Calgary is located in a very interesting spot in the grand scheme of this country.
To the east, the dinosaurs or Drumheller, the flat lands of the Prairies, and eventually, the hustle and bustle of Ontario’s big cities.
Heading west, we’re blessed with the Rocky Mountains, the stunning towns of Banff and Canmore, and, if you’re willing to head just a few hours further, the photogenic town of Revelstoke and the gems it hides within its forested borders.
Sure, the five hour drive might be something of a skip, hop, and horizon’s worth of highway when driving in from Calgary proper, but the quarter-day trip is more than worth it — here’s why.
The drive itself
Even those who absolutely abhor long road trips will have to admit that the drive between Revelstoke (which is located in central BC about 2.5 hours northeast of Kamloops, FYI) and Calgary is simply jaw-dropping.
Driving past and through the towering peaks of the Rocky Mountains is always a sight that inspires a healthy dose of awe, while the deep-green stretch of BC forest following the mountainous miles makes for a wonder in and of itself.
If you’re planning on making the trip on Highway 1, do yourself a favour and make sure you’ve got some extra time on the itinerary — you’ll need it for all the viewpoints you’ll be stopping at along the way.
Honestly, this place’s gin is just one of a multitude of highlights crammed into the seriously savvy distillery.
Josh McLafferty, the owner, operator, drink-creator, and, on occasion, creative writer (you need to read the menu front to back as it is filled with hilarious gems) opened the place two years ago and it has become a staple in the community ever since.
The mix of seriously good drinks and a charmingly chill environment make this distillery a must-visit for a drink (or two, or five) the next time you’re in town.
The Regent Hotel and the 112 Restaurant
Located in the very heart of Revelstoke, and attached to the stunning The Regent Hotel, 112 Restaurant is the ideal spot for taking a date you really want to impress.
Offering upscale courses from juicy steaks to seafood pastas, the service, style, and selection makes this place undoubtedly worth the visit.
The Regent Hotel has a long and storied history in Revelstoke, having been originally built in the early 1900s as the Windsor Hotel, with The Selkirk Hotel existing in an adjacent building.
Eventually (we’re talking 1980s-eventually) both hotels were renovated and combined to become The Regent as it is today, which offers modern comforts and a marvelously curated stay.
Mountain biking (for all levels)
Those who haven’t been on a mountain bike in a few years — or ever, really — may be a little intimidated at the prospect of bouncing through the bushes on two wheels, but Revelstoke’s many trail options should put those worries to rest.
Ranging from beginner trails in the cross-country network of Mount Macpherson to the 5,620 ft vertical drop of Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s Fifty Six Twenty trail (you’ll have to take a gondola ride up for that one), there are countless kilometres of dirt, rocks, jumps, bridges, and mud to conquer.
If you’re hoping to have a little local knowledge at your disposal while tackling the trails, the good folks over at Wandering Wheels will be able to set you up with a guided tour.
This school-turned distillery and restaurant
Driving by, you might wonder why an old elementary school has an “OPEN” sign in the window and a sandwich board out front, but a quick peek into the Mountainview Elementary School will have your curiosity sated and your hunger ignited.
Jones Distillery is located just to the left of the school’s front doors, and offers an exciting and informative workshop where attendees can learn about the history of gin and the distillery, and even concoct their very own personalized bottle of booze.
Old School Eatery exists on the other side of the hallway, offering a wide selection of delicious dishes that range from Polenta Fries to Blackened Wild Salmon — making for what will likely be the best meal you ever had while sitting in (what once was) an elementary school classroom.
Natural hot springs
Just a two hours and a (FREE!) ferry ride south of Revelstoke sits two locations straight out of a frozen Calgarian’s dreams.
Two natural hot springs are within a morning’s drive from the town, and while both offer a stunning view, wonderfully warm waters, and a sense of relaxation that the hot tub at the YMCA simple cannot recreate, they do so in very different ways.
