Camping at Russet Lake

Camping at Russet Lake

We absolutely loved camping at Russet Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park near Whistler. The lake itself is nice; But it is the surrounding scenery that will take your breath away. It is simply incredible. The Russet Lake Campground is at an elevation of 1890m so you need to be prepared for it to be a bit chilly. You also need to put in some effort to reach it, especially as you’ll be lugging up your camping gear to stay the night. Still, this is one of those campgrounds that is worth every huff and puff that gets you up here.

There are a few different options to reach Russet Lake. I’ll provide all the details below so you can hike up and meet the local marmots.

Routes to reach Russet Lake:

Half Note trail and Musical Bumps trail
Distance: 11.5 km
Elevation gain: 556 m
This is the route we took (read more here) It’s a gorgeous the entire way.

High Note trail and Musical Bumps trail
Distance: 11.46 km
Elevation gain: 586 m
Similar to the Half Note trail. I have a post about the first half here.

Musical Bumps Trail
Distance: 11.70 km
Elevation gain: 693 m
If the chairlift to Whistler Peak is closed, you can hike up from the Roundhouse Lodge.

Singing Pass trail
Distance: 15 km
Elevation gain: 1418 m
This is the free route, so you don’t need to shell out for the gondola BUT you pay with extra effort with a longer distance and elevation gain. We returned via this route.

Map of route to Russet Lake Campground

Russet Lake Campground Facilities

This is a backcountry campground so you need to bring everything you need, and be ready to pack out all your rubbish. There are 20 camping spots. Some of them are on grassy patches, some on gravel. Lots of them have little dry stone walls built up to provide some shelter from the wind.

Russet Lake Campground Loo – BYOTP

There is a loo with an incredible view! This year Garibaldi Provincial Park switched to BYOTP (bring your own toilet paper) for all backcountry outhouses. This is because rodents (like marmots) shred up the loo roll for their nests, creating litter and mess.

This is the view from one of the campsites including the epic outhouse.

Russet Lake Bear Cache

There is a pretty hefty food locker between the camping area and the outhouse. If you stay here, you should remove all food (as well as any toiletries and cooking pot) and leave them in this locker over night.

Choose a spot to camp

Click here for more information or to book. Make sure you’re in the backcountry camping section, and select “Garibaldi Provincial Park” to book the Russet Lake Campground.

You need a reservation to camp at Russet Lake, but you don’t choose the specific location. So whenever you arrive, you can pick any of the campsites that are free. There were a few sites on the crest of the hill with great views, but it was quite windy, so we chose a sheltered campsite instead.

Our view was not too bad though!

Arriving late

We set off on our hike a bit late, so we arrived at Russet Lake just as the sun was setting. We made dinner straight away then watched the Fissile Peak turn orange (to match me and my hat!) We were so tired that we were asleep as soon as the light started to fade.

Breakfast views

The best part about camping at Russet Lake was the views we had for our morning cuppa. I think this is the most picturesque tea location I’ve ever experienced.

Snow-bridge to Russet Lake

We camped here in July, so there was still a bit of snow around and Russet Lake was still partly frozen. I love seeing it like this! The main campground is one side of a creek, with the lake on the other side. Early in the season you can easily reach the lake via a snow-bridge. We could hear the water flowing beneath the snow, so this probably melted away soon after our visit.

Russet Lake views

If you do go camping at Russet Lake, you need to spend a bit of time at the lakeside as it is so pretty. It doesn’t have the crazy glacial blue of Garibaldi Lake or Joffre Lakes. However I loved it early in the morning, when it reflects the surrounding mountains so perfectly.

This is the view towards the Kees and Claire Hut that sits just above the lake. If you don’t fancy camping, you can stay in the hut for $50. (book it here.) There is space for 38 campers in bunkbeds up there.

Extra tarn

Fancy going a teeny bit further? There is a bit of a rocky pathway that leads up to a tarn just above the Russet Lake Campground. It is nice to go for a mini wander up there to meet the local marmots and for some great views of the lake.

This is the teeny tarn. There were some ice-caves that were melting away behind here. We didn’t see any other hikers bother to explore this area so we had the lovely views to ourselves.

