Our top places to paddleboard in Whistler include:
This article is part of our paddle board series;
Alta Lake is a fantastic place to paddleboard in Whistler. At just over 2km in length, there is plenty to explore. At one end of the lake is the River of Golden Dreams (more on this later). There are several spots to launch your SUP, and some grassy area’s for inflating your paddleboard too.
First up is Lakeside Park. It has a small parking area, a beach, a couple of floating docks and a decent-sized grassy area. This is at the South East side of the lake and easily accessed from the Highway. Lakeside Park is excellent for exploring the Southern end of the lake on your SUP, you can paddle down towards “Fishermans” or Wayside Park and if your timing is right enjoy the Whistler Art on the Lake festival with live music and floating docks filled with local Art and Artists.
Not too far from Lakeside park is Blueberry docks, a Whistler locals spot accessed from St. Anton Way. A 5-minute walk down a forest trail takes you to a series of docks perfect for launching your paddleboard. This is a great spot to paddle across to the Sailing Club (about 20 minutes depending on the wind) where you can also find a public dock and grassy area too; watch out for the kids racing around in their Optis & Lasers though!
Lastly, Rainbow Park is another great spot to launch your inflatable paddleboard; on the North West side of the lake there are several docks, a car park, volleyball nets and also food trucks in the Summer; this is the easiest access point for the River of Golden Dreams. For those of you with a solid paddleboard, Alta Lake also offers SUP storage stands to rent for the season. Not sure whether to invest in an inflatable or solid paddleboard, we’ve written a blog to help you choose!
Alta Lake is a beautiful spot to Paddleboard in Whistler, with wonderful views of both Whistler and Blackcomb as you paddle out to the centre of Alta lake. It is worth noting that local regulations are regularly enforced on the lake, and non-compliance can result in a fine, including wearing life jackets and also having a whistle! Check out our post on the 4 things you need before paddle boarding this summer.
Another point to note is that Alta Lake can be very windy, due to the temperature differential along the Valley floor the winds usually pick up in the early afternoon; so what might seem an easy paddle one way can be a big challenge on the return leg. We’d recommend paddling upwind for the first leg of your journey and taking a dry bag (like the Red Paddle Co Waterproof SUP bag for your clothes and valuables).
It’s also worth keeping an eye on local Whistler events as there are occasional paddleboard yoga classes held on Alta Lake throughout the summer.
Green lake is a stunning location to Paddleboard in Whistler, with a backdrop of Wedge mountain, the highest peak in the garibaldi national park and the hanging glacier of Weart Mountain, you will not be short on natural beauty paddling Green Lake. With a unique turquoise colour reminiscent of an emerald gemstone, Green lake is fed by nearby glaciers and the glacier silt creates this unique colour. However, because of this, Green lake is much colder than other lakes in Whistler – so be warned!
Green Lake Launch
Green lake is flanked by the sea to sky highway so access is easy, either head to the Green Lake boat launch or Green lake park. Both areas have spaces for a few cars. Once you are on the water, you can simply laze around on your SUP and absorb the natural beauty of the thick forest that surrounds the lake and mountains on all sides.
Whistler Cliff Jumping
If lazing around isn’t your thing, you can head north on Green lake to the jumping cliffs – here you can test your bravery with cliffs of all sizes. Make sure to check the water depth before you jump though!
If cliff jumping isn’t your vibe, but ghost towns are, head east from both boat launches towards the Parkhurst loop. This area is a spider web of trails that could keep you busy all day! Be warned, trail markers are numerous and it’s easy to wander back and forth from trail to trail. Scattered around this trail are relics from a time gone by, old tractors and trailers are left there.
Fitzsimmons Fan Park
Take your SUP directly south of the lake around 2 km, and you’ll find Fitzsimmons fan park. This area has a beautiful sandy beach (yes, you read correctly, a beach!) where you can pull up your paddleboard and take a rest bite from the long, and possibly upwind paddle. This is a popular spot for fly fishermen and beach lovers, a true secret spot in Whistler. The Fitzsimmons beach is a must-visit on your paddleboard. Whilst you are already at the south end of the lake, you may as well continue your loop of Green lake and check out the famous Nic North golf course. It’s a Jack Nicolas designed championship golf course.
If you are lucky you may catch a floatplane coming to the Harbour Air. Harbour air is a floatplane service that can get you from downtown Vancouver to Whistler in 45 minutes! Harbour Air offers some incredible tours including an alpine lake landing and glacier tours. If you are interested in seeing the local mountains from above, check out their Whistler video showing for a preview of what you can expect.
Cruise back around the western flank of the lake and take in the magnificent backdrop of Whistler and Blackcomb peaks and head back to the loading docks for a high five about a day well spent!
If warm water is what you seek, paddleboarding at Whistlers Lost Lake is for you. Due to its small size, it’s the quickest lake in Whistler to warm up so is a favourite for local swimmers in the early season. Lost lake doesn’t usually get heavy winds like some of the other larger lakes in Whistler. This means it’s perfect for keeping the family together on your SUP’s whilst out on the water. With so many things to do in Whister this summer, ontop of paddleboarding Lost Lake has countless double and single track mountain bikng trails surrounding the lake.
