Please make sure you read the updates in the Know Before You Go section.
The views at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park are unreal. The green forests, turquoise waters, large mountains, and stunning Matier Glacier attract visitors from all over the world.
A Short Drive from Whistler Village
Joffre Lakes is only about an hour away from Whistler, so it was a great day trip for us when we wanted to visit areas outside of the village. I found the drive from Whistler to Joffre Lakes to be beautiful. There are a few winding roads and cut backs that might make you a little nauseated if you easily get carsick. It’s nothing your typical anti-nausea preventative can’t handle, though. I was really grateful I took a ginger pill before the drive! Thanks to doing so, I was able to enjoy the beautiful scenery instead of feeling sick.
Parking Can Be a Challenge
As we neared the park, it quickly became evident that the trails were going to be crowded. Cars were parked all over the place. I had read many times before that this park gets extremely busy, and that the morning is the best time to explore the area. Well, I didn’t listen to the advice I was given, and we arrived at the park mid-afternoon. So, I had legitimate concerns that we weren’t going to be able to find parking.
We actually lucked out and scored a parking spot only a couple of feet away from the trailhead. Timing was in our favor, as we pulled into the parking lot, and a car was pulling out of this coveted spot. As I got out of the car, I could feel the jealousy of those who had walked a mile along the road just to get into the parking lot. One person even exclaimed, “Nice parking spot!”
Trail to Lower Lake
The trail to Lower Lake – the first glacial lake you’ll come across – is super easy and short. It only requires a casual stroll through an absolutely gorgeous forest. Birds were flying around and chipmunks were running across the forest floor – it was incredibly beautiful.
Yes, there were a lot of people on the trail, but it wasn’t that big of deal. In hindsight, I do really wish we had explored the park earlier in the day, but visiting in the afternoon was still a really fabulous experience.
After we walked the short and easy trail, we ended up at Lower Lake. Bright green grass, turquoise water, beautiful mountains covered with dark green trees, and the awe-inspiring Matier Glacier greeted us. It was a scene straight from a postcard.
As mentioned, we didn’t get to the park until later in the day, so we weren’t prepared to hike to the other two lakes. Instead, we hung out for a little while at Lower Lake and took in the stunning views.
Know Before You Go: (Updated in February 2022)
+ I visited this park and wrote this blog post in 2016 when it had already become a popular tourist destination, but the area hadn’t exploded quite yet. However, my visit there and the praises I have repeated for the area have contributed to the overcrowding of the area. According to BC Parks, by 2019, the trails, facilities, and infrastructure did not meet the “needs” required by visitors.
+ I support the Lil’wat Nation and N’Quatqua, as they work with BC Parks on the Joffre Lakes Park Visitor Use Management Strategy.
+ Respect the land and all rules, including staying on trail.
+ During certain times of the year, biting insects can be bothersome. Because of this, you might want to bring bug spray with you.
+ There are no flush toilets on the property, but there are pit toilets near the trailhead and up at the third lake.
+ During the summer, there’s often a food truck in the parking lot selling provisions.
+ A number of the birds and chipmunks in the area are accustomed to being fed by visitors. Please do your part in being a responsible tourist and do not feed the wildlife.
+ While the busy trails make it easy to forget that you are in the wild, it’s important to remember that you are in bear country. Always be prepared.
+ Yes, the trail from the parking lot to Lower Lake is very short and easy. However, the trails to the other two lakes are more challenging and require more of a time commitment.
+ If you want a more serene experience, be sure to visit this park in the morning before the crowds show up. From 11:00 a.m. until dark, expect the trails – especially the one to Lower Lake – to be crowded.
+ Expect to see a ton of people taking selfies. I can honestly say I have never seen so many people taking selfies in my life.
Why is the Lake that Stunning Turquoise Color?
The gorgeous turquoise color is thanks to glacial flour and sunlight. Glacial flour, which is a fine-grained powder of silt and clay is picked up by meltwater and enters the lakes, suspending in the water column. When sunlight hits the water, the glacial flour particles absorb the shortest wavelengths, like indigos and purples. The water absorbs the oranges, yellows, and reds. So, the blues and greens are what gets scattered back to your eyes. Pretty cool, right?
Get in Touch
Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is undoubtedly worth visiting. So, if you are ever in the area, be sure to make time to hike some of the beautiful trails there. Have questions about Joffre Lakes? Comment below or feel free to email me at email@example.com.