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The Best Camping in Whistler

The Best Camping in Whistler

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Accommodation in Whistler is expensive no matter the season (though especially during winter in Whistler!). A cheaper option is to try camping in Whistler BC. This can be great for not only those looking to save money but also for those looking to get outdoors and enjoy a night or more under canvas or in your RV or campervan.

While there isn’t a whole load of camping at Whistler proper, there are still campgrounds near Whistler which can be a great base for exploring both the village and the surrounding mountains and forest. Which, let’s be honest, is probably the real reason you’re up near Whistler anyway.

Note: Always take everything you take camping back home with you. Do not leave trash. While bins are provided, they can often get full. Do not leave bags outside of the bins.

Some of the campgrounds below have been closed due to habituated bears attracted by people leaving their trash. There’s no excuse for leaving trash – you managed to bring it with you!

Where to camp in Whistler

jasper tram whistlers summit hikw

Want to know how to find free places to camp in Canada? Check out my guide to finding free campsites.

This guide to camping in Whistler covers private, paid Whistler campgrounds ideal for those travelling in RVs who want hookups, cheap provincial parks, free rec site camping, backpacking and other ways you can find somewhere to camp for free if the places off the highway are full.

On top of places to camp in Whistler, you’ll also find some information on campsites near Squamish and up towards Pemberton.

Private Campgrounds for Camping in Whistler

There are several campgrounds in Whistler, BC which offer camping year-round. They’re a good option if you’re in an RV and looking for somewhere to stay overnight.

The spots at these Whistler camping sites are typically larger and offer services like hook-up and waste water disposal.

MTN Fun Base Camp, Squamish

camping in whistler

Just north of Squamish, near the Alice Lake turn off of Highway 99 is MTN Fun Base Camp. It’s a great campsite that has super easy access to mountain biking trails and the highway.

The campsite is set in amongst the forest and it’s pretty picturesque. If you want to try mountain biking, the mountain biking rentals here are pretty cheap and it’s actually where I first learned to mountain bike!

At MTN Fun Base Camp there are tent sites, serviced and unserviced RV sites, and a small motel with some rooms.

  • Nightly Rates: $40-80 for unserviced sites. $70 for services sites and $125-149 for a motel room.
  • Reservations: Reservations are recommended.
  • Facilities: Showers, flush toilets, wi-fi, laundry, pinci tables, bike wash and rentals, drinking water and a convenience store.
  • Open: Year round

Whistler RV Park & Campgrounds

Just 20 minutes south of Whistler Village is Whistler RV Park and campground. This private Whistler RV resort and camping site offers year-round camping so can be a great option if you’re looking for cheap accommodation in Whistler in winter!

Whistler RV campground is super popular with snowmobilers and ATV enthusiasts too as many trails for these vehicles start from the campground.

If you’re more of a hiker, then Whistler RV Park is also a great choice since you’re just across the highway from Brandywine Falls and various other trails.

  • Nightly Rates: $45 for a tent or small RV camping with no services, $65 for RV site with full hookup.
  • Reservations: Yes, recommended.
  • Facilities: Showers and flushing toilets, laundry, drinking water, cafe and ping pong tables!
  • Open: Year round

Whistler Riverside Camping & RV Resort

One of the biggest campgrounds for camping in Whistler and the closest to Whistler centre, Whistler Riverside Camping & RV Resort is the only camping option in Whistler village.

This campground is right near Lost Lake and the golf course (a truly beautiful area!) and it’s just a short walk or bike ride into Whistler Village along the valley trail from your site.

There’s everything you need at Whistler Riverside Campground and sites offer shade and beautiful views too.

  • Nightly Rates: $47.50 for a tent, $72 TV, $90 for a yurt, $140 for a log cabin
  • Reservations: Yes, recommended.
  • Facilities: Showers and flushing toilets, wifi, convenience store, drinking water, laundry
  • Open: Year round

Whistler Rec Sites

camping in banff tunnel mountain (1 of 1)

Rec sites offer cheap or free camping in Whistler and throughout BC. They’re usually pretty low on facilities with typically just pit toilets and bins. They are non-reservable and fill up quickly, especially on nice weekends.

They’re also more likely to be noisier and have more people there for partying than relaxing and enjoying nature.

Whistler recreation sites tend to be closed during winter due to snow blocking the roads and reopen once the snow has subsided.

Cat Lake Rec Site

Cat Lake squamish camping
img via Sites and Trails BC

Cat Lake campground is one of the most popular spots for free camping in Squamish. It’s just a short drive from the highway and you get to camp by the beautiful Cat Lake where you can enjoy a refreshing swim on a hot day!

The sites here aren’t drive in, you should be prepared for a 5-10 minute walk. There’s also no drinking water here so you’ll need to filter or boil water from the lake to make it safe to drink.

