Mount Revelstoke National Park protects 100 square miles of wilderness in British Columbia, Canada. Though the park is one of the smallest in a series of national parks along the Canadian Pacific Railway corridor, including Banff and Yoho, Mount Revelstoke contains several impressive Selkirk Mountain summits, including the illustrious Mount Revelstoke, Mount Coursier, Inverness, Mount Dickey, and Mount Williamson.
The park’s namesake summit, Mount Revelstoke, is the park’s most iconic summit. The peak, which sits near the confluence of the Columbia and Illecillewaet rivers, provides exceptional views of the surrounding Monashee Rane and Selkirk Range. Mount Revelstoke also happens to be the only summit in the Canadian national park system that can (almost) be submitted via car. In fact, the park was founded after local residents advocated for constructing a road to the city’s most renowned summit.
In 1908, the city of Revelstoke created a footpath to the summit of Mount Revelstoke and began clearing pathways to some of the region’s incredible alpine lakes. Between 1912 and 1927 the Meadows in the Sky Parkway was built and in 1914, the park received its national park designation to honor the region’s stunning snow-capped peaks, wildflower meadows, and sublime mountain scenery.
The park’s history actually began long before the railway, however, when the confluence of the Columbia and Illecillewaet Rivers were used as an encampment by fur traders and explorers. Eventually, the railway was constructed, and the once-tiny town of Farwell was renamed Revelstoke.
Mount Revelstoke also happens to house one of Canada’s first ski hills and the largest natural ski jump ever created in Canada. In 1892, a local miner introduced “Norwegian snowshoes” to residents of Revelstoke and the first ski club was organized. The Mount Revelstoke Ski Hill, which sits northeast of the Revelstoke townsite, hosted ski jumping competitions from 1915 to 1960 – the longest period of any Canadian ski jumping venue and was the only hill in Canada where ski jumping records were set in 1916, 1921, 1925, 1932, and 1933. At the time, Revelstoke was internationally recognized as one of the best ski jumps in North America. Today, visitors can visit the Nels Nelsen Historic Site at the base of Mount Revelstoke to check out the old judges’ tower and explore the area. Though the old ski jump was eventually closed, Revelstoke remains a popular destination for winter recreation.
There’s no denying that Mount Revelstoke is packed with impressive mountain scenery, but the park is also known for its incredible diversity. 800-year-old red cedars can be found in one of the world’s few inland temperate rainforests, the Clachnacuddin Icefield spans nearly the entire park, and subalpine wildflower meadows can be enjoyed throughout the Spring.
The park’s unique climate results in 50-80 feet of snowfall each year at higher elevations in the park. At lower elevations, record rainfall sustains western red cedar, western hemlock, western white pine, Pacific yew, and mountain box. Mount Revelstoke’s unique inland old growth forests also support more than 50 species of cavity nesting birds and small animals. Large predators and mammals like Black bear, grizzly bear, wolverine, mountain goat, coyote, as well as over 180 species of birds, also call Mount Revelstoke home.
The beloved Meadows in the Sky Parkway, which travels to the top of Mount Revelstoke, is a paved road surrounded by rugged Selkirk summits and vibrant wildflowers. Not only does this 26 km (16 mile) road provide visitors with easy access to the summit, along the way, visitors can soak in sweeping views of surrounding summits and wilderness. The paved road ends just short of the summit at a parking lot near Balsam Lake. At the end of the road, visitors can hang out at the picnic area at the lake or take a short trail to the top of Mount Revelstoke. There are also several other footpaths ranging in difficulty that begin at the Balsam Lake parking area. Popular trails include the Jade Lake, Eva Lake, Bridge Creek, Panorama Point, and Monashee trails.
Experience Revelstoke’s giant trees and lush inland old growth forest via the Giant Cedar Boardwalk trail. This short walk, which begins at the Giant Cedars Picnic area, travels through the heart of the forest. Several benches are available along the way, so don’t forget to take a break and soak in the tranquility of these towering trees.
The city of Revelstoke is known as an awe-inspiring city where adventure-seekers go to ‘revel in the beauty,’ and ‘get stoked.’ The city is a popular basecamp for winter recreation, boasting the most skiable vertical in North America at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, world class snowmobile trails, and miles of Nordic trails. When summer hits, the town is bustling with avid hikers, dirt bikers, mountain bikers, and general outdoor enthusiasts. Revelstoke sits just outside of both Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks and offers easy access to some of the best alpine hiking in Canada. After you’ve spent the day hanging out in the mountains, you can kick back in town and enjoy a variety of local amenities - this vibrant mountain community offers an array of accommodations, shopping, and restaurants.