I love where I live: Vancouver, British Columbia. I hope you love where you live as well—if not, why live there? But there’s another region not far away that, every time I visit, makes me question why I hang my hat on the rainy coast.
This region for which I yearn has everything I desire: world-class outdoor recreation, quality local producers, stunning scenery and welcoming vibes.
This region is BC's Kootenay Rockies, set amongst the mountain peaks, rushing rivers, frosty glaciers and dense forests of southeastern BC. In particular, the town of Golden—tucked into the Columbia Valley with the Rockies on one side and the Purcells on the other—draws me east.
It only took one long weekend to make me fall in love with Golden. And if you head there this winter, you'll fall in love too.
Day One: Fat Biking at Cedar Lake Recreation Site
The first day’s a short one—spend it exploring the mellow terrain of Cedar Lake Recreation Site, just a few minutes outside of downtown Golden. Hit up the folks at Higher Ground Sports for a fat bike rental, then continue along Kicking Horse Drive to a mountainside parking area near an extensive groomed trail network local fat-bikers have so painstakingly maintained. Swoopy trails through dusted evergreens; flat frozen lakes; few crowds. Spend a couple of hours getting sweaty here; you’ll uncover a sense of the Kootenay lifestyle just a few pedals in.
Day Two: Alpine Skiing at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
With a staggering 1,315 metres of vertical and 1,410 hectares of terrain—Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is the number-one reason outdoorsy folks in-the-know flock to Golden over winter. Hard-chargers can head into some of the 87 in-bounds chutes from Terminator 1 and 2, Redemption Ridge and CPR Ridge. Or bootpack into Rudi’s Bowl for some quality slackcountry. Scouting mellow terrain? Cruise a lengthy green-rated cat-track right from the top of the Golden Eagle Express, with options to branch off to blacks or blues as you meander toward the base. Later, have lunch at Eagle’s Eye—the highest-elevation restaurant in Canada—then continue your afternoon exploration of one of the largest and most impressive ski hills in BC.
Day Three: Trek to Wapta Falls (Yoho National Park)
Your quads are scorched from yesterday’s ski; it’s time to enjoy some winter-season shinrin-yoku. Bathe in the essence of pine, spruce and fir trees frosted-white as you hike the seasonally-closed access road towards Wapta Falls, a gem of Yoho National Park (20 minutes east of Golden). The roadway eventually eases to a gentle trail that descends toward the Kicking Horse River and Wapta Falls—at 30 metres high and 150 metres wide, it is one of the Rockies' most stunning cascades. During winter, it's a sculptural masterpiece: partially iced over with glassy castles encasing its relentless torrent. The return trek is about nine kilometres—distance enough to keep most crowds away. (Snowshoes or trail crampons recommended.)
Stay at Cedar House Chalets & Restaurant—where every chalet has its own private hot tub, and you can dine onsite at one of the best restaurants in the region.
Drink at Whitetooth Brewing—Golden’s quality craft brewery and genuine locals’ hangout, located near the downtown core.
Eat at Eleven22, located on the south side of the Kicking Horse River, for delectable regional fare and BC wines on offer.