Not sure where this summer will take you? Think about taking a trip to beautiful Revelstoke…
It’s 9:00am on a sunny day in July. Together with my 60-year old parents and my two-year old toddler, I am on a road trip to Revelstoke, British Columbia.
Open for its first summer season, the lower gondola at Revelstoke Mountain Resort whisks us up Mount Mackenzie to the mid-mountain lodge. Normally packed with hordes of lunch-seeking skiers wearing clunky boots, snow-caked toques and vibrant, waterproof jackets, the enormous mid-mountain lodge has been transformed to host summer visitors for a buffet breakfast in the mountains.
A female cook plucks a fluffy, plate-sized waffle from a black cast iron waffle iron and drops it into a silver tray on the buffet table. After refilling the waffle press with a thick, creamy goo, she returns her focus to her second specialty this morning — omelettes. A group of hungry tourists in their 50's dressed in khaki shorts and hiking shoes wait in line, eagerly watching the lodge employee as she pours raw eggs, mushrooms and red peppers into a hot frying pan. Although the majority of breakfast goers this morning are baby boomers, the lodge is also alive with little kids and their 30-something year old parents.
Outside, on a huge, sun-drenched deck, guests munch on toast and sip Oso Negro, a coffee roasted in Nelson, BC. On a wood viewing platform below the dining deck, three female friends pose with their arms around each other, smiling for a photo. The dazzling Mount Begbie, with its rugged peak and glistening glacier, serves as the photo’s backdrop. The Selkirk and Monashee Mountains make Revelstoke a mecca for extreme mountain bikers, avid rock climbers and die-hard sledders.
With an annual snowfall in the Selkirk Mountains of 12-18 meters (40-60 feet) and the biggest lift-serviced vertical in North America (1,713 meters / 5,620 feet), Revelstoke Mountain Resort is a magnet for powder-hungry skiers and snowboarders. In addition to offering awesome lift skiing, Revelstoke Mountain Resort is the only ski area in the world to boast cat skiing and heli skiing from its mountain base. However, as we discover during our short road trip, Revy (a nickname that locals affectionately call their hometown) is also a fun destination for families with young children, especially in the summer.
Mount Revelstoke National Park has an abundance of easy and moderate hiking trails, including Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail (500 meters), Meadows in the Sky Interpretive Trail (one km one way), Inspiration Woods (three km round trip), Miller Lake (six km one way) and Eva Lake (seven km one way).
In addition to the hiking paths in Mount Revelstoke National Park, there are a wealth of hiking trails located a short drive from Revelstoke. Accessed by driving north on Westside Road (six km from the Highway 23 South intersection), Moses Falls is a short walk that leads you to a breathtaking waterfall that cascades over a wall of rock steps. McCrae Lake, a moderate three-km hike, guides you to a sparkling blue-green lake. Begbie Falls, located an eight-km drive south of Revelstoke on Highway 23, is a moderate five-km hike (round trip) to a beautiful, plummeting waterfall.
For something more adventurous, get your feet off the ground and soar through the forest with zip trekking (www.skytrekadventurepark.com). Children two to twelve years old can experience the thrill of the Kids Jungle Gym — an action-packed playground in the trees, featuring towers, bridges, a gigantic spider net and zip lining. If zipping through the forest, clambering on ropes and roaming over suspended bridges doesn’t appeal to your family, rafting down the Illecillewaet River is also an exciting summer activity.
After our breakfast in the mountains and with the temperature inching its way towards 30ºC, we head to Blanket Creek Provincial Park for a lazy afternoon on the beach. Only a 15-minute drive from Revelstoke, Blanket Creek has a small sandy beach that wraps around a warm-water lagoon. The crisp, glacier-fed Upper Arrow Lake is also only steps from the beach. Picnic tables and a playground are nearby.
Toddlers shriek and giggle as they run in and out of the lagoon, filling their miniature M&M-coloured buckets. My beach-loving tot urgently strips down to her bikini bottoms and lies down in the shallow water. Kicking her feet and holding her head up high, she laughs as she demonstrates her swimming ability to her Oma and Opa. After some coaxing, my dad, whose white hair is lit up by the sun like a halo, slowly removes his t-shirt and sandals and hesitantly dips his toes into the water. Within minutes, he’s teaching our little girl to swim, pulling her tiny body through the water. Before driving back to our Revelstoke rental, we stop to view Sutherland Falls — a powerful waterfall that crashes 12 meters into Blanket Creek.
For dinner, we sit in the shade on the beautiful outdoor patio at Woolsey Creek Bistro. Located across from a neighborhood playground, it feels like we’re dining in a friend’s backyard.
Although the setting might be casual, the food is superb and the service is outstanding. At the table beside us, a couple in their early 30s sits with a chubby baby girl in a yellow polk-a-dot jumper. “We’re driving home to Calgary after boating for the weekend on Shuswap Lake,” baby Sorcha’s mommy tells us in a distinct Irish accent. “We always stop to eat at Woolsey Creek. It’s our favourite restaurant,” she says. When our meals arrive, I understand why Woolsey Creek is these Calgarians favourite place to eat.
My daughter’s prawns (which the kitchen specially made to please my picky munchkin’s taste buds) are perched on top of a crispy rice noodle pancake and topped with a colourful heap of cilantro and grated carrot. My mom, who has worked in the restaurant industry her entire life, is blown away by her mouthwatering beef tenderloin. For the next 20 minutes, her conversation is limited to raving about her excellently-prepared filet mignon. For a sweet finish to our stellar dining experience, we savor a sliver of flourless, rich, dark chocolate cake and a bowl of warm rhubarb-pear crumble with vanilla gelato.
Our stay in this stunning mountain town is coming to an end. As we relax on the spacious deck of our Revelstoke accommodation, a setting sun paints the snowy peaks of Mount Begbie and Mount Macpherson a blush tint, matching the rose wine in our glasses.
A billowy cloud stranded in the clear sky takes on the same pink hue. The laughter of children playing in the resort’s pool drifts up to our balcony. Although the Selkirk and Monashee Mountains attract hard-core mountain bikers, rock climbers, sledders, skiers and boarders, Revelstoke also boasts many fun activities for families with little kids. I glance at Mount Begbie one last time. Grand and brilliant, this mountain seems to hold the power of the universe. Revelstoke is more magical, than I imagined it to be.
Summer Gondola Hours at Revelstoke Mountain Resort
The lower gondola, which takes you to the mid-mountain lodge, is open for the summer. The upper gondola is not open during summer months. Sightseeing is from the mid-mountain lodge and the outdoor area around the lodge. For more information about the hot buffet breakfast, please visit www.revelstokemountainresort.com/summer or call 1-866-373-4754.