Halfway Hot Spring offers a down-to-earth experience with warm-to-hot tubs flanked by well-placed stones and the gentle hum of the nearby river. (Keep in mind that you’ll need to drive down an unplowed gravel road to get there, and then walk down a few hundred steps to reach the springs!)
Halcyon Hot Springs channels the Earth’s naturally warm waters into resort-style pools, with all the comforts of the hotel easily at your disposal.
The Farmers’ Market
No mountain town would be quite complete without a weekend farmers’ market!
While it is a delight to simply walk around town and pop into all the different shops, having a few dozen of them gather together for a morning of shopping is a definite treat in and of itself.
Grab some local produce, pick up a bottle of gin (it is Saturday, after all) or simply
And don’t worry if your favourite vendors are only taking cash — there are plenty of banks nearby!
Probably the most bucket-listed item you can check off while in Revelstoke, Revelstoke Paragliding offers an unparalleled flight through the skies above beautiful British Columbia.
Given the fact that Mount Mackenzie (the mountain you’ll be jumping off of) boasts the longest vertical descent of any ski resort at 1713 metres, it means that, instead of the usual 10 minutes that most paraglide flights last, you’ll be up in the sky for closer to 30.
Which, honestly, still won’t be time enough to take in all the gorgeous horizons that are displayed from so high up above Revelstoke, though we doubt that any amount of hours up there would suffice.
Tandem flights cost around $230 per person, which in our opinion is something of a steal for such a priceless experience.
Those looking to get a kick of adrenaline but without the dizzying heights of paragliding will be still be able to find their fix.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort also offers a pipe coaster, which is exactly what it sounds like.
Sitting in a one-person (or two, if there’s a small enough kid wanting to go double with an adult) cart-like vessel that’s attached to the titular pipe, riders will slide their way down the mountainside with nothing but a pole to hold onto — which also works as the brake.
It might not look like quite the ride when compared to the mountain bikers and paragliders making their way down the mountain, but believe us when we say that these things can get going fast, especially when you ignore the use of the brake.
Sharp turns, quick dips, and big bumps will put the fear of falling out into even the hardiest of hearts, though arriving safely back at the bottom finds riders rearing for just one more ride.
Rumpus Beer Company’s tasty taps
One of the newer additions to the Revelstoke beer scene, Rumpus Beer Company makes for the ideal place to meet up with a few buddies for an after-work brew.
Its bold colours, fantastical beer names, and hit-the-spot snacks are merely a few of our favourite additions to a brewery that was clearly crafted with care by owners Fred and Dana Orndorff following a 15-month process of renovations that got the place just the way they wanted it.
Brewing beer in batches of around 600 litres, odds are that the lineup will include a new suspect whenever you visit — which makes for the perfect excuse to stop by for a glass (or a pint, or a growler fill.)
The waterfalls to chase
Just 20 or so minutes out of town sits Sutherland Falls, one of the most picturesque (and easily accessible) waterfalls BC has to offer.
A five minute walk from the parking lot brings would-be waterfall-chasers to the foot of the downpour, where you’ll get an ideal view of the falls, the bowl, and the raging river it feeds.
Salmon are known to swim in the cold pools just past the falls, and the lush greenery that surrounds the sight would make a marvelous addition to any Instagram’s aesthetic.
If you’re lucky, you may even catch a kayaker dropping into the raging waters… though we’re not entirely sure how safe such endeavors are, so we definitely would not recommend following suit — no matter how fun it looks.
Big Eddy’s feel-good grub
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Spent a long day jumping off mountains, getting dirty in the mountain bike trails, or getting your blood pumping by finding that perfect present at the Farmer’s Market? Well, one of the best places in town to end the day off right is at Big Eddy Pub.
Located in the foothills of Mount Macpherson, this pub is the epitome of hometown haunts that we all know and love. With big mugs of beer, cozy decor, and a selection of burgers that takes up about a full third of the menu, it’s no surprise that this place is a favourite for visitors and locals alike.