Golden, a small town located in British Columbia, Canada, is an adventure-lover’s paradise! It’s conveniently-located near 6 different Canadian national parks, making Golden the perfect home base to explore this area of British Columbia. Not only is Golden near some epic national parks, but the town itself also has so much to offer. Keep reading to plan your summer trip with the best things to do in Golden BC!
This post is sponsored by Tourism Golden, who hosted me on this trip. This post also contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission if you book through my links, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Golden BC Canada: Trip Overview
Before diving in to the best things to do in Golden BC, let’s go over some more topline info that you’ll need for your trip!
How to Get to Golden, BC
Golden is located in the southeastern area of British Columbia, Canada. The closest airport is Calgary (YYC) which is a 3-hour drive away. You’ll definitely need to rent a car for this trip!
Golden is also located just 1.5 hours from Banff. It’s much more affordable to stay in Golden vs Banff, as well as more convenient to other national parks, making it the ideal hub to stay in for a trip spent exploring the stunning nature of the Canadian Rockies.
Where to Stay in Golden, BC
There are several great options of places to stay in Golden. I stayed at Palliser Lodge at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, and absolutely loved it!
In the winter, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a popular ski/snowboard resort. In the summer, you can find so many fun activities to do there like mountain biking, hiking, riding the gondola, meeting the resident Grizzly Bear, and doing the Via Ferrata (more details to come on this later!).
Staying at the resort means you have easy access to all of these activities, and you are just a short 10-minute drive down the mountain to town. Also, the views from up there are unreal! We stayed in a 2-bedroom condo at Palliser Lodge that had a private hot tub on the balcony with the most beautiful views! I highly recommend it.
Best Things to Do in Golden BC in the Summer
Visiting Golden in the summer means you’re in for a treat. Beautiful hiking trails, bright blue & green lakes, and epic views await you! Keep reading to the best things to do in (and near) Golden, Canada in the summer and start planning your adventure.
Explore Yoho National Park
One of the best things to do when you’re staying in Golden is to spend a day exploring nearby Yoho National Park. It’s just under an hour drive from downtown Golden. There are many things to see and do in Yoho National Park, but the ones I highly recommend for your first time are:
Seeing Emerald Lake was definitely a highlight of our trip to Golden. This bright green lake has mountain peaks in the background and is surrounded by pine trees. It’s absolutely breathtaking! My mom was with me on this trip and when we got there she said “this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen!” (and she is very well-traveled).
You’ve likely heard of Lake Louise in Banff. In my opinion, Emerald Lake is just as beautiful as Lake Louise but is even better, because it is WAY less crowded! That being said, you should still shoot to get to Emerald Lake in the morning to have the most peaceful (and uncrowded) experience possible. We got there right around 10am, which is when the canoe rentals open, and it was perfect timing.
You don’t need to hike to this lake – you can simply drive up and park in the parking lot and walk right up to it. I highly recommend renting a canoe ($90 CAD / hour) and paddling around. It’s such a serene experience getting out to the middle of the lake and paddling through the clear green waters! You can fit up to 3 people in one canoe.
After you’re done on the canoe, you can check out the cute little gift shop next door, walk around the lake, or meander over to Cilantro Cafe if you want a snack with a view.
Just 30 minutes from Emerald Lake is Takakkaw Falls. This is the second tallest waterfall in Canada, and it is incredible! You can see the waterfall as you get close on the drive in (and from the parking lot) but if you get out and follow the short paved trail, you will get an even closer (and even more epic) view of the falls. The whole area surrounding the waterfall is gorgeous as well.
Sherbrooke Lake Hike
If you’re looking for a great hike in Yoho National Park, check out Sherbrooke Lake:
- Miles: 5.8
- Elevation Gain: 1,046 ft
- Trailhead: Sherbrooke Lake Trailhead
This is one of the best things to do in Golden BC. The hike is great for hikers of all skill levels. There are some switchbacks/uphill portions, but nothing too bad! The trail flattens out at the end and brings you to a beautiful blue lake. There was hardly anyone there when we did this hike – it was so peaceful!
If you’re looking for more of a challenge, you can also take on the hike to Paget Peak from this same trailhead. About halfway to Sherbrooke Lake, the trail comes to a junction where you can either peel off and hike up to Paget Peak, or keep going straight to the lake. From this junction, Paget Peak is another 1.7 miles one-way (and a mostly uphill hike to get there). Once you get to the top, there’s an old fire tower lookout with 360 degree views. I didn’t have enough time to tack on Paget Peak to the hike, but I wish I did!
Another epic waterfall in Yoho National Park is Wapta Falls. This one requires a short hike to get there:
- Miles: 3.0
- Elevation Gain: 410 ft
- Trailhead: 51.20429,-116.58536 (make sure to use these coordinates instead of typing it in to Google Maps which can sometimes bring you to the wrong spot)
This super wide waterfall is a stark contrast to the tall & skinny Takakkaw Falls that I mentioned earlier. Wapta Falls is the largest waterfall on the Kicking Horse River and is definitely worth the short hike to go check it out!
