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How to Spend an Epic 3 Days in Golden in Winter

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Just imagine, the air is crisp, the snow is falling, you walk out from behind a rock ledge and there it is, the most perfect frozen waterfall that you have ever seen… But wait… it’s flowing! Only half flowing and surrounded by sparkling ice crystals and snow. PURE MAGIC!

Golden BC is the perfect Canadian mountain town for a Winter getaway! It is a small town located in the Kootenay region of British Columbia next to 2 beautiful rivers, the Columbia River and the Kicking Horse River.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Golden is a bit of a hidden gem. It is surrounded by jaw dropping mountains, hiking trails and adventure activities.

We have stopped off in what we thought was Golden to refuel a few times in past trips on our way to Banff, however, now we realise that we were literally stopping at gas station on the side of the highway.

To reach the actual town, you have to put in a bit more effort and turn off the highway. This is why so many people end up missing out on Golden!

Girl standing looking up at half frozen waterfall in Golden BC

Dave and I spent 3 full days experiencing things to do in Golden in Winter and trying out lots of different restaurants and cafes. Now I want to share this 3 day Winter Itinerary for Golden with you so that you can plan your own Winter getaway!

What You Need to know about Golden

📍 Where is Golden located

Golden is located in British Columbia Canada in the Kootenay Region, about a 1.5 hour drive from Banff and an 8 hour drive from Vancouver.

Click here to open the map in Google Maps!

How to get to Golden

From Vancouver

If you are driving from Vancouver, it will take you about 8 hours without stops to get to Golden.

You will need to take Highway 1 to Hope, where you will then take the BC-5 N. Stay on this highway until you reach Kamloops where you will then merge back onto Highway 1. Highway 1 then takes you the rest of the way to Golden.

From Banff

If you are driving from Banff to Golden, you will need to take the Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W from Mt Norquay Rd. The Trans-Canada Highway will take you all of the way to Golden.

⛄ How Cold does Golden get in the Winter

In the Winter, Golden’s average temperatures are usually a high of -6.0°C/21.2°F and a low of -14.4°C/6.1°F.

When we were there, the temperature was on the higher side of things which almost felt hot while we were going adventure activities such as hiking and snowmobiling.

⌚ Golden’s Time Zone

Golden is only just over the “time zone border.” It operates on Mountain time (MST) which is the same as Banff and Calgary.

Tip: If you are coming from Vancouver, don’t forget to move your clocks forward an hour.

📆 How Many Days Should You Spend in Golden

After spending 3 days in Golden during the Winter season, I think this was a perfect amount of time to really experience what Golden was all about.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort views

However, if you have some extra time up your sleeve, I recommend adding on an extra day or two. There is SO much to see and do in Golden and so the more time you have, the better.

🎫 National Parks Pass

Golden is surrounded by 6 of Canada’s incredible national parks. These are Yoho, Glacier, Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Mount Revelstoke.

If you follow this itinerary, you will only be spending half a day in Yoho National Park to do the Wapta Falls hike, however you might like to visit some of the others if you have some extra time.

to park in any of these national parks, you will need to display a national parks pass on your dashboard. You can purchase one online on the Parks Canada website or at any MEC Store. You can choose from day passes, week passes or annual passes.

🎒 Golden Winter Packing List

Golden can get pretty cold during the Winter so it’s a good idea to be prepared for a cold snap!

Girl standing at the summit of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Ski gear

Make sure you include the following items in your packing list:

  • Beanie
  • Gloves
  • Neck Warmer
  • Merino Base Layers (tops and bottoms)
  • Fleece Jacket
  • Puffer jacket
  • Ski or Snowboarding Clothes
  • Skis, snowboards or snowshoes if you have your own
  • Hiking boots that are waterproof and insulated.
  • Winter Boots
  • microspikes
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen – Don’t be fooled by the fact that it is Winter. Even on a cloudy day, the sun can reflect off the snow and give you a really nasty burn!
  • Your Camera!

🛌 Where to Stay in Golden

There are plenty of great accommodation options in Golden. We stayed at Basecamp Lodge Golden which was close to town and to most of the tours and activities that we did.

