So you are finally planning to take that dream trip to Revelstoke Mountain Resort – “Revy,” as the locals and future dog owners looking for a unique name call it. What should you expect before visiting? Yes, crazy folks are bombing down the mountain, chucking backflips off cat tracks under the Stoke Chair, but what more should you know about skiing at Revelstoke?
Revelstoke is a playground for hardcore snow enthusiasts, heli-ski operations, and pro ski film directors. With an insane amount of snow and backcountry routes, skiers, and boarders, here is the real deal: the stuff of legends. If you’ve caught any ski flick in the past decade, you’ve seen some epic shots from Revelstoke.
While we’re far from locals, we ski at Revelstoke every season, and even spent a dream ski season there, taking every powder lap that we could. Here’s what we would tell any new visitor on a ski/snowboard vacation to Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
All About Skiing at Revelstoke Mountain Resort
Revelstoke Mountain Resort is known for having one of North America’s most significant vertical drops, with a steep rise of about 1,713 meters (5,620 feet). The resort offers a vast, skiable area featuring a variety of terrain suitable for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, but with more lean on the advanced.
This Canadian gem is known for killer freeride terrain, tree skiing that’s off the charts, and powder that dreams are made of. We visited every winter and finally made the dream of spending a whole season soaking it in. We usually like to ski at different resorts every winter, but we never once felt bored during our season only in Revelstoke.
It’s still our number one ski spot on the planet. We cut our teeth dropping cliff bands here, and with only 75 marked runs on a massive terrain, it’s all about finding your own line. Revelstoke gets dumped on with an average of over 12 meters of fresh power every year. You’re practically guaranteed an epic powder day on any few day visit.
Let’s get honest about the downside – Revelstoke isn’t your cozy groomed resort. It’s wild and untamed, not exactly a beginner’s paradise. The so-called “green” runs are basically cat tracks, and they’re missing those super technical steeps you’d find at Lake Louise or Whistler. But don’t get it twisted; there are still some gnarly lines if you bring your creativity game.
Sure, Revelstoke boasts the highest vertical in North America, but it’s a bit of a technicality. The skiing at the bottom can be a mixed bag. And let’s talk about the small town – it’s not winning any beauty contests like Banff, Canmore, or Whistler. Hotels, cabins, and restaurants are there, but it’s not exactly a resort wonderland. That’s the charm of Revy for us, but if you’re expecting an Alps or Aspen-style ski vacation, you might feel a bit let down. It’s not your complete family holiday package; it’s a spot for the experts and advanced riders to tick off their list.
- Season: December — Mid-April
- Closest Airport: Kelowna Airport (YLW)
- Avg Ticket: $108 – $131
- Average Annual Snowfall: 414″
- Vertical: 5620′
- Total Lifts: 6
- Ski Area: 3121 ac
Epic Powder, Open Terrain, Excellent Tree Skiing, Vertical, Lacks Crowds, Best Skiing In Canada, Ski Touring, Heli Skiing, Cat Skiing.
Advanced & Expert, Not Full-Service Resort, Lift Infrastructure, Town Is Isolated,
Experts Will Love the Terrain
Revelstoke is renowned for its diverse terrain that caters to alpine and tree skiing. The resort provides a mix of groomed runs, glades, and challenging bowls, making it appealing to skiers and snowboarders with different preferences and skill levels. The resort is also known for its deep powder snow, making it a favorite destination for enthusiasts.
Revelstoke’s terrain includes steep chutes, open bowls, and well-groomed runs, providing an exciting experience for advanced skiers and snowboarders. The resort also has areas designated for beginners and intermediate skiers, allowing for a well-rounded adventure for visitors of varying skill levels.
Revy Is Not Super Beginner-Friendly.
