Surrounded by six incredible Canadian national parks, Golden is as picturesque as it is adventurous. This is the place to go if you want to be outdoors. When driving from Calgary, Banff, or Lake Louise, Golden is the first big town you’ll see as you enter British Columbia. In fact, from the highway, it might not look like much. Without taking a small turn into the town, you’ll simply pass by gas stations and fast food joints, all the while missing this historic mountain-town and neighboring Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
Spring, summer, fall, or winter, there’s no shortage of outdoor things to do in Golden. In the spring, we’ve gone white water rafting on some of the most epic rapids in Canada. In the summer, we’ve tried mountain climbing via Ferrata, and in the winter, we’ve gone skiing and snowmobiling, just to name a few things to do. How could you go wrong? It’s the perfect base for exploring some of Canada’s most beautiful scenery while escaping the crowds in Banff and Canmore.
Kicking Horse Resort
Located just outside of Golden is wonderful Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. This is one of the best places in Golden to experience adventurous activities in both the winter and the summer months. We make it a mission of ours to visit at least once per year, experiencing something new each time. It’s most known for world-class skiing and snowboarding, as well as being the champagne powder capital of Canada. Also, because it’s not located within a provincial or national park, there are other fun activities on hand as well, including snowmobiling, which is offered by Rocky Mountain Riders (you can save 10% with the Saver Card). In the summer, there’s a variety of hiking trails, mountain climbing, and even an on-site Grizzly Bear, which was rescued as a baby and now lives in an on-site refuge. Needless to say, this is a place you don’t want to miss if you’re spending time around Golden. We’ll go into more detail below.
What To Do in Golden
As mentioned in the beginning, Golden is surrounded by six beautiful national parks; Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Glacier, Kootenay, and Mount Revelstoke. There are also many provincial parks. Long story short, it’s surrounded by mind-blowing beauty everywhere you look. It’s also not quite as busy as world-famous Banff and serves as a great base for exploring hiking trails, world-class skiing, waterfalls, lakes, and various heritage sites.
Basically, Golden is a great place to get outdoors. If you want to be outdoors and experiencing adventure, this is the place to do it.
Although Canada has four seasons, we’re going to break this article down into summer and winter. In other words, warmer weather and colder weather.
Things to Do in Golden in the Summer
During the warmer months, the snow is gone and the rivers are flowing. The flowers are blooming and the mountains glimmer like greyish steel. Winter parkas can be left at home and hiking shoes are a must. Welcome to Golden in the summer!
Hiking is always the first activity we list when asked about things to do in the summer anywhere in the mountains. It’s a simple activity and is basically free. However, we do recommend good shoes and getting prepared. There are hundreds of hikes all over the mountain parks, ranging from an easy one-hour hike to very difficult multi-day treks. Whichever hike you choose, plan accordingly and talk to people who know what they’re talking about. Be mindful of animals. There are many around here, including black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, and cougars. You’ll want to carry bear spray at the very least. However, you’ll be rewarded with jaw-dropping views, serene nature, mountain rivers and streams, and even waterfalls, depending on where you go.
Mountain Climbing Via Ferrata
Those wanting to try mountain climbing will want to check out the most exhilarating Via Ferrata in Western Canada! Whether you’re new to the sport or experienced, Kicking Horse Resort’s Via Ferrata will have you tackling Terminator Park’s north face, choosing from routes of 3 varying lengths and degrees of exposure. Toss in a 197-foot suspension bridge and you have yourself an adventure!
Boo the Grizzly Bear
While seeing a wild grizzly bear on a hike may not be the experience you desire, there is an opportunity to see one up close at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. His name is Boo and he was rescued as a cub when his mother was hit by a car. He now lives in a massive refuge within Kicking Horse Resort and can be seen for a small fee. It’s a great opportunity to see a grizzly bear up close while also learning about bears and other wildlife in the area.
