The best camping near Pemberton, British Columbia.
Cruise past the crowds at Whistler to find peace and a slice of the old west.
Just 20 minutes past the famous mountain town of Whistler (home of the 2010 Winter Games), this small village of a little more than 2,000 maintains a feeling of relative remoteness. Perhaps not surprising, it was unconnected by road until the 1960s, reachable only by railway. Now on the Sky-to-Sky Highway, Pemberton is set at the foot of the 2,500-metre Mount Currie, and aRead more...
Just 20 minutes past the famous mountain town of Whistler (home of the 2010 Winter Games), this small village of a little more than 2,000 maintains a feeling of relative remoteness. Perhaps not surprising, it was unconnected by road until the 1960s, reachable only by railway. Now on the Sky-to-Sky Highway, Pemberton is set at the foot of the 2,500-metre Mount Currie, and a walk past the wooden shops and restaurants downtown can feel like a trip back to the old west. Now, it’s a paradise for anyone who loves the outdoors, those peaks and forests rising just outside of town.
Where to Go
Nairn Falls Provincial Park
Right in Pemberton, about five minutes from downtown, the crown jewel of this park is its 60-metre cascade, which tumbles, white and raucous, into a sapphire pool below. Walk the 1.5-kilometre trail to a viewpoint over the falls, and when you’re ready to cool off, take the two-kilometre trail to the swimming area at One Mile Lake.
Garibaldi Provincial Park
Just south on Highway 99, this massive, 1800-square-kilometre park is named for the 2,678-metre Mount Garibaldi. Swim at five lakes, hike 90 kilometres of trail, cycle, climb, fish, or canoe—you won’t run out of outdoor options. And keep your eyes open for wolverines, cougars, and both black and grizzly bears.
Birkenhead Lake Provincial Park
Picture it—snow-capped peaks reflected in still waters—and you’ll get an idea of what this park is all about. Bike the eight-kilometre Birkenhead Lake Trail, fish for kokanee and rainbow trout, swim at the sandy beach, then hike to Goat Lookout for an overview of it all (and maybe spot a few goats along the way).
When to Go
This part of the mountains can be complicated, with climate zones and weather systems varying wildly, even just a few kilometres apart. Like anywhere in this part of Canada, summer brings the best weather, especially if you plan to swim—cold, glacier-fed lakes finally warm up a bit by August. Early autumn is very pleasant although evenings cool off very quickly, and winters tend to be mild but rainy.
Know Before You Go
- Highway 99—also known as the Sea-to-Sky Highway—connects Vancouver with Whistler and Pemberton. During weekends, especially in high season, it can be extremely busy.
- Pemberton is a very small town, so it’s best to stock up on camping gear at one of the several shops in Whistler (or even better, a big store like Mountain Equipment Co-op in Vancouver).
- If you’re looking for a night on the town, wash up and head to Whistler, just down the road for its dining, distilleries, and bars. But if you’re seeking solitude? Keep heading up the highway, which plunges into forest and peaks all the way to the horizon.