Journey Into BC: Revelstoke vs Squamish

As we get closer to our first trip to BC with Chasing Epic (May 19th to Squamish) there are a lot of unknowns for our clients, and we’re getting quite a few “which trip is right for me” emails and calls.  We thought we’d break each location down as they relate to each other, and try to provide as much information as possible in order for you to make the best choice for your specific riding style.

First off, both of these trips are for riders with advanced skills, at a minimum.  You’ll find technical features and descents like nowhere else in North America, and you’ll be pushed to the limit both physically and technically.  But progression is what it’s all about, and we can’t wait to show you the goods in Squamish and Revelstoke!



What to Expect



Squamish:  The trails are next-level in Squamish, and most black trails in the area have features that most riders will have to check out and potentially walk the first time.  Or maybe every time.  Typically, our rides will consist of several “laps” throughout the day, where we climb for a bit (no huge climbs here) and then check out various downhill trails throughout the day.  The downhills are STEEP, so the mileage tends to be a little lower; over the course of a full day ride, you can expect to do 18-20 miles with 2500-3000′ of climbing and descending.  No major shuttles here, although we’ll do our best to build in a couple “bumps” and point-to-point rides into each itinerary.

When it comes to the trails themselves, you can expect just about everything to be thrown at you: long flow trails with jumps, tables, and berms made from heaven.  Super steep trails that will burn through brake pads.  Technical rock and root sections like you’ve never seen before.  And slabs.  Did we mention the slabs?  Butt-puckering, but oh so much damn fun.



Revelstoke: This trip isn’t for everyone, and for that we don’t apologize.  Our Revelstoke trip is meant to be a progression through the Chasing Epic “heirarchy” of destinations, and we recommend this trip only for those who are confident in their technical skills and consider themselves an advanced or expert-level rider.  The trails in Revelstoke truly are “next level” in terms of steepness, tech, and intensity; they’ll push you beyond your limits and have you begging for more.  To us, Revelstoke is the epitome of rowdy big-mountain riding where the descents seem to last forever and the forearm pump is real.

This trip is focused on the descents.  Sure, we’ve got a couple of big climbs mixed in (it’s a Chasing Epic trip, after all) but we’ll utilize shuttles and a helicopter to hit the best and baddest trails in the area.  Yes you read that correctly, a heli.  Check out our destination page for more details on the itinerary, as it’s sure to instill a little fear and excitement as you sip your morning coffee.


Signature Ride



Squamish: This is a tough one, since Squamish has a handful of riding areas (Valley Cliffe, Alice Lake, Diamond Head, etc) that all have world-famous trails scattered throughout.  So for us, it’s all about connecting the areas.  If you held a gun to our backs and made us choose though, we’d probably go with the Alice Lakes area – just above our lodging in Garibaldi Highlands, by the way – for “bang for the buck”.  Here, you’ll find incredible tech accompanied by world-class slab riding on trails like In-N-Out Burger, Value Added, Rupert, and Entrails.  Honestly, we could spend all day lapping this area and never tire of what we find.



Revelstoke: For Revelstoke, it’s a bit easier as Mt. Cartier is the signature ride… for good reason.  We start with a 7,000′ heli “shuttle” to a high shoulder on Mt. Cartier, which stands above the Columbia River Valley and next to Revelstoke Mountain resort.  From there, it’s 11 miles of full-on riding back to the lodge. We start with about a mile of uber-exposed switchbacks, followed by a little bit of flow, before dropping into the forest for steep and rowdy riding all the way down to the creek.  This is a ride you’ll never forget.


Best Time to Ride



Squamish: One of the few “year round” riding destinations, you could theoretically ride here 10-11 months a year on average… if you’re willing to put up with near-freezing temps and a whole lot of rain.  For us, the ideal times for riding is late spring and early fall, when the temps cool a bit from the warm/hot summer, and the area gets a “reasonable” amount of moisture.  The rain cools things off, makes the dirt nice and tacky, and provides the perfect riding experience.



Revelstoke: The terrain in Revelstoke is truly high-alpine, big-mountain riding, so it’s all about summer riding here.  The peak riding season (where everything is open, dry, and rideable) typically stretches from early July until mid to late September; you’ll find pristine wildflowers, amazing conditions, and perfect temperatures.


Overall Thoughts


To us, you honestly can’t go wrong with either of these two trips if you’re looking to push yourself as a rider:  for Revelstoke, it’s all about long, steep, rowdy descents that will make you rethink how a trail should be built.  For Squamish, you’ll get some of the most technical, demanding riding this side of the North Shore.  Of course, Revelstoke has two more days of riding included and is a bit more expensive, but it’s also got more shuttles included (with a heli drop!) and is all about maximizing descents throughout the week.  On the other hand, Squamish riding is more “bang for your buck” with tech and features packed into shorter trails, and on average they’re steeper and more gnarly.

Town-wise, they’re also quite similar: Squamish sits on the Squamish River and at the mouth of Howe Sound, in a beautiful area surrounded by huge mountains.  Revelstoke sits in the middle of the Columbia River valley and is also surrounded by huge mountains on all sides.  We’ll likely explore town a bit more in Revelstoke with a few dinners out, and in Squamish our meals will be fully-catered at the house, sitting on the back deck with huge views of the Chief.

Hopefully we’re able to differentiate the riding in both locations enough to make a decision… but in reality, isn’t the “easy choice” to do one this year, and the other next year?  🙂




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AUTHOR: Steve Mokan

Steve is the owner (and founder) of Chasing Epic Mountain Bike Adventures, and contributes regularly to our blog. He's passionate about providing customers with incredible mountain bike vacations, and he loves photography and travel when he's not working. Truthfully, he loves those things when he is working too.