It’s June 2014, and we have a few days off, so we go on a short road trip, with no destination in mind. From Calgary, we head west on the famous Trans Canada Highway, that leads us through a very small part of the Rocky Mountains, then into British Columbia. After a while, we get tired, so we’re thankful to see Golden appearing on the horizon. We’re curious to check out this town, and after driving around for a bit, we decide to spend the night.
Golden is inside the Columbia Valley in southeastern BC, and 3,708 people lived here in 2016. It’s surrounded by the Rocky and Purcell Mountains, and is close to six national parks (Yoho National Park, Kootenay National Park, Banff National Park, Glacier National Park, Jasper National Park, and Mount Revelstoke National Park). Besides, two rivers are located in Golden, the Kicking Horse River and Columbia River. Many tourists travel on the Trans Canada Highway every year, so Golden is a popular stop, that’s why the local economy is highly dependent on tourism.
We really want to go camping this summer, so we’re staying at the Golden Municipal Campground and RV Park. It has 70 campsites (both serviced and unserviced tent sites), and we’re lucky to find one of the latter, right next to the Kicking Horse River, and are amazed by its turquoise colour. This campground is perfect for us, as it’s clean and well maintained, and offers a bunch of amenities, like a convenience store, laundromat, free WiFi, showers, and a firepit at each site (fire wood can be bought at C$ 10 per bundle). Besides, it’s only minutes away from downtown Golden, an outdoor swimming pool, playground, as well as the Golden Rotary Trails, which start at the back of the campground, and are popular with hikers and cyclists. The first thing I do after arrival is going for a walk on the pretty path by the river, to recharge from the drive! Several trains go by on the opposite side of the river quite often, so that’s fun to watch, too. Tonight we cook our own dinner, instead of eating at a restaurant, but plan to do that next time. Even though it’s been almost seven years since our visit, the Golden Municipal Campground and RV Park is still very budget-friendly, with rates ranging from C$ 35 to C$ 50 per night, based on two adults and two children under 16 years. Please note: If you’re sensitive to train noise at night, you might want to book a campsite further away from the river and/or bring earplugs.
The pathway next to the mighty Kicking Horse River, and a part of our tent site.
The next day we don’t do much, except for driving around Golden a bit more, then head back home. Still, this town left a great first impression on us, so we can’t wait to see more of it in the future!
In October 2016, we travel around Alberta and BC, and my companions want to see Golden. How exciting! Of course, the weather is a lot chillier now, so this time, we stay at Le Beausoleil Bed and Breakfast for a few nights, which is within a peaceful residential area, but just a short drive from the city centre and other attractions. Heather and Bob Munro, the kind owners and our hosts, meet us at check-in, and the warm and friendly atmosphere makes us feel right at home. We also love that natural wood and stones were used to build this place, as it makes it even cozier than it already is. Guests can choose between four large bedrooms, and there are private bathrooms, a guest lounge with TV and library, free WiFi, a ski and sport locker for storing equipment, an outdoor hot tub, and a beautiful garden area with a patio, deck, and walking path. A variety of tasty homemade breakfast food (bread, bagels, muffins, jam, waffles, etc.) is waiting for us each morning inside the two guest service areas, which is one of the best breakfasts we’ve had during this road trip! No single use dishes and cutlery (e.g. out of plastic or cardboard) are used, so that’s another plus! There’s also a dining room with fridge, microwave oven, and dishwasher, to cook simple meals. Since this residence is on a hill, it offers a great view of the Purcell Mountains and the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, and sometimes, local wildlife (e.g. eagles, bears, mountain sheep, deer, and coyotes) likes to hang out nearby, depending on the season. We’re sharing the Purcell Room with two comfy queen beds, and it’s always quiet, so I think it’s a perfect spot to relax and recharge from whatever you’ve been up to during the day. According to their website, Heather and Bob have lived in this area since 2001, so if you’re looking for insider tips on what to do in and around Golden, they’ll be happy to help! Although this accommodation is much fancier than tent camping, I think the cost is not bad at all. From mid-May to mid-October, it’s C$ 160 per night, and starts at C$ 130 per night during the winter (mid-October to mid-May), and pets are welcome as well (at C$ 20 extra per night, per animal). All rates are based on double occupancy, and might be different between Christmas and New Year’s, so please contact Le Beausoleil B&B directly for details. Although this residence is currently open for bookings, the hot tub is closed until further notice because of the pandemic.
