There are two provincial parks in the Pemberton region with well organized campgrounds; Birkenhead Lake and Nairn Falls Provincial Park. Beautifully located south of Pemberton beside Highway 99, Nairn Falls Provincial Park features captivating views, 94 large forested camping spots, including vehicle-accessible campsites, and a day-use picnic area. The 422-acre (171-hectare) Nairn Falls Park serves as a good base camp from which to explore Whistler, the Pemberton Valley, or nearby Garibaldi Provincial Park.
As it flows through the park, the Green River carves its way through a mass of granite at the foot of Mount Currie. Having picked up volume from the Soo River and Rutherford Creek on its way from Green Lake in the Whistler area, it swirls and crashes its way along until it reaches a fracture in the granite. Suddenly, its broad shape is transformed into a thundering column of whitewater as it drops 197 feet (60 metres) at Nairn Falls.
As abruptly as the theatrics begin, the Green River reverts to its former character and hurries on towards Lillooet Lake. Unlike Shannon Falls or Brandywine Falls, Nairn Falls does not drop down a sheer pathway, but instead boils through several frothy cauldrons. Over the centuries, silt carried in the water has scoured out bowls in which the whitewater churns momentarily before surging to the rocks below. Clouds of spray are jettisoned above the maelstrom in random patterns that are pleasant and hypnotic to watch. Long a spiritual site for the Lil’wat First Nation, Nairn Falls is a dramatic example of the erosive power of water.
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Nairn Falls is home to some very special wildlife. Of particular note is the rubber boa, one of the most cold-tolerant snake species. Smallest of the boa constrictor family, its average length is only 45 cm (18 inches). Its nocturnal habits mean that this shy snake is rarely observed. The boa’s brown or gray, plasticine-like appearance and two blunt ends make it hard to identify as a living animal from a distance. If you see something that looks like a big brown or gray worm, please do not disturb it!
Hiking trails include the Nairn Falls Trail, One Mile Lake Trail, and Coudre Point.
Nairn Falls Trail: Part of this three-kilometre (1-hour) round trip route to the falls is the traditional route used by the Lil’wat Nation to access Nairn Falls and Mount Currie. The trail starts at the day-use parking lot and ends at the falls. Please stay on the trail and take care along the steep banks and drop offs. Mountain Bikes are not permitted.
One Mile Lake Trail: Approximately 2 kilometres north of the campground is a swimming and play area at One Mile Lake. The trail leaves the park from the southeast corner of the campground. This trail is not regularly marked and is not maintained.
Coudre Point Trail: Another pleasant walk is around Coudre Point. The trail wanders along the riparian areas and bank of the Green River. The trails vary in length, all using a circular route starting near site 17, and ending near site 47.
Nairn Falls Provincial Park is situated along a very cold, fast-flowing river, and some trails and campsites have steep banks and drop-offs. Visitors must remain on developed facilities and stay within the fenced areas. Use extreme caution when walking near the river’s bank, and keep a close watch on children.
Facilities provided include a day-use picnic area with picnic tables, potable water from two hand pumps, a fire pit, and pit toilets at the campground. Fees are collected from May to October. The campground gate is closed after October 1 for the winter. A Sani Station that operates during the summer months is located 2 km north of the park, across from the gas station.
Other activities in the Pemberton area include horseback riding, mountain biking, and whitewater rafting on the Green River. Rafting and river kayaking tours are operated out of Pemberton. Outside the park, One Mile Lake is 2km north on Highway 99. This is a popular area for swimming and picnicking.
Nairn Falls Provincial Park is located off Highway 99, 2 miles (3 km) south of Pemberton and 20 miles (32 km) north of Whistler.
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