Nestled between the Canadian Rockies and the Columbia Mountains, the town of Golden, with its eye-popping scenery, often serves as a rest point for western Canadian road trippers. Here the Kicking Horse River, famous for its wild white-water rafting and the Columbia River, wandering through the longest protected wetlands in North America, converge. Known as the birthplace of mountain adventure tourism, things to do in Golden often are associated with high adrenaline.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, with its world class downhill ski slopes, and big mountain snowmobiling, are globally renowned winter Golden attractions. Admittedly, when I think of challenging downhill terrain on skis, or on a motorized sled for that matter, visions of casts and emergency rooms race to mind.
After all not everyone is keen on hitting the expert double black diamond runs. Even those who are steep slope lovers may want a day off now and then.
Don’t have time to read the article now? Click on our video for a quick look at gorgeous Golden.
10 Things to do in Golden British Columbia in Winter
Snowshoe to Wapta Falls
Millions of diamonds twinkle before us on the trail. Such is the magic of sunshine on the light and dry champagne snow, which falls in copious amounts near Golden. The day we wander the easy trail, 10 kilometre (6 mile) round trip, off the Trans Canada Highway to Wapta Falls, we bring our snowshoes.
This day only hiking boots and poles are needed as the route is packed down by previous visitors. We suggest bringing snowshoes to the start of the trail, in case of new snow, to be on the safe side.
From the complete stillness, other than an occasional bird song, we hear the partially frozen falls before we see them. Then like a magical winter story book opening its pages, the water roars from the Kicking Horse River over the edge of the falls.
Mist and spray dance upward toward the snow covered mountain peeks keeping watch over the mesmerizing vista. Astonishingly, we are completely alone in this glorious winter scene, a mere 36 kilometres (22 miles) east of Golden.
Climb the Walls
Surrounded by some of the most majestic mountain scenes in Canada, Golden’s Dogtooth Climbing Gym welcomes those looking to try climbing in a warm and safe environment. With walls just over 20 feet high, as well as a bouldering area (where you don’t need to be roped in), the atmosphere is a welcoming one for all ages and abilities. Be sure to check the hours before heading over to try your hand at climbing in Golden.
“That was a really good throw!” The encouraging voice at the end of the curling ice is that of a Golden local who oozes with kindness as my shoulders slump. My curling rock glides only halfway down the ice.
Growing up on the Canadian prairies, I took up the game of curling as a child and kept playing in leagues and bonspiels into our early years of marriage. Having not touched a curling rock in 25 years, and apparently misplacing any curling skills I once had, I can attest to the welcoming ways of the curlers of Golden.
At the Golden Curling Club (1412 9 Street S), the oldest curling club in British Columbia, every Monday and Wednesday at 1:30 pm, in the winter months, visitors and locals alike are invited to try their hand at the game of curling. No experience is required.
For $5.00 cash, and sporting a pair a clean shoes, the curling club will supply any other equipment needed as well as coaching. On Friday evenings come for the 7:00 pm drop in and the upstairs lounge will be open for refreshments. In my recollection the best part of the sport!
Walk with the Wolves
Promoting wolf conservation in a natural environment, the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre strives to educate visitors on the value of wolves in wilderness. The interpretative program allows visitors to see wolves and learn about these extraordinary animals who balance ecosystems. No reservation is required and the Golden wolf centre is open seven days a week.
Should you want to try one of the most unique things to do near Golden, reserve a spot to walk alongside the wolves in the wild. The wolves explore freely through meadows and forests, surrounded by jaw dropping mountains.
Experience Mountain Cabin Paradise
There are a wide variety of places to stay in Golden BC, however waking up in utter tranquility, to a backyard of snowy wonderland is a treat for any traveler. With Goat Mountain towering as a backdrop, we fog up our patio door window with open-mouthed stares at the scene. As home cooked meals and breakfast baskets overflowing with warm baking are delivered to the door, leaving our Kicking Horse Kabin to explore things to do around Golden becomes the biggest challenge of the day.
Cross-country ski in a snow globe
The snow-laden tree branches bow their welcome as we gaze about the fairy tale frozen setting. Standing with our cross-country skis at Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre, local skiers from the Golden Nordic Ski Club, greet us with warm smiles and words of encouragement to boost our new-to-nordic-skiing jitters.
With over 33 kilometres (20.5 miles) of groomed runs, suitable for beginners to experts, branching out from the warmth of the large, wooden chalet, a winter wonderland to explore awaits. We, solidly in the beginner category, happily meander a 3 kilometre (1.9 mile) loop.
Having been nervous to start, we declare this to be one of the most fun things to do in Golden BC. Rentals and lessons are available, with reservations suggested on weekends.
Golden Time Travel
I can not take my eyes off the elephant-sized printing press just inside the door of the Golden Museum. Reported to have survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, its travel to Golden by train was no easy journey. Having to be rolled on logs and pulled by horses to the local newspaper office, the Golden Star, the monstrous press began churning out the local Golden paper.
Once retired by more modern means of media, the printing press, following a wall of the museum needing to be cut away, found its forever home. The weighty printing press is just one of many fascinating exhibits telling the rich, historical story of this authentic mountain town and its people.
Hockey night in Golden
Settling in on the wooden benches of the Golden arena, we are soon joining the applause for the beloved local Junior B ice hockey team, the Golden Rockets. Around us the home town crowd cheers players by name and we are soon caught up in their excitement.
It is a genuine Canadian experience. Small children, with noses pressed to the protective spectator glass, gaze longingly at their hockey heroes. One can imagine their dreams of one day being a Golden Rocket themselves as the buzzer bellows with another goal from the home team.
Take in the Arts
On a blustery afternoon, as we blow into the Art Gallery of Golden, I am in search of warmth more than art. Finding 80 local and regional artists represented inside, the array of paintings and unique hand-crafted gifts leaves me frankly surprised.
Kicking Horse Culture thrives with regular live performances and the incredible Snow King MasqueParade. A night festival of snow and ice carving, giant puppets and fire spinning, the annual event brings more than 1000 people to the town’s Spirit Square.
Beer to Stay or Go from Whitetooth Brewery
Inspired by the multitude of adventures in the mountains surrounding Golden, the labels of the Whitetooth Brewery bottles could serve as a tourism brochure. With Belgian inspired ‘Launch Pad’, its paragliding pilot coming off of nearby Mount Seven, or the ‘Blower Pow’ India Pale Ale, with a skier in bottomless powder snow, it is adventure captured in a bottle. The brewery has a small tasting room seating 44. Alternatively you can grab your action in a bottle to go.
Where is Golden BC?
Golden (pop. 3700), with its can-you-say-perfect-location near six Canadian National Parks (Banff, Jasper, Glacier, Kootenay, Yoho and Mount Revelstoke), is situated at the meeting of the Kicking Horse and Columbia Rivers.
From Calgary to Golden BC is 262 kilometres (163 miles) west. Travelling east from Vancouver to Golden the distance is 713 kilometres (443 miles). With just 139 kilometres from Banff to Golden, this serene gem makes a restful spot for exploring the Canadian Rockies in both summer and winter.
Which winter activity in Golden would you like to try?
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Thank you to Tourism Golden and partners for hosting our stay. All opinions are our own.