Unless your familiar with western Canada or like to spend your winters chasing snow, you probably haven’t heard of the little mountain town of Revelstoke. Located in the western most province of British Columbia, in the heart of mountain country, Revelstoke is is truly a diamond in the rough. Almost 4 years ago my parents retired, moved across the country and settled into mountain life in one of the most beautiful regions of Canada.
As an avid snowboarded, I’d visited Revelstoke on a ski trip only a few years earlier and fell in love with the place. For skiers and snowboarders its paradise, as Revelstoke Mountain Resort boasts the highest vertical drop out of any ski resort in North America.
After visiting my family over the last few years, I discovered there’s more to this place than snowboarding in waist deep powder (gasp! Did I just really say that?! That’s blasphemy among skiers/snowboarders!).
No, you don’t need to be a skier/boarder to enjoy this winter wonderland. I’ve gathered a list of 8 awesome winter activities to do while in Revelstoke that should suit the needs of anyone visiting this mountain town.
1. Ski / Snowboard
I had to put this one first as it’s usually the reason people visit the area in the winter. For years, back country skiers have been flocking to this region for the epic powder (over 50 feet of snow per year!), accessing the terrain via cat and heli. In 2007 Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) opened its doors giving lift access to over 3100 acres of terrain, including 2 bowls, tons of glades and 65 groomers for every level.
The resort itself is still in the process of developing and expanding its operation but there’s more than enough currently in place to keep you occupied during your visit. If your a beginner, don’t let its size scare you! There’s plenty beginner terrain and the views are simply stunning.
2. Visit the Hot Springs
After a long day of skiing/snowboarding/snowshoeing or just playing outside in the tons of snow, its always nice to head to some outdoor hot springs! There are a few to chose from in the Revelstoke area but I particularly like the Halcyon Hot Springs.
You can make a day trip out of it as it’s about a 45 min drive to the ferry (yes, you have to take 20 min ferry crossing) and then only 10 min down the road to the hot springs.
They offer accommodations if your interested in staying for the night and they have a wonderful dinning room. My favorite package is the $22-$27 Dine and Dip (one for lunch, one for dinner) that gives you access to the pools and then a meal voucher afterwards. The hot springs are set right on the banks of the Columbia River surrounded by forest and mountains. Can it get any better than this?
3. Explore Glacier National Park
Whether you do this by snowshoe or cross country ski, the snow will be deep and the scenery spectacular. Located less than an hours drive east of Revelstoke and sitting next to Revelstoke National Park, Glacier National Park is Canada’s second oldest park (Banff National Park owns the title of oldest).
Not technically part of the famous Rocky mountain range to the east, GNP is located in the Columbia Mountain Range, as it’s geologically different from its neighbor. The Columbia range consists of 4 sub-groups, with GNP containing part of the Selkirks and Purcells. Within the park you’ll find over 130 glaciers, giving the park is namesake.
There are many trails to choose from but I recommend heading to the Illecillewaet campground entrance where you can follow a trail into the very heart of the mountains. Crossing mountain streams and passing through snow covered forest wonderlands, I found this area to be breath-taking. After only an hour or two of trekking, it genuinely feels like you’ve been dropped in the middle of the wilderness, with jagged mountain peaks and glaciers in every direction.
4. Dog Sledding
What better way to spend time outdoors than with a group of happy, fury canine’s? Exploring the back country by dog sled is not only tons of fun, but good exercise (for you and the dogs) and a unique way to get out and discover the wilderness. You can give this a try at Revelstoke Dogsled Adventures, where you’ll have a hands on experience driving your own team of happy-go-lucky pups!
5. Snowshoe up Mt. Revelstoke and cook your lunch in a cabin
Revelstoke National Park boarders the town and is full of hiking/snowshoeing trails. A particularly fun activity to try is snowshoeing up to one of the cabins and cooking a hot lunch in the wood burning stove! In the winter, the Meadows In The Sky Parkway that takes you almost all the way to the top is closed. But near the bottom is a parking lot where you can leave your car, strap on some snowshoes and trek up through the forest. There are amazing views of the valley with Revelstoke sitting beside the Columbia River as you ascend. Once at the cabin, you’ll find firewood ready to go in the wood burning stove. All you have to do is start a fire, cook your lunch and enjoy the view.
6. Sample the local brew
What better way to relax after a day of trekking in the mountains than with a pint of the local brew! Mt Begbie Brewing Co. was founded in 1996 by a nuclear physicist and his biologist wife, and is named after the beautiful Mt Begbie, one of the mountains located directly beside town. It boasts an all natural brew, using nothing but barley, hops, malt and water (no additives or preservatives).
You can stop by to pick up your choice of beer or sign up for a tour (with sampling of course!) when you visit their store. What I like most about their beer (aside from the taste!) are the fun names they give their draft, like “Bob’s Your Dunkel”, “Nasty Habit IPA” and “Dark Side of the Stoke”. Cheers!
Much like skiing, Revelstoke has long been a mecca for snowmobile enthusiasts. Just stop by the local Tim Hortons on an early weekend morning and you’ll find the parking lot packed with big trucks carrying these machines.
There are many places in Revelstoke to rent a snowmobile and guide. There are also designated areas and trails in and around town just for snowmobiles. Check out the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club for more info.
And when I say paragliding, I mean ski/snowboard paragliding! If the conditions are right, Revelstoke Paragliding will take you skiing/snowboarding right off the top of Mt MacKenzie (where Revelstoke Mountain Resort is located).
I had the opportunity to try this amazing activity last winter and would do it all again in a heart beat (despite my fear of heights!). Cost is $200 /pp and you’ll be flying tandem with an instructor all the way from the peak down to the mid-way station. Flights take about 15-20 min (time in the air) but plan on devoting a few hours to this activity as there might be some waiting involved. The instructors won’t fly unless the winds are just right.
I simply love Revelstoke and can’t wait to go back again this winter. It’s an outdoor lovers paradise all year round but I find it particularly special in the winter. It has the quintessential Canadian feel to it with tons of snow, jagged mountains peaks and lots of opportunity to explore.
Have you ever been to Revelstoke?
What’s your favorite winter activity?