Revy boasts grandeur on multiple fronts – expansive terrain, sweeping pitches, abundant snowfall, and an impressive vertical drop. The Revelstoke Ski Resort spans 3,121 acres (1,263 hectares) of skiable terrain but just 75 trails that underscore the vastness of its off-piste opportunities. That means most of this resort is freeride terrain, and there are few groomers to lay some carves on or test your skills. Even the groomers there are a bit steep unless you are on the lower half of the mountain or taking the long green run, The Last Spike, from top to bottom.
Revelstoke Ski Resort attracts many proficient skiers and snowboarders thanks to its terrain distribution: 12% for beginners, 43% for intermediates, and 45% for advanced/expert levels. The resort primarily caters to advanced riders and individuals aspiring to delve more into backcountry skiing.
If you’re new to skiing and snowboarding, it’s best to test your legs and skills at other Canadian ski resorts like Banff Sunshine, Nakiska, Sun Peaks, or Whistler before spending the money on a Revelstoke ski vacation. If you want more scary stuff, we recommend Kicking Horse in Golden!
Revy Has The Longest Vertical in North America
Revelstoke claims the longest vertical in North America, standing tall at 1,713 meters (5,620 feet), surpassing Whistler Blackcomb by 104 meters. And while it does have a very long vertical, it’s a bit of a technicality as it’s unlikely you’ll be spending most of your day below the Stoke Chair unless you are a beginner or with kids. And it’s doubtful you’ll be spending any of your days beneath the mid-station unless you ride down to the resort’s base to grab lunch or end your day.
In general, we rarely find ourselves riding past the Stoke chair unless it was an epic powder day, and we could cruise the untracked trees to the gondola mid-station before the terrain up high opens up. And we never, and I mean never, skied beneath the central station unless we were calling it a day. As the weather changes quite a bit with the elevation, often, if it snows up high, it might mean rain or very heavy snow down low. The snow quality varies greatly when you’re talking about this many meters!
So while yes, Revy has a long vertical and a 9km love green run (The Last Spike) and beats out Whistler, Whistler is almost all skiable with some fun runs even all the way to the base.
Revy is Not a Groomer Mountain
As mentioned previously, Revelstoke is great for freeride terrain. Groomers? Not so much. Yes, cats are out every night grooming the pistes, but many of this is a lower mountain on runs like Little Bit and Tickle Trunk. The Last Spike, which runs from the top of the Stoke Chair to the Village Base, is a solid groomer, though it’s more of a very long cat track that skirts the mountain.
At the top of Stoke, our favorite groomer to rip down is Snow Rodeo, and Downtowner is always fun off the Ripper Chair!
Tree Wells are a Problem.
Revy is renowned for tree skiing, and some of our favorite days are spent in the trees. The Tally Ho Glades, Critical Path Glades, Tasty Glades, Powder Monkey, and Top 40 are some of our favorite places to head at the end of a pow day after the bowls are a bit tracked.
However, you must watch out for tree wells on a deep day. What are tree wells?
Tree wells refer to the space around the base of a tree in snowy conditions, particularly in alpine or backcountry settings. These wells are created by branches and needles shedding snow, accumulating around the tree trunk. The result is a void or deep depression around the tree’s base, surrounded by a ring of snow.
Tree wells can pose serious risks, especially for skiers and snowboarders riding quick through the trees. The loose, uncompacted snow around the tree can create a hidden pit, and falling into a tree well can be hazardous. If a person falls into a tree, the loose snow can make it challenging to self-rescue, leading to a risk of suffocation from the snow. It’s hazardous when you go in head first. On deep powder days, we recommend riding through the trees with a buddy, and don’t separate too much from them!
Powder Days Are Frequent.
Revelstoke sees quite a bit of snow. How much snow? If you visit between December and April, the conditions for skiing powder are in your favor, thanks to average annual snowfall exceeding 1000cm per ski season.
