If you’ve already heard of Revelstoke, you might be a skier. Nestled in the Kootenay region in the southeastern part of the province, Revelstoke sits on the Powder Highway and is well-known for its epic alpine snow conditions. Heli, cat and traditional resort skiing rule the winter season here, as Revelstoke Mountain Resort has the longest vertical descent of any ski resort in North America – at 1,713 m, or 5,620 ft.
But during the summer months after the snow melts to join regional waterfalls and rivers, Revelstoke transforms into a delightful playground for outdoor enthusiasts of every age and ability. The city’s small-town charms are matched by big mountain views and considerable adventure opportunities. From hiking along waterfall and mountain trails to shooting rapids on a glacial river and enjoying the compact downtown of independent shops and restaurants, our recommendations for things to do in Revelstoke in summer will reveal the warmer side of life in Revy.
11 Active Things to do in Revelstoke BC
There is no shortage of outdoor adventures and things to do in Revelstoke with kids or without. Revelstoke is located along Highway 1 in the Kootenay region of southeast British Columbia. From Calgary, travel west past Banff and Golden for about 407 km (4.5 hours). From Vancouver, travel east along Highways 1 and 5 for about 565 km (6 hours).
Getting around Revelstoke by foot or bike is easy in the downtown core. For some of the destinations mentioned in this article, a car is necessary. Be sure to be bear aware as wildlife is close at hand, especially on hiking trails and in the mountains.
Explore Revelstoke’s Waterfall Trifecta
Being surrounded by mountains, it’s not surprising that winter snow means spring meltwater and that means waterfalls! Revelstoke has a number of waterfalls within a 5 km short drive from town, but there is a trifecta – three – waterfalls of special note.
Sutherland Falls, Begbie Falls and Moses Falls are all worth a visit, especially during the spectacular spring run-off. In high summer, the falls are still impressive, especially Sutherland Falls, a personal favorite. Its height and cascading water are truly stunning. Visit one or all three when you’re in town.
Walk the Giant Cedars Boardwalk
Walk among giants at the Giant Cedars Boardwalk. This easy 500 m walk is located just east of town, in Mount Revelstoke National Park. You will need a day or annual Parks Canada Pass to visit this and other Park attractions.
Revelstoke is home to the world’s only inland temperate rainforest. That means there are giant old growth trees and a unique ecosystem to explore. The Giant Cedars boardwalk meanders through giant 500-year-old red cedars, ferns and large Devil’s Club plants, with spots to enjoy birdlife and the deep, loamy smell of the forest. It’s just off Highway 1 but you can’t hear a thing when you’re deep in the forest – it’s wonderful.
Drive the Meadows in the Sky Parkway
Mount Revelstoke National Park offers the incredible experience of driving a paved road from an elevation of 470 metres on the Trans Canada Highway to 1,835 metres at Balsam Lake.
The Meadows in the Sky Parkway winds 26 km uphill through forests of cedar and hemlock, spruce and fir to the renowned subalpine wildflower meadows of the park. If you’ve got a blue sky summer day, this is one of the best things to do in Revelstoke.
Choose from easy strolls or longer hikes at the Balsam Lake parking area and the summit. To prevent damage to the fragile subalpine vegetation and alpine environment, be sure to stay on the system of marked trails only.
The Parkway is accessible during the brief snow-free season (usually early July to late September). A Summit Shuttle Bus transports visitors between the parking area at Balsam Lake and the summit area. The summit offers rare mountain-top hiking, strolling, picnicking and photography opportunities. A historic fire tower sits at the summit.
Hiking in Revelstoke
Lace up those hiking boots and shoes and head out onto some of the most scenic trails in the province. From the valleys to the alpine, Revelstoke has hiking trails for any age, ability, and season.
For easier trails, visit the valley waterfalls (mentioned above), or travel up the Revelstoke Mountain Resort Gondola or Meadows in the Sky Parkway to get up high without breaking a sweat.
Amazing mountain views and active outdoor adventures create big appetites. Check out guide on where to eat in Revelstoke.
Revelstoke’s valley bottom trails offer beautiful scenery along the Columbia River. The Revelstoke Forestry Museum’s Riverside Forest Walk is a great option. In Mount Revelstoke National Park, head to Inspiration Woods for a magical 2.5 km rainforest trail experience.
There are 23 km of lift-accessed trails at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, which are great options for intermediate hikers. Mount Revelstoke National Park also offers lots of intermediate hiking trails with 360-degree views, including the beautiful alpine Eva and Miller Lakes.
To the east of Revelstoke, Glacier National Park offers incredible hiking opportunities high into the alpine. The Hermit, Glacier Crest and Perley Rock trails offer steep climbs to alpine meadows and glacier viewpoints.
Closer to town, Mount Begbie is Revelstoke’s iconic peak; its double crown can be seen anywhere in town. The Mount Begbie trail is steep but rewarding with stunning glacier and mountain views. The true summit of the iconic Mount Begbie requires mountaineering skills, as it involves glacier travel and an exposed scramble.
