Nestled high in the Monashee Mountains, adjacent to Mount Revelstoke National Park and close to Glacier National Park, the year-round playground of Revelstoke has some of the most spectacular scenery in all of British Columbia.
Flanked by the snow-capped peaks of the Selkirk Mountains to the east and the Monashees to the west, Revelstoke was proclaimed The Capital of Canada’s Alps and was known as The Mountain Paradise in the early 1900s.
The 1860s were the start of a short lived gold rush and the beginning of settlement in the Revelstoke area. In 1883, the Surveyor General for the Crown Colony of British Columbia pre-empted a parcel of land where he knew the Trans Canada Railway would cross the river. The town named was changed to Revelstoke the next year, in honour of Lord Revelstoke, head of the London banking firm that saved the Canadian Pacific Railway from bankruptcy, with incorporation as the City of Revelstoke following in 1899.
This gateway to mountain adventure and National Parks is not to be missed by anyone who appreciates a wonderful view. Rugged mountains, glistening glaciers, lush forests, tumbling waterfalls, and crystal clear lakes abound, making this area a photographer’s paradise.
Location: Revelstoke is located in the Kootenays on the Trans-Canada Highway 1, at the junction of Highway 3, at the northern end of Upper Arrow Lake, 93 miles (148 km) west of Golden and 64 miles (102 km) east of Salmon Arm.
Housed in the stately old brick Post Office building, the Revelstoke Museum displays an impressive collection of historic artifacts, displays and information dating back to the founding of Revelstoke in the 1880s.
Located in the Firehall, the Revelstoke Fireman’s Museum features a fully restored 1923 International Bickle Fire Engine, and a number of artifacts from Revelstoke’s fire fighting past.
Discover Canada’s history and railway heritage at the Revelstoke Railway Museum. Learn about the building of the railway, the workers involved, the final days of construction and present day operation. The museum exhibits fascinating artifacts and photographs, and houses original rolling stock – caboose, snow plough, flange car and a beautifully restored CPR Mikado steam locomotive, one of the larger steam engines ever used on the CPR lines. While you’re in Revelstoke, pick up the Railway Heritage Driving Tour brochure for some 20 suggestions of railway places to visit in the region.
Heritage Buildings: The City of Revelstoke is rich in history, with downtown revitalization restoring over two dozen Victorian era heritage buildings to their original splendour. A self-guided walking tour and driving tour brochure, identifying some 60 historic buildings which provide a glimpse of the many architectural trends of the past, is available at the Visitor Centre.
Woodenhead was carved with a double bitted axe and chisels in the 1930s by local resident Peter Fuoco in his free time while working on the Big Bend Highway project. The sculpture was set on the highway as one of the first road safety warnings in BC, advising speeding motorists to slow down and not be a Woodenhead. During the 1960s, when the Trans-Canada Highway opened, Woodenhead was moved to town as a local heritage artifact.
Mount Revelstoke Internment Camp: During World War I, under the War Measures Act, internment camps were established at 24 locations across Canada for the detention of about 8,000 people, mostly Ukrainians and other Europeans, who were detained because they were considered to be enemy aliens. One of these camps was located in Mount Revelstoke National Park, and is now commemorated with the Mount Revelstoke Internment Camp Commemoration along the Meadows-in-the-Sky Parkway. More information on the Mount Revelstoke Internment Camp.
Visit the Revelstoke Dam, the second largest power generating facility in BC, with enough energy to power 747,600 homes a year! The multi-level visitor centre features new interactive displays, and exhibits such as Putting Water to Work, A Powerful Partnership, and the construction of Revelstoke 5 – the latest edition. Take an elevator ride to the dam crest lookout located atop the massive 175-meter high concrete dam. Revelstoke Dam is located 5km north of Revelstoke on Highway 23 North. Hours: 10am to 5pm daily from mid May to early/mid October – self-guided tours only.
Grizzly Plaza is the entertainment centre of Revelstoke’s historic downtown. Throughout the summer, free live entertainment every evening. A Farmer’s Market and Bazaar are featured each Saturday morning, with locally grown produce, arts & crafts, and children’s entertainment. Terrific small town hospitality, and a fun time for all!
Events: Don’t miss the annual Revelstoke Music Festival held in June. Experience the excitement of loggers’ sports at Timber Days in July, and join in the fun at Railway Days held in August.
The Enchanted Forest, on the Trans Canada Highway to Sicamous, is a delight for all ages. The main trail of the Grand Old Forest provides the magical setting for over 350 lovingly hand crafted Jolly Fairy Folk figurines. Climb a giant 800 year old cedar tree or stand inside the huge trunk of another!
Visit the historic site of the Last Spike at Craigellachie, hammered by Canadian Pacific Railway Director Donald Smith into the Transcontinental Rail Line that united Canada from coast to coast on 7th November 1885. The site is located at Craigellachie, west of Revelstoke on Trans-Canada Highway 1. At the site are picnic tables and Craigellachie Station, an interesting information centre open from May to October.