Some years, it’s been more, and some years, it’s been less. Their historical snowfall data shows that the best years finished off over 1200 cm, while the worst finished at 790 cm. We spent the 22/23 ski season in Revelstoke, which was a weak one, ending just over 800 cm. And even though it was a weak season for Revelstoke, we still got in plenty of powder days that winter. If you are spending a week-long ski vacation at Revelstoke, your chances of getting fresh snow for a day or two are pretty frequent.
If you’re wondering when to go, historically, there are more powder days the last week of December and into January, but like anything with the snow gods, you’ll never know!
You Could Get Revelstuck.
You’d think Revelstoke might be a bit like Jackson Hole for the amount of powder it gets and the gnarly terrain. But it’s not. Head here on a midweek day, and you’ll unlikely ever wait in a lift line. We were at Revelstoke on their record-breaking day in February 2023, and the longest we waited for a lift-up Stoke chair was 15 minutes.
Why might that be? One reason is that it’s hard to get to and even harder to leave. Revelstoke is three hours from the nearest airport, and once at that airport, you still have a drive to make and potentially treacherous roads. Let me introduce you to Rogers Pass.
Rogers Pass is a mountain pass in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. It is situated within Glacier National Park and is part of the Trans-Canada Highway. The pass is renowned for its stunning mountainous scenery and is historically significant for Canada’s transportation and trade routes.
If you hit it on a sunny day, it’s a stunning highway to drive. Hit it during a snowstorm, and you’ll be white-knuckling it the whole drive. Not only is Rogers Pass one of Canada’s most dangerous roads but it is also known for its high avalanche risk due to the heavy snowfall and mountainous terrain. The Canadian government has extensive avalanche control measures to mitigate this risk, including using snow sheds and deploying the Canadian Avalanche Centre. During big storms, the Trans Canada closes for control, often from Golden to Revelstoke and sometimes from Revelstoke to Kamloops.
This is not great news if you have a trip planned or a flight to take and can’t get in or out of town. However, it’s fantastic news if you are among the few who enjoy an epic Powder Day at Revelstoke without crowds. Being “Revelstuck” is something every hardcore skier or boarder should experience once.
Expect Lots of Avalanche Closures on Big Pow Days
On a big powder day, ski patrol works hard to get as much terrain open as possible, but it’s unlikely they’ll open up the Lemming Line to North Bowl or Sup Peak Hike when it’s dumping. On some days, they may not even open the Separate Reality Bowl. There’s a lot of avalanche terrain here, and patrol has to ensure the terrain is as safe as possible. So always respect the closures and ropes and know that if they don’t open that terrain up today, it just means more untouched lines to ride tomorrow!
There Are Not Many Accommodation Options.
Unlike Banff or Whistler, two mountain towns that are very much resorts and focused on tourism, Revelstoke is more a sleeper town than a world-renowned destination (unless you’re a ski bum, that is).
There’s no Fairmont and no five-star accommodation. To be honest, there’s not much accommodation at all. One of the first motels you’ll come across when pulling in is the Frontier Motel. It is a dated hotel that is so old-school looking you might think it’s the set of a horror movie.
That being said, there are some lovely places to stay in Revelstoke. The Sutton Place Hotel is the only ski in/ski out, and Basecamp has set up some pretty nice pads there. Since there’s not much for accommodation and plenty of people visiting in the winter, it’s advisable to book well in advance for the best rates, or better yet, to score a place! Come February, there will be a high demand and even higher prices for this little ski town.
There Are Very Few Lifts.
Along with very few accommodation options, there’s another thing you may not notice a lot of Revy, and that’s chaiflits. Besides the Revelation Gondola, Revelstoke Ski Resort has three three chairlifts. I told you Revy was a bit old school, except it’s not old school as the ski resort was built in 2008. Hey, and at least the lifts are higher speed!
