Golden British Columbia Rocky Mountains Vacation

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Where is the best place to explore the Canadian Rockies? There are many places, but one stands out for me as the perfect location for a Rocky Mountain vacation.

Last summer I planned a road trip from Calgary to the small town of Golden British Columbia and enjoyed 10 beautiful days in the Rockies. The population of Golden is around 3,700 and it’s got that friendly small town vibe, with great restaurants, cool shops, bike paths, and a hiking trail along the Kicking Horse River.

Another thing that’s great about Golden, the town makes for a  perfect jumping off point for exploring six National Parks in BC and Alberta.

This post is about cool things to do in and around Golden British Columbia.

During the long summer days, you have lots of time to explore and enjoy the outdoors. In June and July sunrise is around 5:30 and sunset around 10 pm in Golden. And speaking of time, did you know that not all of British Columbia is Pacific Time Zone?

Golden British Columbia Best Things to Do

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Golden BC Time Zone

The time in Golden BC is the same as in Calgary Alberta – the time zone is Mountain Daylight time in spring and summer and switches back to Mountain Standard Time in the fall and winter.

Most of the East Kootenay region of Southeastern BC is in the Mountain Time region and observes Daylight Savings Time.

If you visit Creston BC, you’ll want to remember the town observes Mountain Standard Time year round, so spring and summer it’s the same as Vancouver time zone but in fall winter Creston time is the same as Calgary.

Kicking Horse River Golden BC Canada

Getting to Golden BC

From Calgary to Golden – 3 hour drive

To get to Golden from Calgary is easy. You hop on the Trans-Canada Hwy 1 west and follow it all the way to Golden. Take the exit for BC Hwy 95 south to get into town.

From Vancouver to Golden – 7 hour drive

Getting to Golden from Vancouver is a full day driving commitment. Take the Trans-Canada Hwy 1 east and follow it to Golden, taking the BC Hwy 95 south exit to town. Kamloops and Salmon Arm are popular places to stop along the way.

Where is Golden BC on the map

Golden BC Weather

You should prepare for a variety of weather in Golden and pack some rain gear along with lots of layers so you can add or remove them as needed.

In the mountains the weather changes rapidly. Always bring extra layers even when it’s sunny and warm when you go hiking, biking, kayaking, etc.

June, July, and August are the warmest months in Golden with average temperatures in the 20’s (70’s F) and cooling down to around 10 degrees (50 F) at night.

Winter brings snow and ski season. Golden receives around 180 cm (72 inches) snow on average each winter.

Spring and Fall weather is more unpredictable so it’s always best to check the weather forecast for Golden and any day trip destinations.

Spirit Square covered bridge Golden BC

National Parks Near Golden BC

If you want to explore Canada’s national parks in Alberta and British Columbia, then Golden is the perfect location!

There are 6 national parks all within a few hours drive from Golden BC. Depending on how much time you have in Golden you could make day trips to all these national parks.

  • Glacier National Park BC
  • Kootenay National Park BC
  • Revelstoke National Park BC
  • Yoho National Park BC
  • Banff National Park Alberta
  • Jasper National Park Alberta

If you must choose only a few day trips, then I recommend visiting the 4 national parks in BC and save Banff and Jasper for another road trip.

Yoho National Park is the closest national park to Golden so if you’re only in town for a weekend getaway then Yoho is the one you want. Be sure to visit Emeral Lake!

Waterton National Park is about 5 hours drive from Golden so it’s too far for a day trip, but if you’re staying in Calgary you could go south to Waterton first, then drive to Golden, and stop in Fernie and Radium on the way.

Red canoes at the dock of Emerald Lake Yoho National Park BC

Red canoes on the dock of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park

Accommodation Golden BC

I stayed at an Airbnb in Golden. It wasn’t cheap. But I wanted to have a full kitchen so I could make my own meals sometimes, particularly breakfast.

You can search Airbnb for accommodation in Golden and book a reservation now.

There are lots of great restaurants in Golden so you can dine out every day if you prefer. Scroll down to see the restaurants I tried in Golden. Spoiler alert – they were all great!

When I book hotels, I use the website so I can see photos and read reviews from other travelers. Have a look at the selection of Golden BC hotels and make your reservation today!

Golden BC Municipal Campground

Golden BC Camping

While walking along the pathway by the Kicking Horse River in Golden I did see the Golden Campground. It’s right next to the river, surrounded by trees and mountains – beautiful location.

The Golden campground location is peaceful unless a train is passing through. The railroad line is directly across the river from the campground.

On the adjacent block from the campground there is a public swimming pool. I didn’t get a chance to go swimming, but the facility looks great and the prices reasonable.

Kicking Horse Bridge Golden BC

Things to Do in Golden BC

Kicking Horse River Walk – Walking trails on both sides of the Kicking Horse River are the perfect place for an evening walk or any time of day.

