Roadtripping the Canadian mountains is one of the most iconic ways to explore Canada and British Columbia. Meet the Golden Triangle, a route through the Rockies and their ancient cousins, the Purcells.
Placed perfectly between the drastic peaks of Yoho National Park and the running rivers of Kootenay, you’ll find the community of Golden tucked away at the foot of the Columbia Wetlands. Further down the valley, you’ll bump into the Village of Radium, making these two communities incredibly convenient to explore the National parks from. This is precisely what makes the Golden Triangle so perfect.
Credit: Andrew Chad
Move Slow in Golden
Whether Golden is your first overnight stop on the Triangle or the second, you’ll find a balance of adventure and relaxation here. Pulling into Golden, you’ll meet a lively little town and quaint businesses along a main drag. The really neat thing about Golden is how accessible the different parts of town are through the trail system. The Rotary trail is a maintained path that connects the main part of downtown to residential areas, and forested groves, and will take you right to the banks of the confluence of the Columbia and Kicking Horse Rivers.
After those big adventure days in the Parks, the Rotary trail is a lovely way to slow down and relax. It’s accessible by foot, bike, adaptive bike, or electric chair and it is maintained throughout winter & summer seasons.
Credit: Dave Best
Another perk of the Rotary Trail is that it connects many of Golden’s delicious restaurants, pubs, cafes, and even our brewery. Use the trail to get to your dinner reservation downtown, or stop in for a pint at the Whitetooth Brewery on your way to the river. Golden has a variety of dining options, with signature mountain eats (like the burgers at the Wolf's Den), high dining (Eleven22), and adorable, fresh cafes and bakeries. You can learn more about places to eat in Golden here.
Visit the Visitor Centre
What better way to prepare for your journey on the Golden Triangle than by talking to the people who are waiting to talk to you? Up at the Golden Visitor Centre, friendly information counsellors are available to discuss your route and everything you need to know about it.
You’ll need a Park Pass to explore Yoho & Kootenay, and you can purchase these at the Visitor Centre. They also have free trail maps and personal recommendations on activities and accommodations in town. Read the blog: Plan Ahead for the Parks to learn about everything you need to know before you visit the National Parks.
The counsellors at the Visitor Center will have plenty of recommendations for you. Among them might be:
- Head up to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort for a mountain adventure. Rent downhill bikes, explore the peaks by foot, dine on the summit, and see Boo the local Grizzly Bear.
- Spend your day at the local adventure park, the Golden Skybridge, with ziplines, a mountain caster, a giant swing, axe throwing, and more.
- Catch an epic Columbia Valley sunset at the best lookout spot in Golden: Mount 7. You can drive up to Mount 7, or the part of it called the “launch pad” where downhill bikers & paragliders both launch themselves over the edge of the mountain and cruise all the way down to the valley bottom. Mount 7 is iconic for the 7 that appears along the face of the mountain every spring during snow melt, as well as for the views you can get when you picnic at the launch pad. This is, undoubtedly, the best way to wrap up your stay in Golden before you head out to explore the rest of the Triangle.
Credit: Dave Best
Family Fun in the Fall
Your kids are going to love this route! It’s one of my favourites – because well, I’m a kid at heart. The Golden Triangle three-day route has you standing at the base of towering waterfalls, taking short hikes to awesome sites and interesting geological formations, stopping at spectacular viewpoints and screaming with delight at an outdoor adventure park. Sure, you can do it in the summer, but in the fall, there are less crowds and a magnificent display of autumn foliage. Pack the overnight bags – it’s going to get bumpy.
Yoho National Park showers you with splendor
I’m serious on the shower. There is a short relatively flat hike to the base of the 373-metre tall Takakkaw Falls. Enjoy the view from the brilliant red Parks Canada chairs, or follow the kids as they dash across the bridge towards the base of the falls. The water flows from the Daly Glacier, to drop and bounce for that final freefall of 254 metres. In July when the water shoots like a firehose, the spray drifts across the trees and anyone standing at the base gets soaked. In the fall however, the flow is diminished, the thunder of the waterfall is slightly less deafening, and the rocks are easier to wander through to the base. It really is magnificent.
Now that you have seen a waterfall from the bottom up, take a short drive to the Natural Bridge on the road to Emerald Lake to see that same flow of water cascades through a hole sculpted in the bedrock as it continues its journey to the coast. There are vantage points to see the feature near the parking lot but take the kids a bit further to see the water come gushing through the hole. All it took was a few million years for the water to erode through a layer of soft sediment, but you can see it all in less than an hour. Continue on the road to Emerald Lake for an easy walk around the shore or explore further on the rugged trails. Rent a canoe to dip a paddle in the beautiful teal blue waters.
Golden shines with family activities
Remember I said I was a kid at heart? The new Golden Sky Bridge attraction makes me giddy like a kid in a playground. Two of Canada’s highest suspension bridges draped 130 metres (426 ft) above the expansive canyon and waterfall. Yes, that’s cool but even better is the new Canyon Edge Challenge. Three different courses test your balance, nerve and ability on ladders, bridges, and ropes. It’s great for the whole family.
In the town of Golden, take a break and wander the new River Walk alongside the Kicking Horse River. Include a walk across the Kicking Horse Pedestrian bridge. It’s the longest freestanding timber frame bridge in Canada. Stop in at the nearby sports and recreation shop to rent some gear to try disc golfings. If you can throw a Frisbee you can play disc golf at the course in Golden.
Have you met Boo yet? He is the grizzly bear living at the Grizzly Bear Interpretive Centre at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. I met him last summer and was amazed at how much I learned on my tour. Of course, he was on the other side of a fence but getting up close to a grizzly and learning about the species is a bucket list adventure for any age.
