Nairn Falls is a wonderful, crashing and chaotic waterfall that surrounds you from the deluxe viewing platform that allows you to safely watch it from above.  The beautiful, green water rushes through the deep and angular channels of rock.  Nairn Falls Provincial Park is centred around a very large campground and the short, 1.2 kilometre trail to the falls.

  • Very nice trail along the river to the falls
  • Informative signs at the falls explaining how it formed
  • Accessible year-round, even during snowy days
  • Campground is elaborate and well laid out
  • Campsites are crowded together

Though the BC Parks website describes Nairn Falls as 60 metres high, the description is a bit misleading. You won't find a marvellously abrupt drop into a deep chasm like to see with Brandywine Falls. Nairn Falls has a very different shape to it, but is every bit as interesting and scenic. More so, in fact, due to the interesting geological information you find at the main viewpoint over the falls.

Nairn Falls crash through various narrow and wide areas, and though the cumulative drop is 60 metres, what you see is a series of 10 to 20 metre falls through a deep, zig-zagging canyon. There are very nicely constructed railings, fences and viewing areas as well as a walkway that guides you to the best views.  With such abruptly steep rock all around, the area would be potentially dangerous.  Evidently there have been deaths here before.  A cross, reverently placed across the chasm from the viewing platform, indicates of some tragic event.

Nairn Falls Provincial Park is located just a short 20 to 30 minute drive north of Whistler.  From the large parking lot the well marked trail runs along the Green River for 1.2k to Nairn Falls.  The trail is very easy and is hike-able year-round.  Though considerable snow falls in the winter months here, the popular trail remains easy to follow, and snowshoes are usually not needed.

Nairn Falls Trail

Nairn Falls Provincial ParkMost visitors to Nairn Falls Provincial Park just see Nairn Falls, however, to the left, beyond the campsites the Green River is beautiful.  A short trail takes you down to a wide bend in the river and you find yourself in what looks like a large beach. It is a hidden bit of paradise with the crystal clear, green water flowing over polished rocks.  The whole are is in almost constant sunlight despite being in the middle of the forest.  On warm, summer days you will find people swimming, sipping beers on the rock cliffs across the river and generally having an amazing time in this usually forgotten corner of the park.

The 180 kilometre, Sea to Sky Trail that runs from Squamish, up through Whistler to well beyond Pemberton passes through Nairn Falls Provincial Park. You will spot the Sea to Sky Trail signs at a couple spots in the park with excellent maps showing you where you are about to go.  The trails around the park have for years been gaining popularity as bike trails and you will spot Lumpy's Epic ascend quickly in the direction of Pemberton's One Mile Lake. You would have trouble finding and better or more convenient place to pull in and have a picnic than at Nairn Falls.  Picnic tables are everywhere and often overlooking the beautiful River.  There is no charge for entry to the park, day use or for parking.  The only fees in the park are for overnight camping.

Dogs are welcome at Nairn Falls Provincial Park, however bikes are not permitted on the trail leading to Nairn Falls.  It wouldn't be a very exciting trail on a bike and there are plenty better trails to ride on the opposite side of the campground.  Campsite amenities include a hand operated water pump, picnic tables and pit toilets everywhere you turn.  For the best dog friendly trails around Whistler, click here.

Camping at Nairn Falls

Nairn Falls Provincial ParkThere is quite a large and beautiful campground at Nairn Falls as well.  Located right next to the parking lot there are 94 vehicle accessed campsites that disappear into the forest adjacent to the Green River.  The campground is open May 11 - September 30.  The other months the entry gate is locked to the park and a small, highway-side parking area is used to access the park.  The charge for camping is $18 per party, per night, during the months the campground is open.  Outside of that window there is obviously no charge and you won't be prohibited from camping during the off season.  From the parking lot, a hiking trail also goes along the Green River in the opposite direction to Nairn Falls.  This 2k trail takes you to One Mile Lake excellent for swimming.

Parking & Trailhead Directions to Nairn Falls

Parking & Trailhead DirectionsNairn Falls is very easy to find, just a 20-30 minute drive north of Whistler. From Whistler Village, zero your odometer at Village Gate Boulevard and head north on Highway 99(towards Pemberton), 28 kilometres from Whistler Village you will see the parking lot on your right and a huge Nairn Falls Provincial Park highway sign.  There is a large, free parking area as you enter the park.  If you drive further into the park you will find all the drive-to camping areas as well as the park warden's cabin.  If you are just visiting the falls, parking at the main area just off the highway is best.  If you find the gate locked(after hours and in the winter), you can park along the edge of the highway. 

More Whistler Area Waterfalls

Alexander Falls is a very impressive 43 metre/141foot waterfall just 30 to 40 minutes south of Whistler in the Callaghan Valley.  Open year-round and located just before Whistler Olympic Park where several of the 2010 Olympic events were held.  There is a nice viewing platform on the edge of the cliff across from the falls which crash fantastically into the valley below.  The parking area and viewing platform at Alexander Falls is one big area just 40 metres from the main road (to Whistler Olympic Park). The adventurous can find the obscure trail that leads to both the top of the falls as well as, with great difficulty, to the base of the falls.  The drive to Alexander Falls is fantastic and with lots to see.  As soon as you turn off from the Sea to Sky Highway into the Callaghan Valley you ascend quickly into the mountains.  Bears along the roadside are frequently seen as they seem to have a particular fondness for the fields of grass that grow in the sunny meadows that surround this recently constructed, paved road.

Brandywine Falls is one of the must see sights on the way to or from Whistler.  The falls drop from a 66 metre, unnaturally abrupt cliff to the valley below.  It is such a popular and beautiful sight that it is a Provincial Park complete with a large and elaborate viewing platform directly opposite the falls.  Located just 20 minutes south of Whistler, Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is just off of the Sea to Sky Highway.  If driving from Vancouver, keep your eyes out for the Brandywine Falls sign on your right about 25 minutes north of Squamish.  Brandywine Falls Provincial Park was established in 1973 as a campground and recreational area.  The origin of the name for Brandywine Falls is suspected to have come from a wager by two surveyors.  Legend has it that Jack Nelson and Bob Mollison, working for the Howe Sound and Northern Railway made a wager for a bottle of brandy for who could guess how high the falls were.  Measured by a chain, Mollison won the wager and bottle of brandy and Nelson named the falls Brandywine.

Rainbow Falls: (20 minute drive north of Whistler): Steep but short trail, 0.5k hike to falls. The beautiful and easily accessible Rainbow Falls are located just a short, half kilometre from the Rainbow Lake trailhead.  Most hikers don't notice or make the short detour to take a look at Rainbow Falls on their way to Rainbow Lake.  Rainbow Falls is a crashing section of falls that runs for several metres and visible at several locations.  Shannon Falls towers above Howe Sound at 335 metres as the third tallest falls in BC.  The wonderful, though very short trail winds through a beautiful old growth forest to get to the base of the falls.  From your car to the viewpoint takes only about four minutes, however the trail continues a bit further to a higher viewpoint.

Wedgemount Falls can be seen along the trail to Wedgemount Lake.  As the falls flow directly from Wedgemount Lake, they are located about three quarters of the hiking distance from the trailhead.  At almost 300 metres high, Wedgemount Falls can be heard long before being visible. The forest cover is very thick for most of the trail to Wedgemount Lake so getting a clear look at the falls is difficult.  There is one spot, however, where you will catch sight of them, still kilometres away, yet with such a enormously tall waterfall, you would have to see them from a distance to get it all in view.

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