It’s a beautiful fall day, so after breakfast, we’re heading out to explore some of Golden’s downtown area. I’m excited to introduce my companions to the Kicking Horse River, which has been my favourite part of Golden since our visit in 2014. And guess what, it hasn’t changed at all, and they love it just as much! So we go on a long walk on the path next to the river and back, and walk across the Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge. It’s 46 meters (150 ft) long, was completed in 2001, and is “the longest freestanding timber frame bridge in Canada”, as per Tourism Golden.
The Kicking Horse River and Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge.
We keep strolling around downtown Golden for a bit, when suddenly, a bright yellow and red coloured building grabs our attention: Bacchus Books & Café. Since we feel like taking a break, and it looks like a cool place, we’re excited to check it out. This quirky independent business has been at its current location for about 20 years, and is co-owned by Katie Mitzel and Petra Musick, who have many years of experience in professional cooking and catering. The building has two floors, where new and used books of numerous genres (such as fiction, travel guides, children’s books, cook books, art, politics, self help and psychology, and history books), but also journals, maps, and cards can be found! It’s possible to order books online, and pick them up at the store, and special orders can be arranged as well. They also have many handmade gift items, like jewelry, bags, t-shirts, mugs, paintings by local artists on the walls, and even chocolate from Mexico for sale! But now it’s “refueling time”, so we walk up the creaky stairs, where their café area is located. Bacchus Books & Café offers a variety of homemade sweet and savory foods for breakfast and lunch (e.g. muffins, cinnamon rolls, cookies, sandwiches, soups, and Buddha bowls), and is eager to use as many local ingredients as possible. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are available, too, and normally, no single use cups are provided for take out, to be as environmentally friendly as possible. For drinks, you can choose from coffee (roasted by The Banff Roasting Company) and tea specialties (by The Banff Tea Company), smoothies, and other cold drinks. My companions are in the mood for a café latte, and I’m having a berry smoothie, and all are super tasty, and I love that real fruit is used to make my drink! We’re happy to relax and enjoy our drinks while sitting at one of the tables, which gives this place a very cozy and “no rush” vibe. It’s too bad that it’s cold outside, so we cannot spend time in their outside sitting area, but it’s only open during summer months anyway. So after we’re done, we continue browsing for books and other items some more before heading back out. Normally, Bacchus Books & Café is open Monday-Saturday from 9-5 pm and 10-4 pm on Sundays, but because of COVID-19, their current hours were reduced to 10-4 pm daily. For café items, only take out is possible at this time, but free delivery within Golden can be arranged every day from 11-4 pm. Bacchus Books & Café has been providing catering for lots of small venues, and they’re currently replacing their old deck as well, for guests to watch the newly reconstructed path next to the Kicking Horse River. Plus, they pride themselves with having the best servers in town, and hosted awesome poetry slams and live music shows in the past. I’m so glad we gave Bacchus Books & Café a chance, as we love to support local businesses, and it’s great that the friendly staff is passionate about making a difference each day, for both their customers and the environment. Besides, it sounds like the perfect place for coffee and book lovers alike!
Later that day, we have burgers for dinner at a restaurant in downtown Golden. We much appreciate the tasty food and friendly service, but unfortunately don’t remember the restaurant’s name. Of course, it’s been more than four years since our visit, and who knew that I’d start this blog in the future, haha! 😆😅 In general, Golden offers a variety of cuisines for restaurants, such as North American, Indian, Japanese, Mexican, Chinese, and Italian, as well as pubs and bars, cafés, and fast food places (e.g. Mc Donald’s, A&W, and Subway). Many among these have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, and welcome families with children. More details can be found on TripAdvisor or Tourism Golden’s website, and because of the pandemic, restaurants, pubs, and bars in BC are currently restricted to offer takeout and delivery only. Sitting outside on a patio within your small bubble may be an option though, so I’d suggest to contact the restaurant or bar beforehand, if you’d like to do this.
