The entire time I was in Revelstoke I kept thinking: “This place would be waaaay busier if it was closer to a big city…BUT it’s so awesome that it’s not.” Revelstoke, British Columbia is a small town in between big mountain ranges. It’s got all kinds of outdoor adventures, a vibrant downtown with lots to do, and a thriving restaurant and craft liquor scene. It’s compact enough to see in a weekend but has enough stuff to want to make you visit again. What’s not to love?
I recently spent a long weekend in Revelstoke and was surprised at how much I fell in love with the town. (It even made my list of the best weekend getaways from Vancouver.) Honestly, I even looked at real estate listings (just for fun… I think?) I had a pretty busy schedule on my trip to Revelstoke and did A LOT but I still didn’t manage to see everything. So here’s my big list of 15 things to do in Revelstoke in the summer. I’ve done most of these things but a few will have to wait until next time. (Because there’s definitely going to be a next time!)
Hey there: Thanks so much to Tourism Revelstoke for hosting me in Revelstoke. All opinions in this post are my own. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase. Thanks for supporting my website! -Taryn
What’s with the name? Disappointingly, Revelstoke’s name doesn’t have anything to do with stoking revelry. When the railway across Canada was being built in the 1880s, the Canadian Pacific Railway was nearly bankrupt. Lord Revelstoke, a British banker, invested in the railway and saved the company. So they named the town after him! (Previously, the town was called Farwell after a local man who settled in the area.) Revelstoke has lots of nicknames including “Revy”, “The Stoke” and “Revelstuck” since winter snows can close the roads out of town.
Location: Revelstoke is located in eastern British Columbia, Canada. It’s on the banks of the Columbia River at 480m above sea level. Revelstoke is in a river valley between the Monashee and Selkirk Mountain ranges. The Rocky Mountains are about 100km to the east. Revelstoke is in the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa, Secwepemc, Sinixt, and Okanagan First Nations.
How to Get to Revelstoke: Revelstoke is on highway 1. It’s a 6-hour drive from Vancouver in the west or 4.5 hours from Calgary in the east. Revelstoke has an airport, but it only has charter flights. The closest major airport is in Kelowna where you can get a shuttle van to Revelstoke that takes about 2.5 hours. Revelstoke also makes a great stop on a road trip across Canada.
Revelstoke Weather: Revelstoke has a mountain climate. Summer temperatures are typically highs of 23-25C and lows of 11C. July and August are the driest months, but Revelstoke has a wetter climate than the nearby Rocky Mountains so it can still have some rainy days in summer.
Population: Officially, Revelstoke has a population of about 7,000 people. However, locals are proud to tell you that cell phone usage data shows that the town has about 14,000 residents in winter.
Revelstoke Map: I made a custom Revelstoke google map for you that includes every single place I mentioned in this post. Click on it to zoom in.
Summer Things to do in Revelstoke
Drive the Meadows in the Sky Parkway
This scenic Mountains in the Sky Parkway inside Mount Revelstoke National Park provides great views with little effort. In the summer, the roadsides and summit area are carpeted with wildflowers. The best time to see the flowers is late July and early August. Be sure to stop at the roadside pullouts for great views of Revelstoke and the surrounding mountains.
The road climbs 1,365m over 26km of switchbacks to Balsam Lake at 1,835m. From here you can take a free shuttle bus to the summit, or hike the 1-kilometre-long Upper Summit Trail. At the top, there are several viewpoints, plus a historic fire lookout. I drove this road a few years ago as a stop on a road trip between Vancouver and Banff. My visit was in September, so sadly the wildflowers were done for the year. But the views from the top were spectacular.
Soak in Hot Springs
Western Canada is home to tons of natural hot springs. A few of them are a short drive from Revelstoke. On my recent trip, I soaked in Halfway River Hot Springs. It’s an undeveloped hot spring in a beautiful natural setting. To get there you need to drive 11km up a logging road, then hike 1km down a steep trail. The hot springs are next to a rushing river in gorgeous rock-lined pools.
