There’s not many places where you can easily access the summit of a mountain with a vehicle, let alone on a paved road. The Meadows In The Sky Parkway allows you to do just that.
A 26 km paved road leads to the 2,223 meter summit of Mount Revelstoke. There are three lookouts along the way offering views over the town of Revelstoke and the surrounding mountains.
The road has a total of 16 switchbacks. You do have to mind some potholes, but otherwise it’s not a difficult drive. It takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the top. Take your time and make sure you use low gears on the way down to avoid overheating your brakes. Vehicles towing trailers are not permitted and there are some other restrictions. More information is available here: Mount Revelstoke/Meadows In The Sky Parkway
The paved road ends short of the summit at a parking lot near Balsam Lake. There’s a picnic area at the lake and a short trail loop around it that takes about 10 minutes.
From the parking lot visitors can walk a further 2km’s to the summit area. For those not wanting to walk there is a free shuttle that operates from 10 am to 5:30 pm in the peak season and until 4:30 pm in the shoulder season. If heading to the summit on foot there’s two options. You can walk the same road as the shuttle or take the Upper Summit Trail that goes through the forest between Balsam and Heather Lakes. Allow approximately 20 minutes. If the flowers are in bloom take the road at least one way, along it is one of the best places to see the flowers.
Mount Revelstoke Hiking Trails
Once you’re at the summit area there are several trails to explore ranging from leisurely walks to more challenging day hikes. Incredible views can be seen of the Columbia River Valley and the Monashee and Selkirk mountain ranges.
An easy hike is the Firetower Trail that leads to a historic fire tower lookout. You can’t go inside the tower, but from the platform around it there are beautiful views of the Columbia River Valley. Allow about 30 minutes return trip.
The First Footsteps Trail is another easy and short loop that passes by some First Nation artwork and sculptures and has several lookouts. Allow 30 minutes. For other easy summit trails see: Summit Of Mount Revelstoke Easy Trails
There are some longer medium level day hikes to Eva and Millar Lakes, each one is between 4 to 6 hours. There’s a more challenging hike to Jade Lake, allow 6 to 8 hours. More info here: Mount Revelstok/Eva, Millar and Jade Lake Trails
Informative signs are posted at points of interest on many of the trails.
During the peak season Parks Canada staff are present at summit parking lot to answer questions about the area. They have some interesting displays teaching about the ecology of the park, many of them catered to children. During our visit there was a Parks Canada mascot with the cheesy name of Justin Beaver.
We were too late for most of the wildflowers, but a few bright red ones were still hanging around. When the meadows are blooming this area is an array of colours. The peak bloom is usually the last week of July or the first week of August, but it can vary each year.
When Is The Meadows In The Sky Parkway Open?
The road is open seasonally during a small snow free window. It can vary each year but it’s generally from mid-July to late September. It may partially open at lower elevations from as early as May, you won’t be able to drive all the way to the top. How far it is open depends upon the snow melt. It may not be worth the drive if you can’t get up far enough to the higher viewpoints.
It’s best to check with park staff for current conditions and hours when you arrive. All the following hours are subject to change.
The parkway has a gate that closes to uphill traffic at 5:30 p.m., but downhill traffic can exit the parkway until 8:30 p.m during May-August, last exit is at 6:30 p.m. in September and at 5:30 p.m. in October.
Meadows in the Sky Parkway Entrance Station hours of operation are as follows:
May 20 – June 15 9am to 5pm
June 16 – September 7 8am to 5pm
September 8 to October 11 9am to 5pm
A Park Pass Is Required For Revelstoke National Park
This is a national park so you will need to have a valid pass displayed on your vehicle dashboard. Passes can be purchased from the Parks Canada office in the town of Revelstoke located at 301 B, 3rd Street West or from the Rogers Pass Center in nearby Glacier National Park. Mt. Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks are administered together so your pass is valid for both parks. Current prices are $7 for adults and $3.50 for children per day. If you haven’t already purchased a pass you will be sold one at the beginning of the parkway where there is a visitor welcome kiosk.
Designated back country campsites are at Eva Lake and Upper Jade Lake. You must have a $10 Wilderness Pass camping permit, this is in addition to your park pass. Wilderness passes can be purchased at the same locations as the park passes listed above or at the welcome kiosk at the start of the parkway.
Tips For The Meadows In The Sky Parkway
-The parkway may not be fully open prior to mid-July or after mid-September. Check for current conditions.
-Time your day appropriately. There are park gates for the parkway that have opening and closing times. Check with parks staff for current hours.
-There are no services, bring your own water and food. There are well maintained pit toilet outhouses.
-Parking is limited for the amount of visitors in the summer months. Get there earlier in the day or later in the afternoon to ensure you get a spot. It gets to the point where people are trying to park along the roadside.
-Horseflies and mosquitoes can be quite an issue at times, especially around the lakes and boggy areas. Bring bug spray or a long sleeve shirt and pants to cover up.
-It’s typical mountain weather that can change quickly. It can be anything from hot and sunny, to chilly or sudden rain can occur. Snow patches can be seen around the summit well into July. Best to bring layers of clothing to take off or put on as needed. Wear sturdy footwear for the trails.
-Wildflowers usually peak in the last week of July or first week of August, but it can vary each year.
-This is bear territory for both black and grizzly bears, take precautions on the trails. Cougars have also been spotted on occasion.
Directions To The Meadows In The Sky Parkway
It’s accessed from the Trans Canada Highway, 1.5 km’s east of Revelstoke. Look for the sign on the highway for the Meadows In The Sky Parkway.
Another Worthwhile Hike In Revelstoke National Park
For another interesting and worthwhile hike located in Revelstoke National Park see our post on the Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail. A short walk that goes through an old growth forest of massive trees that are over 500 years old.