How to Access
Located a stone’s throw away from whistler village, either walk along the purpose-built valley trail for 20 minutes or ride there in 5 on your bike. As of recently, parking is now restricted to drop off only most of the day but there is a free shuttle providing easy access from the village to the lake during the summer – starting June to September. Check out Whistler.ca for more details.
At the lakeside, you’ll find excellent facilities. Lost lake has public toilets, many tables for the family and even a covered area. It’s free to use but it’s first come first serve. If all the tables are full, you can throw a picnic blanket down on the grass and pump up your inflatable paddleboard right next to the water.
As you launch your paddleboard you’ll notice several floating docks, these make excellent rest spots where you can spend hours with the kids jumping and flipping from the docks into Lost Lake. As you move around to the East side of the lake there is “canine cove”. If you enjoy dog paddleboarding, this is the spot for you are your dog. It makes paddleboarding with a dog easy! This is a specific area for dogs to play, the dock has a purpose-built dog ramp so your dog can swim and get back onto the dock with ease.
Moving on to the opposite side of the lake, you’ll see the “big dock”. This is a long extended dock for you to anchor onto and hang out if needs be. Often you’ll find many people sunbathing here. Moving to the West side of the lake you’ll notice the lake filled with fallen trees. This gives the lake a rustic feel. You can weave in and out of these floating logs.
If you are lucky enough to be around Lost lake during July and August you may just be fortunate enough to see the great toad migration in action. You can see 35,000 – 40,000 toads make the leap from water to the forest on mass; it’s quite the spectacle! Make sure you keep your eyes peeled and look down, these tiny pebble size amphibians scatter the entire valley trail. The valley trail will be closed for access during this time and small detours will be enforced but you will still have access to see the great migration.
South of Whistlers village is Creekside. If you are looking for places to stay in whistler this is a stunning location. Creekside is the gateway to two outstanding paddleboard lakes, Alpha & Nita Lake. Alpha Lake is the more family-appropriate location due to a small amount of free parking right next to the park.
Alpha Lake Park is a place you could spend many hours. It has basketball and tennis courts, there is plenty to keep families busy, on and off the land. The park also has a fenced dog walking park. Here your pet can take a rest from paddleboarding and meet new friends! If you are looking to keep your dog safe this summer, check out a dog PFD. When you arrive at the park you’ll see tables for relaxing, and if you have kids, a play area. Alpha lake has a dock to launch your boat to make access easy.
Cliff Jumping in Whistler
Once in the water, you can head directly across the lake and you’ll be able to see many cliffs, this is a very popular spot for cliff jumping in Whistler. There is even a ramp for a bike on one of the cliffs! Again, make sure you check the water depths before jumping in though!
There is a bridge that connects the mainland with a small island that has a house on it. Once you head under the bridge, you’ll see pine point park. An area where you can get off your paddleboard and laze around in the afternoon sun. On the West side of the lake is Condy Park. Here you can follow a narrow channel into a hidden part of the lake. Tucked away behind houses and trees. Here the water is crystal clear and you can see many fallen logs under the water.
Warm Water Paddling
Alpha lake is another great option if you want warm water to paddle. It is also fairly sheltered from the wind so should be appropriate for less experienced paddlers.
If you decide to head to Nita lake you can walk with your paddleboard behind Nita lake lodge on the valley trail from the Alpha lake car park. Here there is a boat launch right in front of the Nita lake patio. This lake is much larger and more open so is more susceptible to stronger winds. Nita lake doesn’t have any floating docks or any parks around it. It is flanked by the valley trail and the railway line and it should be quiet from the main highway.
LEARN MORE: The best paddleboard in 2022
River of Golden Dreams
Floating the River of Golden Dream is a Whistler staple. It’s a 5km river that meanders through wildflowers with tall brush and thick forest lining its bank. The start point is on Alta Lake at Rainbow Park. Here you want to head directly North to the top of the lake. As you paddle closer you’ll see a narrow river cutting through the tall brush, here you’ll find the start of the river. I would leave at least 2 hours for the total trip. You exit at Green lake so will either have to walk back along the valley trail to Rainbow lake or get a friend to come and collect you.
Firstly, don’t forget to load up your paddleboards with enough gear for the day, including water and food. We recommend taking waterproof bags to keep everything secure and dry. There are several stops along the way if you decide it’s not for you and you’d like to exit. One collection point would be at the bottom of Lorimer road.
Secondly, depending on the time of year you’ll experience different water levels. In early spring the water can be fast and high because the snow melts from the high alpine. This can make the route fast and mean you may have to portage one of the curves. There is signage along the river so keep an eye out for these along the way. Equally, if you do it late season you may not have enough water so portage may be mandatory.
River of Golden Dreams Map
Lastly, here is a link to a map that shows the lake in full and the possible portage locations. As you paddle down the river you may see many wildlife and wild geese often fly by. Keep your eye out for ducks and their ducklings paddling past. If you are really lucky you may be able to spot one of the hard at work beavers!
In conclusion, this river is a very popular location, voted the number 1 thing to do in Whistler. If it’s a weekend and sunny, prepare to have others floating the river with you.
Check out the rest of the Paddle board series;