Basecamp Lodge Golden in Winter

Basecamp Lodge has the cosiest living area with a fire place. It also has a 24 hour breakfast area where you can make tea, coffee, hot chocolate and oats so great if you want to save money on breakfast.

Basecamp Lodge Golden main room
Basecamp Lodge Golden  room

Some other great accommodation options include:

Golden Tiny Homes – These tiny homes are set in a mountain and forest backdrop and have access to a sauna, hot tub and fireplace. What more could you want! 😍

Deer Ridge B&BThis bed and breakfast has insane ratings, a hot breakfast served every morning and a hot tub!

Cedar House Restaurant & Chalets – This place has chalets that range from fitting 2 – 8 people. Each chalet has a private hot tub and a wood burning stove as well as shared BBQ facilities. If you are looking for somewhere to stay that you will remember forever, this is the one.

🌲 Leave No Trace

Whenever you are enjoying the beautiful nature that our world has to offer, remember to leave no trace (LNT)! Respect the beautiful places that make our world beautiful and take out everything that you take in, take only photos and respect the wildlife and other people. You can read more on the 7 LNT principles here.

The Ultimate Golden 3 Day Winter Itinerary

We spent 3 full days in Golden and 5 days away from home altogether including 2 travel days. 3 days felt like the perfect amount of time to experience lots of Winter activities in Golden. This itinerary is based on you arriving the night before so that you can make the most of day 1 from the very start of the day.

However, if you have an extra day up your sleeve, I recommend adding on another day so that you can and do more of your favourite Winter activities.

Day 1 – Snowmobiling through a Winter Wonderland

Your trip to Golden will start with a shot of adrenaline. On day 1, you will have THE most delicious breakfast and coffee, snowmobile through a Winter wonderland and try bouldering.

Man snowmobiling with Golden Snowmobile Rentals

Breakfast at the Wandering Fern Cafe

The Wandering Fern Café is located in town and has plenty of parking outside on the street. Since moving from Australia to Canada, we have found it quite difficult to find a coffee that lives up to our “Aussie standards.”

The coffee from The Wandering Fern Café is one of the closest Aussie tasting coffees that have had in Canada, which we soon found was because the owner of the café had learnt how to make coffee in… you guessed it… AUSTRALIA!

Breakfast at the Wandering Fern Café in Golden

Apart from the divine coffee, the food was to die for! I highly recommend trying the Smashed Avo if you end up visiting.

Dave had The Fruit Organic Oat Bowl which he says was also delicious and healthy too!

Snowmobiling Tour

After breakfast, it’s time to head to your first Winter adventure, snowmobiling!

Couple on snowmobiles in Golden BC

There are a range of different tours to choose from at Golden Snowmobile Rentals that are great for all skill levels. We were both complete beginners and our tour guide tailored the tour to make sure we were comfortable and having fun the entire time.

You will first meet your tour guide in the office in Golden where you will get into a snowmobile suit and get your helmet, gloves, boots and goggles. We just wore base layers underneath which was perfect. I recommend bringing some extra layers with you just in case you get cold.

The tour that we did (Backcountry Trail Tour) took us along a really nice and easy groomed trail which was perfect for learning on. The trail was located in Quartz Creek and we rode to the Golden Snowmobile Club cabin.

Here we enjoyed our lunch that was provide by Golden Snowmobile Rentals in the cozy cabin, which is kept warm by a woodfire. There are also outhouses next to the cabin.

Snowmobile Cabin in Golden

After lunch, we ventured further into the backcountry and away from the groomed trails. Dave was a natural at snowmobiling but I was surprised at how much harder it was to ride off the groomed trail. I have now decided that snowmobiling is a great way to have fun and get a bit of a workout in at the same time. 😉

We rode up to some open meadows where we were then able to let loose and speed around on the snowmobiles.

Snowmobiling in the mountains in Golden

You will finish your tour by about 3pm but this will also depend on where you end up snowmobiling to and how slow/fast everyone is.

Man smiling through snowmobile suit in Golden BC
Man on tour with Golden Snowmobile Rentals
couple at the Golden Snowmobile Cabin

Check out the Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge

The Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge was built in 2001 and is the longest freestanding timber frame bridge in Canada.

