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Crystal Lakes & Alpine Wonders: A Guide to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

Are you thinking of going on an adventure? Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is the best choice. Joffre Lakes is a ‘straight out of scenery’ provincial park and one of the best BC parks.

So, if you would love to visit Joffre Lakes Provincial Park and experience the surreal blue lakes, we are here to guide you with everything related to Joffre Lake camping and hiking.

1. About Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is located near Pemberton in British Columbia, Canada. Joffre Lakes Recreational Area was established in 1988, gained a Provincial Park status in 1996, and became another British Columbia park.

It became popular after the new Duffey Lake Road was opened and turned into a section of Highway 99(the Sea to Sky Highway).

It has three lakes: lower, middle, and upper Joffre lakes. You can visit Joffre Lake year-round, but you will only see frozen lakes covered with snow in the winter.

So, if you are a thrill-seeking individual, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park has much to offer you.

You get an amazing trail, camping experience, mountaineering, winter recreation (backcountry skiing and snowshoeing opportunities exist), wildlife viewing, and fishing in the Joffre Lakes.

1.1. Directions to reach Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

  • Via Car: To reach Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, you must take the Sea to Sky highway to Pemberton junction. From there, follow the signboards toward Mount Currie. After a few km distance, take a right turn on Duffey Lake Road. After approximately 20km on Duffey Lake Road, you will start seeing the signs of the Joffre Lakes parking lot. This is where the Joffre Lakes trailhead starts.
  • Via Bus: Parkbus offers bus services to many BC parks like Garibaldi Provincial Park, Golden Ears Provincial Park, and Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. It departs from downtown Vancouver near Burrard Skytrain station with a stop in Whistler Village.

1.2. Parking for Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park has a parking space with three parking lots: the Main, the Cayoosh, and the Overflow parking lots. The Cayoosh parking lot is farthest from the main entrance for hiking Joffre Lakes.

Pro Tip- Reach Joffre Lakes Provincial Park or Joffre Lakes Trailhead parking before 8 a.m. to get a parking space. Avoid parking on the highway if you don’t want your car to be towed.

1.3. Restrictions and Prohibitions

  • Prohibited – Campfires, harvesting of natural resources, and domestic animals (Yess! Your fur baby is not allowed here).
  • Camping is only permitted in the designated camping area.

1.4. Geology of Joffre Lakes

Emerald Reflection, the beautiful emerald color of Joffre Lakes, British Columbia, Canada. With Mount Joffre and Matier Glacier
From DepositPhotos

You might wonder why the Joffre lakes are crystal clear, turquoise blue! Let us tell you the geological reason behind the Joffre lakes being so blue.

The main reason for Joffre lakes’ blue color is the rock flour or the glacial silt at the bottom of the lakes, which throws the blue and green wavelengths of sunlight that appear turquoise blue to us.

1.5. Mountains in the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park includes three mesmerizing lakes and many mountains. The mountains that come under the region of Joffre Lakes Provincial Park are

  • Joffre Peak
  • Mount Matier
  • Mount Taylor
  • Mount Howard
  • Mount Hartzell
  • Mount Speech
  • Tszil Mountain
  • Slalok Mountain

2. Hiking Trail for Joffre Lake Camping

The Joffre Lakes trails lead to three beautiful lakes. The hike to the Middle and Upper Joffre Lakes can be considered moderately challenging due to the elevation gain.

This short trail is one of the famous hiking trails of BC Parks, all thanks to the beautiful glacial-fed lakes of Joffre. The breathtaking views of the lakes and surrounding mountains fill your soul with thrills and excitement.

Along the way to this trailhead, you can visit the three lakes: the lower, middle, and upper lakes.

You also get to witness creek crossings, waterfalls, mountain goats, and viewpoints of the beautiful surroundings. At the top of the hike, you get a view of the Matter glacier.

2.1. How Long Is This Hike?

The hike for Joffre Lake is a 9.5km (round-trip) long hike that takes about 3.5-4.5 hours, but you should allow more time for breaks.

The hike starts after a 5-minute walk from the main parking lot, where you can visit the first lake.

Mountain turquoise Joffre Lake at the foot of snow-capped mountains on a sunny summer day. Coniferous forest in the foreground. Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada
From DepositPhotos

2.2. Hike for Lower Joffre Lake

Lower Joffre Lake is the first lake you will encounter after a few minutes of your hiking trail. It is a great spot for a family picnic with an easily accessible viewpoint so that you can head back from here or continue the hike for the middle Joffre Lake and the upper Joffre Lake.

