Golden is the centre of our universe and we love our little mountain town. We’ve spent a lot of time here and know how much there is to do, but we know not everyone is as familiar. When adventuring, travelling, or meeting new people, we often get asked:
Where is Golden, BC?
Well, we’re happy to fill you in on exactly where Golden is, but we also want to explain why it’s so unique. It’s located in one of the most stunning and impressive areas of Canada. It won the location lottery!
Golden is known for it's big mountain views, outdoor activities and being a place of adventure. It's known for its beautiful scenery, wide open spaces, natural landscapes and being at the heart of six national parks. Golden is home to world class hiking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, kayaking, skiing and paragliding.
It sure has a lot going for it, so let’s get into what makes Golden so special.
1. Golden is in southeastern British Columbia
Golden is a small mountain town of approximately 3800 people. It’s situated in Kicking Horse Country in the Kootenay Rockies region. It's one of the first authentic mountain towns you’ll enter as you drive into BC from Alberta.
The map below shows you exactly where we are. You can see we’re close to the Alberta border, with Golden being 262 km west of Calgary and 713 km east of Vancouver.
There are two main ways to get to Golden, BC. The TransCanada (Hwy 1) comes into Golden if you’re travelling from the east or west, and Highway 95 if you’re coming from the south. We have more information on this in point #6 below.
2. Golden sits at the heart of 6 National Parks
How lucky is it to sit at the centre of 6 national parks? Golden itself is not in a national park, which means it has the best of both worlds.
It’s very easy to access the parks for day trips, but we're not limited by the restrictions of being in a park. It allows us to offer many of the best activities and attractions that make Golden so well loved. Rafting and ATV tours, skydiving, ziplining and horseback riding.
You can enjoy the adventure activities in Golden itself, and then take an easy day trip into the parks.
If you love hiking, sightseeing, photography or amazing views, the parks will be your playground. There are endless options for each of these hobbies and you'll want to allot several days if possible.
What Parks surround Golden you're likely wondering?
There’s Banff and Yoho National Parks to the East and Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks to the west. Jasper National Park is to the north and Kootenay National Park to the south.
Golden is the gateway town to these protected natural areas. It's the perfect home base for your exploring and adventuring. We've spent lots of time wandering around the parks and are happy to share some of our favourites. If you'd like help with you planning, check out our recommendations for the Best Hikes in Glacier National Park and the Best Hikes in Yoho National Park
3. Golden is cradled in the Columbia Valley
The Columbia Valley is an area of the Rocky Mountain Trench that runs from Golden, BC all the way south to Canal Flats.
It’s a stunning area, with one of it’s most impressive features being the Columbia Wetlands. The Columbia Wetlands are one of the largest, intact wetlands in the world. They provide critical habitat for thousands of species, so don't forget your binoculars.
If you want to take some time to stand in awe of the landscapes that surround you, spending a day in the Columbia Wetlands should be high on your list.
The Columbia Wetlands neighbour the town of Golden. Spending a day paddling around the wetlands, exploring the side channels offers an experience to remember.
There’s a very good chance you’ll see birds and wildlife. Beaver sightings are common! We have kayak rentals available if you'd like to plan a paddle.
The Columbia River flows through Golden, BC, where it meets up with the Kicking Horse River. Confluence Park on the edge of Golden is where you’ll want to head to see the meeting of these two Heritage Rivers.
The Kicking Horse is a sparkly blue, glacial fed river, meeting the muddy, higher volume waters of the Columbia River. They join into one and continue on as the Columbia River. It winds its way through British Columbia before flowing into the United States.
4. Golden Sits on the Banks of the Kicking Horse River
The Kicking Horse River is world renowned as one of the best whitewater rafting rivers in Canada. It also has the designation of being the first Heritage River in British Columbia. This is for its natural, cultural and recreational features.
The recreational features of the Kicking Horse River are something we know very well. As Golden’s original rafting company, we’ve been offering tours on the Kicking Horse since 1982.
The Kicking Horse has three different canyons that can be commercially river rafted. The upper canyon is the calmest stretch, offering a beautiful scenic float.
The middle and lower canyons are where you get into the big class 3 and class 4 whitewater rapids. You can mix and match the sections to create the experience that’s exactly what you’re looking for.
If you’d like to go rafting in Golden, BC, there are several trip options available:
White Water Discovery - this is a full day rafting experience. It starts out calm and builds into the big class 3 and 4 rapids. This is the most popular trip on the Kicking Horse River.
White Water Express - this is a half day rafting adventure that gets you right into the big stuff. If you’re short on time, or only want big whitewater, this is the trip for you.
Family Adventure - if a gentle, scenic experience is more your speed, the Family Adventure if for you. It’s a fast paced float where you can take in the mountain scenery. It’s also suitable for children as young as 4 years old.
Golden, BC is lucky to sit on its banks, as the the Kicking Horse flows through downtown Golden. Restaurants line the river with patios that overlook the sparkly glacial water. Visitors love watching the rafters, kayakers and stand up paddle boarders floating through town.
Gardens and walking paths line the river making it worth an afternoon stroll. You also won’t want to miss the Kicking Horse River Pedestrian Bridge.
It's the longest freestanding timber frame bridge in Canada and it offers amazing views. You'll see the river below and the mountains that surround it.
5. Golden sits between the Rocky and Purcell Mountain Ranges
It’s pretty safe to say that anyone travelling through Western Canada is going to want to see the big mountain views. It’s what drew us here and we love staring out at the mountains every single day.
Golden sits between the Canadian Rocky Mountains to the east, and the Purcell Mountain Range to the west. Why is this so special? Well it means that pretty much wherever you are, and wherever you’re looking, mountains will meet your eye.
This is mountain country. Snow capped giants, jagged peaks, ridge lines that run to the horizon. These are the views you’ll wake up to and adventure with every single day.
If hiking isn’t your thing, or your legs need a rest, the gondola at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort will whisk you up to the top. The views from the top of Kicking Horse are spectacular.
There are 365 degree mountain views in all directions. It's a great way to snap some pics and take in the splendour of Golden without needing to spend a whole day climbing.
6. it's wild and remote while still being accessible
Another amazing advantage of Golden’s location is that it’s accessible from all directions. Once you’re here you'll have the wide open spaces and untouched landscapes you’d want from a mountain town. You have a feeling of being very remote without any hassles to get here.
Golden is remote, natural and wild, but it’s still close enough to many major cities and highways.
You'll access Golden from Highway 1 if you’re coming from the east or west, and Highway 95 from the south. Here are some distance markers for the major towns you may be coming from.
From the West:
- Golden is 712 km from Vancouver
- Golden is 657 from Whistler
- Golden is 359 from Kamloops
- Golden is 348 km from Kelowna
From the East:
- Golden is 82 km from Lake Louise
- Golden is 140 km from Banff
- Golden is 262 km from Calgary
- Golden is 309 km from Jasper
- Golden is 550 km from Edmonton
From the South:
- Golden is 103 km from Radium
- Golden is 120 km from Invermere
- Golden is 140 km from Fairmont Hot Springs
- Golden is 246 km from Cranbrook
And there you go. Golden isn't just a mountain town in the corner of southeastern British Columbia. It's located in one of the most beautiful spots in Canada.
If you have any questions please get in touch. We'd love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org, or in the comments below.
We hope you'll come visit us in Golden, BC, and for now, keep living an adventure.
Cheers from all of us here at Glacier Raft Company