If you’re looking for somewhere peaceful to camp near Whistler then this isn’t the best option. It’s a popular party spot.

  • Nightly Rates: $18 paid on arrival
  • Reservations: All sites are first come first served.
  • Facilities: Pit toilets, picnic tables, fire rings and firewood often for sale
  • Open: April – October 31 (depends on snow)

Chek Canyon Recreation Site

Chek Canyon Recreation Site is one of the few free recreation sites near Whistler. It’s a super popular rock climbing area and so is often very busy at weekends and during the week with climbers. It’s also a small site which means you’re unlikely to find somewhere to camp on a nice weekend unless you can get there on Thursday or Friday morning.

The campground is in Cheakamus Canyon which is very picturesque but getting there does involve a few kilometres of driving on a rough forestry road. You will need a good AWD, or better yet, a 4×4.

Cal-Cheak Rec Site, Whistler

cal cheak camping in whistler
img via Sites and Trails BC

One of the more popular Whistler campgrounds is the Cal-Cheak Rec Site. This site is just off the highway so you don’t need a 4×4 and to travel down a logging road to get to it.

There are three separate loops here with a varying number of sites. In total there are over 55 sites. Most sites are larg enough for an RV but there are no services available for them.

There are no drinking water taps available here so you must bring your own water for the duration of your stay. Alternatively you can collect water from the creeks nearby but you must filter or boil this first to ensure it’s safe to drink.

From the campgrounds you can head over the suspension bridge towards the Brandywine Falls trails which is a nice hiking route throug the forest.

  • Nightly Rates: $15 paid on arrival
  • Reservations: All sites are first come first served.
  • Facilities: Pit toilets, picnic tables, fire rings and firewood for sale, bear bins.
  • Open: April/May 1 – October 31 (depends on snow)

Owl Creek Rec Site

owl creek camping in whistler
image via Sites and Trails BC

Owl Creek is a small rec site that offers camping near Mount Curie, north of Whistler. Since it’s a bit further out of Whistler than Cal Cheak campsite, you’re more likely to find a spot here.

The campground is in an old orchard so sites are grassy and have trees to offer shade too. One thing to note is that the campsite is close to train tracks so it can be noisy at times.

As with Cal Cheak, there’s no drinking water available. You can collect water from the creek but will need to treat it.

  • Nightly Rates: $15 paid on arrival
  • Reservations: All sites are first come first served.
  • Facilities: Pit toilets, picnic tables, fire rings and firewood for sale, bear bins.
  • Open: Early April – mid October (depends on snow)

Provincial Park Campgrounds

alice lake
Alice Lake

Provincial park campgrounds near Whistler lie between private campgrounds and rec sites in terms of the facilities they offer.

They’re cheaper than private sites, and offer more facilities. They typically have fire pits and picnic benches at each camp spot. Some Provincial Park campgrounds also have flushing toilets and showers.

Alice Lake Provincial Park Campground

Alice Lake is a large, beautiful campground set in the forest bordering Alice Lake. It’s super family friendly and a great location for camping near Whistler.

There are RV sites with hook-ups and even shower and toilet blocks too.

The campground is surrounded by great hiking and biking trails and you can also rent a kayak or paddleboard and enjoy the lakes.

The campground books up quickly but it’s worth checking regularly in case of cancellations. We managed to get a campsite on a Friday night by booking just a couple of days in advance.

  • Nightly Rates: $35 unserviced, $43 serviced + reservation free from BC Parks.
  • Reservations: Yes. Recommended.
  • Facilities: Showers, fluushing and pit toilets, picnic tables, drinking water, fire pits
  • Open: Riverside Campground Whistler is open March – October (snow dependent)

Callaghan Lake Provincial Park

Unusually, campoing in Callaghan Lake Provincial Park is free. The catch is that you need a good 4WD vehicle to navigate the very rough road to get there. You can only access the area when it’s snow free which is usually mid/late April to October.

The campsite is very informal with space for several tents of truck/van campers. There is a pit toilet, but no other facilities and reservatons are not possible so it’s first come, first served.

Nairn Falls Provincial Park Campground

The closest Provincial Park campground to Whistler is Nairn Falls. It’s just 25 minutes north of Whistler and it’s a big campsite with plenty of shade.

From the campground you can take an easy 1-hour hike out to Nairn Falls, or visit One Mile Lake. Nairn Falls are pretty impressive at 60 m high and there’s a great viewpoint to view them from. Both areas are great for mountain biking too.

  • Nightly Rate: $22 + BC Parks Reservation Fee
  • Reservations: Yes, recommended
  • Facilities: Pit toilets, fire rings, picnic tables, drinking water
  • Open: Mid May to end of September

Free Camping near Whistler

There isn’t a huge amount of options when it comes to free campsites in Whistler BC. It’s a popular destination and so if it was allowed hte village would be full of people sleeping in their cars which brings a whole host of issues around toilets and trash.

