Although Whistler is known as a world-class winter destination, the summer months as just as beautiful and attract just as many visitors. In my opinion Whistler is better in summer (it wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that I suck at skiing *cough*) and relaxing at one of the many lakes in Whistler is the best way to spend a hot day.
The thing I love most about Whistler’s lakes is that they are all varied and there are many different beaches and docks to hang out at. I’m also a fan of the fact that I can see the bottom of the lake at the shore… and there are no weeds (always a win in my books!).
Come the middle of summer most lakes (not you Green Lake) start to warm up and the cool water just feels absolutely amazing. The water here really is incredible. The five main lakes in Whistler are all easily accessible by foot, car, bus and bike!
This post focuses mainly on the valley lakes that are great for swimming, but there are so many more lakes in the alpine and backcountry. I’ve listed a few of my favourite Whistler alpine lakes at the bottom of this post.
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Lakes in Whistler Valley
There are 5 main lakes in Whistler Valley and each one varies from the next. Almost of all the lakes on this list are connected by the Valley Trail so you could actually see them all in one day if you biked.
Pay Parking: Whistler now charges to park at all lakes in an attempt to encourage less vehicles on the road. On weekends a free shuttle leaves from Whistler Village to Lost Lake and Rainbow Park only. These shuttles are small and you will not be able to carry much on the bus. If you are in creekside and want to use the free shuttle you’ll have to get to the village first.
BC Transit also runs a free bus to and from Lost Lake regularly from the GTE, this is the number 8. There is no free shuttle to Alpha, Nita or Green Lake.
If you don’t want to pay to park, you can still bike to all these lakes. Parking is also free after 6pm.
It’s important to note that alcohol is not permitted at any Whistler lakes and you may be fined by bylaw if you have open alcohol. I know it’s a bummer (hey I’m British I get it) but those are the local rules here.
Lost Lake Whistler
Don’t be fooled by the name, finding Lost Lake is actually very easy and accessible. The close proximity of Lost Lake to Whistler Village makes it the most popular lake in Whistler and on weekends it can get very busy here.
Lost lake is a great place to bring a picnic or try some of the local food trucks. Despite its popularity, the park is relatively spread out and I’ve always managed to find a nice quiet spot to relax and read a book here.
There are no dogs allowed at Lost Lake Park but if you continue around the lake you’ll find Canine Cove which is a dog friendly beach. If you like to “feel free” in nature head to the Big Dock which is Whistler’s nude beach/clothing optional area.
Although Lost Lake is the main attraction of Lost Lake Park there are an abundance of walking and biking trails. You could even bike all the way to Green Lake from here.
- Close proximity to Whistler Village
- Frequent Busses
- Access to biking trails
Green Lake Whistler
By far the most stunning of lakes in Whistler is Green Lake. True to its name, this lake turns a beautiful emerald green colour late in the summer after the snow starts to melt. As Green Lake is glacier-fed you can expect the temperature to be very cold, but depending on the heat that may not be such a bad thing!
Green Lake is the largest and deepest lake in Whistler, you can even see it from the Whistler Gondola! It’s also the only lake in Whistler where motorized boats are allowed. If you are wanting to waterski or wakeboard, this is the place to do so!
In the summer months you’ll often see the float planes landing and taking off from Green Lake. Harbour Air operates flights out of Green Lake and are a great way to get to and from Whistler, or just to enjoy a scenic flight of the surrounding mountain ranges.
Green Lake has a great biking trail that circles the lake with a boardwalk bridge partway. This is a great area to stop and enjoy the views or take photos.
I would have to say my favourite thing to do at Green Lake is watch the sunset. In the winter you might even be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights from here.
The sunsets at Green Lake are phenomenal with the bright orange hues of the sun just hitting the peaks of Wedge Mountain and Armchair Glacier perfectly. My favourite places to watch the sunset at Green Lake are the boardwalk, the boat launch, Green Lake lookout and Green Lake park.
- Motorized Boats
Alta Lake Whistler
Alta Lake is a favourite among locals in the summer – it’s the second biggest lake in the valley and features several parks to access the lake from. I’ve paddle boarded on Alta Lake every summer since I moved to Whistler and on a hot day the water feels sooooo good!
Alta lake has great connections via the Valley Trail which makes it a great Lake to bike to.
