When I visited Golden, BC this spring I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The mountain town is just an hour and a half drive from my home in Canmore, but I’d only ever been once before.
My memory of Golden was fond, though. I’d visited a few years ago in May after spending the morning in the snow with my winter coat on at Lake Louise. I spent the afternoon in Golden drinking a beer on a patio by the river, wearing a sleeveless shirt. Can’t go wrong with that!
There were many things I’d yet to experience in Golden – snowmobiling being at the top of the list (more on that later) – and I had a blast the three days I was in town.
Golden is split north and south by the Kicking Horse River. The south is more residential, while downtown is located in the north. It’s also bordered by the Columbia River — the most dammed river in North America. It enters the Pacific Ocean in Oregon, and is only unaffected by dams from the headwaters to just north of Golden at Kinbasket Lake. (Another fun fact: there are no raccoons in Golden. Who knew?).
This town has a laid back vibe, tons of outdoor adventure and a great restaurant scene. I got to experience it all while I was there.
Many of the restaurant offerings are casual fine dining. Since the opening of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort about 15 years ago, the amount of restaurants in town has grown from roughly 5 to 30. Golden’s Cedar House has been ranked among the top 50 restaurants in Canada. I also had an amazing meal at Eleven22.
There’s entertainment and nightlife to be found year round in Golden. Summer is consistently busy, and weekends are busier in winter. Locals go out on Sundays, there are regular DJs and bands at Rockwater Grill & Bar (the closest place to a nightclub, I’m told) and there’s an open mic night at The Wolf’s Den. In summer, there are live concerts in Spirit Square on Tuesday or Wednesday nights. During ski season, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort has live music at Peaks Grill for après ski.
Golden is a small town, after all (it only has four stoplights), and the cinema plays one movie a week. Critically acclaimed films like 2014’s 99 Homes are screened five times throughout the winter. You’ll see films that have been at Cannes and TIFF.
Although it’s a small town, Golden does have a tattoo parlour, a 24-hour gym and an art gallery. It’ll have a brewery soon, too, when the Whitetooth Brewing Co. opens its doors later this year.
Golden also has 100-kms of singletrack mountain biking trails — they’re also great for trail running. Basically, the town is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. It’s also a snowmobiling mecca, being the first place west of Calgary and Banff National Park that you can snowmobile. Golden has dry champagne powder that advanced snowmobilers love. But beginners can have fun there, too. Approximately 12,000 to 15,000 people snowmobile in Golden each winter.
There are three main snowmobiling areas: Quartz Creek, Gorman Lake and Silent Pass. When I visited, my group went to Quartz Creek. This is as close as you can get to BC’s Glacier National Park without being in it.
I’d never driven a snowmobile before (or been on one), and I was nervous at first as I got used to the sled, but within an hour I was loving it and by the end of our five-hour day (with a one-hour break for lunch) I was hooked and dreaming of owning this awesome winter toy. But for now, I’ll just have to go back to Golden to go sledding again!