Downtown Revelstoke (pop. 8,500) sits on a shelf of land above the confluence of the Columbia and Illecillewaet rivers. Founded in the 1880s, the town center retains a number of original storefronts and is pleasant to explore. You'll see plenty of coffeehouses, galleries, and some standout architectural jewels, like the domed Revelstoke Courthouse, 1123 Second St. W. Grizzly Plaza, near Victoria Road and Campbell Avenue, is lined with redbrick storefronts. It's the site of the Saturday farmers' market, as well as free live music from July to Labour Day, Monday through Saturday from 7 to 10pm.
Touring the Dams -- The Columbia River has the steepest descent of any large river in North America, and in terms of volume, is the continent's third-largest river, making it irresistible to hydroelectric dam builders. Two of the many electricity-generating dams on the river are near Revelstoke, and both are open for tours. Revelstoke Dam, 4km (2 1/2 miles) north of Revelstoke on Hwy. 23, is 470m (1,542 ft.) across and 175m (574 ft.) high. Self-guided tours of the visitor center explain how hydroelectricity is produced and how the dams impact the local ecosystem. An elevator shoots to the top of the dam, where you'll get a feeling for the immensity of this structure. The visitor center is open May to mid-June and mid-September to mid-October daily from 9am to 5pm, and mid-June to mid-September daily from 8am to 8pm. Admission is free.
A 140km (87-mile) drive up Hwy. 23 along the shores of Revelstoke Lake takes you to Mica Dam, the first large dam on the Columbia -- and large it is, much larger than Revelstoke Dam. More than 792m (2,598 ft.) across and 200m (656 ft.) high, Mica Dam forms Kinbasket Lake, which stretches for more than 160km (99 miles) and contains 14.8 trillion cubic meters (523 trillion cubic ft.) of water. The visitor center is open mid-June to Labour Day daily from 10:30am to 4:30pm. Tours are offered at 11am and 1:30pm.
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