We also popped in to Halcyon Hot Springs, a spa-like springs, but didn’t have time to go in the pools. There are also a few others hots springs near Revelstoke that I haven’t had a chance to visit yet: Canyon Hot Springs, Crazy Creek Hot Pools, and Nakusp Hot Springs. (I’ve got a whole post about all the hot springs in Canada if you want to visit more springs.)
If you’re on a budget or don’t have time to drive to a hot spring, head to the Revelstoke Aquatic Centre. It was closed for annual maintenance when I was there, but it looks giant! It has a huge pool, a hot tub, a water slide, and a lazy river.
Go for a Hike
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I haven’t really done much hiking near Revelstoke. And that’s a shame since there are so many awesome-sounding hikes! Recently, I picked up this great Revelstoke Hiking Map. It’s got dozens of hike recommendations from super-easy strolls to all-day epics. There are trails in nearby Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks, plus more at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort and on the surrounding logging roads. If you want a quick and easy hike, the Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail along highway 1 looks gorgeous.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort even has their own version of Vancouver’s Grouse Grind, called Kill the Banker after the ski run it follows. It gains 898m over 3.8km, but thankfully, you can take the gondola down. I didn’t hike it, but I did glimpse it from the gondola, and it looks STEEP.
Experience the Alpine on the Revelstoke Mountain Resort Gondola
Revelstoke Mountain Resort has the highest vertical drop of any ski resort in North America, at 1,713m. In the summer, you can ride their gondolas up the side of Mount Mackenzie for great views and lift-accessed hiking. Be sure to check out the Glacier View and Revelstoke View lookouts near the top of the Revelation Gondola. The Revelstoke View lookout has an especially great view of the town. You can also hike the alpine trails to Greely Lake or the sub-peak of Mount Mackenzie. Use this trail map to plan your day.
Ride the Pipe Mountain Coaster
Opened in 2016, the Pipe Mountain Coaster is consistently rated as the #1 thing to do in Revelstoke. I’d seen photos of it online, but it wasn’t until I rode it, that I truly understood what it was all about. In short: it’s a rollercoaster! You sit strapped inside a one-person cart attached to a monorail-like track. (Hence the “pipe” in the name.) When it’s your turn, you are launched down the 1.2km long track. You can control your speed with an onboard brake, but if you want to go fast, the carts top out at 42km/h! The track has tons of twists and turns so it feels a bit like a wild mouse style coaster. At one point, I even got a little bit of air out of my seat!
The Pipe Coaster is located at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, just south of town. Tickets are $25/ride and each ride takes about 3 minutes.
As you might know, waterfalls are my favourite. There are a few waterfalls near Revelstoke worth seeing. So far I’ve only been to Sutherland Falls in Blanket Creek Provincial Park. It’s a 20-minute drive south of town on highway 23. The hike to the falls takes less than 5 minutes.
Begbie Falls is even closer to town, just 8km down Highway 23 south. It’s a 6km return hike that passes some rock climbing crags. Another great waterfall is Moses Falls. It’s 6km north of town on the Westside Road. From the trailhead, it’s a 1km hike to the falls. Find details on all of these waterfalls on the Revelstoke Hiking Map.
Discover Revelstoke’s History
The town of Revelstoke has an interesting history, beginning in the 1880s with the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway. When I was in Revelstoke I went on a fabulous historical walking tour with Cathy from the Revelstoke Museum. She told us about Revelstoke’s past as the two rival towns of Farwell and Revelstoke. (Spoiler: Revelstoke won!) It was one of the most interesting things I did in Revelstoke.
If you don’t have time to take a tour, walk around Revelstoke’s downtown on your own. There are lots ofb heritage buildings to see, many of which have informative plaques. Be sure to venture a bit north of downtown to see the courthouse, built in 1912. History buffs should also check out the Revelstoke Museum and Archives or the Revelstoke Railway Museum. They’re both on my list for my next visit to Revelstoke.
Go Mountain Biking
In the summer months, mountain biking is one of the most popular things to do in Revelstoke. And that’s because Revelstoke is a world-famous mountain biking destination. There are tons of trails in a few areas around town. The trails range from easy beginner cross country trails to gnarly double black diamond downhill trails. You can bike right from downtown, set up a shuttle, access alpine trails from the ski resort gondola, or book a heli-biking adventure.
