Pemberton Camping: 8 Great Rustic Campgrounds Near Pemberton

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Less than half an hour’s drive from Whistler Village and about an hour from Squamish, Pemberton BC is a beautiful adventure hub, surrounded by lakes and mountains. From early spring to late fall it is a terrific place to come for hiking, biking, horseback riding, river rafting and a wide range of water activities (including just lying there in the sun, if that strikes your fancy) while staying in one of the many rustic but beautiful Pemberton camping options.

Pemberton Camping Options

With stunning scenery and wonderful forest surroundings, camping in Pemberton BC has become an annual tradition for many, especially those who prefer rustic, natural campgrounds. None of the Pemberton campgrounds have electricity, flush toilets or showers and the only sani-dumps for RVs are found at the Pemberton Tourist Information Centre and the Birkenhead Campground.

But what Pemberton camping sites lack in amenities they more than make up for in atmosphere and natural beauty. Here is a breakdown of all the different Pemberton camping sites:

Nairn Falls Camping

Located right next to Pemberton, the Nairn Falls Campground is spread out along a pretty, rushing river. Some of the sites are right next to steep riverbanks, while others are back in the trees a little bit, and almost all have a fair bit of shade. This campground has some of the best Pemberton camping spots.

Campsite with picnic table surrounded by trees at the Nairn Falls Campground a good Pemberton camping option
Nairn Falls camping site with a view of the river

The best thing about Nairn Falls Campground is its close proximity to the amazing 60-metre falls themselves, which are just an easy 1.5-kilometre hike upriver where you’ll find several impressive viewpoints.

It is also a straightforward walk to One Mile Lake, just 2 kilometres north of the campground (although the trail leaves out of the southeast corner). The lake is popular for swimming and floating and there is a playground for the kids.

Nairn Falls – a short hike from the Nairn Falls camping sites

Another good walk is to (and around) Coudre Point, where you can explore a group of small trails (starting or ending at sites 17 and 47).

Sites

98 drive-in sites (including 7 double sites)

Nairn Falls Campground Prices

$22/night

$11/night – BC Senior’s Rate (from Labour Day to June 14)

Facilities

Pit toilets (including 2 that are wheelchair accessible)

Potable water (hand-pump)

Pets are allowed but must be kept on-leash at all times

Gates are open from 7 am to 10 pm

Directions

Nairn Falls Provincial Park is 4 kilometres southwest of Pemberton on the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99), just off the road on the south side.

Reservations

In the summer you can book ahead through Discover Camping. The rest of the year it is first come, first served.

Birkenhead Lake Camping

This gorgeous lake surrounded by old growth forest (and other, smaller lakes) is definitely more out of the way but worth it for the outstanding views and excellent fishing. There is a boat launch, a floating dock and a place to rent canoes.

Anglers flock here for kokanee and rainbow trout while hikers and bikers take advantage of the trails, especially the smooth 8-kilometre-long gravel trail connecting Birkenhead Lake with Birkenhead Lake Estates at the far end of the lake. There are also a number of shorter hiking trails in the area that can be mixed and matched to suit your mood and energy levels.

There is an actual sand beach for relaxing and plenty of people enjoy swimming in Birkenhead Lake, despite the fact the water remains quite cold until late summer. Also, when conditions are right Birkenhead can actually be a good windsurfing spot.

And in the spring keep your eyes peeled for mountain goats, commonly spotted wandering around on the northern cliffs above the campground. Of course, you can see bears anytime of year so always be careful to keep your site clean and cache your food.

If you are ok with being a bit further from Pemberton BC, camping here is a great choice.

Sites

78

Birkenhead Campground Prices

$22/night

$11/night – BC Senior’s Rate (from Labour Day to June 14)

Facilities

There are pit toilets in both the campground and day-use area

Several taps provide potable water

Sani-dump ($5/use)

Directions

To reach Birkenhead Lake you first follow the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) northeast for 7 kilometres to Mount Currie, then head north on Pemberton Portage Road toward D’Arcy. You follow this for 34 kilometres, then take a left onto Blackwater Lake Road (signs for Birkenhead Lake). Then you follow that for around 15 kilometres until you arrive at the lake.

Reservations

In the summer you can book ahead through Discover Camping. The rest of the year it is first come, first served.