Anyhoo, all skiers must take the gondola to access any terrain. Once at the top of the Revelation, you can head to the Stoke, Stellar, or Ripper Chair. The Stoke provides access to the best terrain at Revelstoke. The Stellar Chair gives beginners and kids a safe place to ride, while the Ripper is a fun chair, perfect for tree runs or to access more terrain. Three lifts may seem insufficient, and on some days it is. I personally wish there was a lift at the bottom of the North Bowl, but at the same time, this would mean this area gets tracked out faster.
The truth is, three lifts just work for Revy, the terrain, and the current crowd levels.
There’s Lots of Secret Hidden Terrain
We have visited Revy for many seasons and eventually figured we might as well spend an ENTIRE ski season at the epic resort. Finding some epic hidden terrain took us a lot of adventuring and trial and error.
So much that at the end of the day on a busy pow day, or even a day or two after, we can still find plenty of fresh stashes. I won’t give away too many of our secrets, but I will say this – explore, explore, explore! There’s more terrain here than meets the eye!
Ripper is Great for Trees.
It would be hard to visit Revelstoke and not find yourself in the trees, but in general, when we really feel some tree riding – easy or complicated – we’ll head to the Ripper Chair. Try to make your way to Monkey Glades!
Bowls Are Great for Steep.
We’ll typically hike the Lemming Line or Sup Peak when we want to ride wide open steeps. They are both worth the hike!
There is a Lot of Extra Terrain
Have you ever heard of “earning your turns?” Well, this is definitely true at Revelstoke. Some of our favorite days are when quads are burning from boot-packing it on Lemming Line and up Sub Peak multiple times. Don’t be afraid to hike at Revelstoke.
Prepare for Some Cat Tracks.
The Last Spike is the most notable green run at Revy. It is more than 9 miles long and runs from the top of Stoke to the base. Looking at a map, it seems like a long green run, but it feels like one very long cat track. Still, it’s the easiest way down Mt MacKenzie.
You’ll find other cat tracks looming around the resort, waiting for someone to huff a backflip off it. The other most notable one for us snowboarders is one you’ll find when you’re trying to get from the Ripper Chair back to the gondola or Stoke chair. Sally Alley is a long one, and on a long day, you’ll find yourself traversing around half the mountain more than once.
Don’t Expect Much Sunshine
Where does all that snowfall come from? It ain’t from a sunny, cloudless day, that’s for sure. On one hand, I can count the number of sunny days I’ve had at Revelstoke. The sunshine is rare, so hopefully, you have some low-light goggles. Honestly, I prefer cloudy, overcast days in the winter; it makes me feel like there’s snow falling somewhere nearby.
Bathrooms – there aren’t many on the resort. You’ll find them at the base and mid-station, some small ones at the top of the Revelation Gondola, and some outhouse-style ones at the Ripper Chair. I think Revy needs more bathrooms, but it’s likely not going to happen. This was tough on a powder day when I didn’t want to stop riding to go to the bathroom (ski bum problems).
It may not be an issue for guys, but it’s a bit tougher for ladies. Let’s just say Revelstoke is where I became the queen of squatting down next to a tree in the woods in knee-deep powder with my board still strapped to my feet.
Gnorm the Gnome
Even if it’s your first time to Revelstoke, you’ll quickly get acquainted with Gnorm the Powder Gnome. Gnorm is not only the resort mascot, but he also serves as the motivation behind early-morning phone grabs at 6 am on a chilly winter day.
He prompts us ski bums to type “RMR snow cam” with sleepy eyes. He’s the driving force behind our determination to rise from bed just five minutes later. Gnorm is the authentic herald of powder, the source of snow wisdom, and the sovereign of the mountains. In essence, he guides us on when to seize the snowy treasures and when to kick back and relax.
He’s the most reliable 27 cm Gnome you’ll ever encounter, and he never lies. He’s positioned near the top of the Ripper Chair, with a nice camera right on him, so when there’s snow falling, you’ll know. If you wake up in the morning and see that Gnorm is covered, you better get your butt ready for powder day. Gnorm has been a part of Revelstoke since the gondola first started spinning, and we hope he never goes anywhere.
