A series of gentle mountain ranges rolls between the Thompson Plateau and the Shuswap Highlands to the west, then rises dramatically in the Selkirk and Monashee Mountains between Revelstoke and Golden near the British Columbia-Alberta border.
Travellers between the two towns must negotiate Rogers Pass, one of the great mountain crossings in the province and certainly the Trans-Canada Highway’s crowning glory.
Travelling through Rogers Pass requires you to go through five long tunnels, which add a measure of protection from avalanches, although they can be a bit unnerving the first time. The lofty sensation of crossing Rogers Pass is one of the rewards for travelling here.
Rogers Pass (elevation 4,534 feet/1382 m) is located at the summit in Glacier National Park, and operates the Park’s main Interpretation Centre. The Information Centre is the principal source of information regarding the park. Services provided include Backcountry Reports, Closed Area Entry Permits, and National Park Permits.
The actual Rogers Pass was first used by the Canadian Pacific Railways in 1885, after Major A.B. Rogers had found the long-sought and forbidding route through the Selkirk Mountains, and reached the summit of the pass that now bears his name, in 1881.
Road construction through the pass was completed in 1962, and travel over the pass today is safe and relatively free from the dangers of the “White Death” snow avalanches that claimed the lives of 250 railroad workers during the thirty year period that the CPR used the pass.
Parks Canada operates the world’s largest mobile avalanche control program to keep the Trans-Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway operating through Rogers Pass. Slopes adjacent to the highway are closed due to artillery fire. Other areas are reserved as test slopes or snow profile sites and must not be disturbed because of their importance to avalanche hazard forecasting.
Rogers Pass Discovery Centre: Discover the facts and the history behind the construction and early days of Rogers Pass, and watch the avalanche control films, at the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre. The centre includes a theatre, natural history exhibits, a hall of railway model trains and railway tunnels, and displays that include a mockup of the pass.
Follow the abandoned 1890s rail line, walk through the collapsed snow sheds and stroll through the ruins of the Glacier House, one of Canadian Pacific’s great hotels.
Visit the Memorial Arch that commemorates the completion of the Trans Canada Highway over the pass in 1962. The steep and hazardous mountainous terrain and the constant threat of avalanches made construction of the highway particularly challenging and dangerous.
The luxury Glacier Park Lodge is located at the Summit of Rogers Pass, in the heart of Glacier National Park.
Canyon Hot Springs: The Canyon Hotsprings are 28 miles (45 km) west of Rogers Pass on Trans-Canada 1, and have a mineral-water hot pool and a mineral-water swimming pool, but are open summers only. White water rafting is also available near the hotsprings.
Glacier National Park offers challenging outdoor experiences, including 140 kilometres of alpine and forest hiking trails, wilderness camping, mountaineering, and Nordic and alpine skiing. Illecillewaet Campground is centrally located near Hwy 1, and has kitchen shelters and washrooms, and Loop Brook Campground is farther west than Illecillewaet, with similar facilities. Hwy 1 winds for more than 27 miles through Glacier National Park. The park’s west gate is about 30 miles east of Revelstoke, while its east gate is 24 miles west of Golden.
Visitors to Glacier National Park are surrounded by one of the most awe-inspiring panoramas in Canada. Over 400 glaciers cover much of the challenging terrain in the park, which is dominated by 10 peaks ranging from 8,530 to 11,120 ft in height. Illecillewaet Glacier on the Great Glacier Trail has been a must see destination for over a century. Over half a dozen other hiking routes lead through the park from the Illecillewaet campground, including the Avalanche Crest Trail, which offers some of the most dramatic views in this region of the park, overlooking Rogers Pass. Icefields forever is the scenic byword here.
Skiing: The powder doesn’t come any lighter than that at Kicking Horse Mountain Ski Resort in Golden, where there is downhill skiing in addition to more than 12 miles (17 km) of cross-country trails. Enjoy skiing or boarding the Purcell mountain powder and some of the best mogul skiing and natural terrain in the World.
Visitors to Glacier National Park will find ski touring terrain that includes glades, alpine bowls and icefields, where descents of more than 1,500 metres are possible. All ski destinations in the park require knowledge of travel in avalanche terrain. Skiers are urged to wear avalanche transceivers and be prepared for self-rescue. When conditions allow, some restricted areas are open to skiing on a day-by-day basis. A permit is required which you may pick up at the Rogers Pass Centre on the day you plan to ski. There is no additional fee for this permit. Skiing in a closed area without a permit is an offence.
Southwest of Rogers Pass on the Trans-Canada Highway, Mount Revelstoke National Park welcomes hikers, cross-country skiers, and picnickers at a variety of day-use areas along Summit Road and Hwy 1 as they weave through the park. The park offers no developed camping facilities, although a few primitive backcountry sites are available. Similar in its geographical features to Glacier National Park (where travellers will find overnight camping), Mount Revelstoke is extremely beautiful, with a mile-high rolling alpine plateau and spectacular views of the Monashees and Selkirks. This is one of the few places in Canada where it is possible to drive right into an alpine meadow. Summit Road winds 16 miles (26 km) up to the top of this 6,094-foot (1860-m) mountain. Unfortunately, this trip is possible only during the summer. Take Hwy 1 east from Revelstoke. Park information is available at the Rogers Pass Visitor Centre.
Some easy hiking trails, all of which begin from trailheads along Summit Road as it climbs the flanks of Mount Revelstoke, include the Eva Lake Trail (easy; 7.5 miles/12 km return), which runs through both subalpine and alpine tundra zones. There’s a backcountry cabin at Eva Lake, but visitors must register with the park warden before using it overnight. By far the most popular trail in the park is also its shortest: Mountain Meadows Trail (easy; 0.6 mile/1 km return) leads from the south side of the Heather Lake parking lot at the upper end of Summit Road through nearby subalpine meadows that run riot with wildflowers in late July and early August. You can hike longer and harder if you want to by following Lindmark Trail (moderate; 10 miles/16 km return) for a day, a route that leads to Eagle and Balsam Lakes, which are pleasant resting spots. You’ll find the most challenging hiking in the park on the Summit Trail (difficult; 16 miles/20 km return). Early residents blazed this hiking trail a century ago.
National Park Permits: A park pass is required for all visitors to national parks. This pass is available at the park gates or, for the credit-card endowed, by calling (800) 748-7275. You can choose between an annual-entry permit, a four-day permit, or a daily-entry permit. In addition, there is a daily camping fee in summer. You must obtain a backcountry pass to explore in national parks. Note: Permits are good in national parks throughout Canada, including Alberta-s Banff and Jasper National Parks, which are adjacent to British Columbia.
Golf: The nearest golf courses to Rogers Pass are the Revelstoke Golf and Country Club in Revelstoke, and the Golden Golf Course, located just west of Golden.
Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
To the west of Rogers Pass is Revelstoke. The history of Revelstoke is tied to the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which you can delve into at the Revelstoke Railway Museum. Towering mountains rise all around Revelstoke, a town that appeals to hikers and skiers. The four-block-long downtown on MacKenzie Avenue makes a nice stroll. A map for a self-guided heritage walking tour is available at the Revelstoke Museum, 315 W First Street. Free tours of the Revelstoke Dam, five minutes north of Revelstoke, are offered from mid March to late October.
East of Rogers Pass is Golden, in the heart of some of the most pristine wilderness to be found in the Canadian Rockies. Golden is located at the confluence of the Kicking Horse and Columbia Rivers, with the Columbia Mountains standing guard overhead.
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.