“Do you know you can get to six of Canada’s national parks in no more than two hours from Golden?”
I give Hubby my ‘that absolutely cannot be true’ look. I throw in an eyeball roll for good measure. Known for his relentless collection of trivia I am certain this time he is wrong.
“That’s impossible! Are you saying you can drive to six Canadian national parks from Golden or you can fly a helicopter to six of Canada’s national parks from Golden?”
After more than three decades of marriage I am on to his clever ways.
Google maps steps up as Hubby’s assistant. “See right here! From Golden you can drive to Glacier, Mt. Revelstoke, Yoho, Kootenay, Jasper and wait for it…. Banff National Park!”
He smiles with satisfaction. He and buddy Google illustrate the driving routes in minutes right before my eyes. Such a brilliant pair they are.
I have a confession to make. For decades I scoffed at the naming of the town Golden, British Columbia. A gas station stop on family holidays from Calgary to Canada’s west coast, the highway collection of businesses seemed to have a serious case of overstating itself.
With a squirming toddler tucked under an arm or years later a ‘when-will-we-get-there-shoulder-slumping-teenager, the strong java and convenient snacks were the best things this harried parent could ask for.
The fact that six of the best of Canada’s national parks surrounded Golden was no where to be found on my busy Mom radar.
Perhaps in one of the largest examples of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ humble learnings, the true Golden recently revealed itself. Tucked in a sweeping valley, the town of Golden quietly hides leaving it’s highway businesses to welcome tourists passing through.
However once within the town visitors are greeted quaint and colourful restaurants and boutique shops, large art murals, pretty park spaces, turquoise rivers and a world class ski resort. Notably absent is the rush and noise of tour buses.
Apparently they, like I, have no idea about the quiet mountain gem.
How did Golden get its name?
David Thompson, a jack of all trades map maker, explorer and fur trader arrived first in 1807. In an epic effort threading his way through the Canadian Rockies in search of a route to the Pacific Ocean, he came to the junction of the Kicking Horse and Columbia rivers.
In 1881 surveyor A.B. Rogers was hired by the Canadian Pacific Railway. If you think your job is tough, Rogers was handed the task of finding a way to get a train through the Rocky and Selkirk mountain ranges.
He established a camp for his crew in the area Thompson had been some 70 plus years earlier naming it ‘The Cache’. When a nearby lumber camp took on the title Silver City, not to be outdone, the residents of the Cache renamed their town Golden. Take that Silver City!
Six Mountain Marvels – Canada’s National Parks Near Golden
In 2017 admission to Canada’s National Parks will be free. In celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, fees to the national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas are waived.
Glacier National Park
The birthplace of North American mountaineering, Glacier National Park is also home to some of Canada’s most fascinating transportation stories. Roger’s Pass, a world renowned ski touring destination, is most famous for its history in the country’s first railway route through the once thought impenetrable mountain peaks.
Yoho National Park
In Golden’s backyard, Yoho National Park boasts 28 mountain peaks higher than 3000 m (9842 ft) and hiking trails totally 400km ( 249 mi). A World Heritage Site, the Burgess Shale is one of the world’s most important fossil fields with soft body preservation of marine ecosystems dating back 508 million years.
Mt. Revelstoke National Park
With snow deeper than 5 metres (16 feet) each winter, Mt. Revelstoke National Park is a winter activity paradise. In summer walk in the old-growth interior rain forest of the Giant Cedars and the mountain top explosion of wildflowers in mid August.
Kootenay National Park
Glaciers to hot springs, canyons to waterfalls Kootenay National Park is big on diversity. Walk with cacti in the sweeping valleys and stand awestruck at viewpoints of snow capped mountains.
Banff National Park
The birthplace and most famous of Canada’s national parks is Banff. Spanning 6641 square kms (2,564 square mi), this Canadian jewel sprawls with mountains, glaciers, rivers, valleys, forests and meadows.
Jasper National Park
One of the largest and oldest, Jasper National Park provides a laid back mountain experience. With one of the largest Dark Sky Preserves on earth and over 1000 kms of hiking trails, Jasper carries the nickname the Gentle Giant.
So it turns out Hubby was right and I was wrong. Don’t tell him I said so.
