When we first decided to visit British Columbia, I was looking at a brochure about the town of Golden, and I saw an image of a hiker standing in front of a glacier with the heading “Not all those who wander are lost.” I knew then that I would have to make a stop that was a bit off the beaten path.
When I think of our visit to Golden, the phrase “Nothing Ordinary” comes to mind. If you choose to make Golden your base for a few days you will have a lot of options as it is located in a sweet spot where it’s close to 6 National Parks.
There are lots of accommodation options from the large Kicking Horse resort to cozy family cottages. We stayed at the Hillside Lodge & Chalets located 13 kilometres west of Golden in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Hillside is known for friendly hospitality and spectacular views with 20 acres of quiet, pristine wilderness to enjoy. Be sure to take the trail directly off the property and explore along the river.
Whether you are strolling around downtown, mountain biking at Kicking Horse Resort, or paddling the Columbia Wetlands the options in this area really do feel limitless. Some of our favourite things to do with the kids are listed below.
Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge
Get your favourite treat and stroll around downtown Golden. The town square is very picturesque. We walked along the trail that led to the Kicking Horse River Pedestrian Bridge, the longest freestanding timber frame bridge in Canada. In the summer there is often a free concert in the square on alternate Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Go to the movie theatre and get the most delicious ice cream! Yum.
The World’s Largest Paddle & Columbia Wetlands
With many paddling options to choose from, you can explore the beauty of the Columbia River with the Columbia Wetlands Adventures. From self-guided canoe or kayak trips to a guided float tours, you can explore the heart of the wetlands. The fave here was the dock with interpretative boardwalk, suspension bridge, and pirate ship. We all spent over an hour just exploring this little area.
Kicking Horse Resort
You really have to allocate at least 6 hours to exploring at Kicking Horse Resort. If you we had more time in the area we would have spent the whole day.
We started the day off with an early morning guided visit to see Boo, the resident Grizzly bear who lives in the Grizzly Habitat the resort. The habitat is the largest in the world with over 20 acres and was created to prevent the orphaned bear named Boo from getting euthanized, as that was the custom for orphaned bears at the time. The interpretive tour was a one of a kind opportunity to see Boo up close in his habitat and learn more about grizzlies.
After our tour, we took the Golden Eagle Express Gondola to the top of the mountain. At 7,700 feet above sea level, we stepped off the Gondola into what felt like another world, one that is definitely off the beaten path. Here you will see gorgeous panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies looking over five National Parks. We explored at our own pace soaking in the majesty of the place and explored along the CPR Ridge Trail. There are many hiking options, and if we had more time, we would have done the Via Ferrata. Lots of very safe and easy walks for families with little ones.
After giving our camera a workout and exploring as much as we could with the kids, we stopped in at the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant for lunch. The food was delicious to the point of our five-year-old licking his bowl. On the menu, you’ll find Salmon, Buffalo, Elk and other native specialties. We had the Chef’s special for the day which was a Buffalo sandwich and Bison vegetable soup. The views from the restaurant are spectacular, and you’ll find yourself lingering.
Eventually, and very reluctantly, we took the Gondola back down as we were looking forward to hiking the afternoon away. There are many options for hiking close to Golden; we decided to Yoho National Park as it’s often described as a hiker’s paradise. With over 400km of trails, it was hard to choose, but we decided to Explore Wapta Falls. With a 5 and 9-year-old traveling with us, we felt it was the best fit. The highlight is the falls itself, at 98 feet high and 490 feet wide it’s quite impressive and well worth the 2-hour hike.
Golden, British Columbia exceeded all our expectations. While summer is a gorgeous time to visit, the kicking horse mountain is known as a gem for snow lovers as well.