Exploring off-the-beaten-path local attractions

Cooped up with some extra time on your hands? Tired of the usual outdoor winter activities? Why not try something a little different?

Trainspotting makes the list of off the beaten path hobbies to get you outside in Revelstoke during the pandemic. Image: CP Rail.

This story first appeared in print in the February 2021 issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. Read the e-edition here:

Revelstoke is home to an abundance of outdoor, physically distanced activities to take part in during the winter. There’s all the usual suspects: cross-country skiing at Macpherson or the flats, taking a few powder runs up at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, fat biking along the River City Trail, ice skating and ice fishing, snowshoeing, sledding, backcountry touring and winter hiking. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to try something a little different. Here are five outdoor activities you may have not thought of:

1. Tour Revelstoke’s Art Alleries

Revelstoke is home to a multitude of talented visual artists, many of whom contribute to LUNA, a week-long celebration of art that takes place each fall. First unveiled during 2019’s LUNA Fest, Art Alleries features permanent displays of artwork located in Revelstoke’s downtown alleys. Spend an afternoon pondering Rob Buchanan’s upcycled take on the Mona Lisa, aptly titled the Monaskisa (it’s made out of recycled skis and snowboards). Invoke memories of summer days and childhood whimsy with Kyle Thornley’s A Simple Joy; learn just how connected everyone in Revelstoke really is as you take in Bruno Long’s A Friend of A Friend, and; ponder community and national history while viewing Canadian Pacific, a vibrantly coloured stained glass steam train created by Kelly Hutcheson.

For more information visit lunafest.ca and select “Art Alleries” from the menu.

2. Try Trainspotting

Yes, trainspotting is a real thing. No, this isn’t a reference to the 1996 black comedy starring Ewan McGregor. Trainspotting — as in the hobby where people watch trains — has a history dating back to the 1800s, but surged in popularity during the 1940s and 1950s. Trainspotters spend time visiting stations where they watch trains and record the types of trains they see along with any interesting information.

Ideal locations to watch for trains in Revelstoke are near the train bridge by the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre, at Woodenhead Park, from Grizzly Plaza, and from the Revelstoke Railway Museum. There is also a dedicated 24/7 Virtual Railfan live-stream you can watch at www.railwaymuseum.com/virtual-railfan. The YouTube livestreaming video is popular, with 287 live viewers when we checked.

3. Visit Mountain View Cemetery

According to the Revelstoke Museum & Archives website “the Historic Mountain View Cemetery was first used in the late 1880s. The oldest identifiable headstone, that of Louise Beavo, dates to 1891, but we know that there were burials here prior to that time.”

The idea of visiting a cemetery is, perhaps, a bit macabre by modern standards but they were a popular place for picnicking during the 19th Century. While it’s probably not practical to attempt a picnic while there’s snow on the ground, you could spend an hour or two strolling the grounds and reading the names on the tombstones. Just be sure to practice good cemetery etiquette. If you have never been to a cemetery, or it’s been a while here are a few tips:

  • Follow any posted rules
  • Be respectful. Don’t play loud music or raise your voice above speaking level
  • Always give way to people who are there to visit loved ones
  • If a burial is taking place, it’s polite to avoid that area
  • Avoid touching gravestones (brushing away snow to read the name is OK)
  • Never walk on a grave (this includes the gravestone and the area where a person was buried)
  • Take all of your trash and belongings with you when you leave

4. Gaze at the stars and look for the Aurora Borealis

Also known as the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis paints the sky in a spectacular display of colour. On clear nights it’s sometimes possible to see the Aurora Borealis from town. However, your best bet is to take a short drive outside of the city where there’s less light pollution to obstruct your view (to maintain BC’s current COVID-19 physical distancing requirements that means you’ll have to limit any passengers to household members only).

Remember, patience is key when it comes to viewing the Aurora Borealis — so bring a blanket or two, a Thermos full of your favourite hot beverage and plan to spend a few hours gazing at the night skies. Even if you don’t catch a glimpse of the colourful sky display you’ll still be able to gaze at the stars.

Popular places to view the Aurora Borealis are from the Five Mile Boat Launch just past the Revelstoke Dam on Highway 23 North, Boulder Mountain and Sale Mountain.

5. Go bird watching

Did you know Revelstoke is home to more than 250 species of birds? While many birds fly south for the winter, there are many that stick around including the Black Capped Chickadee, Cedar Waxwing, Northern Cardinal, several types of hawks, Pine Siskins, Red Crossbills, White-winged Crossbills and Pygmy Owls. So, grab a pair of binoculars, a notebook and camera and head outdoors. Some of the best places to go bird watching in Revelstoke are the Greenbelt Trails, Mount Revelstoke National Park and the flats located south of town along Airport Way.

If bird watching is something you find enjoyable there’s even a dedicated group of Revelstoke bird watchers to join — Friends of the Feathered—on Facebook.

Melissa Jameson is the civic affairs reporter for the Revelstoke Mountaineer. She handles the newsy side of goings on about Revelstoke. Got a news tip? Feel free to contact Melissa at melissa@revelstokemountaineer.com