Drive time from Calgary: Approximately five hours
From the top of Revelation Gondola at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, nothing beats the view of the Columbia River Valley, its snaking namesake often obscured by a bank of low-lying clouds punctured by the toothy peaks of the Monashee Mountains. From here, it’s just one more chairlift to the upper reaches of Mount Mackenzie and its four alpine bowls that, once upon a time, were reserved for cat-skiing. The terrain became lift-accessible in 2007 when the new resort opened, with a new gondola and chairlift that made it easy for expert-level riders to lap chutes, glades, wide-open powder fields, and the biggest vertical drop in North America, at 5,620 feet.
Some wondered if “Revy” would become the next Whistler. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened: locals want the town and resort to grow more sustainably, says Robyn Goldsmith with Tourism Revelstoke, who likens Revy to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, instead — a historic industrial town that just happens to have an amazing ski hill.
Revelstoke is downright charming, with craft breweries, a smattering of farm-to-table restaurants, and a railway museum for a dose of history. It’s also an epicentre of heli-skiing, and powder hounds have been making the pilgrimage to carve fresh tracks in the freeride terrain of the Selkirk and Monashee mountains for more than 50 years.
The primary accommodations at the resort are at The Sutton Place Hotel, which has 200 condo-style suites over three buildings and an all-season outdoor heated pool. But five minutes’ drive from the resort base, private group lodge The Flying Moose Chalet takes things to the next level with heli-in-heli-out capabilities. Along with a private helicopter landing pad, the 8,200-square-foot, eight-bedroom, timber-frame house comes with a stocked bar for après-ski beverages; bartender, lodge manager, housekeeping, one hour of stretch class each morning and four hours of massage therapy per day; a chalet host who can organize heli-ski day trips; and a chef to prepare breakfast and dinner. And, last winter, Calgary-based Frank Architecture & Interiors converted the three-bay garage into a luxe heli-lounge with a big-screen TV to watch the day’s face-shot footage.