Wetlands to Hot Springs – it’s Radium
The Columbia River Wetlands stretching from Golden to Radium Hot Springs is a perfect area to slow down and play “Spot the wildlife.” More than 216 species of birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals all use this valley. Rent a few kayaks or paddleboards and drop them in the river to let the current take you on a journey. If you silently slip along with the current, the birds and shore species are less likely to flee too quickly. Last time we were through we saw a few Great Blue Herons. If you don’t like the option of getting wet, the 9-km long Old Coach Trail overlooks the wetlands and is perfect for hiking or biking. Considering it was first constructed in the 1920s for Model T cars, you know it will be easy.
If the kids are game for a few hours on a pretty hike, tempt them with the Sinclair Canyon Trail. It offers opportunities to see Sinclair Falls and the narrow canyon. The best part about this trail is that it ends in the Radium Hot Springs parking lot. Did you bring your swimsuit? Don’t worry if you didn’t. Parks Canada has some retro suits you can rent. After a day on the trail or paddling the waterways, a soak in the mineral rich hot water is appreciated by any age.
In Radium, you’ll see the resident Bighorn Sheep wandering through town. Always keep your distance. Those horns mean business. See if the kids want to tour the town and nearby trails on a Segway.
Travelling along highway 93 there are a few perfect spots to let the kids out to explore the colours. Olive Lake boardwalk is super short. The kids will love how the lake changes colours with the light. The trees will be putting on a brilliant orange and red show too. Further along is Marble Canyon. In the summer, the short trail to see the emerald-blue glacier-fed stream tumble through the gorge can be crowded, but in the fall, you’ve got the trail to yourself.
This blog is the second in a 3-part series about responsible travel, and how to be good stewards of the places we visit.
At the time of publication, British Columbia was in Phase 2 of its COVID-19 restart plan(link is external)
which allows for non-essential travel within the province of British Columbia The travel orders continue to restrict non-essential travel from other provinces, however, we look forward to welcoming visitors from across Canada soon. To learn more about British Columbia’s travel orders www.gov.bc.ca/covidtravel(link is external)
Let’s get down to brass taxes: you’re visiting Golden because it’s special. And what makes it special is that so much of the landscape is unmarred by human hands. That’s rare these days, and since you don’t want yours to be the hands that mar it, we’ve put together some helpful tips on how to tread lightly while still finding the adventure you seek.
- The first thing to know is that Golden is surrounded by six national parks. Count ’em, six! Be aware that environmental stewardship isn’t just good and respectful practice while in the parks, it’s the law. You cannot, for example, ride your bike in some places, fly drones, pick flowers, bring fossils home, or even just camp overnight unannounced. We know it sounds crazy, but doing any of these could get you a fine or even a court date. So that you can breathe easy while out on the trail, check out the rules here.(link is external)
- Even when outside of the parks, the age-old adage holds true: pack it in, pack it out. In simpler terms, don’t litter. But go beyond that and also leave as little mark as you can. Sure, your apple core decomposes, but not before attracting a bear, for example. It didn’t come from there, so it doesn’t belong there. Leave the places you visit as you found them, so wildlife, and the next visitors can find them that way too. Whenever feasible, leave no trace.
Canada’s highest Suspension Bridges
Reach out and touch the sky as you perch 426 feet above an expansive canyon. Engulfed by the Columbia Valley, the epic views from Golden’s newest, must-visit attraction will take your breath away. The Golden Skybridge rewards with views of the Rocky and Purcell mountain ranges like you’ve never seen before, while a crashing river and 200-foot waterfall thunders below.
- Two of Canada’s highest suspension bridges
- Forest and canyon ridge walking trails
- Treetop Village play park for families
- Canyon Swing & Zipline - Coming Soon
- Outdoor BBQ and entertainment plaza
- Just 2 minutes off the Trans-Canada Highway
Les plus grands milieux humides intacts d’Amérique du Nord. Ces marais sont essentiels à la survie de centaines de milliers d’oiseaux, de poissons, de reptiles, d’amphibiens et de mammifères.
De l’aire de repos située en bordure de la Kicking Horse, faites une courte balade jusqu’au pont Park (10 Mile) pour en admirer l’architecture. Ce magnifique ouvrage a été achevé en 2007.
Point d’accès au parc provincial Bugaboo. Excellentes possibilités de randonnée.
Ce parc attire des alpinistes des quatre coins du monde qui aspirent à en conquérir les hautes flèches de granit sculptées par les glaciers. Le parc renferme aussi plusieurs sentiers de randonnée faciles, dont un qui mène aux chutes Bugaboo.
Cette attraction, qui s’est vu attribuer le titre de « plus grande rame/pagaie du monde » par le livre des records mondiaux Guinness, s’inspire d’une rame authentique. Ce monolithe de taille proportionnée vaut le détour.
Découvrez la rivière Blaeberry et sa vallée. Vous y trouverez tout un éventail de sentiers de randonnée emblématiques. La rivière Blaeberry a été empruntée pour la première fois par l’explorateur David Thompson en 1807. Elle portait alors le nom de « ruisseau Portage ».
Un refuge faunique protégé. Admirez l’effet miroir parfait du lac tout en observant une gamme impressionnante d’espèces d’oiseaux. En hiver, le lac devient la destination par excellence pour le patinage.
Cette rivière du patrimoine de la Colombie-Britannique est l’un des cours d’eau les plus importants du monde. Un cadre idéal pour le canotage, la planche à pagaie et l’observation de la faune.
Cette rivière du patrimoine canadien est célèbre pour ses possibilités inégalées de descente en eaux vives et de kayak. Réservez une excursion de rafting auprès de l’un des nombreux exploitants des environs.