After all this excitement, we just relax for the rest of the day at Le Beausoleil B&B. The next day after breakfast, we leave Golden, which is sad, but we look forward to exploring the next BC destination on our list!
Although we only saw a very small part of Golden, we had a blast, and can’t wait to come back! After doing some research on what else to do, it’s clear that this place is a year-round wonderland for adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts, no matter what time of the year you visit. So here are a few ideas, which, I think, sound like lots of fun:
- In spring, summer, and fall, Golden offers numerous water and land activities to locals and tourists. For example, there’s kayaking and canoeing on the Kicking Horse River and Columbia River, and on lakes in the nearby backcountry, like Emerald Lake inside Yoho National Park. These bodies of water, same as Blaeberry River, Kinbasket Lake, and Cedar Lake, are great for stand up paddle boarding as well. Nearby national parks (Yoho, Glacier, and Kootenay National Park) look like a hiker’s paradise for all abilities, including families. The Kicking Horse Bike Park (accessible by gondola, from late June to early October) and Mount 7 are mountain biking hotspots, especially if you’re into downhill riding! Golden is famous for (whitewater) rafting as well, on the Kicking Horse River, Columbia River, and Blaeberry River. Yoho National Park and the Northwest Ridge of Mt. Sir McDonald, 80 west of Golden, “one of the three classic 50 climbs in North America”, according to Tourism Golden, are great spots for climbing and mountaineering. Of course, there are a lot more things to do, like sightseeing, fishing, waterfall viewing, horseback riding, golfing, skydiving, and last but not least, lots of shopping opportunities (like the Golden Farmers’ Market from late May to early October)!
- In winter, it seems like a popular activity is skiing/snowboarding at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (mid-December to mid-April), which is 6 km (3.7 miles) from Golden, and has 120+ runs for all skill levels. On average, 730 cm (23 feet) of snow falls at mid-mountain each year, and it has 3,400+ acres of terrain, plus “the fourth-highest vertical drop in North America”, as per Tourism Golden. There are also tons of hotels, restaurants, and shopping opportunities inside the resort. The longest run is 10 km (6 miles) long! Heli and cat skiing (single or multi day packages, with or without lodging), e.g. with Chatter Creek Cat and Heli Skiing and Purcell Heli Skiing, are an option as well. In addition, you can take advantage of many cross country skiing and snowshoeing trails by the Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre and inside Yoho National Park, go ice climbing at Kicking Horse Canyon, as well as snowmobiling and ski touring. If you’re into indoor climbing and bouldering, check out the Dogtooth Climbing Gym and Gear Store, which is open all year, and all ages and abilities are welcome. Depending on the activity, tour packages, rentals or lessons can also be booked with local operators all year.
More details on any of these activities, and suggestions for organizing a trip in this area can be found on Tourism Golden’s website. The staff also keeps visitors up to date about the most current COVID-19 travel restrictions. So when the time is right to travel, I recommend stopping at their visitor centre:
GOLDEN VISITOR CENTRE
1000 Trans Canada Highway
I’m happy to share a video about summer activities in and around Golden, courtesy of Tourism Golden:
For visiting Yoho and other nearby national parks, it’s recommended to buy a Discovery Pass, which allows unlimited entry to all national parks of Canada for one year. The cost is C$ 69.19 per adult (18-64 years), C$ 59.17 per senior (65+ years), and C$ 139.40 for a family/group of up to 7 people sharing one vehicle. Admission for youth 17 and under is free of charge, and single location and day passes are available as well. Please see Parks Canada’s website for more information.
So whether you’re into spending time outdoors and being adventurous, or looking for a relaxing getaway, I suggest visiting his cute little mountain town in the future!