Video - Mountain Sledder On The Road: Revelstoke, BC
Colin Wallace | On 02, Mar 2017
Revelstoke is the Mecca of sledding
No, Muhammad was not born in Revelstoke. But it is the holiest place in the interior of BC to ride a snowmobile. People literally flock from all over the world to ride the easiest accessible rolling hills and steep chutes in BC. Cover that terrain with deep and frequent snowfalls, and you have the perfect recipe for a guaranteed good time on a snowmobile.
Rider Grayson Shuflita had one heck of a fun time playing in Revy’s deep tree lines.
The History of Revelstoke
Like most of its neighbours along the Columbia River, Revelstoke grew from humble beginnings as a supply cache and workers camp for the construction of the railroad. Originally it was named Second Crossing, (to differentiate from First Crossing in Donald near the town of Golden) signifying the railroads second crossing of the Columbia River. The town name was later changed to Farwell after a local land owner and surveyor.
Much like Fernie, the settlement of Farwell was not an easy one, with a fire in 1885 that leveled most of the wooden buildings that lined the main street downtown. But within two weeks, the buildings were reconstructed and life was temporarily back to normal.
When the construction crews for the railroad arrived, there was a dispute over Farwell’s claim to the land, and the CPR decided to move the location of their yard and station just east of Farwell’s claim. The new area was named after Lord Revelstoke, whose banking firms helped finance the completion of the railway. The dispute over land titles dragged on in court and delayed further development of the town until 1897, when a settlement was reached and landowners finally got clear title to their property.
Revelstoke was the largest center in the interior of the province for most of the early part of the century. It boasted amenities that only much bigger centers had: an opera house, a fully-equipped YMCA gymnasium and many large businesses—including C.B. Hume’s Department Store, which in the early 1900s was the largest department store in the interior of the province.
Recreation in Revelstoke
Recreation has been rooted in Revelstoke since its inception as an official city in 1899. The construction of the first ski jump in North America in 1915 attracted many Scandinavian families to settle there. With them came the traditional ski sports that are still enjoyedby today’s residents.
Mining and forestry have long been a mainstay of the local economy. During the first gold rush in the 1860s, it is speculated that close to $3,000,000 worth of gold was extracted from the banks of the Columbia River, north of present day Revelstoke. Mining has been intermittent in the area throughout the years but forestry has maintained its importance with the inception of an innovative program in the 1990s; the Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation was set up to purchase a tree farm licence for the community.
Not mentioning the Revelstoke dam would be a cryin’ shame. Why is it a big deal? It is the second biggest hydroelectric dam in the province, producing 2880 megawatts. To give you an idea of how massive that is, a typical 2MW wind turbine produces electricity for about 400 homes.
Lake Revelstoke (the reservoir created by the dam) is bordered by the Big Bend Highway and grants access to many sledding areas along the lake. Revelstoke Dam’s little brother, the Mica Dam, is located roughly 130km upstream and produces 1805 MW of electricity from its resevoir—Kinbasket Lake.
Revelstoke has an incredible 11 riding areas mapped out by the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club. There is seriously riding for every ability level; close to town, far from town, groomed, not groomed, trees, alpine, lakes, you name it, Revelstoke has it. No wonder the snowmobile industry orbits around Revelstoke.
Boulder Mountain and Frisby Ridge are the groomed and most popular zones around Revelstoke. If you’re riding Frisby, you need to be aware of Mountain Caribou closures that affect the area and some others around Revelstoke.
If you really want to experience some of the finest snowmobiling that Revelstoke has to offer, it’s worth your while to go beyond the mechanically smoothed trail.
Revelstoke has every flavour of fuel imaginable with large enough gas stations to pull up with your 584 foot enclosed trailer. VP can be purchased from Full Speed Rentals.
Revelstoke is conveniently located right along the Trans-Canada Highway, a short 4.5hr drive from Calgary. Rogers Pass, the crux of the journey, shuts down frequently in the winter for avalanche control and accidents, so be sure to check www.drivebc.ca for info before setting out.