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Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Guided tours
Yes
Backcountry camping
Yes
Lodging
No
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Garabali Provincial Park is a huge expanse covering 1,920 kilometers extending from Squamish in the south to east of Whistler all the way up to Pemberton. While it is a huge park, there are 90 kilometers of hiking trails spread out around the park, most of which venture only about 15 kilometers into the park itself. The vast majority of visitors rarely get into the deep backcountry, which is only really practically accessible in winter on skis when snow has covered the dense foliage. The park is one of the most popular BC Parks due mainly to it's proximity to Vancouver, and big crowds visit nearly every weekend of the summer. But the beautiful temperate rainforest and relatively short hikes to some spectacular glacial vistas make it unforgettable. Few parks provide such a complete escape from the roads and civilization so quickly. 

Accessing the park is tricky, and there are several roads leading into select parking lots scattered around Highway 99. Look for the blue signs with the BC Parks logo to guide you to the various sites. 

The park is mostly temperate coastal rainforest with the signature moss and dark forests of hemlock, pine, spruce and cedar. Moss commonly covers everything, and the alpine tends to be less steep than the approaches through the forest. In July the snows are mostly gone and the plentiful meadows often are blooming with incredible alpine flowers. August has become smog season with forest fires becoming the new norm. Still, the area can be beautiful, and between the trees it often feels a little clearer. Wildlife is plentiful, and small mammals and birds such as squirrels, chipmunks, grey jays, and flickers can often be seen. Black bears are a common sight, though they generally aren't too much of an issue if proper food discipline and storage is maintained. Lockers are provided at all shelters and campsites. Far less frequently seen are the large mammals such as mountain goats, deer, cougars, wolverines, and even grizzlies that inhabit the park. 

Hiking is the most popular activity, with Garabaldi Lake, Panorama Ridge, the Black Tusk, Elfin Lakes, Diamond Head, Singing Pass, and Wedgemont Lake being the most popular trips. The trails are generally well maintained close to the roads, but trails like those going out to Mamquam have fallen into disrepair.

In winter, most people shift gears to skiing or snowshoeing. Diamond Head is a common spot for inexperienced skiers to try out a few turns or for Squamish locals to catch laps after work. The Slackcountry off of Whistler and Blackhomb is exceptionally popular as well. Many more folks will go on tours around Garabaldi Lake, Panorama Ridge, and around Wedge. There are several excellent ski traverses, namely the Neve Traverse from Squamish to Garabaldi Lake, the McBride Traverse, and the Spearhead Traverse. 

The most popular snowshoe trail is Elfin Lake, which has a long ridge that makes for excellent views without too much elevation gain. Increasingly, Garabaldi Lake and Panorama Ridge have been gaining popularity. Panorama Ridge is located in some rather serious avalanche terrain, but for some reason many people have been neglecting training and avalanche rescue equipment in recent years. Be sure not to head into avalanche terrain without these essentails. If you aren't sure what is and isn't avalanche terrain, consider booking a course (Hint: Anything steeper than 25 degrees is avalanche terrain, which is most mountains). 

The park offers a wide selection of accomodation. There are several provincially managed huts in the park. Elfin Lakes is by far the most popular of these huts. Russet Lake near Singing Pass has a small hut with a new one being built set to open winter 2019. Wedgemont Lake also has a small hut on it's edge. There is the Burton Hut on the eastern shore of Garabaldi Lake that is seldom visited. Taylor Meadows, Red Meadows, and the Garabaldi Lake all have shelters that make good lunch stops or places to cook. Campsite are found at Elfin Lakes, Garabaldi Lake, Helm Creek, Cheakamus Lake, Singing Pass, Wedgemont Lake, and Taylor Meadows. All booking is done through the BC Parks website. 

Guides are the secret pass to all the best skiing and climbing. Altus Mountain Guides, Mountain Skills Academy, and Coast Mountain Guides are the local guiding outfits that can help you get the best possible experience out of a visit to the park, especially if you have skiing or climbing in mind.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Summer

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Many incredible glacier views. Fairly quick hikes. Flower-covered alpine meadows. Many activities possible.

Cons

Most of the park is very hard to access. Popular trails get very crowded.

Features

Vault toilet
Guided tours
Backcountry camping
Shelters
Geologically significant
Big vistas
Waterfalls
Wildflowers
Bird watching
Big Game Watching
Wildlife
Bouldering
Near lake or river

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Squamish-Lillooet Area, British Columbia
Squamish-Lillooet Area, British Columbia

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