Having said that, you can use my guide to finding free places to camp in Canada to help you find free camping in Whistler. It’s the tips and tricks we used around Canada and the US while living in our van for 5 months.

Getting a Backroad maps book for Vancouver Coast and Mountains is a great way to find out the locations of rec sites and forestry roads as well as hiking and recreation areas.

Forest Service Roads are always a great option when looking for free camping. You’re allowed to camp down them and many have pullouts or clearings where you can stay in your camper van or pitch a tent. The downside is that they’re getting busier than ever and so to find a spot you’ll most likely need a good 4WD. Near Whistler, Riverside Drive is a popular location and we’ve camped down Soo River FSR too.

Backcountry Camping in Whistler

Wedgemount lake hike and camping (4 of 4)
camping at wedgemount

Looking for backcountry camping in Whistler? There are a lot of options for that!

There are many beautiful Whistler hikes and some have backcountry campgrounds that can be resered in advance and offer put toilets and bear caches.

You’ll need to hike at least a few hours to these and the hikes can be strenuous.

Check out the links below to learn more about the hike. And take a look at my backpacking packing checklist to make sure you know what to take with you.

Important things to consider before camping in Whistler

Before you go camping in Whistler, here are some things to bear in mind to ensure you have a fun, safe trip.

Whistler Camping Reservations

Whistler is a popular destination year round and getting camping reservations for Whistler can be difficult, especially at weekends.

You need to plan in advance and book your campsite. For Provincial Park campgrounds, this means booking 2 months in advance of the date you plan to start camping. For private campgrounds you can usually book further in advance.

If you’re heading to a first-come first served campsite you should arrive a little before 11am which is the checkout time. If you want to camp on Saturday night, you should really camp Friday too as most people will be camping two nights and so it can be very hard to find a spot on a sunny Saturday.

Having Campfires in Whistler

The majority of Whistler campsites above allow campfires. However, campfires may be banned during summer months if there is a high risk of wildfire in the local area.

Most years you can expect a campfire ban in BC from July/August to late September. You can check the BC Wildfire Service website to see if a ban is in place. There will also be signs up on the drive and at the capsite too.

You cannot chop down trees at the campground to use as your firewood. This damages the ecosystem and live wood doesn’t burn well either.

Paid campgrounds will usually have a camp host who goes around the campground in the early evening or collect fees and sell firewood. You can buy wood from them. Alternatively, youcan find firewood for sale outside gas stations or supermarkets.

Bears in Whistler and Wildlife in Whistler

Whistler is home to both black bear and grizzly bears. You’re far more likely to see a black bear than a grizzly bear but at campsites near Whistler (except for those down FSRs) you’re unlikely to see a bear.

The most common time to see a bear is in Spring and in Fall when the bears are lookign for food after and before hibernation. The majority of bears are afraid of humans and stay clear of campgrounds when humans are around.

However, in recent years the number of bears becoming habituated to humans and entering campgrounds or not being scared away seems to be icnreasing. This leads to campground clousures and dead bears.

The most important thing to bear in mind is that you must keep all food, garbage and toiletries/other scented items and cooking equiment in your car or a bear proof locker (these are usually provided). Never keep them in your tent even when you’re in your tent.

There are plenty of stories about campers coming back to their tents only to find a bear has ripped their way through it during a search for food!

Other wildlife you may encounter at the campground include deer and mice and you don’t want either of those in your tent or at your food either.

Whistler Camping Weather

Since Whistler is up in the mountains, the temperature is not only unpredicatable but you should expect a lot of snow between late October until late April. Temperatures can get very cool at night, but hot during the day.

June to September is the best time to go camping in Whistler with temperatures ranging from 6 to 24 °C (43 to 75 F°).

RV Sani Dump Stations in Whistler

For RV campers, you can find dump stations in Whistler at the following locations:

  • Pemberton Visitor Centre: Pay by use at the tourist information centre. 25 minutes north of Whistler.
  • Whistler RV Park & Campground & Whistler Riverside Resort & Campground: Only open to registered guests.
  • Alice Lake Provincial Park: Pay by use at the Alice Lake campground.
  • Canadian Tire in Squamish: Free dump station in the Canadian Tire in Squamish on Mamquam Road.

Where to Shower in Whistler

For campers doing a few nights of camping interspersed with hikes or biking, you’re going to want to shower.

While a swim in a lake can make you feel a bit cleaner and these tips for showering when you live in a van can also help, there are some other options for showering in Whistler below.

  • Rainbow Park and Lost Lake: Free outdoor showers for swimmers, but would work for campers too
  • Meadow Park Sports Centre: Pay for a swimming pool entracne and use the showers and/or swim