Golden BC – Kicking Horse Country
Golden BC is located in ‘Kicking Horse Country’, one of the most beautiful places on earth. Banff, Glacier, Jasper, Kootenay, Mount Revelstoke and Yoho National Parks are all within an easy drive from Golden and no matter where you begin your trip to Kicking Horse Country, you will most likely pass through at least one of them on the way.
Welcome to Golden BC!
The town of approximately 4,500 people is situated on the Trans Canada Highway between the Rocky Mountain and the Columbia ranges and where the Kicking Horse and Columbia Rivers meet. It marks the eastern end of the famed Rogers Pass, one of the most spectacular mountain crossings in British Columbia. It’s a scenic 3-hour drive from Calgary, 9 hours from Vancouver, and 4 hours north from the US border.
From its humble beginnings, Golden BC has emerged into a lively town with a broad cross-section of residents from the four corners of the world. Tourism is a major industry in Golden and people come in every season for a wide variety of outdoor attractions.
They don’t call it the “Champagne Powder Capital of Canada” for nothing! Located at the northernmost point along the famed Powder Highway, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort provides a powder paradise. In winter, when as much as 700 centimetres (or more) of the fluffy white stuff falls on local slopes, skiers, heli-skiers and snowboarders flock to the award-winning ski paradise. But alpine skiing is not everything that Golden has to offer winter outdoor enthusiasts.
With an average snowfall in town of almost two metres, and more than three times that in the hills, the Golden area has, literally, hundreds of kilometres of trails to snowshoe on.
A great family activity, cross-country skiing gets you out into the fresh air along 33 kilometres of scenic, groomed skate and classic trails criss-crossing the hillsides through tall stands of alpine forests at the Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre. And just a 20-minute drive will take you to Yoho National Park’s ample wilderness trails, some of which are dog-friendly.
Looking for a real challenge? Maybe backcountry skiing is for you. Golden, because of its location near Rogers Pass and its huge snowfalls, tour guides and alpine lodges, is a great place to indulge your passion for adventures that are just a little more daring than the usual.
The sport is not one to take lightly, though. Well in advance of a backcountry tour in the Golden area, learn about avalanches, weather conditions and the gear and safety equipment that you will need. If you have never been in the area before, you would be wise to venture into the wilderness with a tour guide.
If a dogsled adventure is something that you’ve always thought you’d like to do, take an unforgettable journey behind a team of Siberian or Alaskan huskies.
Golden has been dubbed a mountain-sledders paradise! Why not explore the more than 240 kilometres that the Golden area offers for snowmobilers? If you’re unfamiliar with the terrain or a novice at the sport, there are plenty of guided tours to choose from. And like back-country skiing, snowmobilers going into wilderness areas need to know about avalanches and weather conditions before they head out.
Summertime presents activities for every taste. If you are an adventurer seeking the thrill of a lifetime, try white-water rafting on the fast and furious Kicking Horse River, cycle on 129 km of challenging XC bike trails, experience tandem paragliding, do some rock climbing or take a plane trip over the peaks.
If you prefer a slower pace to allow you to photograph the scenery and breathe in the clear, crisp mountain air, you can take the Eagle Eye Express Gondola at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Slow float or paddle a canoe down the Columbia River to view the abundant birds and wildlife in the Wetlands. Visit one of the local interpretive centres to learn about grizzly bears, wolves, buffalo and other native species or play a round of golf, hike, fish, or enjoy a horseback ride through the back country.
After an activity-filled day, you will welcome a comfortable night in your choice of accommodation in hotel, motel, lodge, B& B, hostel or campground. Dining is a pleasurable experience in the town’s many restaurants, diners, pubs and cafes.
Arts & Culture
Golden also has a thriving arts and cultural community. Kicking Horse Culture (the Golden Arts Council), brings a host of films, stage plays, musical performances to the Golden Civic Centre each year and the Art Gallery of Golden (AGOG) displays the works of the many local artists in exhibitions throughout the year.
History of Golden BC
In 1807, the explorer/cartographer, David Thompson, and his group came through this beautiful wilderness. A single building called ‘The Cache’ was used as a base camp for the original survey crew. In competition with another crew to the east which called its camp ‘Silver City’, they re-named their little camp ‘Golden City’, hence the name of the town. Prospectors originally came to pan for gold but eventually found the area less than they had expected. The CPR brought the men who built the railroad and their families, most of them leaving when their work in the area was finished. Some stayed, however and began to build a community.
The short-lived steamboat era saw the beginning of commerce in Golden in the late 1800’s, as the town quickly became the supply station for settlers to the south in the Columbia Valley. The steamboat was the only source of transportation among the new communities along the Columbia River, carrying passengers and all manner of goods between Golden and Columbia Lake. In 1914, however, the southbound CPR tracks were completed, signaling the end of one era and the beginning of another in the story of transportation in the area.
In the early part of the twentieth century, tourism began in Golden BC. The CPR hired Swiss guides to accompany the Europeans and Eastern Canadians who were eager to climb the great mountain peaks around the area. A village of Swiss-style chalets was constructed by the railroad to house the guides and the original ‘Eidelweiss Village’ still overlooks Golden, an ever-present monument to the legacy of the beginnings of the tourist industry.