The pristine and inviting waters of Revelstoke, BC are easily accessible and minutes from town which is situated right along the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1). In the Kootenay Rockies region, the Columbia River swells into two large lakes north and south of town which have been formed by the large Revelstoke hydro dam. The dam itself is an impressive engineering feat and tourists can even take a tour but a must do for any visitor is to explore the surrounding waters of Revelstoke. A resident for a couple years now, I was guilty of not yet getting my feet wet in the beautiful Lake Revelstoke and Upper Arrow Lake. Inspired by the amazing summer we’ve been having, I decided it was time to make my maiden voyage onto the aqua blue waters of each lake with two different first-time adventures – kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
What I learned from my kayaking adventure with Natural Escapes is that it is an accessible activity for most individuals, regardless of fitness or age. Like any boat, getting into the kayak is a bit tricky with a slight wobble and a bit of a shimmy to sit but after that, it’s fairly comfortable and easy to navigate. Operator and boat craftsman, Terry Beitel made the adventure easy going from the get-go with his fun nature and relaxed approached to instruction. His passion for kayaking oozed out of him and when I learned he had hand-made his large fleet of wooden kayaks, it was clear to me that I was in the right hands for my first experience.
Out on the water, the feeling was serene and calming. I found myself taking deep breaths and letting out big sighs as I soaked in the stunning views. It was so peaceful to paddle around at our leisure and my friend Gina was great to take the helm in our double kayak (an option in Terry’s fleet if going solo isn’t your thing) so I could snap away on my camera and not worry if we were spinning in circles. Terry was encouraging in the water, making small suggestions on technique but for the most part letting us figure it out and get comfortable with the craft.
The other half of our semi-private kayak crew were a friendly Californian couple, Diane and Tony, who had stopped in Revelstoke for a few nights, en-route to the Calgary Stampede. It was their first time to Revelstoke and they commented on how friendly and welcoming everyone had been – I’m pretty certain Terry’s warm hospitality sealed the deal on a future return visit. Though I’m sure he’s always the same charming and relaxed guy, our small group was probably a breeze for Terry compared to the much larger crews he guides when the Canada Moose Adventure tours come through Revelstoke quite regularly throughout the summer. A feature of his group guiding is to ‘raft’ the kayaks together and talk about the region and the special qualities of the Revelstoke lakes. Joining the kayaks wasn’t easy for our novice skills but with Terry’s great coaching and immense patience, we got it together and it was a fun bonding moment for the group as we munched on a tasty homemade treat, courtesy of Terry’s wife.
The kayak experience with Natural Escapes certainly whet my appetite for more water adventures and I was keen to take in a different vantage point from the lake to the north, Lake Revelstoke. Stoke PaddleBoard Adventures is a new operation in Revelstoke this summer and having seen the sport trending fast, I was keen to get out and give it a try.
Recently surfing for my first time in Tofino, BC, I was ready for a challenging and wobbly adventure on the paddleboard but it turned out that the wide and long vessel was really quite stable and fairly easy to mount. When I mentioned this to Katherine Weed, co-owner and super ‘fit n’ friendly’ guide, she mentioned that she actually got into to SUP’ing (the common acronym that is trending as fast as the sport is) because of her love for surfing that came from spending many summers in Tofino. Katherine saw the opportunity to transition to a SUP from a surfboard so she could stay connected with a water activity and utilize the vast Revelstoke lakes that are so often overlooked because of all the great mountain adventure the area has to offer.
Once I got standing and comfortable with the stable yet natural wobble the board allows, we started to paddle around in the small inlet at Carnes Creek where Katherine took the time to teach the main techniques of SUP’ing which really are quite simple. Getting the feel of paddling while standing up was something foreign but it didn’t take long to get the hang of it and Katherine was great at gently coaching and demonstrating since the unique straight-arm paddle is key to the efficiency and effectiveness on a SUP.
Paddleboarding on glass-like water is a pretty serene experience but many have been known to push the equipment to the adrenaline pumping level and surf the ocean waves or even ride the white-water rivers on them. Not unlike me, Katherine was more drawn to the calm, relaxing approach to paddleboarding. She mentioned many people use them to trek out for the day to a private beach or even an overnight stay. One of her favourite routes is heading up Carnes Creek where she says you can travel for about 30 minutes before the current starts to work against you. With practice, that is something I will definitely strive for but for my first go at it, paddling around the inlet and beach area was good for me as a beginner. Though not turbulent and trying like surfing, I was definitely getting a workout as my feet, legs, and core started to feel the effects of constantly working to keep me stabilized on the SUP.
My kayak and paddleboard experiences made me realize how easily accessible water adventures are in Revelstoke and requiring little to no skill to do them. Getting out on the water is a completely different experience when it comes to exploring a new place. Having local outfitters with all the equipment and gear ready to take you out, no matter what your level or ability means there are no obstacles stopping you from discovering these aqua treasures.
Water activities in the Kootenay Rockies region