Golden BC is a charming mountain town within 280 kilometres of Calgary. Situated at the midpoint of six breathtaking National Parks (Banff, Glacier, Jasper, Kootenay, Revelstoke, and Yoho) it offers campervan travellers an easy way to explore Western Canada’s best national parks.
Many vacationers gas up at Golden and continue on. After all, there are 148 kilometres between Golden and the next gas station. Don’t be one of these people! Golden has views, activities and culture. We personally believe it is a town to visit. In today’s blog, New Age Travel and Services will show you why!
The drive from Calgary to Golden is straightforward. Head west on the Trans-Canada Highway.
What’s cool about the drive, you ask? Well, ~8,000km long, the Trans-Canada Highway is one of the longest national highways in the world. Plus, the highest point of this whole stretch of road is outside Golden. It's at a point called The Kicking Horse Pass and clocks in at 1,643m elevation.
Once over the pass, you hit another point of interest: Park Bridge. You drive down this bridge looming 958m (295 feet) above the Kicking Horse River. This height makes Park Bridge the tallest bridge built in Canada.
Also worth mentioning is the Kicking Horse Canyon construction project. This is a 5km stretch of highway approximately 10km before the town of Golden on the TransCanada. That section of highway is closed until May 14th and drivers must detour through highways 93 and 95 (through Radium and Kootenay National Park).
From May 15 - June 1st, the highway will be open only on Saturdays & Sundays, along with the holiday Monday (May 24th). The highway closes nightly on the weekends at 10pm. The highway remains open on Friday nights.
From June 1st through to mid-September, the highway will be open during the day (7am - 10pm), 7 days per week, but will closely nightly except for Friday nights.
What to do
Since there are so many things to do in Golden, we had a hard time narrowing the activities down. But, below are 3 ideas that (we hope!) will excite you: the whitewater rafting experience of a lifetime, adrenaline-pumping mountain biking, and miles and miles of scenic running trails.
Whitewater Rafting with Wild Water Adventures
The Kicking Horse River, near Golden, BC, is the biggest whitewater river in the Rockies. With its Class 2, 3, 4, and sometimes even 4+ waves and rapids, it is a white water experience of a lifetime. We recommend booking a white water rafting adventure with Wild Water Adventures who have been operating since 1992!
They offer options from ‘mild to wild’ that will fit any group's comfort zone.
The Gentle is a splashy introduction to whitewater rafting (and very family-friendly)
The Whitewater Exciter is a non-stop ride with BIG whitewater action from start to finish
The Tradition puts the two shorter trips together for the longest experience possible
Maximum Horsepower is a double run of the Whitewater Exciter, “with a twist”! True adrenaline seekers can max out their quota on the Maximum Horsepower
Wild Water Adventures did mention that the construction will not influence their rafting trips! However, they recommend to all guests to check DriveBC or Alberta511 before leaving home to avoid nighttime closures.
Down Hill Biking at Kicking Horse Resort
I tried downhill biking for the first time last year. It was quite the adrenaline rush!
We had already skied at Kicking Horse Mountain enough to know that it’s not a beginner’s hill. This playground is steep and tests your skills. So, trying a new sport there was (slightly) nerve-wracking. If we weren’t already nervous watching from the campervan, the layers of protective gear didn’t add much comfort.
But, once we learned how to maneuver the berms, bumps and other obstacles, we had an absolute blast. It proved that “if [something] excites you and scares you at the same time, it might be a good thing to try”.
The bike park uses the same rating system as a ski and snowboard run. Green Circles, Blue Squares and Black Diamonds.
Trail running is a great way to build strength in your legs without hurting your joints. Not to mention, running trails are easy on the eyes. The inner city trails in Golden are double wide and naturally soft surfaces. There are over 100 kilometres of running trail accessible from town. So you can hop on a trail from your camping spot and run as long as your heart desires.
This photo was taken just outside Golden while running the Iceline Trail. We ran past 5 waterfalls in 26km!
More on the Iceline Trail in a later blog!
Where to Sleep
As a phenomenal mountain destination, the area offers plenty of campground options. We decided to hook up our camper at the Whispering Spruce on our visit. This campground has a great location straight off Highway 1. They’re pet-friendly with free wi-fi. The vanlife doesn’t demand much else.
Golden Municipal Campground
In close proximity to the city center, the municipal campground is a convenient spot to park the campervan for the evening. It’s a 5-minute walk into town.
Where to Eat
Big Bend Café
Call me crazy, but breakfast is my favourite meal. Sipping coffee while reading the news and the smell of maple syrup on my pancakes? That is my ideal morning! So when we were visiting Golden we had to eat at Big Bend Cafe. They’re a diner-style breakfast joint. And what was most important for Joey, they served BIG portions. Jimmy Buffet would love it here, too. You can start your day with local microbrewery beers on draft. They serve craft beers from 9 am till closing. To quote Jimmy: “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere”.
Wolf’s Den burgers are delicious. They use their own mix of meats to make the juiciest of patties. Their veggie burger was also impressive. The website promised “massive patties”. That’s what we got! If you go to the Wolf’s Den, try getting a seat on the patio. Let’s just say while sitting on the patio, you cannot forget where you are: a mountain wonderland.
What Will You Do?
If you'd like to rent a campervan in Calgary, add Golden to your itinerary. Look up #goldenrules to see the mountains, activities, and people of this charming town.
Contact New Age Travel and Services with any questions you have. We would love to discuss your upcoming campervan holiday. You can book your campervan rental online or check out other tips & tricks in our news section.