Owl Creek Camping

This nice campground tucked into the forest between Owl Creek and the Birkenhead River is a very popular fishing spot that also has a few large sites that work well for RVs. There is a wide variety of sites – some next to the river with great views and rushing water background noise, while others are fairly close to the train tracks.

For a single or couple who want privacy close to the river, #16 is your best bet, while larger groups should try to get #1-3 at the other end for a tight collection of sites next to the river. Either way, it is a good idea to drive all the way around to see all the sites and pick the one that fits your needs.

Picnic table in the trees at Owl Creek camping one of Pemberton Camping options
Owl Creek camping site

Sites

15

Owl Creek Campground Prices

$15/night (April 1 – October 31)

Facilities

Pit toilets

Garbage and recycling bins

Secure bear caches

The site operator comes by in the evening to collect fees and sell firewood

Directions

Head northeast on the highway to Mount Currie, then go north on Old Portage Road for 4 kilometres. The turnoff is to the right just across the Owl Creek Bridge.

Reservations

All sites are first come, first served

Lillooet Lake Camping

There are four different campgrounds along the 25-kilometre length of the northeastern shore of spectacular Lillooet Lake, each with their own unique pros and cons. Lillooet Lake was formerly the main steamboat route to Howe Sound during the 19th century Fraser Canyon Gold Rush and today is a popular place to camp, fish, swim and float in summer.

The Lillooet Lake campgrounds are great choices for camping abound Pemberton, BC.

Lillooet Lake – a great options for camping near Pemberton BC

Lillooet Lake Campground Prices

$15/night per site (collected by attendant)

$7.50 for 65+ or persons with disabilities

Rules

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

Directions

All 4 campgrounds are found along In-SHUCK-ch Forest Service Road, which starts 17 kilometres east of Pemberton.

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.

Picnic table at the Strawberry Point Campground the first of Lillooet Lake camping options

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).

Tents and vans at the Twin One Campground with Lillooet Lake in the background

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.

Tent in the trees in front of a blue lake at the Driftwood Campground at Lillooet Lake BC
Driftwood Bay Campground – one of the rustic Pemberton camping options

Joffre Lakes Camping

This is the place to come for a true wilderness camping experience. The 4-kilometre (one-way) hike to Upper Joffre Lake is one of the most popular in the entire region.

However, the day trippers don’t get to enjoy the truly spectacular sunsets and sunrises that you earn by hauling your camping gear out to spend the night. There are actually 3 different lakes (Lower, Middle and Upper) but camping is only allowed at the last one (Upper).

Sites

26 (backcountry walk-in)

Joffre Lake Campground Prices

$5/person per night

Facilities

Pit toilet

Bear-proof food cache

Small gravel tent pads

Directions

The Joffre Lakes trailhead is located about 30 kilometres east of Pemberton on the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) on the south side.

Reservations

You can book backcountry tent sites through BC Parks. Keep in mind there is virtually no cell service in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park so you need to make sure to book before you arrive.

Conclusion

When it comes to camping, Pemberton BC has a lot of great options as long as you are up for a more rustic camping experience.

Check out our lists of the best Camping Quotes and Camping Captions.

Things to Do Near Pemberton, British Columbia

Along with all the great camping near Pemberton, there are plenty of good Squamish camping options as well. Not to mention, loads of top destinations to visit along your Sea to Sky Highway journey:

One Mile Lake is a popular spot for swimming and picnicking.

Seton Lake is a gorgeous turquoise lake toward Lillooet.

Lovely Alice Lake, Cat Lake and Brohm Lake are all just outside Squamish and are popular hubs of summer activity, from swimming and fishing to hiking and even cliff jumping.

Floating on Brohm Lake

“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 and the only sea front camping in the area.

Tunnel Bluffs viewpoint has phenomenal views of Howe Sound and is a very popular spot reached by a moderate hike from Lions Bay.

Adrenalin-seekers might want to check out the cliff jumping at Lions Bay, where a variety of rock ledges loom over the Howe Sound.

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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Other useful articles you may want to check out:

Clearwater BC: 15 Great Reasons to Visit

22 Great Hikes Around Squamish

Bowen Island Hiking

The Best and Worst of Drumheller Camping

Day Hike Packing List

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