Known for its vibrant displays of wildflowers in summer, local area residents recognized that Mount Revelstoke was special and lobbied for its protection. In 1914, Mount Revelstoke National Park was established as Canada’s eighth national park. Located in southeastern British Columbia, adjacent to the City of Revelstoke, the 260 square kilometre park protects mountains, glaciers, alpine lakes, wetlands and subalpine meadows representative of the Columbia Mountains Natural Region.
The lands where Mount Revelstoke National Park is located were used by the Syilx, Sinixt, Ktunaxa, and Secwepemc peoples. By the confluence of the Illecillewaet and Columbia rivers, Mount Revelstoke lies along Canada’s major transportation corridors both historically and today. In 1885, railway construction made the river junction a focus of activity, and the community of Farwell sprang up, later renamed Revelstoke.
In 1908, a trail was created to the summit of Mount Revelstoke, followed by a road to the summit, the Meadows in the Sky Parkway. To this day, Mount Revelstoke is the only mountain in Canada’s
system of national parks that can be summited just a short walk from your car. Locals and visitors come to experience the mountain scenery and sub-alpine wildflower meadows.
The history of ski jumping is acknowledged as an event of national historic significance in Mount Revelstoke National Park. World ski jumping records were set at competitions held on the Mount Revelstoke Ski Jump between 1915 and the late 1960’s.
Mount Revelstoke National Park is located entirely in the Selkirk range of the Columbia Mountains. Formed 250 million years ago by the collision of the North American and Pacific Plates, the Selkirk
range was covered by the Cordilleran ice sheet until as recent as 6,000 years ago. The ice sheet was up to 1400 metres thick and covered all but the highest peaks of the Selkirks.
Today, water and ice continue to carve the ancient igneous and metamorphic rocks that make up the park providing visitors with an array of beautiful and jagged mountain peaks and small lakes.
Moist Pacific air releases a large amount of precipitation over the Columbia Mountains. In winter, heavy snowfall and steep terrain can lead to significant avalanche conditions in many areas of the park. January sees the greatest amount of precipitation with 150-200 centimetres of snow falling over the month, while July is both the warmest and driest month.
Weather changes quickly in the mountains, making it possible to experience rain in the winter and snow in the summer. Mean temperature averages (average of daily high and low temperatures) are around -6°C in January and 18°C in July.
Three distinct vegetation zones occur in the park.
- Interior rainforest - extending from the valley bottom to about 1300 metres, this zone is characterized by western red cedar and western hemlock trees up to 1000 years old and measuring up to 4 metres in diameter.
- Subalpine - Above 1300 metres the snow lingers longer than in the valley bottom. This zone features subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce trees as well as subalpine meadows with vibrant displays of wildflowers in the short summer months.
- Alpine – Above 1900 metres the trees disappear altogether and patches of lichen, heather and sedges cling to the rock and thin soil near permanent ice and snow.
Mount Revelstoke National Park is home to several large mammals, notably black bears, grizzlies, woodland caribou and mountain goats. Other mammals include hoary marmots, pikas, Columbian ground squirrels, and several species of bats.
Some 235 species of birds use the area in summer, many, like hummingbirds and olive-sided flycatchers, travel incredible distances from their wintering grounds. During the winter you might see Steller’s jays, ravens and four types of chickadees.
The mountain environment is not favourable for cold-blooded reptiles and amphibians, however, a few species can be found in Mount Revelstoke, notably the elusive Coeur d’Alene
salamander, as well as western toad and though uncommon, the northern alligator lizard.
Attractions and trails
Today, the 26-km Meadows in the Sky Parkway offers summer visitors access to scenic viewpoints, subalpine meadows, short trails and hikes to alpine lakes and backcountry campsites. At the base of the mountain, the Nels Nelsen Area features a kids’ bike skills park with creative critters and fun obstacles as well as access to two short mountain bike trails. You can also step into the ski jumping history of Mount Revelstoke with the new Nels' Knickers Interpretive Exhibit.