There's nothing like the call of the open road come springtime. It's time to dust off the bike and explore what the Kootenay Rockies region has to offer via Revelstoke, BC, a mountain community away from the crowds.
Revelstoke is a hub on the Trans-Canada Highway just 6 hours (565 km) north of Vancouver, nestled between the Selkirk and Monashee Mountain ranges. This is one of the only towns where you can view a glacier (Mount Begbie) right from downtown; and it's fast becoming recognized as a hub for great bike adventures.
To start your trip, be sure to dip off the highway into town to experience a bike-friendly Revelstoke welcome. Every summer evening (starting in July), Grizzly Plaza will come alive with free entertainment. The town centre offers a variety of hotels, motels, B&Bs, and guest houses - all eager to welcome motorcycle traffic. For food and fun, locals recommend The Village Idiot ("great pizza"), The Last Drop pub at Powder Springs Inn, or the River City Pub at the Regent Hotel. Both hotels are well-known for welcoming bikes.
From town, motorcycle tour options abound; including day rides, circle routes, and dual sport adventures. Here are some popular options:
A short-term trip highly recommended by locals is along the "Meadows in the Sky Parkway", which climbs from 470m elevation at the Trans-Canada Highway to 1500m at Balsam Lake in Mount Revelstoke National Park. The well-paved road winds 26 kilometres uphill through majestic forests and wildflower meadows, to Balsam Lake where guests have the opportunity to hike paved trails or take a shuttle (July to September) to the summit area. There you can enjoy hiking, picnics, and tour a historic fire tower. A biker's dream, this parkway features 16 switchbacks and is not open to travel trailers and motor coaches.
Another popular day ride will take you north on Highway 23's "Big Bend Highway", part of the original Highway 1 route along the Columbia River. On your way, take a tour of the 175 metre Revelstoke Dam only 4 km from town. Your 300 km scenic round-trip ride to the Mica Dam, one of the largest earthfill dams in the world has no services (no fuel), so bikes should have a minimum range of 300 km to enjoy the trip safely. Always watch for the wildlife on the road!
For those seeking longer-range trips, Revelstoke is also the starting point for a journey south along Highway 23, down through Halcyon Hot Springs, and towards Nakusp. The trip along this well-maintained paved road includes free passage on a ferry from Shelter Bay to Galena Bay across Arrow Lake.
From Nakusp you have a choice: take Highway 6 towards New Denver, Kaslo and Nelson (the West Kootenays) or travel along Arrow Lake south to Fauquier and over the Monashee Pass back to Vernon. Fill your tank in Nakusp.
Looking for a little more adventure? Revelstoke is home to a variety of dual sport roads known locally as the "Ten Great Rides" (pavement and dirt roads).
Revelstoke is also enroute to Rogers Pass (along Highway 1) in the heart of Glacier National Park, taking visitors to the Alberta border.
With so many options for motorcycle touring, Revelstoke is the place to start your biking adventure. Visit http://www.seerevelstoke.com/ and contact their team for a riding map or a brochure, or check out http://www.stayinrevelstoke.com/ for accommodations.
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia