Artist Doris Needham and her husband Ernest needed a place to put her hand-sculpted cement creations, so they bought a forest and filled it with enchanted figures from fairytales and nursery rhymes. During the 1950s, they cleared trails and constructed rock walls over 8 acres with nothing but hand tools. Ernest built them a little home that looked a bit like a gingerbread house, and installed a gravity water system using the waterfall across the highway, which is still in use today.
When Rogers Pass opened, traffic began being diverted through the Needhams’ unusual haven, and in 1960 they decided to officially open up their Enchanted Forest to the public. What was once just a project they enjoyed together to invent their own happy place for their retirement was now a highly popular tourist spot for sightseers. One could not drive by and resist dragons and pirates lurking on boulders and behind trees, dwarves and fairies sharing the pools at the foot of waterfalls, or the adorable Candy Cane house belonging to the couple that created it all.
By 1970, a million people had stopped to visit the castle and marvel at the statues and tree houses and all the other surprises nestled in the Needhams’ forest. The couple realized that it had become unmanageable, and their retirement idea had turned into a challenging full time job. Wanting to enjoy the fruits of their labor before it was too late, Doris and Ernest sold their forest to Rocky and Juliet Ehlers and their children, Aza, Silas and Naomi.
Fortunately, the Ehlers loved the Enchanted Forest for what it was, and have continued to care for it and keep it available to visitors. The forest is full of twists and turns, each corner revealing a new small cottage with ferns growing on the roof, or a favorite nursery character sitting on a wall, full of whimsy. They boast over 350 figurines, a pirate ship, and the tallest treehouse in British Columbia. The forest itself is a beautiful site, with beaver ponds for boating, 800 year-old cedars, salmon spawning and moose and caribou sightings during migration months.
Know Before You Go
The Enchanted Forest is located midway between Sicamous and Revelstoke, British Columbia: 32 km (20 mi) West on Highway 1 from Revelstoke, and 35 km (21 mi) East on Highway 1 from Sicamous. From Kamloops or Kelowna BC, the Enchanted Forest is 2.5 hours hours East.