For many Revelstokians, a trip up Mount Revelstoke to see the glorious fields of alpine wildflowers is an annual pilgrimage.
To remind myself the treasure we have right in our backyard, this past weekend I decided to make a human-powered trip to see the alpine wildflowers in all their glory.
I wheeled my bike out the backdoor and tackled the 26-kilometre ascent up the Meadows in the Sky Parkway, which starts at Revelstoke’s doorstep and ends in the Mount Revelstoke national park summit area. It’s a vertical ascent of over a kilometre — it’s a grind!
Along the way, there are three great viewpoints overlooking the Columbia River, Revelstoke and Eagle Pass.
From the summit parking lot, I met up with a hiking partner and our canine companion and made out for an overnight camp at Eva Lake, one of several destination alpine lakes in the expansive summit area. It’s a six-kilometre medium difficulty hike to a small stunner of a lake. Eva Lake is bolstered by a ridge rim that separates it from the deep valley below. An ancient lakeside cabin boasts carved-in graffiti that goes back many decades.
I can only try to put words how beautiful it is up there this time of year. The explosion of alpine wildflowers comes in waves – colonies of red paintbrushes are interspersed with subalpine daisy, mountain arnica, arctic lupine, sitka valerian and the lush false hellebore. Get up close for the tiny, precise wonders of the white mountain-heather or the partridgefoot. Keep an eye out for the shaggy, intricate, upturned-mop shape of the western anenome. These are just a few.
Screaming marmots mark your passage through the boulderfields that cascade down the subalpine. Glassy brooks roll down waterfalls and pass through grassy fields. Wiry alpine evergreens tell of cold winters and crushing snowloads.
We pitched our tent at the lake and laid back to gaze at the stars — which soon clouded over and turned into a rip-roaringest electrical storm. We zipped ourselves in and rode out a thrilling lightshow that lasted all night.
Although you can bike or hike to the Mount Revelstoke Summit area, the vast majority drive up, and most people just check out the very short trail network around the summit parking area. You can loop the tiny Heather Lake and Balsam Lake, check out the old fire lookout hut, and take in the First Footsteps Trail that mixes First Nations art with a short loop hike. The alpine wildflowers in the area near the parking lot are some of the most dense and beautiful in the whole mountain summit area. There are washrooms, Parks Canada staff to help with any questions, a shuttle to the top of the summit area, and other amenities. The summit area is a series of smaller peaks and valleys, so there are many different views to be had. If you only have a couple of hours to spare, you’ll want to make the drive for the alpine wildflowers.
But I really recommend the hike out to Eva, Miller, and Jade Lakes. It’s a beautiful trail with lots of variety and it’s on the must-see list for your summer trip.
For opening times, admission prices and details on the alpine wildflowers, see the Parks Canada’s website here.
My tips for a good alpine hiking experience on Mount Revelstoke to view the alpine wildflowers:
-Don’t forget bug spray for mosquitoes. Horseflies are an issue.
-Time your trip. The there-and-back hikes can take the better part of a day, and the park gates have opening and closing times. Leave time for dallying. Don’t miss out or stress out by leaving it too late.
-It’s the mountains, so weather changes fast. You could be facing sunburn or sudden showers, so bring clothing options.
-Go with your sturdiest footwear option.