A note about hiking in bear country
Parks Canada recommends that while on the trail, hikers should: make noise, look for fresh bear scat, travel in groups, keep your dog on a leash, carry bear spray (and know how to use it). Follow trail closures and warnings, and if you encounter a bear give it lots of space.
Explore Revelstoke Mountain Resort
The summer version of Revelstoke Mountain Resort has all the fun elements of the winter one – except for the snow. Get a Play All Day Pass and plan a full day of activities at the resort.
Hit up the uber-popular Pipe Mountain Coaster. This fun 1.4 km twisting and turning coaster careens down the mountain and through a tunnel on a thrilling ride to base. Travel up to 42 km per hour or take it slower – the choice to brake or accelerate is in your hands. The ride is family-friendly and great fun for all ages.
The Resort Aerial Adventure Park includes more than 50 obstacles for beginners to advanced aerialists. This four-story ropes course includes swings, climbs, jumps and free falls, and is great for all ages too. There’s also axe throwing and a 9-hole disc golf course in the plaza.
Take the gondola up to the peak to access some of the resort’s hiking trails. There are 23 km of lift-accessed trails at the resort, though not a huge variety of lengths.
The more popular summer sport at the resort is mountain biking. The mountain bike trail network provides a selection of flowy blues and technical blacks that will not disappoint. The famed Fifty Six Twenty is rumored to be the longest flow trail ever built, running the resort’s full vertical drop of 5,620 feet.
Rafting with Apex Rafting
Visiting Revelstoke? Things to do in summer should include white water rafting. Where there are mountains and glaciers, there will be rivers. And Revelstoke is blessed with both the Illecillewat and Columbia Rivers running through it.
Apex Rafting operates on the Illecillewat River, which is rated as Class III-IV whitewater. This is not a float ride. There will be waves, splashes and fun, energetic paddling along the 26 km route. In summer, the water levels tend to be lower, and the rating drops down to Class II-III, which is great for younger families and first timers. The full rafting experience will take about four hours, round trip.
Tour with Revelstoke Local Tours
A city walking tour with Revelstoke Local Tours offers the chance to meet knowledgeable locals and learn more about the city. We met our tour guide, Kyle Scott, in downtown Revelstoke where he took us up towards the historic Nels Nelsen Ski Jump.
The trail for the Nels Nelsen monument can be accessed from town by foot. The trail head is right behind the railway museum. follow the signage and flag posts through the rainforest to the jump area. This trail is not technical but the climb can be steep in places.
The monument offers amazing views over the town and the Columbia Valle. The historic ski jump is a small slice of early 20th century Revelstoke history in Mount Revelstoke National Park. The hike and the Nels Nelsen sculpture lets you experience the old ski jump first hand – without actually jumping.
Take the kids to the Enchanted Forest
Located west of Revelstoke, the Enchanted Forest, home of BC’s tallest and highest treehouse – along with 350 folk art figurines, a castle and a dragon – is a magical wonderland that is a must stop, especially when visiting Revelstoke with kids. (Ours loved it, back in the day.)
Step back in time and revel in this fairytale world nestled in the lush old growth forest in the Monashee mountains. Visit with Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Three Little Pigs, Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends, Captain Hook and many more characters from favorite childhood classic tales.
Need more family fun? The Enchanted Forest also has a Nature Walk, self-guided paddle boat tour, and the SkyTrek Adventure Park with a climbing ropes course and zip lines.
Experience Arts and Culture
Revelstoke celebrates its history and culture in a variety of museums and events during summer. Its concert series and innovative ‘Guerrilla Gigs’ feature Canadian artists performing intimate shows in iconic outdoor locations around Revelstoke.
Look for Revelstoke’s public “Art Alleries” in the heart of downtown or visit the city’s Museum and Archives to dig into the city’s past on a summer walking tour.
The Revelstoke Railway Museum is a big hit with the littles, especially as they can clamber aboard train cars and cabooses. The Museum details the railroad history of the Canadian Pacific Railway, including the driving of the Last Spike at Craigellachie and union of Canadian Confederation.
A visit to the Revelstoke Dam Visitor Centre (closed until 2022) offers a fascinating glimpse into the history and operation of one of the most powerful dams in B.C. At the BC Interior Forestry Museum, enjoy some local history, explore old machinery and appreciate the great view of the Revelstoke Dam from the lookout.
Revelstoke Farmers Market
The growing season may be short but the best local produce can be found at the Revelstoke Farmers Market. Every Saturday morning from May through October from 8 AM to 1 PM, the Market sees lively crowds and brings a vibrant atmosphere to downtown. From fresh fruits, vegetables and baked goods to handmade crafts, fresh flowers and hot food, there’s goodies galore to enjoy or bring home.
Hit the Links at the Revelstoke Golf Club
Located right along the Columbia River among the Monashee and Selkirk mountain ranges, golfers can enjoy playing their favorite sport while admiring the breathtaking scenery from every hole at the Revelstoke Golf Club.
Summer Tip: Fridays are social Grip It & Rip It nights. For $20 you get a bucket of small range balls, 3 holes of golf, a shared appy AND a beer.
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Photo Credits: Claudia Laroye; Destination British Columbia