Revelstoke, B.C., the most exciting snowmobiling destination on the planet

Fresh, untouched powder can be found even late in the season

by Trish Drinkle

3 riders sitting on their sleds in a mountain bowl near Revelstoke, B.C.
Revelstoke attracts riders from all corners of the earth, all searching for the same thing—deep, dry, untouched powder. Photo by Nadine Overwater

From near and far, sledders will agree.  Revelstoke, British Columbia, or Revy as it is commonly referred to, is one of the most exciting sledder destinations on the planet.  What makes Revelstoke so unique? 

With so much to offer, Revelstoke plays host to thousands of tourists each season, all seeking an exciting winter wilderness adventure.  With a minimum of 30 feet of snow each year, Revy has fresh, untouched powder even late in the season. 

The vibe of the town is a combination of sled head and skier, with the development of the Revelstoke Mountain Resort.  People come to Revy for adventure in the outdoors and to enjoy the ample opportunity for good times on and off the hill.  Amazing restaurants, pubs, live music, a bowling alley, movie theater and unique shopping opportunities are that little extra when it comes to a Revelstoke vacation. 

Nadine Overwater, owner of La Nina Sled Camps, shares in the love of the town and terrain she calls home.  “We have huge riding areas, so it never feels like you are out there in a crowd.  It is easy to go for a little poke and find your own little zone to play in,” she said.

Friendly family riding areas

Boulder Mountain is the closest staging area to town and one of the most popular and rider friendly zones in the area.  Just west of Revelstoke, take Westside Road, located about four kilometres from the city center, to the manned staging area. The parking lot can be jammed full on the weekends; however, you can find your own piece of paradise quite easily so don’t let the parking lot fool you.  There are over 50 kilometres of actively groomed trails, many leading into simple meadows and play areas for beginners, and over 150 square kilometres of alpine bowls and meadows for those wanting to go off the beaten path.  A warm-up cabin makes for a great lunch stop and a wonderful location to meet other riders. 

More experienced and adrenaline-seeking riders will appreciate areas such as the turbo hill and the sugar bowl, where skills and intestinal fortitude are tested to the max.  Many riders bring out the big guns for these climbs.  Eager riders with boosted two-  and four-stroke beasts poke these chutes in an attempt to top out on some of North America's most famous hillclimbs.   Trail passes are required and sold at the trailhead. 

Frisby Ridge, with staging located 3.5 kilometres past the Boulder Mountain parking lot, is another family friendly riding area.  All riders are urged to know before you go when it comes to land closures, as this is a sensitive area for mountain caribou.  Frisby features 20 kilometres of groomed trails, with another 114 square kilometres of awesome alpine riding.  It is one of the most scenic areas in the Revelstoke backcountry with ample meadows, bowls, hillclimbs and an amazing 26-kilometre ridge ride with breathtaking views overlooking Lake Revelstoke and the Jordan mountain range. 

“This area is very picturesque and unique with a lot of little pockets to drop into and play along the way,” said Overwater. 

The terrain is simple to challenging, with great spacious tree riding to be had for those just beginning their adventures into the fighting foliage.  There are two cabins for warming weary bones. One is maintained by the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club, and one is a private cabin maintained by Glacier House Resort and the Great Canadian Snowmobile tours but kept open for public use so please be respectful. 

For the more experienced rider, Turtle Mountain will be the adventurer's dream terrain.  A local guide is recommended to ensure safety.  From the same staging area at Boulder Mountain, take the Kirkup Trail and look for the exit that turns south to get into Turtle.  This trail is not groomed and leads through multiple avalanche paths to get to alpine riding.   Once in the alpine, you will be in 100% complex terrain so a complete understanding of terrain, your safety gear and respect for the mountain are imperative.  Big open bowls and tight, technical tree riding are Turtle’s claim to fame.   There is no emergency shelter deep in this zone, so preparation is a must.  Ample adventure can be found, so to be on the safe side, pack extra gas if you have a thirsty snowmobile. 

Be avalanche aware

Revelstoke is big mountain riding, so anyone—no matter the age or skill set—must ride prepared.  Avalanche education and safety equipment are a must.  Always check conditions, and ride within your ability.  Because there is a track, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should follow it, as many areas can be dropped into but can be quite difficult to get out of. 

Over the past two seasons, search and rescue responded to a record number of  calls, rescuing wayward sledders who were lost or simply did not have the skills needed to get out of the situation they had put themselves into.  There are guiding services available in Revelstoke that can keep you safe and provide the trip of your lifetime, leading you safely into the sled utopia called Revelstoke, B.C. 

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