What’s up with….Revelstoke?
I feel like Revelstoke has become a buzz word as of late, carrying a mystique akin to Atlantis as it quickly becomes the adventurers Mecca. Having spent much of the past seven years sharing beta and showing lines to visiting paddlers, I’ve heard a great many rumours about what’s flowing and when round these parts, and it’s past time I set the record straight on at least a few falsehoods and give a better picture as to what’s actually up with the whitewater around Revelstoke.
If someone said the paddling here is good, they didn’t lie, and it’s probably almost as good as they say. With rivers to the North, South, East and West and a highway leading in each direction, Revy is literally surrounded by quality and accessible Whitewater. The plethora of rivers surrounding town means that whenever you come, apart from the dead of winter, there will likely be boating to be had.
But when is the best time to come you might ask?
That gets more complicated. A large, but convenient over simplification is to describe Revy as having two dominant water seasons, high and low water. The early spring, sometimes as early as March, but more often April, is when the boating begins, as the rivers unthaw and snow starts to trickle off the mountains. Runs such as the Illecillewaet Box Canyon (IV) and the Lower Perry (IV) typically kick off the season, with the Jordan (IV+) having a short window for those willing to hike through the snow. It’s worth noting that these are all more advanced runs, and such is the nature of low water Revelstoke. As May hits and the temperature really starts rising, the flood begins. Typically lasting until early summer, flood creates an entirely new list of sections to be paddled. Local favourites this time of year are the Upper Upper Illecillewaet (III), Upper Perry (III+) and the newly “discovered” Bigmouth (III+(IV)) to name a few. As you may have already noticed, flood in Revy means the class III really comes into form, with much of the IV/V blown out. And as the water begins to drop near the end of June, some of the more ephemeral runs will drop in for a brief window, runs such as the infamous Pingston (IV&V), St.Leon* (V) and Sutherland Falls (V). The great cycle completes itself with the return of low water at the end of July, with fall rains often keeping the low and medium water runs good until the end of fall when the snow returns.
Soo.. when should I come to Revelstoke to paddle??
It really depends on which of the plethora of runs you were hoping to paddle, but checking levels and paddlingmaps.com to make a hit list is always a good plan. Revelstoke Whitewater and Revelstoke Paddlesport Association on Facebook are also always happy to field questions as to what’s flowing around town.
What about the class II / beginner runs?
Quality class II and beginner runs are the one thing Revelstoke lacks. Even the class three isn’t very beginner friendly consisting mostly of cold, bouldery and continuous runs with their fair share of wood hazards. However, a trip to paddle Revy could easily be combined with fun, warmer and friendlier rivers such as the Adams and Shuswap near Salmon Arm, or the Slocan near Nelson. If you were determined to take a paddler out on Class II in Revelstoke, the Lower Jordan or Town Run are close to town and while both are short, contain some features upon which to teach a beginner/practice.
Are there any paddling events in Revelstoke?
Yes! The Jordan River festival takes place annually on August long weekend (covid-19 permitting). There are also group paddles taking place weekly in the evenings, check Revelstoke Whitewater on FB for group paddles and paddlerevelstoke.ca for updates on the JRF and other club events!
Well, there you have it, and I hope you’re not more confused than you were at the start. Revelstoke is a beautiful town surrounded by beautiful mountains from which flows some beautiful whitewater. The multi-sport potential is also insane with biking, climbing and paragliding all options to fill your day of adventure.
*St.Leon is technically not a Revy run, but a Nakusp run. Check out my West Kootenays blog post for info on all the goodies South of Revelstoke :)