside, or the IGA in Whistler Village.
Set up your site: It’s best to set up your tent(s) when you’ve still got daylight. From experience, we’d recommend setting up your cozy tents and sleeping gear before cracking open a beer, if that’s on the cards.
Build a campfire: If the campfire ban is not in effect, we’d recommend building yourself a little campfire. It’s cozy, illuminates the site without the use of glaring LEDs, and adds warmth as the night gets cooler. Don’t be tempted to chop at any wood in the forest around you- buy some firewood before you go. We sell our very own hand-chopped firewood at Forged, the best firewood you can get in this area- we’ve written more about it here.
Saturday: Make the Most Out of Your Trip to Whistler
Grab breakfast: if you’re staying at either of the two campgrounds we’ve mentioned above, you’ll be close to Function Junction. We highly recommend heading to Pure Bread bakery for a morning coffee and breakfast.
Go zip lining: if you’re headed up for camping around Whistler to bathe in its beautiful landscape, ziplining is an out-of-the-box option. Buckle in, and fly across massive valleys on some of the longest and the longest zipline in North America (the Sasquatch at Superfly Ziplines). We’ve written more about your options here in a side by side comparison.
Treat yourself to lunch in the Village: once you’ve worked up an appetite Whistler Village has a lot on offer for a great lunch outing. If you’re looking for cheap and cheerful, why not head to the Mexican restaurant La Cantina. We’ve compiled a list of other great restaurants here.
Throw some axes (!): axe-throwing at Forged has a lot to offer. Whether you’re part of a big camping group that wants to hire the whole venue or just a duo that want to rent one lane for an hours on route to or from your campsite, our axe-throwing guides will ensure you learn some skills, which you might be able to take home with you!
Campfire dinner: after wandering around the Village and maybe going swimming in one of the local lakes (we love Lost Lake) you’ll want to head back to camp and cook up some dinner. There’s something genuinely satisfying about being camped outside and cooking your own warm, delicious, hearty meal. If you’ve got a BBQ, you’ve got an endless list of possibilities. Our family favorite though for dessert are BBQ’d bananas with chocolate chunks melted into them. Too. Good.
Sunday: Pack up But Keep Going
Pack up: taking down and packing up a campsite isn’t always the most enjoyable part of a camping trip, but it feels so good once it’s over. We like to espouse the principle of taking out more than you came in with. If you see a little trash around your campsite abandoned by previous campers, why not bring it with you? If you have the space in your vehicle, throw it in one of the many trash receptacles around Whistler? You’ll be making an active effort in improving the health of the local ecosystem – and that’s pretty neat!
Go hiking: before you head back to the city, why not fit in a quick hike? If you’re going to be driving back down the Sea to Sky Highway (towards Vancouver) we highly recommend the Sea to Sky Summit hike. Its trailhead is near Squamish. The hike can be done in less than half a day, and you’ll get fantastic up-close views of Shannon Falls.
Even better: at the summit, there is a bar and restaurant where you can grab a drink and some warm food. There’s also a suspension bridge up at the top, and the views, in general, may just rival those from the top of Whistler.
Camping Around Whistler, a Perfect Weekend Micro-Adventure
Getting yourself out of the city and amongst beautiful landscapes is easy if you choose to come camping around Whistler or camping in Whistler itself. It’s simple to find a great spot to camp at and which is also car accessible. There are tonnes of opportunities for a great time in this beautiful part of the world. Enjoy your trip!