Golden, British Colombia Travel Guide

The town of Golden is about as far east as you’ll find a town in British Colombia of any substantial size.  For many Albertans, Golden is merely a stop at the Tim Hortons to break up the long drive between Alberta and the Okanagan or Vancouver.  However, the bypassing highway doesn’t exactly show off the historical character of the town, nor does it show the natural wonders that lie nearby.  Moreover, if you’re around in the wintertime, this is a mecca for heli-skiing, snowmobiling, and other winter outdoor sports.  Don’t let the bland exterior along the highway fool you, there is plenty to do and see in and around Golden, British Columbia.

Golden, British Columbia, Canada

I am sorry… but I worked in the area as a guide and have no photos on me… instead, you get photos from the commons like this one 😀
By Notman & Son. [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Things to do in Golden

As I mentioned in the intro, Golden is all about outdoor activities.  From hiking and mountain biking in the summertime to skiing/snowboarding and sledding in the wintertime, there is plenty to keep you occupied during the day and then completely exhausted in the evening.  The truth is, however, that if you’re going to want to get the most out of Golden, you’re going to want to have your own wheels.

  • National Parks: In the area there are 3 national parks which are possible to visit via daytrip. Glacier National Park is the closest and is full of great hiking. Bugaboos National Park is the least developed but in the summer is a rock climber’s dream and in the winter home to perhaps the best Heli-Skiing in Canada.  Finally, Yoho National Park is a bit of a drive but is the most accessible and holds amazing sights like The Natural Bridge, Emerald Lake and the incredible Takakkaw Falls.
  • Whitewater Rafting: I’ll never forget rafting the kicking horse river.  To this day, I claim it’s the best rafting I’ve ever done and I’ve rafted on 3 different continents.  Go in the springtime for the highest water levels and biggest waves.
  • Grizzly Bear Refuge: Up at the kicking horse mountain resort there is a huge grizzly bear refuge and tours are available.
  • Wolf Refuge: There is also a wolf refuge just west of town called the Northern Lights Wolf Center.
  • Mountain Biking: There is some amazing mountain biking, both downhill and cross-country in Golden.  As far as I remember, you can get a pretty incredible trail map at the info center in town as well.
  • Ski and Snowboard Resort: The Kicking Horse Ski Resort sees some really nice snow and is really easily accessible.
  • Heli-Skiing: There are a bunch of operators in town. But, believe me, it’s not cheap.
  • Snowmobiling: There are actually a bunch of place just outside of town designed specifically for this, rentals and tours are available as well.  Again, it’s not exactly cheap.
Golden, British Columbia, Canada

By Alaskan Dude via Wikimedia Commons

Where to Eat in Golden

The beauty of British Columbia for me is the abundance of local options.  Sure, the fast food chains are available as well, but there is a strong emphasis on the local deli, coffee shop or restaurant.  I’ve listed a couple below:

  • Golden Bakery and Deli: The local deli is a great place to get a fresh soup and sandwich for lunch.
  • Eleven22: Maybe the nicest restaurant in town.  There are plenty of good eats in the hotels, but the atmosphere is great as well.
  • Carlito’s Pizza: Best pizza in town from what I’m told.  I’ve ordered from here and thought it was really good, but I haven’t had the “oppurtunity” to try them all.
  • Rockwater Bar and Grill: Good atmosphere and decent food for a bit of a more bar-style bit of eating.
Emerald Lake, Golden, British Columbia, Canada

Beautiful Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park
By Smith609 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Where to Stay in Golden

Aside from the expensive hotels in town, of which there are quite a few, there are actually some hostels as well.  In the wintertime you’ll find these places packed with ski and snowboard bums, and in the summer the crowd is much more varied.

  • Dreamcatcher Hostel: For my money it’s the better of the two in town, although neither are bad.  The location is great and a dorm is about $30-35.
  • Kicking Horse Hostel: Maybe a step down from Dreamcatcher but still  a very nice property.  It’s also a little bit cheap than Dreamcatcher so you will save a little bit of beer money by staying here instead.

Getting out of Town

Watch me sigh as I say this: “without your own wheels, you’ll have to take Greyhound to get anywhere.”  Just a bit of advice, last I checked if you booked a greyhound ticket exactly 7 days before the date of departure you got the ticket for half off.  I think that’s the case across Canada.  You’ll also get better deals booking online than in person.

There are quite a few hitchhikers that leave from Golden and it is possible to catch a ride, especially if you go down to the truck stop.  However, while hitchhiking itself isn’t illegal in British Colombia, picking up hitchhikers is, so many motorists are apprehensive about picking someone up.  That being said, it’s not illegal in neighouring Alberta and it’s much easier to get a ride in British Columbia.

  • Vancouver: The bus will be coming via Calgary so it might be a bit late, but once you get going again you should get to Vancouver in about 12-14 hours.
  • Kamloops or Kelowna: Likely will be a Vancouver-bound bus, shouldn’t take more than 6 hours to get you to either city there.
  • Calgary/Banff/Lake Louise: You’re looking at about 6-8 hours to get to Calgary, 3 to get to Lake Louise and 4 to get to Banff.

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