After the fun and let’s be honest, booze filled days we had in Penticton, it was time to hit the road again and start to get more into the countryside.
Revelstoke is a mountain resort to the west of Penticton and sits on the banks of the Columbia River. The drive from Penticton was about 4 hours, which was a slow one but really cool to see the landscape slowly start to change from lakes to mountains. The best thing I was finding about the drives was that the roads were pretty quiet so not stressful at all. Not that I was driving of course, but no one wants to be a passenger in a stressy car.
Randomly, my friend Lucy told me about the largest treehouse in Canada that she’d seen on instagram and it looked quite cool. It happened to be in a park called the Enchanted Forest which was only half an hour from Revelstoke and on our route so we swung by to check it out.
It was a hefty entrance fee for what was essentially a load of statues based on nursery rhymes and very, very kid orientated. I was quite excited about the prospect of the salmon run that they have there at certain times of the year (September being one of them). It’s an opportunity to see loads and loads of salmon as the come up to the side of the banks to spawn.
Sadly though, after trekking through what can only be describe as a swamp, in my brand new white vans. We saw nothing. I think we were a week or two too late. Which is standard Newman luck. The treehouse (still unconfirmed as to whether it’s the largest in Canada or not) was cool, and actually very high once you’re up the top. But definitely not worth the entrance fee.
On to Revelstoke. We stayed in a lovely family run hotel called The Stoke Hotel which had great modern rooms, a lovely free breakfast and a free shuttle bus in and out of town. The outdoor hot tub was a nice touch as well and had great views of the mountains.
Far be it for the Newman’s to shy away from any adrenaline, one of the things we were really excited about doing was the mountain coaster, which is a single car rollercoaster that runs through the Pipe Mountain. Sadly, when we got there as it was opening at 9am, there was really low fog and it was shut because the track was wet. Again, standard Newman luck. We decided to make hay while the sun hid though an got the cable car to the top of the mountain, and walked the 2.5K trail down the side of the mountain. This took us about an hour by which time the cloud lifted and we were allowed on the rollercoaster – hurrah! It was great fun, we bought the maximum of three rides, which was a good choice, first time down is pretty terrifying so you get all the nerves out the way then can enjoy rides 2 and 3. I thoroughly recommend!
On our way from the mountain coaster up into the national park for some walks, was the second wildlife spot of the trip when out the corner of my eye I saw a black bear swimming in the river (I thought it was a dog at first!) We quickly pulled over and managed to watch it amble out up the banks and into someone’s back garden but weren’t able to get a picture – so you’ll just have to take my word for it!
Anyway, one of the other great things about our trip was that once you’ve paid for access into the national parks, there’s really nothing else to pay, you’re free to drive around at your leisure and park up and see whatever you want in your own time. We were lucky to have been given some guide books to keep us on the straight and narrow and ventured up as high as we could go to the Revelstoke National Park and the Meadows in the sky.
When you arrive at the major parking lots, they have toilets and detailed maps showing you all the different walks you’re able to do how long they are likely to take and the difficulty level. There’s something for everyone, from short 0.5km walks around little lakes or marshes to 9 hour 14km hikes that probably require poles and crampons. We decided we were going to take it easy, one because Dave had just ran 100 miles, and two we’re on holiday, and walking for nine hours in the woods isn’t my idea of fun.
So we chose the easy/medium walks and nothing over about 2km. It might not sound that long and walking 2km around the shops wouldn’t be far, but on a steep incline at high altitude (makes it hard to breathe) means low and slow for us.
The views were spectacular, and we were so pleased the weather lifted so we could actually see things. It’s all quite awe inspiring and if this was a taste of what was to come then we were in for even more of an epic trip. We were hard pushed to find anything that looked like a meadow mind you, but again, time of year wasn’t on our side!
Revelstoke is very much a ski type town with a very small town centre, couple of bars and couple of restaurants. On our first night we fell in love with a bar called the Village Idiot where we’d had a couple of drinks. We went back the second night for food and were not disappointed! We decided to share a pizza and a starter of poutine (essentially cheesy chips with gravy). The poutine was huge (and seriously yummy) so much so that we only had room for one slice of pizza each so boxed the rest up and had it for tea the next night too! The bar was exactly what we like, dead laid back, great music, friendly staff and a real ski town vibe. It reminded me of some of the bars we visited in Queenstown on honeymoon.
I’d 100% recommend Revelstoke as a stop off from Vancouver into the national parks and eases you in gently to the magnificent scenery. I’d just maybe give the enchanted forest a miss if I were you!