On my most recent trip to Revelstoke, I explored the easy trails at Mount Macpherson with Matt and Connor from Wandering Wheels. It was great to have local guides show us the trails. Plus they helped me improve my admittedly very mediocre mountain bike skills. (I still have quite a few bruises from some epic crashes though!)
If you want to explore the trails on your own, check out the Revelstoke Mountain Bike map or download the Trailforks app. From talking to locals and our guides, the most spectacular trails are the alpine Frisby Ridge route just north of town or the brand new lift-accessed Fifty Six Twenty Trail at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort ski hill. It descends 5,620 feet! That’s over 1,700m!
Soar Above Town in a Paraglider
Until going to Revelstoke, I honestly had never thought about going paragliding. If you aren’t sure what paragliding is, you’re not alone. Basically, it’s jumping off a tall mountain with a parachute wing attached to you. You use the wing to float and glide safely down to the ground. Beginners get strapped to an experienced pilot for a tandem paragliding flight.
Revelstoke has the highest paraglide launch in North America at an elevation of 2,225m! You take a gondola up the ski hill, then climb into a van to go even higher up the mountain. After take-off, you soar for at least 30 minutes before landing next to the Columbia River down in the valley below. If you want, the pilot will do flips and other acrobatics. You might even get to fly the wing yourself! I expected the whole thing to be scary, and while it was a bit nerve-wracking at first, mostly it was quite peaceful. And the views were incredible!
However, if you have a weak stomach like me, you may want to take some anti-nausea meds beforehand. Real talk: I felt a bit nauseous during the flight, and it got worse as we began to land. Once we hit the ground I barfed. I actually felt great right afterward: the euphoria and adrenaline of the flight kind of cancelled out the gross of throwing up.
To book a trip, get in touch with Revelstoke Paragliding. I flew with Brad, who was amazing! He made sure I felt safe, let me fly the wing for a long time and tailored the flight to minimize my nausea. I definitely recommend him!
There are lots of lakes near Revelstoke including Lake Revelstoke, the Arrow Lakes, and Williamson Lake. You can rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards to get out on the water.
Raft Some Whitewater
Explore BC’s Tallest Treehouse
Head to the Enchanted Forest 25 minutes west of Revelstoke to experience BC’s Tallest Treehouse. I’ve seen photos of this on Instagram, but sadly I’ve never had time to stop. It looks incredible. The treehouse is part of a larger fairytale forest experience aimed at children that includes over 350 folk art figurines and their homes. The whole thing is set in a magical green rainforest of old-growth cedars.
Drink Craft Beer and Spirits
For a small town, Revelstoke has a surprisingly large number of craft breweries and distilleries. There are two distilleries and two breweries in town! They all focus on local ingredients, but each has its own flair.
As a gin-lover, I was really excited to try the award-winning gin at Monashee Spirits. It might just be my new favourite craft gin! We chatted with Josh, the owner who told us his story. He started as a welder and got interested in distilling when someone asked him to help weld a backyard still. He’s been perfecting his gin ever since. His tasting room has a full bar with a fun cocktail menu. If you’re looking for drinks in Revelstoke, this is THE spot.
The other distillery in Revelstoke, Jones Distilling, also has a great story. When Gareth Jones moved to Revelstoke from the UK, he was looking for a heritage building for his new business. He bought the historical Mountain View School, built in 1914. After extensive renovations, part of the ground floor is now home to Jones Distilling where he makes craft gin and vodka. (The rest of the building houses offices and the Old School Eatery restaurant.)
Jones Distilling focuses on the botanical components of gin. They have literally dozens of dried botanicals on hand to make different blends. I took their Botanical Basics course and learned all about the different herbs, plants, and fruits that make gin taste like gin. (It’s not all juniper after all!) They also have a create your own gin course where you work with their master distiller to create your own custom blend.