Come take a walk with us below to see Golden. Just click on the video and we will meet you there!
“Did I tell you Golden also is near three provincial parks?”
I tell you it is like being married to an encyclopedia.
Thanks to Tourism Golden and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort for hosting our stay. All opinions as always are our own.
Sounds like Dave does his homework before tossing out those little sound bite facts! Such a beautiful area to live in & explore. Lucky you to be so close!
Lynn we are lucky to live so close to all of these beautiful parks that is for sure. I will admit to being surprised that Golden was so close to all of them. Yes point to that husband of mine for his detail attention that’s for sure.
I need to show this one to Honey. We’ve been talking about doing a rocky mountain vacation for a while now – she has never been there before. I think this might just push the decision over the edge.
Norm I am delighted to hear that! Golden really retains that small town charm and I admit to being surprised at its perfect location for taking it all in. The map really does bring that home I must say. Hopefully the plans will come together for a western Canada adventure!
I’ve been to three of them, Glacier, Banff and Jasper and they are all breath taking.
Wonderful to hear that you have explored those three national parks. Canada really offers up so much beauty in these mountain parks.
Holy Moly and Holy Cow! This is amazing. I haven’t heard of Golden till today. Spectacular destinations. Thanks, Sue. Canada is growing on me. 🙂 😀
Love your enthusiasm Tess! Well I am delighted to let you know about this quiet gem. What a perfect location to explore from and I agree a spectacular destination.
Excellent post Sue and Dave! I believe this town is aptly named, a real treasure. I really enjoyed the six parks in proximity (had not heard of some), and the facts and background of Golden. Dave’s video was fantastic, with colorful and diverse sights and music that makes anyone want to adventure. Great news about the free parks in 2017 too.
Jet we both very much appreciate your feedback. I think Dave’s video does a great job of giving a glimpse of much of what Golden has to offer. Happy to let you know about some of the parks you had not heard of and the good news about the free admission. For those in the US between our dollar exchange and deals like this it is understandable why more tourists are heading north. Have a great weekend!
I had to look up the U.S. Rocky Mountain town of Golden to see if they shared a name history. They do not; however, the Colorado city of Golden was actually named for the gold that was there, so we’ll take the win for most legit name – haha. Like your Golden, ours sits in close proximity to some incredible parks in the Rockies, but I’ll bet we can’t reach quite as many in such a short time! I’ll have to come visit yours someday!
Lex I didn’t know about Golden Colorado so thanks for sharing that. My guess is it would be unusual to find another location so well situated to national parks. We do hope you will come to visit one day! Thanks so much for your visit and learning more about Golden in both countries.
A great post highlighting the fabulous parks near Golden. I have been to most of them but my favourite is Yoho!
Darlene thanks so much for the kind feedback. Now do tell why Yoho has the top marks from you.
It is just so gorgeous there. Hubby surprised me with a weekend away at Emerald Lake Lodge one year for my birthday and it was just a perfect weekend!! So it has some good memories. I had thought of trying cross country skiing but the wine and fireplace kept calling my name.
Oh yes Emerald Lake Lodge is one of the most romantic places we have ever been. So removed from it all in such beauty. We did some snowshoeing on the lake and our friends were married there in winter. So gorgeous.
It sounds like 2017 is the year to do a round of Canadian National Parks! Who knows, maybe we will be the proud owners of a camper van by then. 🙂 I really love your photo of Banff NP, Sue. That is a marvelous and atmospheric shot!
Thank you so much Liesbet. That image is one I like very much too. A camper van would be a fabulous way to explore Canada’s National parks. Yes 2017 would make it that much more economical to do so. We will hope to see you here!
Another huge bonus is that you can stay in Golden an take day trips to all these parks. The accommodations in Golden are second to none and they are much much more affordable to staying in Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper and others.
Julia that is exactly right. Such a convenient spot to base from. I haven’t done the research on price comparison so thank you for adding that.
We so need that coffee and pit stop on long journeys with children. The photos look beautiful and good on the Canadian Government for making entry to parks free for a whole year! I have a thing about having to pay to get into our parks here. If it’s where we call home we should be able to freely access them all the time. Our parks are free for a fortnight right now for the school holidays so at least that’s a good thing to encourage families to get out and explore. Imagine being a parent of a teenager now…the whinging would be increased to include the lack of wifi.