Along the way, you experience beautiful soul-refreshing cold rushing streams of waterfalls and creek crossings.

2.3. Hike for Middle Joffre Lake

The hike, a maximum of 1.5 hours, filled with a remote wilderness environment and elevation gain, will take you to the most photogenic of the three lakes- the middle Joffre Lake.

Here, you will see the famous spot for photos- a long and slim log floating on this lake. If you can click your picture here, be cautious not to fall in the freezing water of the middle of Joffre Lake.

2.4. Hike for Upper Joffre Lake

The longest and most challenging hike, which can take approximately 1.5 to 2 hours and involves steep and demanding terrain, will take you to Upper Joffre Lake, the final of the three lakes.

After the middle of Joffre Lake, you must pass a slippery, steep trail to reach the last and third lake. It is undoubtedly a beautiful point to experience breathtaking glacier views with glacier-laden peaks.

The Joffre Lake camping grounds are also located near Upper Joffre Lake.

2.5. A Complete Attire You Must Want in the Hike!

You should wear the right clothes for a better hiking experience. If you are going walking in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, you’ll need to wear –

a) Comfortable Clothes- You’ll be hiking for many hours, so it’s apt to wear comfortable clothes. For summers, you can wear leggings/tights/joggers, a t-shirt, and a jacket as a backup for high-altitude places. For winters, you must opt for layering and wear a thermal top, fleece leggings/joggers, and a warm jacket.

b) Good Hiking Shoes- Footwear is an essential part of every hike, so you should be sure that what you wear is good for hiking or not. You should wear waterproof shoes and avoid slippers or uncomfortable footwear.

c) Potable Water- Don’t forget to bring your drinking water. You won’t see many places to buy potable water along the hike. So, it’s advised to bring your drinking water.

d)Food- Bring snacks for quick bites during your hiking trail.

e) Warm Hat– If you visit Joffre Lakes during winter, wear a warm hat or beanie to keep your head warm and not get cold.

f) Gloves or Mittens- You should not forget your hands and make them freeze for winter camping and hiking. Wear wool-knitted gloves or mittens for your safety.

g) Backpack- A hiking backpack is a must to keep all your items safe. The pack should have broad backstraps for your comfort and should be waterproof.

3. Camping at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

Backcountry camping is an experience you should not miss if you are in the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. Camping is only allowed in the designated campgrounds; thus, the campground fills quickly as there are a lot of crowds.

Joffre Lake camping peaks during the summer, especially from June to August. The campsites get overflowed with crowds. If you don’t get a camp, you need to hike back as camping is not allowed without a permit and is not possible if the grounds are already full.

In winter, Joffre lakes are less crowded as the three Joffre lakes are frozen, so you can’t see the blue water of Joffre lakes. Also, camping is not open from November to mid-April, so avoid going to Joffre Lake for camping in the winter.

3.1. Reservation

A reservation is compulsory if you plan to stay overnight for camping. It would help if you had a camping permit to book a campsite in Joffre Lakes.

These campsites are given on a first-come-first-served basis, so you must confirm a camping reservation as soon as possible (maximum two months in advance).

3.2. Camping grounds 

After a 5.5 km trail, 26 Joffre Lake camping sites are south of the upper Joffre Lake. You can find a pit toilet and storage for food, which is bear-proof for the visitors’ convenience.

These campsites can accommodate small backcountry tents and cannot be used without a camping reservation.

DETAILED GUIDE TO JOFFRE LAKES - Commute, Day Pass, Trail guide, Hike details, Cost, Etc

3.3. Tips & Precautions 

While going camping, you need to bring a few necessities, such as

a) Clothes- You should pack a pair of thermal clothing if you are interested in staying overnight and camping. You can bring a warm top or sweater, a fleece jacket, and a warm bottom, which is comfortable for sleeping.

b) Water- Bring your drinking water or a filter, as you won’t find potable water in the backcountry.

c) Mosquito Repellent or Net- You will surely find many mosquitos in the backcountry, so it is better to bring a net or repellent to avoid mosquito bites.

d) Sleeping Pad- Don’t forget to bring a sleeping pad while camping at Joffre Lake.

e) First-Aid Items- In any emergency, you should be well-prepared to handle it. Bringing basic first-aid items is a good thought to tackle common injuries or sicknesses while hiking or camping.

