Revelstoke has long been on my list of cool places to visit in the Kootenays. Just the name itself is enough to stir the wanderlust in me, RevelSTOKE. Stoke is not just a town in the Midlands of the UK but a term used to describe something amazing, something awe-inspiring and generally cool.
Nestled in the far northern reaches of the Kootenay Rockies, Revelstoke has some of the most spectacular scenery in British Columbia. This year-round mountain playground has rugged peaks, glaciers, lush green forests, raging waterfalls, world-class mountain biking in the summer and off the chart skiing in the winter. With two national parks close to the town itself, Revelstoke has a plethora of outdoor activities to get you stoked.
Day One in Revelstoke
I made the decision to head to Revelstoke early in September as the Rocky Mountain District was essentially shut down due to the “continued extreme fire danger rating”. This meant that all crown land was closed to the public and most trails in and around the towns of Fernie, Kimberley and Cranbrook were closed too.
Revelstoke, while suffering under the cloud of smoke that enveloped much of British Columbia early in September, was lucky enough to be fully open for business. My first stop in Revelstoke was the beautiful and mystical Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail in Mount Revelstoke National Park. Here I found the smoke actually worked in my favour, it provided me with the right conditions to capture some atmospheric photographs. I hope I did this place justice.
Giant Cedars Boardwalk
This short loop (0.5km) is found just off the Trans-Canadian Highway #1. Driving by there is a chance you wouldn’t even know these beautiful old Cedars were there. Photograph details: 1/5th sec, F8.0, ISO 100, 29mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.
Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail: I spent about an hour slowly making my way through these giant cedars. While the trail is short and can be walked in 10 minutes, there is a great benefit to taking your time. Photograph details: 0.3 sec, F11.0, ISO 100, 14mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.
The boardwalk trail is a loop which you can start from two points. This photograph was taken near my exit point but perfectly demonstrates the just how big some of these giant cedars are. Photograph details: 1/4th sec, F8.0, ISO 100, 14mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.
Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail, Revelstoke: The smoke was heavy in the air but once inside the giant cedars boardwalk trail the air was surprisingly fresh. The light was soft as the sun struggled to pierce the smoke, but it made for some beautifully atmospheric photographs. Photograph details: 1/5th sec, F8.0, ISO 100, 29mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.
My next stop after the Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail involved me chasing some waterfalls. I love following flowing creeks and hearing in the distance the crashing sound of a raging waterfall. I was surprised at just how much water was still flowing over the two waterfalls I visited on my first day in Revelstoke. Commonly waterfalls are at their most impressive during the spring melt but both Sutherland and Begbie Falls were still flowing mightly.
Sutherland Falls: Sutherland Falls in Revelstoke is a relatively unknown waterfall but one that is incredibly easy to access from highway 22 south of Revelstoke. 1/13th sec, F8.0, ISO 100, 18mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.
Sutherland Falls, Revelstoke: Located in the beautiful and, when I visited, near-deserted Blanket Creek Provincial Park. Sutherland Falls is a 45 feet high waterfall. Photograph details: 1/10th sec, F11.0, ISO 100, 16mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.
Sutherland Fall, Revelstoke: Dropping into the impressive Blanket Creek canyon Sutherland Falls is well worth a visit. Photograph details: 1/8th sec, F11.0, ISO 100, 14mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.
Sutherland Falls: In this photograph, to the right of the waterfall, you can spot what appears to be a nest of some sort. Pretty crazy to think insects would build a home so close to these powerful waterfalls. Photograph details: 1/10th sec, F11.0, ISO 100, 29mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.
Begbie Creek: Begbie Creek is on the trail to Begbie Falls and I’ll be honest, I think I enjoyed photographing this scene more than the falls themselves. The way the creek works its way downstream, navigating the fallen trees and rocks, before turn slightly as it descends further. Photograph details: 0.6 sec, F11.0, ISO 100, 14mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.
The trail to Begbie Falls, Revelstoke: The light was again beautiful, helped by the lingering smoke. It cut through the forest with a soft ambiance. Begbie Falls is just to the left of this photograph, the trail down to the Falls is steep and be can slick in places. Photograph details: 2 sec, F11.0, ISO 100, 14mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.
Begbie Falls, Revelstoke: While Begbie Falls are undeniably stunning, I found them incredibly difficult to photograph. Chaos is the word that springs to mind when I look at this scene, a jumbled mess of trees and rocks. Photograph details: 0.3 sec, F11.0, ISO 100, 14mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.
The trail to Begbie Falls, Revelstoke: For those who don’t want to trek to the Begbie Falls, there is Begbie Falls Forest Service Road, a well maintained FSR which delivers you to a small recreation site just a short and steep walk to the falls themselves. But as I said previously, I actually liked the creek more than the falls. Photograph details: 0.3 sec, F11.0, ISO 100, 14mm, shot using an Olympus OM-D EM5.
I had planned on camping during my time in Revelstoke but the combination of heavy smoke and countless mosquito bites led me to book into a cheap and cheerful motel in Revelstoke itself.
Day Two in Revelstoke
I had set my alarm for 6 am in the hope that the smoke would have cleared and I could make my way to a viewpoint for sunrise. As I rose wearily from my bed, I could see, well not a lot. The smoke was still thick in the air, I decided to go back to sleep for another hour or so.
Revelstoke Mountain Breakfast and Gondola Ride
I will preface these photographs with the fact the view from Revelstoke Mountain is stunning. It was just unfortunate with the wildfires and smoke covering the valley floor. I did, however, enjoy the gondola ride and a beautiful breakfast in Revelation Lodge, at the midpoint of Revelstoke Mountain.
The gondola to the mid-point of Revelstoke Mountain Resort is an easy way to access some stunning views across the town of Revelstoke itself.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort: A slick and modern base area gives access to the gondola, offering quick access to the hill itself.
Skunk Cabbage Patch
Skunk Cabbage Patch, Revelstoke: A quiet and tranquil 1.2km boardwalk trail through an area of wetland with the skunk cabbage as an attraction.
Revelstoke Dam: Found some 5km north of Revelstoke, the Revelstoke Dam, also known as the Revelstoke Canyon Dam, spans the width of the Columbia River. A visitor center is located at the foot of the dam.
Mount Revelstoke National Park
Mount Revelstoke National Park: Mount Revelstoke National Park and the parkway is one of the best reasons to visit this stunning part of British Columbia. Alas, the viewpoints were all obscured by the thick smoke. This allowed me to indulge in some double exposure photography, Fall hadn’t quite arrived but there were signs it was on its way. I think a return trip to Revelstoke is in order, even if it is just to explore the parkway.
This week saw Fall in Fernie finally show her face. I’m stoked to get out and explore more of Fernie and British Columbia. Keep an eye on my Instagram and remember to like Nomads on the Road on Facebook.