Certainly not for the faint-hearted, mountain biking is another popular activity in the area. If you really want to experience mountain biking, you’ll want to head to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Here they rent them out and also provide trails and a chairlift to get you up to the top. I must admit. I did a lot of biking as a kid, up and down hills and various trails in the Boreal forest. However, this was my first time for true mountain biking and it’s quite intense. Skiing down a mountain is one thing, but coming down when all the rocks are exposed is another. It is exhilarating though, and for those with experience, it will likely be one of the best things you do. If mountains and biking don’t go together for you, there are lots of other non-downhill trails you could try out. Stop into the Golden visitor’s Centre and ask them where to go!
Golden White Water Rafting
My favourite warm-weather activity is whitewater rafting and there’s no better place in the country than Golden, BC! Home to the Kicking Horse River, Golden is a great place to experience intense Class 3-4 rapids. If you want maximum extreme, aim your visit for May and June, which is when the snow in the mountains is melting and feeding the glacier-fed rivers. The water is very cold but is well worth it for the excitement. If you don’t care about extreme rapids, you can visit anytime in the warmer months, with the hottest temperatures occurring in July and August. The water is never warm 🙂
Things to Do in Golden in the Winter
During the colder months, there’s a lot of snow and the area becomes a winter wonderland. The mountains go from grey to shimmering white. Everything is blanketed in snow and winter jackets are definitely needed. Welcome to Golden in the winter!
Skiing and Snowboarding
With Kicking Horse Mountain Resort located just outside of Golden, this is a great place for world-class skiing and snowboarding. Not only are they known for being the champagne powder capital of Canada, but they also offer Ski-in-ski-out accommodation, which makes it easy to sleep, eat, and ski without leaving the resort. Whether you’re a beginner or expert skier, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort has many runs for you.
If you’re looking for an exhilarating experience to go speeding through a snow-covered forest, you’ll want to jump on a snowmobile. Not only are the mountains all around you, but there are thousands of kilometres of groomed trails to explore as well as backcountry adventures for those with experience. Rocky Mountain Riders offer guided snowmobile tours for all groups of all sizes, plus you can save 10% with the Must Do Canada Saver Card.
What started thousands of years ago as an essential mode of winter travel has now evolved into a sport that can be taken up by almost anyone. Snowshoeing is basically winter hiking with a contraption strapped to the boots that allow you to walk through deep snow easier. It’s a great way to get some exercise and experience the wilderness without breaking the bank. All you’ll need is snowshoes, which can be rented our bought.
If you want even more exercise, cross-country skiing might be the activity for you. Rather than letting gravity assist you, such as in downhill skiing, cross-country skiing is done mostly on level land, relying on your own locomotion to move across snow-covered terrain. It’s a very popular sport in Canada and is quite accessible and easy to learn. This is one of the few Olympic sports that can be practiced without the fear of going crazy fast or going downhill. Many places rent out skis, boots, and poles.
Skating is a very popular pastime in Canada during the winter months. It can be done on an indoor rink, which is much more smooth, or it can be done outside on a frozen lake, pond, or man-made rink. Made popular by both ice hockey and figure skating, skating is a great way to get some exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and be surrounded by beautiful winter scenery. All you need is skates and warm clothing.
Golden BC Accommodation
If you’re visiting Golden to enjoy the outdoors, you’re probably going to need a place to stay. There are many motels in Golden BC as well as hotels, lodges, B & B’s, and campgrounds in the summer. You can stay right on the ski hill at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort or you can stay within the town of Golden. Accommodation is fairly inexpensive in the winter months and a bit more expensive in the warmer months. However, it’s much cheaper than staying in Canmore or Banff.
There is a wide range of places to stay in Golden BC, including cheap motels (we’ve stayed at the Rondo motel and was decent for the price) and mid-range hotels such as the Best Western Golden BC. We stay at a lot of Best Western’s across the country and always enjoy the free breakfast (most include this), free WiFi, and free parking.
For Kicking Horse Resort itself, we’ve stayed at Copper Horse Lodge, which is pictured above. This was a great place that is about a 1-minute walk from the ski resort. They have an excellent breakfast, huge rooms, a beautiful cozy fireplace in the main lobby, free cappuccinos, and an in-house fancy steakhouse, which is where we had dinner during our stay. Steak, shrimp, salmon – it’s delicious!
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