Nestled in the inland rainforest with two national parks nearby, Revelstoke surely packs a lot. Explore the great outdoors with our extensive guide of things to do in Revelstoke.
A small town in western Canada with a population of less than 15,000 is an outdoor lovers’ paradise. It has a very outdoorsy vibe like Canmore or Fernie but it’s not swarmed by tourists as Banff or Jasper.
It reminds me of Fernie a lot. Both towns are in British Columbia and both are famous for powder skiing in winter and extensive trail system for mountain biking in summer. And that is just the beginning.
Our blog post includes lakes, hikes, waterfalls, hot springs and some unusual activities which will make your visit to Revelstoke fun and memorable.
Last time we visited Revelstoke was at the end of September for my birthday, and I must say, that is not the best time. Arriving even a week earlier would make a big difference.
The end of September is the end of the summer season, with lots of establishments and hiking trails closing. If you plan to visit hot springs, ride a mountain coaster or hike in Glacier National Park, make sure not to repeat our mistake.
Do you like small mountain towns? Check out our travel guides for:
- Canmore, a gate to the Rockies close to Banff
- Banff in Banff National Park, the oldest in the Rockies
- Jasper in Jasper National Park, the largest national park in the Rockies
- Fernie in British Columbia, the best kept local secret for outdoor junkies
- Golden in British Columbia, close to six national parks
Best things to do in Revelstoke
1| Walk among the giant cedars
A wild place with a boardwalk leading you through a forest of old giant cedars. If you’re coming to Revelstoke from Alberta, stop at Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail to stretch your legs, admire the trees and have lunch in the picnic area.
2| Visit local festivals
Arts or sports? Choose from the many annual festivals this small town host. Our recommendations are Revelstoke Paddlesport Challenge in July, trail running races in August, Street Fest with live music throughout summer or artsy Luna Festival in September.
The full schedule of all festivals is here.
3| Soak in hot springs
Head south of Revelstoke on Highway 23, take a free ferry towards Nakusp and visit Halcyon Hot Springs, beautifully located with a Columbia River view.
Opening in mid-May, take advantage of your drive and stop between Mount Revelstoke National Park and Glacier National Park for a soak in the Canyon Hot Springs. No need to hurry up, stay in their campground or cabins for easier access to the nearby hiking trails.
A special place in the Kootenay’s wilderness is Halfway Hot Springs near Nakusp. Walk through the trees and find natural pools surrounded by river and peacefulness of the forest. For a fee of 15 CAD per night, you can stay at the campground for a true off the grid experience.
4| Drive the Meadows in the Sky Parkway
The stunning scenic road through Mount Revelstoke National Park starts just off of the Trans-Canada Highway. 26 km long winding road climbs from 400 meters to 2,000 meters above sea level and offers alpine meadows, lookouts and view of Revelstoke from above. It looks exciting from the biking perspective as well; after a climb, you get a decent winding downhill.
Check the schedule for the opening hours of the road. The parking lot on top is quite small but you can leave your car behind at Balsam Lake and use the shuttle bus.
5| Try the ski jump
One of the most popular stops on the Meadows in the Sky Parkway shouldn’t be missed. Named after the famous local ski jumper Nels Nelsen, Nels Knickers is an interpretative exhibit where you can literally step into his boots, lean forward and see yourself how it feels flying from what once was a real ski jumping mountain.
6| Visit historic fire lookout
When you reach the top of the Meadows in the Sky Parkway, follow the signs up to the fire tower lookout built in 1927. While the inside is not accessible to the public, you can see the Lake Revelstoke in the distance squeezed between the mountain ranges.
7| Have a picnic by the Columbia River
Our favourite way to start or end the day. You can have a picnic right in town in the Centennial Park, head south to Blanket Creek Provincial Park or head north of Revelstoke to Martha Creek Provincial Park to relax by Lake Revelstoke.
8| Hike to Eva Lake
A 15 km return trip will show you gorgeous wildflower-filled meadows and an alpine lake. Although it is rated as moderate because of its distance, this hike leads over rolling hills and gains very little elevation. It looked stunning for a trail run in the mountains.
There’s a small cabin (and an outhouse) at the lake, ideal for a quick snack during the snow, as it was our case at the end of September. If you have enough time, visit Miller Lake and Jade Lake, which would add about 5 km to the hike.
Hiking to Eva Lake was a highlight of our trip (despite the snow) and I highly recommend it. Definitely one of the best things to do in Revelstoke.
Read our recommendation: Hiking packing list for summer in the mountains
9| Ride the thrilling Pipe Mountain Coaster
This is a fun activity for all visitors and insanely fast locals as well. Ride the roller coaster down the hill through a forest and see if you’re brave enough not to use brakes (and reach the 40km/h speed). It’s a 1,4 km long ride across the ski hills of Revelstoke Mountain Resort and runs daily in September.
10| Camp by the lake
Camping is our favourite way how to enjoy time in nature. Listed from closest to town, Revelstoke offers several options: Revelstoke Campground (35 CAD/night), Lamplighter Campground (35 CAD/night), Martha Creek Provincial Park (28 CAD/night), Blanket Creek Provincial Park (28 CAD/night), Crazy Creek Resort (35 CAD/night), and Arrow Lakes Provincial Park (20 CAD/night).
There are also several free overnight places we found through a mobile app. But because it got dark too fast and we couldn’t find the right directions, we spent a night in our campervan at the truck stop/rest area just after the bridge.
Our favourite campground is at Williamson Lake, a quiet place by the lake surrounded by forest with free hot showers.
Rent a Smile Campervan from us for your road trip, and you don’t need to worry about any camping equipment or setting up a tent. You can comfortably sleep, cook and eat in the campervan.
11| Hit the water of Lake Revelstoke
A popular destination for locals and visitors, the huge Lake Revelstoke offers cool glacier-fed waters, pristine beaches and a lot of activities. Rent a kayak or stand up paddleboard right on the shore or join a guided tour to coves and waterfalls.
12| Fuel up at La Baguette
La Baguette is seriously the best café I’ve ever visited in Canada. Their pizza is to die for, fresh soups served in bread as well, and the beer selection paired with seating on a couch by the campfire is an excellent idea.
If you’re not full and totally satisfied, the adjacent bakery has plenty of desserts and pastries. Finishing our dinner with almond bailey balls was a cherry on top.
13| Mountain bike through the meadows
For family rides, head to Mount Revelstoke National Park with easy loops or ride along the Columbia River.
For intermediate, Frisby Ridge and Martha Creek are both cross country single tracks with a nice flow where you will want to blaze through the meadows.
Craziest mountain bikers enjoy Keystone or riding at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort with newly opened “the most vertical bike descend in North America on the lift-assisted trail”.
14| Heli-skiing or sightseeing
With Monashee and Selkirk Mountains, your options for finding the perfect powder are almost endless. Heli-skiing and cat-skiing companies in Revelstoke are incredibly busy during the winter season. You can take a preparation course at Revelstoke Mountain Resort and then enjoy a day or multi-day ski trip from the top of a mountain.
15| Walk around the historic downtown
Whether you’d like to shop local crafts, outdoor gear or enjoy a day on the terrace over a delicious meal, visit Revelstoke downtown. Similar to other small towns in British Columbia, it looks like a Western movie surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks.
You can also enjoy a self-guided heritage tour, pick up a map at Visitor’s Centre.
Heading to the Rockies? Read our comprehensive travel guides:
- Epic travel guide to the Canadian Rockies
- Adventure travel guide to Banff National Park
- Adventure travel guide to Yoho National Park
- Western Canada road trip itinerary for 2 weeks
- Adventure travel guide to Jasper National Park
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