Check the Revelstoke Forecast
There’s Snow Forecast, J2Ski, OnTheSnow, and many more weather forecasters. However, we always found the most reliable to be right on the Revelstoke website provided by RWDI. We always check there first to see if snow is on the way!
Getting cold while skiing Revelstoke? There are a few places to warm up! You’ll find a small warming area at the top of Ripper, near Gnorm. You can also warm up in the Revelation Lodge, Mackenzie Outpost, and the Village base – that’s it!
How Much Are Lift Tickets?
A day pass at the window is not cheap. One day at Revy will run you $179 a day! That’s a whole lot of cash if you’re bringing a family. If you buy your lift tickets in advance online, you can get a little bit of a discount, and if you purchase multiple days in a row, you can also score a “deal.”
There are a few local days through the years where day passes are $20, so keep your eye out for those if you are local.
Revelstoke is Part of the Ikon Pass.
If you are an Ikon Pass holder, you’ll get 5 to 7 days at Revelstoke on your pass, depending on which pass you bought. Which is almost worth the cost of the Ikon Pass. Add on a few days at Red Resort in Rossland and some at the SkiBig3 Resorts, and it’s paid for itself!
Revy is also part of the Mountain Collective, which gets you two days at each resort on the pass!
When is the Best Time to Visit Revelstoke?
The best time to visit Revy really depends on your goals. The resort is open from early/mid-December to mid-April. Sadly, they’ll close on their scheduled closing date no matter how much snow they still have.
We’ve seen epic powder dumps throughout any of these months. December is a great early-season month, and you can still find deals on accommodation. The resort will still be quiet until after Christmas. What is the only bad part about visiting Revelstoke in December? You’ll have to watch out for sharks under the snow – bring the rock skis and board!
I recommend trying to hit the resort in January through March between Monday and Thursday. However, the crowds are never as bad as Whistler, Colorado Resorts, or Mammoth – don’t worry! We enjoyed lovely spring days and wonderful powder days in March and April – you never know what you’ll get!
How Are the Lift Lines at Revelstoke?
We’ve snowboarding at over 100 ski resorts around the world. From Val Di Sole in the Dolomites, to Jackson Hole, Aspen, Snowbird in the states, and Niseko in Japan, we will travel for ski. We even spent a whole season in Whistler, repeatedly suffering through lines over an hour long.
All I can say is that the lines at Revelstoke are nothing compared to what you’ll find elsewhere. We were there on two of the busiest days ever and still had amazing days with tons of laps.
On a huge powder day (25+cm) you will likely find a lineup at the base to get on the gondola, especially if its a weekend or holiday. Then, you may find another line at the mid-station. Once at Stoke Chair, there will probably be another line, but this one is never more than 10-15 minutes.
The lines are manageable, and they really dwindle down towards the end of the day. Even on a big day, the crowds really thin out around 1 or 2pm as everyone’s legs get tired.
On non powder days, especially Monday through Friday, it’s unlikely you’ll ever wait in a line.
Our Favorite Runs at Revelstoke
There are many great runs at Revy, but a few of my favorites are:
- Meet the Neighbors
- Stay Hungry
- Sweet Spot
- Monkey Glades
- Gracias Ridge
- Greely Bowl
- 3 Bears
Okay. There are a lot of great runs at Revelstoke.
Revelstoke Skiing FAQ
Is Revelstoke Kid Friendy?
I won’t sugarcoat it. Revelstoke is far from kid-friendly, BUT the resort is making a solid effort to make the ski area family-friendly. Anything from the gondola mid-station to the base is a great place to take kids. The Stellar Chair is meant to be the beginner area at Revelstoke, and The Last Spike is a green run that will take skiers down to the base.
Is Revelstoke Hard to Ski?
