Words and photography by Jim Bamboulis
Approaching Revelstoke from the east along the Trans-Canada Highway, I started to get super excited. You could even say that I was reveling in the anticipation, super stoked to experience everything that Revelstoke had to offer. See what I did there? I used both ‘revel’ and ‘stoke’ to illustrate my excitement, ya I think you go it. Moving on.
No doubt, the winter in this beautiful part of the world is hopping. On average, 40-60 feet of snow falls here yearly making the 25+ kilometers of groomed Nordic trails heaven for everyone from skiers to snowshoers. In the summer, the Monashee and Selkirk mountain ranges embracing Revelstoke act like magnets, attracting visitors worldwide with their rugged, raw beauty. If the landscape doesn’t pull you in, the city will.
Here are 5 reasons why you’ll probably be reveling in the stoke for a lot longer than you initially anticipated. Did it again.
Mount Revelstoke National Park
Driving in from the east along the Trans-Canada, there are two short hiking trails that are perfect for everyone, and make amazing spots to sit back and take it all in.
Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail
Take a leisurely boardwalk stroll into the old-growth forest, among towering hemlock and cedar trees, that are over 500 years old. Signs along the way relate the importance of functioning ecosystems. Benches along the way give you the chance to sit, look up and admire your rainforest-like surroundings.
Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk Trail
Time it right during the spring/summer, and this 1.2km boardwalk trail will amaze you! Walk over the swamp inhabited by muskrat, beaver, skunk cabbage and loads of birds. If you’re lucky, you may even see a black bear. Signs help you identify the plants and animals you see along the way, including of course Skunk Cabbage!
Meadows in the Sky Parkway
Once inside the city limits, your Revelstoke adventure should start at the main entrance of Mount Revelstoke National Park. Not only will you spend a good portion of the day here driving, hiking and photographing but you’ll get an incredible view of the surrounding area and quite literally, a birds-eye of view of the city below.
The Meadows-in-the-Sky Parkway is a treasure! 26-km of paved road that takes you over 2,000 meters up, to the summit of this gorgeous mountain. Super easy to navigate, it takes about 30 minutes to drive it thanks to its many hairpin turns along the way. But this isn’t a road you rush through. You’ll be making several stops before you get to the summit, that give you a glimpse into the history of the area and panoramic views.
Nels Nelsen Ski Jump
Skiing became a very big deal in Revelstoke starting in the late 1890s. 20 years later, the official city Ski Club was founded and ski jumping started to become a pretty popular past-time. Nels Nelsen, a Norwegian-born Canadian ski jumper, was instrumental in both and is considered to be the father of ski jumping in Canada.
A legend, he was Canadian champion for several years and held distance records for a good portion of his professional career. The Big Hill as it was originally called was renamed the Nels Nelsen Hill primarily because he set two world records here.
These days, you can put yourself in Nelsen’s position, standing on the edge and getting a feeling of what it must have been like to soar. Nels’ Knickers, an interactive sculpture of the famous ski jumper’s pants on a viewing platform. If you want to hike to the spot, park the car at the lower trailhead and for a more relaxed experience, park it at the upper trailhead and walk the flat trail to the exhibit.
While at the summit…
Park your car near Balsam Lake, then either walk another kilometer or take the free Parks Canada shuttle to the top. Whether you’re a hiker looking for an adventure that takes several hours, or a day hiker in the mood for easy, casual strolls, Mount Revelstoke has plenty to choose from.
Of course, beautiful meadows can be found everywhere depending on the time of year and they can be found throughout the various trails, all of which combine history, culture and, beauty. Eagle Knoll is an easy 30-minute trail that gives you stunning views of Lake Revelstoke, while the Fire Lookout is also a short, albeit a bit more of a challenging trail that takes you to the historic fire lookout. Built in 1927 and operational until the late 80s, it was built to look for forest fires. These days, it’s a designated Federal Heritage Building and allows for incredible views of the surrounding mountains.
Meanwhile, the Koo Koo Sint trail celebrates explorer David Thompson and his early explorations in the 1800s. The first European Canadian to travel the entire Columbia River, the Indigenous of the mountains knew him as “Koo Koo Sint” – ‘the man who looks at the stars.’ Throughout his explorations, Thompson observed the stars with a sextant, an instrument that allowed him to determine his precise location.
First Footsteps is a short, mountain-top art and sculpture walk, with epic views. This trail showcases the traditions of the Secwepemc, Ktunaxa and Okanagan First Nations through sculpture and artwork. The people of these three nations have lived in the Columbia Mountains for thousands of years. This mountain-top sculpture walk presents their stories in their own words.
