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Revelstoke, B.C. is about a six-hour drive from Vancouver.Ryan Creary/custom

Sandwiched by the mountainous beauty of two national parks, the town of Revelstoke, B.C., is famous for boasting the greatest vertical descent of any ski resort on the continent: the imposing 2,466-metre-high Mount Mackenzie.

But that’s fun for another time. Right now I’m on the hunt for much smaller-scale, family-friendly thrills, driving six hours up from Vancouver to explore summer activities suitable for all ages.

After crossing dramatic mountain passes and driving alongside glistening lakes, we pull off the Trans-Canada Highway to explore the Enchanted Forest and adjacent Skytrek Adventure Park, west of Revelstoke.

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With treehouses, a castle and a giant, the Enchanted Forest is a delight for children.Destination BC/David Gluns/custom

The former is eccentric, verging on the bizarre. Dozens of tiny, and not so tiny, fairy-tale houses have been built on the forest floor, along with a castle, a giant climbing a tree, mermaids, wooden horses and mischievous forest elves. A passion project that has been a popular, quirky roadside attraction for half a century, the Enchanted Forest filled my young kids with sheer, unadulterated delight. At Skytrek, the various high-ropes courses strung through the tall forest trees saw them channelling their inner gibbon. Happy kids, happy parents. And I’m happier still that both these attractions are less than a half-hour’s drive from downtown Revelstoke, where our room awaits.

A town that straddles the industries of railway, forestry and tourism, Revelstoke is refreshingly devoid of glitzy retail brands and oozes small-town charm. It is protected from being overrun by its relative isolation from a major city, resulting in the kind of place where locals greet each other at free nightly summer music concerts in Grizzly Plaza, or at the bustling weekend street market. A real sense of community permeates the atmosphere.

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Revelstoke Mountain Resort features plenty of hiking trails, including the Cupcake Loop.Kari Medig/custom

Best known as a ski destination, Revelstoke Mountain Resort is embracing its four-season possibilities. This means world-class mountain biking and, for my bucket list, the longest alpine roller coaster in Canada. Taking the gondola up to mid-mountain, my family soaked in the stellar views of the fanning Columbia River before hopping into a yellow go-kart-like contraption connected on a narrow single rail. My wife and I each put a kid in our laps and strapped in for a thrilling 1.4-kilometre descent.

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The Pipe Mountain Coaster reaches speeds of up to 42 kilometres an hour.Kari Medig/custom

With a 279-metre vertical drop, the Pipe Mountain Coaster twists, curves and whoops its way down the mountain, through forest and breathless dips at speeds of up to 42 kilometres an hour. A simple mechanism allows riders to brake and control their pace, and most first-timers will take it easy. But get the three-ride pass (or more) and you’ll soon dispense with the brakes altogether, hitting the hell-yeah! controlled maximum speed that ensures it remains safe and fun for the whole family. “Faster Daddy!” yelled my daughter, and who am I to argue?

Feet away from the exit point of the coaster is newly opened Aerial Adventure Park, where you can easily spend two hours navigating 50 different balance and height obstacles, rising four storeys above the ground. Graded like ski runs into green, blue and black difficulties, climbers are safely harnessed throughout the entire experience. Watching brave little kids take on swinging rings or a knee-shaking four-storey jump will make your proud parent heart swell.

River rafting is a popular summer activity in Revelstoke, with various companies offering Grade 3 runs on the reliably cool and invigorating Columbia River. With young kids in tow, however, we needed a gentler ride on the water. Wild Blue Yonder’s River Pirates Tour – complete with pirate costumes, face paint, bush battles and fun tales of yaargh! – isn’t what anyone would call an “authentic” experience, but sometimes that’s not what’s important.

Downriver from the impressive hydro dam, we drifted on the glass mirror of the Columbia, listening to Captain Jack’s brogue as he recounted the myth of the man-eating moose. My daughter – made-up with face paint, bandana’d, and now known as Jolly Lips Sue – had a blast. Nobody got wet and foam sword battles continued back in our hotel suite.

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The Railway Museum is open every day from May through September.Ryan Creary/custom

Fortunately the sword stayed behind when we checked out the old-world Railway Museum – although the knives came out when my three-year-old had his thermonuclear meltdown after learning it was time to leave the large, warm wading pool at the Aquatic Centre.

A tantrum is nothing a little ice cream can’t fix, though – and it’s not hard to find it in the village, where good eats abound: Our outstanding meals at Taco Club, Nico’s Pizzeria, Paramjit’s Kitchen and the exceptional Quartermaster served up fun, homey and fine dining. Toasting our trip with an outstanding craft brew at Rumpus Beer Co., I admired the moxie of the husband-wife owners chasing their small-town dream and wondered, along with many others, I imagine, if Revelstoke is the kind of place where I could chase a dream too.

We packed a lot into just three days and could have easily spent a week revelling in this underrated corner of the British Columbia interior. I shouldn’t have been surprised: It’s right there in the name.

The writer’s travels were partially covered by Tourism Revelstoke. It did not review or approve this article.

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Vendors sell their wares at a weekend market in downtown Revelstoke.Kari Medig/custom

Your turn

The nearest airport to Revelstoke is Kelowna International Airport, about a 2½-hour drive away. If you’re up for a road trip, the drive from Calgary along the Trans-Canada Highway takes you through three national parks: Banff, Yoho and Glacier. It’s about five hours without stops.

For family-friendly accommodation, check out the historic Regent Hotel in downtown Revelstoke, adjacent to Grizzly Plaza, where you can enjoy free nightly musical performances throughout the summer. Rooms start at $199 a night;

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