100 years of bliss at Mount Revelstoke
Story by Katie Marti
REVELSTOKE, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Ambling through alpine meadows at the summit of Mount Revelstoke National Park, all I can think is: I hope I look this spectacular when I’m one hundred years old.
Perched above the town of Revelstoke, located in southeastern British Columbia and smack-dab in the middle of heaven, the mountain of the same name is unassuming compared to the rocky, towering peaks that surround it. But a beautiful, windy drive through Meadows in the Sky Parkway brings visitors past trailheads and viewpoints up to the summit at 1,926 metres (6,319 feet), where the real fun begins. From here the sky’s the limit, with trails skirting off in all directions toward glacier lakes, rolling hills and rugged backcountry bliss.
For the most hardcore of hikers, the park offers a few overnight options to Eva and Jade lakes. Neither route is long nor strenuous compared to hikes in neighbouring Glacier National Park, but both are stunning and serene, not to mention the fact that it’s a rare luxury to be able to camp in a remote wilderness setting without even leaving town. With six tent sites operating on a first-come, first-served basis, you’d be wise to arrive at the park early during the busy summer season, particularly on weekends.
Explore Mount Revelstoke at Your Own Pace
Despite the allure of spending a night under the stars in an alpine wonderland, day hikes are most common at Mount Revelstoke National Park. Trails wind their way up the entire mountain, allowing for a huge variety in terms of terrain and level of difficulty. Visitors can park at the bottom and explore the lower elevations by foot or even by mountain bike, or they can head straight to the top and go from there. Either way, it’s entirely possible to spend as little as an hour and as much as an entire day discovering Mount Revelstoke at your own pace.
For those limited by time or who prefer getting straight to the point, there are several easily accessed historic sites. The famed Nels Nelson ski jump is a must-see, with much of the original structures still intact and plenty of informative signage to bring newcomers up to speed. At the summit, there is a restored fire tower, once used as a lookout during the summer months to protect the town of Revelstoke from wildfires caused by lightning strike or the odd careless camper. Many clearings have posted maps outlining the mountain ranges in clear view and, if that’s not enough, the wildflowers alone make the trip worthwhile, with a peak blooming season in late summer from August to September.
Revelstoke is a great midway stopping point for travellers driving along the Trans-Canada Highway between Alberta and the Pacific Coast or the Okanagan Valley. In fact, it’s such a charming spot with so much to see and do that it’s not uncommon for visitors to stop for gas and stay for a week. With great restaurants, cafés, shops and museums — not to mention our very own national park — Revelstoke is sure to make any vacation’s highlight reel.
MORE ABOUT MOUNT REVELSTOKE NATIONAL PARK
Telephone: 1-250-837-7500 or 1-877-737-3783 (toll free)
Season: May 16 to October 14, 2014
Hours of Operation: 8 am-5 pm daily until September 2, then 9 am-5 pm until October 14
Admission: $7.80/adult, $6.80/senior, $3.90/youth, $19.60/family
Watch for Bears: You are in bear country throughout Mount Revelstoke National Park. It is always advisable to travel in groups, make yourself seen and heard so as not to surprise wildlife on the trails, and use the garbage cans provided to stash your trash: or, as we say in this neck of the woods, be bear aware.