Annie it does make a park visit so much more affordable for all and especially families. Here in Alberta there have been 100,000 job losses with the downturn in the oil and gas industry. Although the timing of the free parks is coincidental I do think it will help a lot of families next year to enjoy the parks when they may not have been able to otherwise.
Aren’t you lucky to have these wonderful, picturesque parks in your backyard? Each looks more beautiful then the next. Now I just need to figure out a summer schedule to dive in and explore 🙂
Ingrid you would love it. Knowing how much you like ot hike and your incredible photography skills you would be over the moon. I hope you are able to take advantage of the free access in 2017!
Nothing like having 6 National Parks in your back yard, Sue. I think that would provide a certain amount of bragging rights. 🙂 –Curt
Curt I think Golden is now doing it’s best to stand up and tell the world about it’s prime location. We are doing our best to help get the word out. One of the greatest things about the place is it is not yet jammed with traffic and tourists and so retains that small town charm. Definitely some bragging rights to be sure.
I just love the Canadian Rockies!! So much beauty…stunning!!
Kirt we love the Rockies too! Golden sits between the Columbia Mountains (sub ranges: Selkirk and Purcell) and the Rocky Mountains. So not only six national parks but two mountain ranges! Really a bit of a show off with all that beauty. 🙂
I did not know that. Great video by the way. <3
Happy to share the information on Golden Diana. Many thanks for the feedback on the video. Dave gets all the credit for it. Really a fun way to show glimpses of what Golden has to offer.
Golden was one of my all-time favourite family vacations. Exactly like you said, we discovered this wonderful little town off the highway. It’s a treasure and your posts have highlighted that.
Joanne that is fabulous that you had time in Golden. Am I right in remembering that you did some hang gliding while you were there? Did you just turn off the highway and discover it and stay? What a find that would be not knowing it existed beyond the highway.
Well Golden certainly earns it’s name! What a fabulous location amongst all those parks, and pretty little town in itself too, I enjoyed the video tour of the town. It almost seems a shame to go to an indoor climbing wall place when there’s so many wonderful outdoor places to climb so close! But I guess one can learn the skills in an indoor safer environment first.
Vanessa yes indoor gyms are a great place to learn and to train. A much more controlled environment than outdoors. Starting shortly the snow will begin to come dumping down, especially in the mountains and outdoor rock climbing season won’t return again until April or May. Ice climbing is possible in some areas but that is a whole different thing.
We agree that Golden is an amazing location. Thanks for letting us know that you liked the video tour. Dave is often seen wandering about with his GoPro. 🙂
Dave is very cheeky to get Google to be on his side. From what it sounds to me, you can drive to all of these national parks in two hours, but to stop at each one of them to look around would certainly take more than two hours 😉 Very interesting to hear how Golden got its name – it didn’t wan to be outdone. That is hilarious. They must put their heart and soul into their little town and put their best foot forward for everyone who comes by 🙂
I chuckled and agree yes Dave making friends with Google really is cheeky! I totally agree that each of these parks is filled with wonders. One would need to stay in Golden and then do multiple day trips to assorted parks to explore. Mabel I think you have the town pegged very well. The people are so friendly and the town so clean and pretty they really are looking to make people aware of the little gem they have waiting for travelers to discover. We are definitely hoping to spread the word.
It is very nice to hear the locals do just what you describe. More heart, the more genuine the visit the visitors will feel. It is amazing to have parks in the near vicinity of each other. You could spend a whole week in that area and less time traveling, more time exploring.
I don’t know if you know, but your WP comments are not showing up in my WP notification reader anymore. Maybe it’s a bug, I don’t know. But I always pop by here, you know 😉
Wow! What a perfect place to launch day trips to all of the parks. I’m going to have to rethink out trip west to allow for WAY more time!
Laura knowing your love for small towns I really think we have found a gem for you. I feel so silly that it took all these years to really appreciate where Golden sits and what it means for travelers. This will be one of our biggest travel tips of the year for our readers.