Downtown Golden – Walk around town and visit the shops and restaurants. There is also a hiking trail that circles around town. You get beautiful views from up on the hill and there are benches to stop and rest or have a picnic lunch or wait until you get back to town and have a beer :)

Spirit Square and Wooden Pedestrian Bridge – Spirit Square is the community gathering place and often features live music events in the warmer months. Be sure to walk across the wooden pedestrian bridge too. There are information panels on the bridge.

Mountain biking in Golden BC – Golden is a popular place for mountain bikers. With more than 100 km of bike trails you will find one to suit your needs.

Bike rentals Golden British Columbia

Kayaking, Canoeing, Rafting the Kicking Horse River – I didn’t go rafting but you can try Glacier Raft to book a trip on the Kicking Horse River. The also have kayak and canoe rentals.

Mount Revelstoke National Park – Take a day trip to Mt Revelstoke park (about 2 hour drive) and enjoy the scenic winding road up to the top on the Meadows in the Sky Parkway. Hike the trails and take in the panoramic views of the mountains.

Glacier National Park Canada is not to be confused with Montana’s Glacier National Park. Glacier park BC is one of the less visited national parks in Canada. The drive from Golden is about 45 minutes. Enjoy hiking in the Columbia Mountains.

Yoho National Park – This is one of the most beautiful national parks in Canada. Be sure to visit the Natural Bridge and Emerald Lake. And there are two waterfall hikes I recommend: Wapta Falls and Takakkaw Falls.

Posing at Kicking Horse River BC

These are two quite different waterfalls, so I recommend you hike to both. Takakkaw is a short walk whereas Wapta waterfall is a longer hike.

Field BC – Located in the Yoho National Park I recommend you have lunch at Truffle Pigs Bistro (they also have a lodge if you want to stay in Field BC) and be sure to save room for homemade pie with ice cream.

Banff National Park – Canada’s first national park and the most popular national park in Canada. Go hiking, fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, wildlife viewing, and enjoy being outdoors in the beauty of the Canadian Rockies.

Banff townsite – If you like touristy towns then Banff is for you! Banff is a gorgeous town surrounded by the Rockies. Visit the Banff Springs Hotel, Cave and Basin, and Upper Hot Springs.

Jasper National Park – About 3 hours drive from Golden you can drive one of the most scenic roads in the world – the Icefields Parkway – to Jasper National park and enjoy glacier lakes, amazing views, and spectacular hiking trails. I recommend you hike the Valley of Five Lakes and stop at Mistaya Canyon.

Kootenay National Park – Explore the beauty of Kootenay National Park with scenic drives, hiking, and camping. I hiked most of the Paint Pots trail, but it got too muddy so I’ll have to return for more hiking in Kootenay. In the winter months you can go skiing, snowshoeing, and ice climbing at Kootenay National Park.

Radium Hot Springs – This village with a population of less than 1,000 people is a popular destination for a vacation from Calgary. Enjoy the hot springs and relax.

Kayaking Kicking Horse River Golden BC

Golden BC Restaurants

White Tooth Bistro – My first meal in Golden was a delicious salmon salad at the White Tooth Bistro. This is a lovely bistro suitable for family dining, solo dining, or a date night.

Eleven22 – A busy and popular restaurant with excellent food and service. A fusion of Canadian and Asian cuisine and highly recommended!

Big Bend Café – My go to breakfast spot in Golden is Big Bend Café. I always go for the classic breakfast. They also have an impressive collection of hot sauces to choose from.

Bacon eggs hashbrowns toast - Big Bend Cafe classic breakfast

Purcell Coffee Shop – Another hiker recommended Purcell to me, so I went for a snack and coffee one morning. Excellent coffee.

Golden Bakery is my kind of place! I love baked goods and cookies, great snacks for a hiking trip or road trip treats.

Bacchus Books and Café – Books and coffee make me happy :)

Golden Farmers’ Market Wednesdays from 12 – 5 pm visit the farmers’ market in downtown Golden at Spirit Square. Shop for souvenirs, buy canned goods, baked goods, bread, cookies, etc.

For craft beer in Golden BC be sure to visit White Tooth Brewing Company. They have a large outdoor seating area, friendly staff, and yummy beer!

Whitetooth Brewing Golden BC

If you want to save some money and cook your meals, you can shop the grocery stores in Golden BC. There is an IGA and Save-on-Foods grocery store in Golden.

Beer and wine is not sold in the grocery stores in British Columbia. Shop for booze at the BC Liquor Store on 10 Ave, Mad Trapper on 9 Street, or Rocky Mountain Cold Beer, Wine & Spirits on Hwy 1.

Enjoy vacationing in Golden and exploring British Columbia! If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below.

Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge Golden BC

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Golden BC Best Things to Do

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling solo around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 5 of a solo road trip around the USA and Canada, living a nomadic life, and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

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