We enjoyed walking along the river on the River Walk as the sun was setting which was a nice way to end the day before going out for dinner.

Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge
Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge

Dinner at Reposados

Reposados is a Mexican restaurant in Golden that serves tacos, burritos and tequila.

You can eat in the restaurant or you can book out an Igloo which is what we did. The igloo was awesome! We had our very own music and it was so much easier to chat in the igloo than in a busy restaurant where it is often hard to hear.

Girl dining at Reposados in Golden

We decided to order the tacos and it was a good choice. Our favourite tacos were:

  • Aguacate Crocante
  • Al Pastor
  • Chorizo

Insiders Tip: Order the Churros for desert. THEY ARE DELICIOUS!

Reposados Restaurant Igloos

Climbing at Confluence Climbing Gym

After dinner, if you still have the energy for it like Dave did, you can head over to Confluence Climbing Gym and try out some indoor bouldering. It’s CAD$20 for a day pass.

Man bouldering at the Confluence Climbing Gym in Golden

There are loads of differently graded climbing routes so no matter what level you are at (beginner through expert) there will be something there to challenge you.

Day 2 – Downhill Skiing at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

I hope you got a good night’s sleep because day 2 is going to be a blast! After breakfast, you will get to experience the famous Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and eat lunch at a restaurant with a view!

Breakfast at Ethos Café

Ethos Café is another really great coffee and breakfast café! Dave and I both had the Breaky Roll which was delicious and a great choice to start another day of adventure because it was HUGE.

Skiing or Snowboarding at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

The drive from Golden to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is about 15 minutes.

Choose your poison – skiing or snowboarding and get a day lift ticket to Kicking Horse Resort. Day tickets are about CAD$75 per adult. If you don’t have your own gear, don’t worry because Kicking Horse do rentals.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

The mountain itself is massive and you will find that you run out of time before you are ready exploring all of the runs.

If you are a total beginner, there is a cat run that goes all of the way from the top to the bottom of the mountain. You can get a chairlift to the halfway point on the mountain to start off with and ski down from there. The gondola takes you all of the way to the top (it is a long way up).

Girl at the summit of Kicking Horse

Don’t forget to enjoy the views because they are phenomenal!

Lunch at Eagle’s Eye Restaurant

Your lunch for day 2 will be at Eagle’s Eye Restaurant which is Canada’s most elevated dining experience. The restaurant is perched on the summit of the mountain with crazy views out of all of the windows.

Eagle's Eye Restaurant Kicking Horse

This gives you an excuse to catch the gondola to the top of the mountain. If you don’t feel comfortable skiing from the top, you can ride the gondola back down again.

I recommend making a reservation for Eagle’s Eye because it is quite popular at lunch time.

Views from the Eagle's Eye Restaurant Kicking Horse

Dave and I both had the Elk Burger and I upgraded to the truffle fries which were so worth it! If you are looking for a yummy cocktail, the Black Raspberry Spritz was really good!

After lunch and when you feel ready again, you can keep on skiing until the last lift which is at 3:30pm.

Dinner at the Riverhouse Tavern

Dinner tonight will be at the Riverhouse Tavern, which a laid back pub located right next to the Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge.

Riverhouse Tavern Golden
Riverhouse Tavern

The Riverhouse Tavern are famous for their huge pizzas! We ended up getting one which lasted us 2 nights.

We ended up spending hours at the Riverhouse, trying different cocktails and chatting about our couple of days of epic adventures! It was a great way to end the day.

Day 3 – Waterfall Hike and Cross Country Skiing

After all of the adrenaline on your first 2 days in Golden, it’s time to calm down a little bit. On day 3 in Golden, you will be hiking to the beautiful Wapta Falls in Yoho National Park and then if you feel like it, I recommend trying out some Cross Country Skiing.

Breakfast at the Bluebird Café

As it’s your 3rd day in Golden, you may have already decided that you have a favourite breakfast café, but if not and you like trying new places, you could get breakfast at the Bluebird Café.

