It’s time for a road trip!
On your next road trip, go beyond the iconic destinations of Banff and Jasper and have a closer look at some underrated, world-class destinations you might have bypassed before.
I’m talking about Yoho and Kootenay National Parks and the towns in between. What do they have to offer? Let’s find out by taking Highway 1 from Golden to Field, turning at Castle Junction to take the 93 to Radium, and completing the Golden Triangle with the 95 along the Columbia River right back up to Golden.
Bring your hiking boots and a sense of adventure, because this route traverses through some mind-blowing beauty and a few cozy mountain towns to immerse yourself in.
Golden sits in the middle of six incredible national parks: Jasper, Banff, Kootenay, Yoho, Glacier and Mt. Revelstoke. The city itself overlooks the mighty Columbia River. While visiting Golden, I propose we experience a piece of that 2,000-kilometre-long historic river. Gliding through the wetlands on a SUP or in a canoe with spectacular views and the potential to see diverse wildlife sounds like a terrific way to explore the area.
If paddling isn’t your thing, Golden offers every other type of outdoor activity from fishing to skiing so there will be something exciting for us to do. We could leave our hikers in the car and hit the trail on hooves, experiencing the wilderness surrounding Golden on horseback with Bear Corner Bed and Bale in the Blaeberry River Valley.
Heading up the #1 towards Field, we’ll drive through Yoho National Park, soaking in the dazzling beauty comparable to Banff… minus the crowds. There are so many quick stops we could make along the way: the town of Field, Emerald Lake, the natural bridge and Takakkaw Falls.
Sherbrooke Lake is a worthy hike off the highway if you want to dip your toes in peaceful aqua waters reflecting impressive peaks, but one Yoho hike that’s been on my bucket list for a while is the Iceline Trail.
The reports of this aptly named trail promise glaciers, tumbling alpine waterfalls and turquoise lakes. The trailhead shares a parking lot with Takakkaw Falls and passes right by.
Afterwards, it’ll feel good to get back into the vehicle and take in some views from the highway. We’ll enter Alberta, turn right onto the 93 at Castle Junction and pop back into BC and Kootenay National Park.
From quick stops along the way to hikes deep into the backcountry, there are so many natural wonders to see in the Kootenays on the way to Radium: Marble Canyon, Numa Falls and Paint Pots. If you’re down for another hike, I’d love to book a Parks Canada guided tour to visit the Burgess Shale Fossils. This hike combines the beautiful Stanley Glacier Trail with an added section of rough trail and loose rock, totalling 10 kilometres out-and-back with an elevation gain of 365 metres. The objective: a UNESCO World Heritage site speckled with detailed fossils of ancient soft-bodied animals!
Next stop: Radium. This quaint, friendly mountain town is a hub of options for outstanding outdoor experiences. Of course, we can’t miss a dip in the namesake Radium Hot Springs pools. Take an afternoon or evening to soak your tired driving feet and relax in the natural, warm mineral water with mountain views.
Then, switch it up: book a thrilling white-water rafting adventure with Kootenay River Runners to get deep into the surrounding wilderness via the river. Their trip options promise a mix of relaxing paddles and riveting rapids, framed by magnificent scenery only the Rockies can provide.
Once it’s time to head back to Golden, we can’t ignore that we will travel alongside one of the largest freshwater wetlands in the world. The Columbia Wetlands are visited by over 260 bird species flying in from the eastern and prairie provinces and the coast. As we drive the 95 up to Golden, completing the triangle and an epic trip enriched by natural experiences, let’s keep an eye out for fellow (feathered) Canadian road trippers off the beaten path.
Read important travel information before your trip.