Don’t let the fear of what you have heard deter you from visiting Revelstoke. If you really want to visit Revy, you absolutely should! If you are a beginner skier or boarder, there are definitely better places to learn to ski; we recommend Nakiska, Sunshine, Whistler, or Panorama in Invermere. There’s not much beginner-friendly terrain at Revelstoke, but any intermediate skier will be able to make their way down the mountain.
How many ski runs does Revelstoke have?
There are 75 official runs at Revelstoke, but it will feel much more when you are on the mountain.
Revy is a Local Mountain
If you are reading this article, you are likely have already made up your mind about skiing at Revelstoke. But in case you’re not, you may be wondering if a ski trip to Revelstoke is worth it, and all I can say is YES.
If you are chasing powder in a small interior BC mountain town, you really can’t go wrong with a trip to Revelstoke. Don’t expect world-class resort operations like at Whistler or Breckenridge, with endless fine dining options, boutique shops, and 5* accommodations.
Instead get excited for sharing a lift with a pro rider, catching up with other riders with a beer and wings at The Village Idiot, and enjoying small-town vibes before its too l ate.
Other Things to Do in Revelstoke
Maybe you just are visiting Revelstoke to ski, maybe you aren’t! There’s plenty more to do while visiting.
Go Sledding (Snowmobiling): Snowmobiling, or “sledding” is what it’s nicknamed in Canada, is one of the best things to do in Revelstoke in the winter. Revelstoke gets hammered with snow, which creates perfect conditions for sledding. Revy is often referred to as the “epicenter of mountain sledding.” Sledders travel from all over Canada to sled here. Some of the best riding areas from beginner to expert can be found here.
Cross Country Skiing: When you’re not hitting the slopes at the resort, you can enjoy the beautiful mountains on your Nordic Skis! About seven kilometers south of Revy is the Revelstoke Nordic Day Lodge and Mount Macpherson trailhead, and it’s our second favorite thing to do in Revelstoke (after snowboarding of course). From here, there is a whopping 26 km of groomed trails to take to. See more info here.
See a Movie at The Roxy: Looking for something to do at night after a day playing in the snow? Catch a show at The Roxy Theatre. The Roxy Theatre Revelstoke is an art deco movie theatre located downtown and has been operating since 1959! This is a beloved institution where you can watch anything from Blockbusters to indie flicks.
Where to Eat in Revelstoke
After a long day out, you’ll find us enjoying Apres with Caesars and pizza at The Village Idiot and for coffee at brunch, Dose is our go to!
- Dose: As mentioned, they have fantastic coffee and great lunch items. Try the Bahn Mi.
- The Village Idiot: Large and delicious caesars combined with wings and pizza makes for an amazingly good time.
- Paramjit’s Kitchen: Quick and tasty Indian dishes – great for takeaway!
- The Taco Club: Good margaritas and tacos and one of the best restaurants in town, just be forewarned it’s pretty expensive.
- The Rockford: This is our favorite apres-ski spot that sits right at the base of Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Super tasty modern pub food and a decent selection of beer on tap along with specials.
Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies
- Hiking in the Rockies: Purchase an AllTrails subscription to have a mobile map on you as you hike.
- Tours (New in 2024): The Banff Blog is partnering with one of the leading tour companies in Western Canada so readers can experience the magic of the Rockies with other travelers – without having to think about a thing. See all our 2024 tour offerings here!
- Hotels in the Rockies: There are many places to stay, from luxury hotels to wilderness cabins. See all our favorites here.
- Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service that will connect you right from YYC to the town of Banff or Canmore.
- Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip. We like to compare prices on Motorhome Republic and Outdoorsy.
- Fly For Free: Turn your spending into airline miles and points with travel credit cards (that’s what we do!). See our favorite travel credit cards. We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals!
- Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!
- Travel Insurance: We don’t recommend traveling without travel insurance. We recommend checking out HeyMondo, which offers competitive rates for all travelers.