Rumpus Beer Company just opened in 2019. We chatted with Fred, the founder about how he had wanted to open a microbrewery for over a decade. We tasted a flight of all of his beers and I have to admit that while I’m not a huge beer drinker, I was really impressed. The beers at Rumpus are designed to be sophisticated and nuanced, but still easy to drink. The way Fred explained it is that Revelstoke is a town where you go play outside in the mountains with your friends all day, and afterward all you want to do is go drink a couple of beers in a fun atmosphere. He wants his beers to match that Revelstoke attitude. I think he’s definitely hit the mark.
I didn’t have time to visit the original craft brewery in Revelstoke, Mt. Begbie Brewing. It’s been around since 1996 and has won tons of craft beer awards. They run tours and have a tasting room where you can grab a pint or fill your growler.
Revelstoke’s compact downtown is home to lots of fun shops. If you need outdoor equipment, there are lots of bike shops and sports stores. Check out the boutiques for handmade and local goods. I didn’t have much time to shop in Revelstoke, but I did do some window shopping. Lovemaking Designs has some really cool screen printed designs and jewelry.
If you visit on a Saturday, don’t miss the Revelstoke Farmer’s Market in Grizzly Plaza right downtown. There are lots of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers. You can also find baked goods, jams, honey, plants, knitting, and crafts.
Eat Amazing Food
Revelstoke isn’t known as a foodie destination… yet! It definitely should be since almost everything I ate in Revelstoke was amazing. Obviously, I haven’t had time to try every single restaurant in Revelstoke, but here are a few of my picks:
Fine Dining: 112 Restaurant & Lounge – An upscale restaurant at The Regent Hotel, the 112 has classics like steak and West Coast-style fare like salmon and halibut. The chef also moonlights as a tandem paragliding pilot (hi Brad!), so you know the dishes will have an adventurous flair.
Casual Comfort Food: Old School Eatery – Located in an old elementary school, they describe themselves as serving old school classics with a new school twist. I had a fried chicken sandwich with a delicious Korean-style sauce that was better than anything I’ve had in the big city.
Pub for Apres Hiking/Mountain Biking/Anything: Big Eddy Pub – Located across the river from town, you can literally roll right downhill from the Mount Macpherson mountain bike trails into the pub. It’s a popular place with locals and outdoorsy visitors and they won’t bat an eye if you show up covered in mud.
Funky Mexican: Taco Club – A fun spot right downtown serving up giant burritos and tasty tacos. They also have killer margaritas. Locals love their patio, but it was raining when I visited so I missed out.
Hipster Coffee: Dose Coffee – A fun and funky hipster-style coffee shop with great espresso based drinks.
Where to Stay in Revelstoke
There are lots of options for accommodation in Revelstoke. Here a few of my Revelstoke hotel recommendations:
Upscale Hotel: The Regent – I stayed at this family-run hotel during my trip to Revelstoke. It has a great location downtown. Over the years the owners have renovated a few different adjacent heritage buildings to create a modern, yet classic building. Breakfast is also included and it was one of the better hotel breakfasts I’ve had in North America.
Boutique Hotel: The Explorer’s Society Hotel – We learned about this hotel on our heritage walking tour of downtown. Built in 1911, this historic brick building was recently restored and converted into a hotel. The entire space is modern yet outdoorsy, with lots of exposed brick and weathered wood.
Budget Hotel: The Cube Hotel – Part hotel, part hostel, the Cube Hotel has a stand-out cubist exterior. It also has lots of adventure-friendly features on the inside like a gear drying room, a lounge, and a shared kitchen so you can cook your own dinner.
Airbnb – Like any good mountain town, Revelstoke has tons of Airbnb options. There are cute cabins, budget suites, luxury condos and everything in between. Click here to save $45 on your first Airbnb booking.
Camping – There are lots of places to camp in Revelstoke. In town you can stay at a few privately run campgrounds: Williamson Lake Campground, Revelstoke KOA Campgrounds and Cabins, or Lamplighter Campground. If you’d rather stay in a provincial park, Blanket Creek and Martha Creek Provincial Parks are only a 20-30 minute drive away.
So there you have it: 15 things to do in Revelstoke in summer. I think I’ll have to go back in the winter to make another “things to do in Revelstoke” list. I hear the snow is epic! What’s your favourite Revelstoke activity? Tell me in the comments.
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