Bears: Backcountry travellers should remember that the Revelstoke area is bear country. Seeing a bear is often the highlight of a visit to the Columbia Mountains. These magnificent creatures never fail to make a big impression. If you are fortunate enough to encounter a bear, please exercise the appropriate caution, and respect the bear in its natural habitat. British Columbia is one of the richest wildlife viewing areas in Canada.
Golf: The Revelstoke Golf and Country Club has been described as “a gem of a course”. The 18-hole, par-72, 6,521-yard riverside golf course along the Columbia River affords incredible mountain views, with the majestic Monashee and Selkirk Mountains as a backdrop. An excellent golfing challenge in a spectacular setting.
Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
Skiing: For those who enjoy winter sports, the Revelstoke Mountain Resort on Mount MacKenzie in the Kootenays, southeast of Revelstoke, is known for its incredible powder, and great downhill skiing for the whole family. Mount McPherson has marked cross-country skiing trails with generally gentle slopes and large open areas with good views of the valley. Other good spots to try are LaForme Creek, Mt. Revelstoke Park, Frisby Ridge, Wap Creek Road, and many more in the area. Snowshoeing, snowmobiling, telemark ski touring, alpine ski touring and hut-to-hut touring are all available near Revelstoke until the end of April.
Snowmobiling: Revelstoke is fast becoming one of the major snowmobile destinations in BC. The season generally runs from late November into June, with March, April and May being peak months. Frisby Ridge is very popular, and Boulder Mountain is the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club’s main snowmobile area. Other prime areas are the Akolkolex, Mt. McCrae, Wap Lake Valley, Mabel Lake and Kidney Lake.
Cat Skiing: For the more adventurous, fully qualified Snowcat Skiing guides will lead you to between 12,000 and 15,000 vertical feet per day of BC’s finest deep powder snow. If that still doesn’t do it for you, then you’ll be glad to be in the heart of Helicopter Skiing in the interior of BC. Skiers are transported to either the Monashees to the west or the Selkirks to the east.
Mount Revelstoke National Park offers no developed camping facilities, although a few primitive campsites are sprinkled beside its backcountry trails. The park welcomes hikers, cross-country skiers, and picnickers at a variety of day-use areas along Summit Road and Highway 1, as they weave through the park. Some easy hikes, all of which begin from trailheads along Summit Road as it climbs the flanks of Mount Revelstoke, include the Eva Lake Trail, with a backcountry cabin at Eva Lake, the short Mountain Meadows Trail, the day-long Lindmark Trail and Summit Trail, the most challenging hike in the park.
Fishing in the lakes and rivers around Revelstoke will bring you kokanee, dolly varden, mountain whitefish, and rainbow and cutthroat trout. Some spots to try are Echo Lake, Trout Lake, Arrow Lakes, Blanket Creek, Lake Revelstoke, Kinbasket Lake, and Goldstream River.
Martha Creek Provincial Park is a the destination for anglers trying their luck on Lake Revelstoke.
Blanket Creek Provincial Park is located south of Revelstoke, on an old homestead where Blanket Creek enters the Columbia River. From here the mighty river empties into Upper Arrow Lake on its way south. In fall, kokanee spawn at the mouth of the creek. The park offers good lake and stream fishing for dolly varden, kokanee and rainbow trout. Thick stands of western hemlock, western red cedar, and white pine cover the slopes of the Monashees, which rise and roll off to the west. A brief five-minute walk leads from the campground to the delightful and beautiful 40 foot high Sutherland Falls.
Experience the pristine alpine and glaciated terrain of the Monashee Mountain Range, a wilderness are of mountains, lakes and forests south of Revelstoke. Featuring some of the oldest rocks in the province, the area is ideal for rock climbing, guided hiking and mountaineering. The varied terrain of the B.C. Rockies region of British Columbia accommodates every outdoor recreation known to man.
East of Revelstoke is Rogers Pass, one of the great mountain crossings in British Columbia, and certainly the crowning glory of the Trans-Canada Highway. Rogers Pass (elevation 4,534 feet/1382 m) is located at the summit in Glacier National Park, and is the location of the Park Canada Interpretation Centre.
West of Revelstoke in the Shuswap is the vacation destination of Sicamous. Located at the junction of Shuswap Lake and Mara Lake in the Eagle Valley, Sicamous is known as the Houseboat Capital of Canada.
Circle Tour: See the best of the area on The Okanagan and BC Rockies Circle Tour. Travel the sunny interior of British Columbia, north through the Okanagan to Sicamous, following Highway 1 into the mountains of the BC Rockies. From Golden, head south through the Columbia Valley to Creston, and west through Boundary Country and the Southern Okanagan to complete the loop.
Circle Tours in British Columbia.