Whistler Valley Lakes & Watershed

Whistler Valley Lakes & Watershed

The Whistler Valley is actually a low pass between the B.C. Coast and the Interior. As glaciers retreated from the Whistler Valley ~11,000 years ago, moraines and other deposits of sediment moved by the ice remained in the pass. Depressions between these filled with meltwater to form Green, Alta, Nita and Alpha Lakes.

Historically, water flowed both northward and southward from Alta Lake, situated at the height of the pass. Oral traditions of the Lil’wat Nation and the Squamish Nation who first occupied and shared the area held that “When the water changes direction you are in another’s territory.” The natural dual drainage pattern was separated when settlers arrived.

Today, water flowing off of Whistler Mountain passes through Nita and Alpha Lakes to join the Cheakamus River and travel south to Howe Sound, while water from Blackcomb Mountain flows north through Alta Lake, Green Lake, the Green River and Lillooet River before looping south to join the Fraser River—two separate routes to the Pacific Ocean from the Whistler Watershed Divide.

  • four large, unique lakes
  • the watershed divide
  • water recreation

GEOLOGIC CONTEXT:

A series of four post-glacial lakes occupy the Whistler Valley, flowing both northward and southward across the Whistler Watershed Divide.
Pillars: Glaciation

HOW TO SEE IT:

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Consult maps and municipal online assets for lake access points at Alpha Lake Park, Nita Lake Public Dock, Rainbow Park, Wayside Park, Lakeside Park, Blueberry Docks, Wedge Park, Fitsimmons Fan Park and Green Lake Park.

Services:

Parking and washrooms at most access points; seasonal food and watercraft concessions at Alpha Lake Park, Wayside Park, Lakeside Park and Rainbow Park; off-leash dog areas at Alpha and Rainbow Parks.

Protection and guardianship are at the heart of the Geopark philosophy. We ask that you treat the land with the same reverence as its original inhabitants, and not remove anything from a site but what you’ve brought to help preserve it for future generations.

Decimal Degrees (DD)

50.107747, -122.980133

Degrees Decimal Minutes (DDM)

50° 6.4648' N  122° 58.808' W

Degrees Minutes Seconds (DMS)

50° 6' 27.8892" N  122° 58' 48.4788" W

What Are Pillars?

The Fire & Ice Aspiring Geopark comprises four main geological pillars referenced in all interpretive material: (M)ountain Building, (G)laciation, (V)olcanism and (C)ollapse.

MOUNTAIN BUILDING

Mountain building can involve several processes that contribute to the formation of mountains, such as the collision of tectonic plates that result in folding, faulting, metamorphism and the creation of subduction zones associated with volcanic activity and igneous intrusion.

GLACIATION

Glaciation refers to landform phenomena associated with the formation, movement and recession of glaciers and ice sheets. In temperate latitudes such as British Columbia, montane glaciation at higher altitudes is the norm while continental glaciation occurred during Ice Ages like the recent Pleistocene.

VOLCANISM

Volcanism is the eruption of subterranean molten rock (magma) and gasses onto the surface of the planet and includes the production of volcanic landforms and the effects of eruptions and flowing lava on pre-existing surface formations.

COLLAPSE

Collapse is a term that refers broadly to both slow processes of destabilization and erosion by wind, water and ice, as well as rapid processes like rockfall and landslides.

Whether acting as primary or secondary forces, one or more of these processes figure in the creation of each geosite.