Situated off the Trans Canada Highway between the Rocky and Purcell Mountains, Golden, BC is a convenient fuel and caffeine stop on a road trip through the Rockies. But those who veer off Highway 1 to explore the historic downtown and its wild surroundings will quickly discover that Golden is a haven for outdoor adventurers, worthy of a trip all on its own.
Still, most only know this place as the jumping-off point to its six surrounding national parks: Yoho, Glacier, Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Mount Revelstoke. “I wish tourists would just spend a little bit more time here and actually see it for what it is,” says Jamie Froats, longtime Golden resident and founder of the Wandering Fern Cafe. “We’re not just a strip on the highway.”
Submitted by Jamie Froats | Credit: Hannah Keiver
As an adventure town in the Rockies, Golden’s coffee shops, restaurants and hotels attract an influx of young seasonal workers at the start of each summer and winter season who are eager for the opportunity to work while prioritizing outdoor play. After a summer in a customer service role at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Froats extended her stay for another season, charmed by the idea of experiencing Golden in the wintertime. “Then I wondered what a full year here would be like,” says Froats of her famous last words that resulted in her living in Golden for the last 11 years (and counting). As visitors to Golden will quickly discover, this story is a common one among residents who ventured here from destinations across the globe to indulge in a season of outdoor adventure, only to find it too hard to leave behind the dazzling mountainscape, welcoming vibes and outdoorsy lifestyle.
Situated in the Columbia Valley where the Columbia and Kicking Horse Rivers meet, Golden provides a stunning backdrop for water-based activities. Tackle Class III and IV rapids on an afternoon whitewater rafting trip down the Kicking Horse River; or, for a more relaxed experience, you can canoe, kayak or paddle board in the Columbia wetlands or down the Columbia River or even go for a dip on a balmy summer day. Surrounded by the Columbia and Rocky Mountains, Golden also offers a wealth of land-based activities for varying levels, like hiking, mountain biking, climbing and backcountry camping.
Having moved from Toronto, where she lived throughout university, Froats credits her appreciation for outdoor activity to being surrounded by the rugged landscape of Golden, prompting her to naturally swap her gym and yoga routine in the city for hiking and mountain biking. “I have an outdoor life now.”
Submitted by Jamie Froats | Credit: Elizabeth Lyle
Like many who live here, the outdoors permeates every aspect of her life in Golden. Mornings typically begin with a walk with her three dogs on the trails just a minute from her doorstep on the seven-kilometre Rotary Trail that wraps around town or any of the hiking and mountain biking trails that make up the Mount Shadows Trail Network. Having easy access to the trails also means she often enjoys a few hours of mountain biking on a whim on an evening after work.
Tourism Golden | Margus Riga
In the winter, Golden transforms into a playground for powder hounds, when skiers and snowboarders come to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, a mere 14 kilometres from Golden. Unlimited access to the town’s spectacular mountain ranges, old-growth forests and roaring rivers has encouraged both locals and visitors to pick up a new outdoor activity. However, 25-year-old Ryan Robinson, who moved here from Saint John, Newfoundland, to study adventure tourism almost two years ago, finds this environment most conducive to gaining and honing new skills in activities he already loves. “For example, skiing isn't just about riding groomers anymore like it was back home. I've spent lots of time in the backcountry over the past two seasons with guides who’ve taught me valuable lessons on how to safely enjoy the backcountry without getting myself into trouble,” says Robinson. “I can now do things I couldn't do before, such as safely navigate backcountry avalanche terrain, navigate a glacier in a whiteout or go on multi-day backcountry hut trips with my friends.”
Submitted by Ryan Robinson | credit Adam Squirea
Beyond the boundless opportunity for outdoor activities, both Froats and Robinson agree that their deep fondness for Golden is all thanks to its supportive and inviting community of like-minded outdoor adventurers, many of whom they've bonded with over a shared passion for a sport or been shown the ropes to a new activity.
Tourism Golden | Andrew Chad
This article was sponsored by Tourism Golden
To learn more about adventure activities in Golden, you can visit www.tourismgolden.com