They have Brekkie Sandwiches, Brekkie Burritos, Brekkie Bagels and more.

Wapta Falls Hike

Distance: 8.8km / 5.5 miles | Time: 3 hours | Elevation: 125m / 410ft | Difficulty: Easy – Moderate

Girl standing at the bottom of Wapta Falls in Winter

Hiking to Wapta Falls in Winter is a totally different experience to Summer. In Summer, you are able to drive all of the way to the official parking and trailhead, however, in Winter, the road in does not get ploughed and so you have to park just off the highway. This adds on 4km return to your hike.

The Wapta Falls Trailhead is about a half hour drive from Golden. It is located in Yoho National Park so you will need a National Parks Pass displayed on your dashboard.

Friendly snowman at the trailhead to Wapta Falls
Friendly snowman at the trailhead

To hike to Wapta Falls during Winter, you will need either snowshoes or micro spikes. We were able to get away with just using micro spikes because the trail was well trodden when we arrived, however, I can imagine that if you are the first person to use the trail after a fresh snow fall, snow shoes would be a much better choice.

There are bathrooms at the official trailhead which is about 2km from the Winter parking lot.

Official  summer Trailhead for Wapta FAlls

The trail is relatively flat for most of the way until the end if you want to hike all of the way down to the falls.

Lunch at The Island Restaurant

If you feel like you have worked up an appetite after your hike, you might want to go for a decent meal at The Island Restaurant. Here you can get things like pizzas, pastas, salads, sandwiches and burgers and more.

Alternatively, you could have any pizza leftover you might have from the night before at the Riverhouse Tavern. 😉

Cross Country Skiing at the Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre

The Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre is a 20 minute drive from Golden. Do not follow google maps to get there. Instead, direct to the Kicking Horse Day Lodge which is where you went skiing.

From the Kicking Horse Day Lodge, follow Kicking Horse Trail to Hector Trail.

Turn right on Hector Trail and follow it all the way to the Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre Chalet.

You can rent cross country skis from the Golden Nordic Club and if it is your first time you can book in for a lesson.

couple with wood framing Golden Nordic

When you arrive, you will see the beautiful log chalet which is where you can rent skiing equipment from and keep your boots while you are out skiing. The chalet also has washrooms, a change room, a self-serve kitchenette so you can make your lunch, tables and chairs, couches, and a ski rack.

There are 35 km of cross-country ski trails which are groomed regularly and vary in difficulty.

If you haven’t tried cross-country skiing before, now is your chance! Dave and I were both surprised at how much fun it was!

Girl cross country skiing at the Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre

Dinner at Wolf’s Den

So we didn’t get a chance to visit the Wolf’s Den, but after we got back home from Golden, I heard from a friend that it was their FAVOURITE restaurant that they visited while they were there. They said the food was just so so yummy!

The Wolf’s Den is located near the Kicking Horse River and has stunning 180 degree mountain views. The restaurant is located in a large, historic log building.

 Dinner options include steak and fries and a large list of interesting sounding burgers.

Bonus Activities

If you find that you have time to spare or an extra day or 2 in Golden, you could look at adding these Winter activities onto your itinerary.

Sightseeing Flight over the Canadian Rockies

We were SO keen to do a sightseeing flight with Kicking Horse Aviation, however the weather decided it wasn’t going to behave so we will have to save this one for another time.

With Kicking Horse Aviation, you can choose from 3 different flights which take you over different scenic areas in the Rockies. I mean let’s face it, all areas of the Rockies are “scenic,” but seeing these enormous mountains from the sky would be absolutely incredible!

See and learn about the wolves at the Northern Lights Wolf Centre

The Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre promotes wolf conservation and educates its visitors about wolves and conservation. While learning about the wolves, you will be able to see them in their natural habitats.

💭 My Thoughts

Dave and I had an absolute blast in Golden. We tried Winter activities that we had never tried before, were pushed out of our comfort zones a little and had amazing food and drinks and met some lovely locals.

If you are looking for somewhere to spend a Winter getaway and enjoy a bit of adventure mixed with good food, Golden might just be the place for you!

If you are visiting the Canadian Rockies, you might also enjoy:

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