- Rainbow Park: Rainbow Park is one of the bigger beaches at Alta Lake. Here you’ll find volleyball courts in the sand, bathrooms and picnic tables. The area here is quite spread out so even when it’s busy you can find a nice spot to relax. Since Rainbow Park is on the west side of Alta Lake, the sunsets here are incredible.
- Lakeside Park: Lakeside Park is usually my go-to for Alta Lake, it also happens to be everyone else’s first choice so expect to see crowds here. The parking lot always fills up quite quickly but you can park along the road next to the parking lot. Just make sure you read the signs of where you can/can’t park. With the new paid parking rules things may have changed. You can rent canoes, kayaks and stand up paddle boards through Backroads Whistler at Lakeside Park. Some of the best tours include the River of Golden Dreams.
- Wayside Park: I really like Wayside Park as it’s a much smaller beach and more chilled out. It had easily become my favourite lake beach in Whistler. The parking lot here is small so you’ll often find less people. There are several docks here and this end of the lake is shaded from the wind so is generally calmer. You can also rent canoes and paddle boards from Whistler Eco Tours and I’d highly recommend! If you’re new to paddle boarding the docks here are easier to get in and out of because there are less people.
- Blueberry Docks: Blueberry Docks doesn’t have the same amenities as the other parks at Alta Lake and as such is quieter. This area is popular among locals as it’s great for hanging out with friends with a picnic. If you want grassy areas with boat rentals and concession stands, I would choose one of the other three parks over this one.
- Paddle Boarding
Nita Lake Whistler
Nita Lake is one of the most underrated lakes in Whistler in my opinion. While there is no real beach or grassy area at Nita Lake, it is a fantastic lake for paddle boarding and kayaking. In the later afternoons and early evenings Nita Lake is calm and its surface flat like glass.
There is no boat launch here either which means if you’re out paddling you’ll never come across a motorized boat (and therefore calmer waters!)
If you are a guest at Nita Lake Lodge you can even take advantage of their private dock which gives you access to free canoe and kayak rentals.
This is another really nice area to watch the sunset from when you’re out on the water. If you paddle to the far end just by the really cute island, you’ll be able to watch as the sun softly glows on the peak of Whistler Mountain.
- Paddle Boarding
- Watching the sunset over Whistler Mountain
Alpha Lake Whistler
Alpha Lake is like a smaller version of Alta Lake but not as warm. It is located a little more south of Whistler and is the first lake you pass when driving into town.
Since Alpha Lake is further from Whistler Village you’ll encounter more locals here than tourists. There are picnic tables, washrooms and a playground. There’s also a great dog park at Alpha Lake with its own access to the lake.
- Paddle Boarding
Alpine Lakes in Whistler
- Cheakamus Lake – Cheakamus Lake is an easy hike in Whistler if you have the right vehicle to get to the trailhead. I love Cheakamus Lake and try to hike here at least once a year. This lake is tucked away in the mountains is glacial fed. You can hike to the shore of Cheakamus Lake or see it’s beautiful turquoise hues from above on the High Note Trail.
- Russet Lake – Russet Lake sits on Whistler Mountain and can be accessed in several ways. The most popular is from the Singing Pass trail or for an easier hike you can take the Whistler Gondola and then hike from the peak.
- Rainbow Lake – Rainbow Lake is a popular alpine lake in Whistler and the hike here is considered difficult. While it doesn’t have the same bright colours of Cheakamus and Garibaldi, it is still a stunning lake.
- Loggers Lake – Loggers Lake isn’t technically an alpine lake, but it does require a bit of a hike to get there. Unlike the other lakes on this the hike is relatively easy, but I wouldn’t recommend hiking in a kayak or anything bulky. If you’re up to it you may get away with hiking in an inflatable paddle board, but it wouldn’t much fun in the summer heat.
- Garibaldi Lake – Garibaldi Lake is one of the top hikes and lakes in BC. It’s bright blue colour attracts hundreds of visitors every year. You can indeed swim in this lake, but it is glacial so expect it to be incredibly cold!
- Wedgemount Lake – The hike to Wedgemount Lake is not the easiest, but it is incredibly pretty! You can book to camp at Wedgemount Lake on an overnight hike or do it as a day hike.
It’s hard to say which of Whistler’s lakes are the best as they all differ from one another. I like them all separately but I’d have to say my favourite for cooling off is Alta Lake, on a calm day it’s a great lake to paddle board and the water is much warmer. Whichever lake you choose to spend time at you’re sure to have an amazing time!
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