A two and a half hour drive from Vancouver, along the spectacular Sea to Sky Highway, lies the beautiful Lillooet Lake. We decided to take advantage of our long weekend and head in land for a dose of lakes and mountains. The drive to Lillooet Lake takes you through some incredible mountain scenery and some cute little towns. Our favourite of these was Pemberton, the mountainous backdrop was jaw dropping and it is home to probably the most picturesque McDonalds that we have ever visited.
There are a few recreation campgrounds around the lake, just off the forestry road, and they are pretty basic with only a few toilets dotted around. It is an incredibly cheap place to camp – only CA$13 per night per campsite. During the long weekends, especially in the summer, these campsites fill up fast so try to get there early. We were lucky and got a gorgeous lake front spot nestled amongst the firs at Lizzie Bay. Don’t despair if you miss out on a spot, you can pretty much just set up camp in any clearing near the campground – remember your earplugs though, during long weekends these camping spots can sometimes get a bit rowdy.
Lillooet Lake is stunning, but in May the water is freezing! We attempted a dip one day and ran straight back to our fire after about 10 seconds. A lot of people bring canoes and kayaks and our neighbours were kind enough to lend us one for a little paddle around the lake. We also attempted to (unsuccessfully) fish near the mouth of one of the rivers flowing into the Lake and were convinced no fish exist in the area.
Nearby Lillooet Lake is Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, which is home to a beautiful hiking trail that takes you past three lakes in the mountains. It’s not too hard at 10km return and is definitely worth it for the incredibly beautiful views. During the summer this trail gets hectic but in late May, with people being put off by some snow still on the trail, it is a perfect time to go. If you do go in the summer then go early and avoid the crowds.
To top off our long weekend in the area we headed to the Lillooet Lake Rodeo that takes place over the long weekend in May every year. This small, rural rodeo, run by the local First Nations community, has all the big events like bull riding, barrel racing and team roping but without the big crowds. The local community was there in full force and we were able to get incredibly close to the action. You can even bring in a cooler with some beers for a really fun day in the sunshine.
Our time at Lillooet Lake was fantastic and well worth including in any trip to Canada. The water, the sunshine, the hiking and the entertainment – it really has it all!
Here is a breakdown of our costs for 4 days (2 people):
Camping Fees – NZ$44
Food/Drink – NZ$271
Car Rental – NZ$197
Petrol – NZ$67
Total spent – NZ$579 (CA$515 / US$400)
With these kind of camping trips, the more people that come along then the cheaper it is.