Of course, time this trip up the mountain correctly (spring/summer) and you can enjoy all of these sights with beautiful, bright and colourfull meadows at every turn!
Revelstoke Mountain Resort
From one view to another. The difference at Revelstoke Mountain Resort is you ditch the car and take the gondola, instead. Hiking, mountain biking, and testing your skills at the aerial park are all fine and dandy, but you haven’t lived until you take a ride on the Pipe Mountain Coaster.
Originally, I was petrified at the thought of being strapped into the mountain version of a Mazda Miata, told to hold on to a lever and hang on as you blissfully glide down the hill on a track. Then I saw adults riding this thing with their kids on their laps, and thought to myself, well, how dangerous can this be? If these guys are doing it one-handed, it can’t be that terrifying.
Easily one of Revelstoke’s most popular attractions, the Pipe Mountain Coaster is an anxiety-filled-turned-liberating 1.4km ride of twists and turns, across ski hills and through tunnels, while traveling up to 42km/hr down the mountain. Push forward on the lever to go faster, back to go slower. Super cautious at first, it didn’t take long to just let the speed take me away.
There are plenty of restaurants to enjoy while here but for a more elevated (literally) experience with both a view of the Monashee mountains and gourmet burgers, take the Revelation gondola another 10 minutes up and hit up the Mackenzie Outpost. Have your meal from the top of the world.
With mountains, come waterfalls and in Revelstoke, there are three that are worth visiting. Sutherland Falls is located in Blanket Creek Provincial Park, just south of Revelstoke off Highway 23. The trail to the falls is short and the path is flat and wide. Feel the rush of the 40-foot water drop and expect to get slightly wet.
Begbie Falls is also south of the city along Highway 23. There are two parking lots – one just over 2km from the falls and another about 50 yards. Both are pretty well-traveled trails, just depends on whether you want to go the long or short way.
The third is Moses Falls located just north of the city centre. Truly a hidden gem in every facet, Moses is a bit trickier to get to but if you take Westside Road north about 6km, get to the parking lot on the right-hand side of the road, maneuver your way through brush, across a wide gravel road and even more brush. Listen for the creek and enjoy the cascading beauty of Moses. Just a heads up – there are a few steep sections and the trail can get slippery and muddy when wet.
Charming Downtown Revelstoke
I dare you to get bored in downtown Revelstoke! It’s impossible. Vibrant, energetic and loaded with small, locally owned and operated shops, it’s easy to see why this historic centre is such a big draw. Local pride is everywhere and for good reason; the shops are truly super cute, the shopkeepers are welcoming, inviting and warm. From the neo-Classical courthouse to the Railway Museum, this town is also loaded with restaurants, boutiques, cool cafes and, craft breweries.
In the summer, Grizzly Plaza transforms into a nightly street and music party. Every night for 65 straight days, rain or shine, locals and tourists pull up a chair and watch live entertainment. Watch and dance with a gelato in hand from the nearby Roxy Theatre or grab a seat on the patio at Chubby Funsters, order Mama Aidan’s PB+J Burger (trust me it sounds disgusting but it’s actually SUPER AWESOME) and enjoy the night.
After a full day of living…
It’s time to get busy resting. Enter Stoke Hotel, a funky, chic yet down-to-earth boutique hotel that’s got everything from an outdoor hot tub and mountain and river views to spacious rooms and comfy amenities.
Stoke nails rustic ambiance! The rooms are bright and beautifully renovated as is the dining room. Chill and laid back, with a rocky mountain vibe, guests can enjoy breakfast in a vintage style dining room with a side of pancakes and coffee.
Hey y’all. I’m Jim. That kid went on to spend 16 years in the broadcast media world before starting up Travel Mammal, a site dedicated to working with brands to promote travel, food, and cultural experiences.
I’ve created content and collaborated with everyone from Chevrolet, Lonely Planet, Trivago, Nevada Tourism and The Weather Network to New Brunswick Tourism, Yellow Pages, Tourism Toronto, and Airbnb. Safe travels, y’all.
I’d like to thank the following:
*Chevrolet Canada for supplying the vehicle for our trip to Revelstoke. Bright and beautiful, #TheNewBlazer in cherry red gave us the chance to #FindNewRoads, including the one that led us to this year-round gem of a city!
*See Revelstoke for taking care of us during our stay. Your packed itinerary was super understandable as soon as we got there! Hope we did Revelstoke justice with this article.
*Our host hotel – Stoke Hotel – for hosting us for the night. Funky and super cool boutique with the friendliest staff in the Rockies. The private entrance/exit was a great touch, thank you!