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A stunning lake filled with cold glacier water and incredible views across the glassy water to the surrounding mountains – yes, Lillooet Lake, BC is pretty great. And with a number of scenic campgrounds and a convenient location just off the famous Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99), it’s no wonder this gorgeous lake is a very popular summer destination.
Located in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District of British Columbia, Lillooet Lake is 17 kilometres east of Pemberton. Strangely, it is a much longer 85 kilometres (1.5 hrs) from the town of Lillooet, which can be confusing at times. From Vancouver, you’re looking at a drive of around 2.5 hours.
Back in the 19th century, Lillooet Lake was the main steamboat route from the mountains to the coast during the short-lived Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. Today, Lillooet Lake is known as a great place for camping, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, hiking and – for hardy types – swimming.
Lillooet Lake Camping
There are four different campgrounds, all located along the northeastern shore of the lake on In-SHUCK-ch Forest Service Road. Each has its own personality and unique set of pros and cons, although all share exactly the same fee and regulation structure:
$15/night per site ($7.50 for 65+ or persons with disabilities) – collected by attendant
One vehicle per site
Maximum 6 adults per group (age 19+)
Dogs allowed (on leash only)
First come, first served (no reservations)
Maximum stay – 14 days
Strawberry Point Campground
Located at kilometre 7, this nicely forested campground has an interesting day-use area featuring fascinating driftwood sculptures. It boasts a nice, sandy beach and is popular with day-trippers and local dog owners.
All 27 sites are in a clearing in the trees up a slightly steep hill from the lake, so there are no lake views, and the sites offer the least amount of privacy of the four Lillooet Lake campgrounds.
The sites are the most defined, however, and they have picnic tables and fire pits. There is a pit toilet available and a campground map at the entrance. There is enough room for small RVs and a little bit of cell service (here and there).
Twin One Campground
Located at kilometre 10 along In-SHUCK-ch, Twin One features large, numbered sites, a long beach full of driftwood and occasional cell service. While not as scenic as Driftwood Bay and Lizzie Bay, it still has pretty good views and there are some waterfront sites (that tend to get taken quickly).
It has some sites that are large enough for RVs and it is the only campground with a boat launch, making it a good choice for campers with all the toys. The usual picnic tables, fire pits, garbage bins and pit toilets are all available as well.
Lizzie Bay Campground
There are just 12 numbered sites at Lizzie Bay, about half of which are located along the waterfront with amazing views of the lake and mountains. The beach is long but rocky and, while the views are pretty amazing, the campground faces north so it gets less sun than the others. There are picnic tables and pit toilets, although not much else.
Driftwood Bay Campground
In our opinion, Driftwood Bay Campground is the most scenic choice on Lillooet Lake. It has a fascinating rock and driftwood beach facing south with outstanding views.
However, it is also the most basic choice. There are 10 drive-in sites (not numbered), a pit toilet, just a handful of picnic tables in the sites closest to the parking lot and some home-made fire pits.
The setting is amazing but be aware that summer weekends occasionally attract a party crowd.
Lillooet Lake Fishing
Lillooet Lake boasts an impressive variety of fish for avid anglers, including Chinook salmon and rainbow, cutthroat, bull and Dolly Varden trout. People have reported success with almost every method, from fly fishing and baitcasting to spinning and trolling.
The only boat launch is a basic, dirt one located at Twin One Campground, best accessed by 4×4. While on the lake keep your eyes peeled for all the floating driftwood and remember that you will need a British Columbia freshwater license to fish.
Can you swim in Lillooet Lake?
Yep, you sure can. Just know that people trying to be nice still never call this glacier water anything better than “bracing”, while others would argue that “freezing” is more accurate.
Of course, on hot, summer days it can still feel good to go for a dip, and lots of people enjoy lounging around on floaties instead, keeping their most sensitive areas out of the water as much as possible.
Is Lillooet Lake Glacier fed?
Yes, the Lillooet Glacier is 95 kilometres upstream in the Lillooet Icecap, which feeds a number of major rivers in the area. So, while the water may be cold, it is also clean and clear.
How long is Lillooet Lake?
It runs roughly 25 kilometres from end to end and covers 33.5 square kilometres.
Lillooet Lake Lodge
If you’re looking for something a little more comfortable than camping, the cozy cottages at Lillooet Lake Lodge have been catering to nature lovers since 1957. The small cottages are rustic but they all boast phenomenal views of the lake and mountains.
They feature sun decks, wood stoves/fireplaces, running water, basic electricity and fully equipped kitchenettes. One unit has a private bath and the rest have access to outhouses, a shared hot shower and a sauna. Otherwise, there is only cold water, oil lamps and amazing scenery.
There is a nice waterfall just a short walk away and there are also a few campsites for people who want access to the amenities but don’t need a cabin to themselves.
Lillooet Lake Directions
Follow the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) north to Pemberton. From there, continue on the highway through Mount Currie following directions to Duffy Lake Road. After about 8 kilometres you will reach the lake and start heading uphill where you will soon see the turnoff to the right onto In-SHUCK-ch Forest Service Road.
Things to do Nearby
If you continue on In-SHUCK-ch Road past the last campground at Driftwood Bay for 30 kilometres (58 km in total) you will find the impressive Tsek Hot Springs (also known as Skookumchuck hot springs), where you can soak in rustic tubs.
And, if you’re really in the mood for a hot springs tour, head on for another 37 kilometres to Sloquet Hot Springs, although be warned, this is a very rough road. There are also campgrounds at both of these spots if you want to stay longer.
Joffre Lakes are nearby and there is a great hike to see all three or just enjoy the closest one.
Seton Lake is a gorgeous turquoise lake toward the town of Lillooet.
Nairn Falls Provincial Park is just off the highway a few kilometres southwest of Pemberton. There is a nice, short hike to an excellent waterfall and one of the best Pemberton campgrounds.
There are also many more recommended stops along the Sea to Sky highway between Pemberton and Vancouver:
“The Chief” hike near Squamish is the most famous hike in the area. It is a strenuous climb up featuring stairs, rocks, roots, scrambling, ladders and chains to reach three different viewpoints, all of which are amazing.
It is a short stroll to the main Shannon Falls viewpoints, or you can tackle the strenuous and tricky climb to the spectacular viewpoint at the Upper Pools.
Porteau Cove is a quick, easy stop with some great viewpoints, a nice short hike and plenty of picnic areas.
Tunnel Bluffs viewpoint has phenomenal views of Howe Sound and is a very popular spot reached by a moderate hike from Lions Bay.
Bowen Island makes a great day trip, featuring an outstanding viewpoint at the end of a hike up to the panoramic summit of Mount Gardner, plus a bunch of good beaches, a lighthouse, a number of bayside restaurants and bars and a short hike to a mysterious, hidden driftwood mastodon.
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