f) Documents- You should not forget to bring the important documents. Important documents are your IDs and slips of camping permit.

g) Gadgets- Imagine coming to beautiful Joffre lakes and not clicking pictures to remember the scenery for your lifetime. You should bring your camera, batteries, and power banks to avoid this mistake.

h) Cooking Essentials- Bring backcountry stoves and cooking utensils to cook your food at the Joffre Lakes camping grounds.

i) Toilet Paper- You should bring your toilet paper to Joffre Lake Camp for hygiene purposes.

j) Bear Spray- You are going into the remote wilderness when you go camping, which is prone to bear attacks. So, bringing bear spray is a good thought.

k) Snacks and beverages- You should pack any snack and beverage that is lightweight and easy to carry.

l) Food Storage Box- The campsites have a bear-proof food storage box, but it’s better to carry your food storage box to keep it with you.

m) Navigation Aids- In remote areas of Joffre Lake, you need navigation and communication aids such as maps, satellite phones, compasses, etc., because you can’t rely on your cell phones in such places.

n) Flashlight- You should pack a flashlight or headlamp in your backpack for camping in Joffre Lake.

0) Fire- Campfire or any other kind of fire is not permitted in Joffre Lake Campground for safety reasons. A place like Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, full of nature and wilderness with coastal winter weather, is highly prone to fire hazards. Thus, fire safety is given great attention in Joffre Lakes.

p) Avalanche Safety Gear- If you plan to visit Joffre Lake during winter, you mustn’t forget to buy and bring avalanche safety gear as there are high chances of avalanche risk.

q) Small Bag- You will not find any garbage bins in the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, so you should bring a small bag to avoid littering here and there. If you truly admire nature, you should never harm it by throwing garbage in the open.

3.4. Nearby Staying Options

Don’t get upset if you find the Joffre Lake camping sites full! You can have the camping experience just a few kilometers from Joffre Lakes Provincial Park.

There are ample options you can choose from. Following are some of the recommended stays near the Joffre Lake –

a) Washtock Family Campground

b) Riverside Resort

c) Nairn Falls Provincial Campsite

d) Whispering Falls Resort

e) Four Seasons Resort

f) Joffre Creek Cabins

g) Paradise Valley Campground

3.5. Wildlife

Joffre Lake is located amid wilderness and alpine terrains. The commonly found animals include bears(black and grizzly), deers(mule and black-tailed), mountain goats, wolverines, bobcats, and cougars.

Normally, you will not encounter these wild animals as they avoid coming to crowded areas, but you should still be aware of the surroundings and be prepared with bear spray.

4. Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1. What is the best time to visit Joffre Lakes?

The best time to visit Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is from April to September, as in winter, the environment becomes too harsh around the peak, and avalanche risks are also present. The campsites are also not available during winter.

Q.2. Is swimming allowed in Joffre Lake?

Yes, swimming is allowed in Joffre lakes, but remember, these are glacial-fed lakes, so the water is extremely cold. The ideal time to swim in Joffre Lakes is during peak summertime. Also, bring your swimming suit and towel if you swim in Joffre lakes.

Q.3. Are there any fees in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park?

There is a fee for a backcountry camping permit in the Joffre Lake camping sites but for the Joffre Lake trail. You must book a free day-use pass two days before your planned date.

Q.4. Can we bring pets to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park?

Domestic animals are prohibited from entering the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park.

Q.5. What is the reason behind Joffre Lakes being so famous?

The breathtaking glacier views, moderately challenging trails, and beautiful blue lakes make the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park so famous and popular among hikers and nature lovers.

Q.6. Is there a parking facility at Joffre Lakes trailhead?

Yes, Joffre Lakes Trail has a parking facility. It has three parking lots: the main parking lot(closest), the Cayoosh parking lot(farthest), and the overflow parking lot. The parking lots get full, so try reaching here early in the morning. Avoid parking on the highway, as your car can be towed.

Things to know about Joffre Lake Camping

5. Make Your Hiking Trip to Joffre Lake Memorable

British Columbia is full of natural hotspots to fulfill your cravings for a little break from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is one such BC park that is perfect if you want to go on a weekend getaway.

It offers various activities to explore, whether short-trail hiking or camping in a beautiful natural setting. Moreover, it perfectly combines scenic lakes, glacial views, and raw natural vibes.

So, if you are a nature-seeker and love adventure, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park of Canada must be on your bucket list.