Do the Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain
Up for an adventure? Check out the Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain! Via Ferrata translates to “iron road” and is a protected climbing route using iron rungs that are securely drilled in the rock throughout the mountain. You wear a harness and are clipped in the whole time, so there is no risk of falling and no previous rock climbing experience required!
At Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, the Via Ferrata tour takes you across “Terminator Peak”. You can choose either the “Pioneer Route” (easy – 1 hour), “Discovery Route” (Medium – 2 hours) or the “Ascension Route” (hardest – 3 hours). We did the Discovery Route, and had the best time!
You start out by taking the gondola up the mountain, which is super scenic, climbing over 7,700 feet. Once you get to the top of the mountain, you will be greeted by your guide who will fit you with a harness and a helmet, and take your group over to a practice wall to teach you all the best practices.
After that, you do a short hike over to the edge of Terminator Peak and begin the exhilarating journey of traversing the side of the mountain!
You can book your Via Ferrata spot here. Prices range from $91-$191 CAD per person, depending on the route you choose.
Ride the Gondola Up to Eagle Eye Restaurant
If you aren’t up for the Via Ferrata adventure, you can still buy a pass to ride the gondola up ($51 CAD per person) and head to Eagle Eye Restaurant: Canada’s highest restaurant located at the top of the mountain! Get lunch and drinks up here and enjoy the panoramic views.
Meet The Resident Grizzly Bear – Boo
One of the most unique things to do in Golden BC is to meet the resident Grizzly Bear at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Boo was rescued back in 2002. A poacher had killed his mom when he was just 3 months old (normally Grizzly Bear cubs stay with their moms until they are about 3 years old).
This orphaned Grizzly Bear now lives in the largest enclosed Grizzly Bear refuge in the world! Boo is able to roam around 20 acres located on the mountain, just under where the gondola runs. In fact, sometimes they even feed him by dropping food down from the gondola!
They do tours every hour on the hour, from 10am – 3pm MT (except for 1pm) for $36 CAD per person. OR you can opt for the “Ranger Assist Program” tour for $76 CAD per person, which takes you behind the scenes with one of the rangers at 9am, before the area is open to the public. This allows you to get a more up close & personal visit with Boo.
Hike Hermit Trail in Glacier National Park
Not to be confused with the famous Glacier National Park in Montana – there’s also a Glacier National Park in Canada! It’s just under a one-hour drive from the town of Golden.
Glacier National Park is known for it’s steep alpine terrain and has some incredible hikes. There aren’t as many easy hikes in Glacier National Park as there are in Yoho National Park, except for Bear Creek Falls which is just 0.8 miles round trip.
If you love hiking, I highly recommend doing Hermit Trail. This hike is steep but scenic the whole way up, and you’re rewarded at the top with the most peaceful meadow that has seriously epic views of the surrounding mountains. This hike is in my top 5 favorite day hikes of all time! It’s beautiful. See below for some deets:
- Miles: 3.6
- Elevation Gain: 2,667 ft
- Trailhead: Hermit Trailhead
Even though this hike is short in terms of mileage, it gains a ton of elevation. It took us about 2 hours to get to the top (with one snack break). We spent about 1 hour at the top, eating lunch, taking pictures and soaking in the views. It then took us about 1 hour to hike down. Budget yourself about 4-5 hours total for this hike (plus the drive time).
There’s also 8 campsites (wooden platforms where you can pitch your tent) at the top at Hermit Meadows. It would be such an epic place to spend the night! If you like backpacking, I definitely recommend looking into reserving a site up here on the Parks Canada site.
One of the best things to do in Golden BC is to walk across Canada’s highest suspension bridge – the Golden Skybridge! The bridge towers 426 feet above the ground, over the Columbia Valley. The views from up there are beautiful! A ticket to experience just the suspension bridge is $35 CAD per person, however the Golden Skybridge park also has other attractions that are worth experiencing! They have a high ropes course, a zipline, a mountain coaster, axe throwing, a rock climbing wall and more. You could definitely spend about an hour or two (or more) here. If you buy the Adventure Pass ($80 CAD per person) you have access to the rest of the activities. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, they also have the new “Canyon Swing” where you free-fall 75 feet before the bungee catches and you swing through the canyon (this experience is an add-on fee not included in the Adventure Pass).
Explore the Town of Golden
After your days spent of all the adventurous activities in & near Golden, spend your evenings relaxing and wandering around the cute town. The town of Golden has a population of only 4,000 people. But even though it’s a small mountain town, they have some pretty great restaurants to choose from! And almost everywhere has vegan and gluten free options.
A few of my favorite meals we had in Golden were at:
- Reposados (trendy Mexican)
- Eleven22 (great dinner spot in a converted 1920s house)
- Ethos Cafe (coffee shop with delicious breakfast options)
- Big Bend Cafe (great diner-style breakfast)
The town has a main street area with shops, restaurants and bars all situated alongside the Kicking Horse River. It’s super scenic, especially at golden hour! Spend some time walking along the river, cross the pedestrian bridge, and enjoy the views and the vibes of this special mountain town.
Overall, I highly recommend staying in the town of Golden for an adventurous trip spent exploring all the Canadian Rockies has to offer!