These are the views looking North. It’s such a stunning area.


Have you ever seen a marmot before? I always like to see them! These are the floofy fellas that gave the name to Whistler (they like to make whistle-like sounds.) They are a type of large squirrel that live in the alpine munching flowers. We spent some time up by the tarn watching this marmot dig holes and gather grasses and flowers.

We had left our main backpacks and hiking poles down at the Russet Lake Campground while we explored the tarn and watched the marmot. However once we made it back to our things, it turned out a different marmot was doing his best to gnaw his way through our hiking poles! He was not shy at all and Marc had to chase him away (while I helpfully took a photo!)

Russet Lake Panoramas

I’ll finish with panoramas again so you can take in some of the views near Russet Lake.

We may have finished this camping adventure with chewed hiking pole straps (and marmot teeth marks in the poles) but other that that, we loved camping at Russet Lake. It wasn’t very busy, the views were outstanding and it just felt very adventurous. I hope you like the look of it and that this encourages you to go hiking or camping to this fabulous spot.

Camping at Russet Lake - best breakfast views Whistler's prettiest campground - Camping at Russet Lake Camping at Russet Lake - beautiful place to sleep

26 thoughts on “Camping at Russet Lake

  1. Reading about your hiking adventures in Canada always makes my day. Have you ever encountered a grizzly? I have seen a few of your articles where you mention the bear caches.

    1. Thanks Ashlee, you just made my day.

      Only once – we saw a Grizzly mama and her three babies from faaaar off when we were hiking in the Rockies.

      We quite often see black bears, but they normally run off as soon as they see us. Bears don’t want to be anywhere near humans most of the time.

  2. This looks absolutely amazing. I’m not a massive fan of camping but I definitely would here. Oh and I can’t believe what the Marmot did to you poles haha

  3. I love a hike and camp and with views like that from right out your fly… wow – I can see why it was worth lugging your gear! And marmots are so cute amazing that you can find them nearby!

  4. I can see why you loved camping at Russet Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park. What a beautiful place to immerse yourself…stunning!

  5. You are showing me so many amazing spots around Whistler. While we won’t be camping on our stay, camping at Russet Lake is something both of our local kids would love to do. I can just imagine waking up to those great panoramic views of the mountains. A reminder for us that there is still snow on the mountains in the area at this time of year.

  6. What a gorgeous location to camp! My husband has always been big into camping and we just started going together over the last few years. I love waking up to gorgeous views – though I don’t think we’ve had one that pretty!

  7. Absolutely gorgeous! Did you have any issues getting reservations? Next time I’m going to do the Half Note/Musical Bumps route and spare myself the pain of the free route.

    1. No! That was one of the best things about it. We booked about a week and a half before our trip.

      It seems like Garibaldi Lake, Heather Meadows and Elfin Lakes are always booked up, but Russet Lake often has space.

  8. What an incredible trip. The scenery is absolutely stunning, love your photos. How wonderful to camp out in such a wild place, especially like the toilet. Brilliant. Glad to see you’re jumping for joy again!

  9. I love where you set up your camping site. I can’t imagine waking up to a better view! I grew up camping every summer and it’s so much fun!

  10. Omg the marmots biting through your pole straps haha. I guess it’s similar to why they chew up the toilet paper?

    Seems like you guys picked a perfect time, both in terms of arriving for the alpen glow (love the pic of you and the hat!) and also for the changing seasons, with the snow melting and creating pretty lakes and caves. I actually had to look up “tarn”, you taught me a new wilderness word!

  11. Gorgeous! Love the marmots! It looks like the campsite is not terribly busy, which is perfect. Love that this campsite seems really well equipped with a toilet and food lockers!

    1. Yeah it is pretty good to have so many facilities for a not too busy place. There are 20 sites, so I guess it could feel a bit busy when they are all taken.

    1. Lol to be fair, I still loved seeing that marmot! It makes a good story to go with the toothmarks in my hiking poles!

  12. It’s a glorious camping spot but you do have to watch for those cheeky marmots! I love the view down into the Fitzsimmons Creek valley – a very nice spot for breakfast!

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