What a location, and you guys are so close to it. The scenery there is breathtaking.
Great photos, Sue! 🙂
Amy my apologies for the delay in responding. Thanks so very much and we are fortune indeed!
It happens to me more often than not… Enjoyed your post, Sue! 🙂
Thanks for the understanding Amy. Much appreciated. 🙂
In Jakarta we have the Golden Triangle, consisting of several central business districts where the city’s prime office spaces are located. But Canada’s Golden, I must say, is much much more aptly named for its ‘golden’ location. Six national parks at your doorstep! The locals do have a legitimate reason to brag about.
Thanks for sharing your Golden Bama. Definitely a different type of wonderful location. Yes six parks at the doorstep is definitely a national treasure.
Golden sounds like a convenient place. I’m just wondering what the next town along called itself. Platinum Metropolis, perhaps?
Haha no platinum that I’m aware of Bun.
I understand the Canadian National Parks will be free in 2017 for their 150th birthday.
They are indeed Charlie. One more good reason to come and visit. 🙂
That’s a fascinating fact about Golden! Seems we never stop there unless we’re on our way somewhere else – one of these days we should take some time to visit and get to know it better. 🙂
Diane it sounds like we had similar habits of just driving on through. Our weekend there was full of great surprises. Very quiet and small town atmosphere with so much stunning scenery.
Oh you lucky thing to have so much natural beauty on your doorstep, Sue!
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Susan we are indeed very fortunate to live in western Canada. Golden is about a 3 hour drive so very manageable.
I like the idea of free admission to Canada’s beautiful national parks – pity it would take a couple of thousand dollars in airfares for D and I to take advantage of it.
Yes that is a bit of an additional expense to be sure. Pity about those airfares.
Looks like a good base camp.
Golden definitely is that Amy!
I am starting to believe I should be Canadian Sue! I have been following your lovely blog as well as tons of Instagram accounts from Alberta and I’m hooked. You are so lucky to live in such a gorgeous place! I will have to check out Golden sometime. So much to see!!!
That made me smile Nicole. Well come for a visit soon! Golden is a great location and as you likely realized in British Columbia just west of Alberta. A few hour drive from Calgary so really convenient as a base for exploring many different mountain areas.
Dave and Lynn would get along great. She’s always doing research online (about natural supplements for everyone but herself) then let’s drop all these tidbits, just like Dave. But at least he looks into things I might actually have an interest in.I want to see Glacier Park!
Emilio that made me chuckle. Yes it sounds like the two of them could have quite the exchange of information. We definitely recommend a visit to Glacier national Park. I know the one in the US is gorgeous too but we have a special fondness for the Canadian version.
You’re making it difficult for me not to visit Canada, you know. Also, oddly enough, there is a town in the Colorado Rockies named Golden, I think it’s an odd name for a town. Silver City, fine. Leadville, cool. They’re nouns. How can you name a city an adjective?
Well Badfish I guess if you get to name a town you get to call it whatever you want. I had never thought about nouns vs adjectives. I’ll be on the search now for non noun names. Excellent news that we are wearing you down to a Canadian visit. I mean come on now. Who wouldn’t want to visit? 🙂
I read this while in your neck of the woods. We got to experience all but Mt Revelstoke NP while we were up north, if only for a very short time. I have been trying to convince Terry that we need to go back so I can hike in Mt Revelstoke next year. I’ve got some time to work on him. 😉
Thank you Joshi!
I enjoyed reading your post Sue. We enjoyed our visit to many of the National Parks you mention. It was pretty neat to experience such diversity all within a short distance.
Thank you Shannyn. I am so happy you were able to take in so much of what our national parks have to offer.
Hey guys, really enjoyed reading this and what a find! It’s exactly the kind of thing I’m looking to share on my website so have added a link. Check it out if you like – http://www.thetravelblogs.com/six-canadas-national-parks-within-2-hours/
Keep up the great blogging and happy travels!
Matt thanks so much for linking back to our blog. We love this find of Golden and hope your readers will too! Appreciate the good wishes and sharing with your audience! All the best from Sue and Dave.
Very interesting post, I haven’t realised Golden was so central 🙂