You don’t always get the chance to spend a lot of time in the places you travel to. Some places you only get to scratch the surface. That’s just the nature of travel.
Revelstoke was one of those places for me. I only got a taster. But it tasted good.
Revelstoke is a scenic mountain city of just over 7000 people, nestled on the banks of the Columbia River. Situated a couple of hours from the world famous Banff National Park, Revelstoke has its own tiny Park, Mount Revelstoke National Park, which is home to world class skiing and snowboarding in winter and alpine hiking in the short summer.
Revy, as it’s affectionately called, began life as a railroad and mining town back in the 1880s and still has strong ties to the Canadian Pacific Railroad, although tourism is also now a large part of the economy.
It took nine long hours on a Greyhound to get there from Vancouver, after a few days on the Sunshine Coast. Nine hours on a Greyhound feels like nine days. I have been on more comfortable buses in Central America.
Arriving late and exhausted on that first evening, I caught a cab to my hostel, sneaked in to my dorm as quietly as possible so not to wake my room mates then promptly fell asleep. The exploration would have to wait until the next morning.
I awoke to an overcast day and I wasn’t feeling well. Not a great start.
Luckily Revelstoke is a pretty town, even under a gloomy sky. The well-kept downtown exudes an air of prosperity with perfectly tended flower beds, lovingly restored historic buildings, colourfully painted shops in jaunty colours, and old-fashioned lamp posts hung with burgeoning baskets of flowers.
I immediately noticed the high number of Outdoor Stores and there were also a disproportionate amount of cute cafes. The residents must be keen on the outdoors and good coffee. My kind of town.
Despite its diminutive size, Revelstoke was positively buzzing with people, all rushing about on this dull Saturday morning. It was all a bit much for this sick girl.
I escaped the rush by ducking into one of the cute cafes, Carrie’s Cafe, for a long and leisurely breakfast. Sitting at the window bench, I watched the throngs of people pass me by outside. A guy around my age took the seat next to me and we got talking. He was on his way to Vancouver where he had been transferred for work. He was very well-travelled and interesting to talk to. I never caught his name.
He bid me farewell then when I went up to pay for my breakfast about thirty minutes later, I found out he had paid for me. Canadian men are such gentlemen.
My condition deteriorated and I headed back to the hostel where I spent the rest of the day feeling sorry for myself in bed. My friendly Aussie room mate gave me some gummy bears so I wouldn’t die of starvation as I was too sick to go out and get food. What a legend.
Luckily I was feeling much better the next day. And the sun was shining.
Walking around town in the bright sunshine Revelstoke was even prettier which I would have thought impossible. There were also a lot less people and everyone seemed to be moving slower. Lazy Sunday.
I stumbled across the cutest cafe of them all – Main Street Cafe – and was determined to have brunch there despite the thirty minute wait. It gave me time to play with a couple of friendly kitties at the community garden across the road so I can’t complain.
Main Street Cafe is where it’s at. This charming forest-green cafe draped in green vines offers a massive brunch menu and great coffee which you can enjoy on its sun drenched patio. I noticed that it seemed to be somewhat of a local meeting place.
I couldn’t tell you how many people stopped to talk to friends that were seated on the patio, so many of them had dogs and were wearing hiking or outdoors clothing. Everyone seemed to know everyone. I started to feel jealous that I didn’t live there too.
After brunch it was time to get out and see some of the great outdoors surrounding Revelstoke. That’s what draws so many people to live there after all.
I still wasn’t feeling 100% so I didn’t want to tackle anything too strenous. Hiking to the summit of Mount Revelstoke would have to wait for another visit. Instead I settled on the 5km Soren Sorensen loop trail and 2.6km return on the Mount Revelstoke trail to get from town up to the trailhead.
The day was hot and the short uphill on the Mount Revelstoke trail had me sweating. Luckily the Soren Sorensen trail was through the cool forest with a negligible elevation gain. I pretty much only had to share the peaceful trail with a couple of squirrels; there was practically no one else around.
This made me slightly nervous about bears; the running theme of my summer. If only I could channel the energy I spent worrying about bears eating me into more constructive pursuits. Sigh.
Luckily I lived to see another day; no scary bears in sight.
It was so nice to be ensconced in nature and the easy hike even made me feel a bit better. The fresh pine-scented air must have had something to do with that.
Not quite ready to go back inside the dark hostel just yet, I walked back to town then down to the mighty Columbia river, a beautiful sweep of milky blue water right beside town.
A pathway follows the river and is a pleasant place for a walk or a bike ride, especially in the magical hour before sunset when I was there. The long grass beside the river shone golden in the evening glow and even losing the lens cap to my camera couldn’t ruin the moment.
I finished my weekend in Revelstoke by joining the locals at a free concert in Grizzly Plaza. Plastic chairs were carefully laid out for the concert goers in the pedestrian plaza. Soon the sounds of folky ballads filled the still evening air. I watched children playing and adults laughing and joking on this pleasant Sunday evening in summer.
I didn’t do any of the adventure outdoor activities nor make my way out to the nearby hot pools but I can always do that next time. Sometimes its OK to just relax and enjoy a place in the short time that you have.
You can always come back after all.
Have you been to Revelstoke? Does it look like a village you would like to visit?