Category Archives: Golden, British Columbia and Area

Golden Time in Purcell Mountain Lodge

2 Comments

Purcell Mountain Lodge of Golden

Golden, B.C.

Golden is one of the Canadian Rockies’ hidden gems. It is underestimated, beautiful and full of incredible things to do in both winter and summer. It boasts one of the best ski hills in North America (Kicking Horse). Golden’s location is one of the most unique in the world surrounded by six National Parks (Banff, Glacier, Jasper, Kootenay, Mount Revelstoke and Yoho). So what are you going to do when you get there and more importantly where are you going to stay in this beautiful haven?

Golden sky illumines Golden.

Golden sky illumines Golden.

The Purcell Mountain Lodge is more than just a lodge. It is the kind of place that can organize your whole trip for you meaning you have to spend your time only on yourself and getting the most out of your time. To say it is a unique property is a severe understatement. The only way to reach it is by helicopter. As you fly in you hover over untracked peaks and bowels, mountain summits dramatically surround the lodge. Then you see it – one of the most beautiful and remote mountain chalets in the world with hot showers, sauna and some truly fantastic gourmet food.

The winter season starts on February 8th and runs until March 5th. Once you are up in the wild surrounds of the lodge, there is a huge list of activities to choose from. Alpine ski touring, telemark skiing, snowshoeing and cross country skiing are just a few on offer. A typical day leaves the visitor equally riveted and exhausted, especially for those celebrating a honeymoon! If you are looking for a really unique experience in the Canadian Rockies, away from the craziness of tourist filled Banff, then the Purcell Mountain Lodge is an option that simply demands to be examined!

Gateway to the Canadian Rockies’ – Vancouver

Leave a comment

Gateway to the Canadian Rockies – Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia

By John McKiernan  
Staff Writer

It is an exciting time to be in Vancouver. Often used as a gateway to Canadian Rockies’ towns like Banff and Jasper, it has a huge amount to offer in itself. This coastal town is the largest city in both British Columbia and Western Canada with a city population of just over 2.5 million. Home to some of Canada’s classiest accommodations, most varied activities and soon to be host to the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver is the place to be.

Vancouver's colorful skyline.

Vancouver's colorful skyline.

History

Vancouver is named after British explorer George Vancouver. It was first settled in the 1860’s as a result of immigration caused by the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. Following the arrival of the transcontinental railway in 1887, the city developed at increasing speeds. Once the Panama Canal was completed, Vancouver became more internationally important as it became viable to transport goods west through Vancouver. Today, it has become the busiest sea port in North America, exporting more cargo than anywhere else.

The City

Vancouver is very ethnically diverse with 52% of city residents speaking a first language other than English. Although traditionally Vancouver’s’ economy relied on natural industries like forestry, mining, fishing and agriculture, it has slowly changed over the years. The tourism industry has grown rapidly and after Los Angeles and New York, it has become the largest film production centre in North America. Because of this, it has been nicknamed Hollywood North.  

Ethnic Eating in Vancouver - Chinatown.

Ethnic eating in Vancouver – Chinatown.

Vancouver is consistently ranked one of the three most livable cities in the world. In 2008, only Zurich, Vienna and Geneva outranked Vancouver as the city with the highest quality of living in the world. It was ranked first by The Economist. After Toronto, it is the most expensive city to live in Canada and the 89th most expensive globally.

2010 Winter Olympics

If skiing, bob sleighing and general winter sports are your cup of tea then Vancouver in 2010 is the perfect place for you. The 2010 Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics will be raging in Vancouver and nearby Whistler, a great ski mountain 125km north of the city. If you plan on visiting, book your accommodations early as it is going to be hectic up here!

Golden’s Canadian Rockies – Yoho National Park

Leave a comment

Golden, British Columbia

By John McKiernan
Staff Writer

Yoho National Park holds some of the Canadian Rockies' most beautiful scenery.

Yoho National Park holds some of the Canadian Rockies' most beautiful scenery.

The Canadian Rockies are home to some of the most beautiful and best preserved parks in the world. Although Banff and Jasper National Park are both within driving distance of Golden, it is Yoho National Park, only a 30-minute drive away, that grabs the attention on this side of the Canadian Rockies.

As far as National Parks go, Yoho is definitely one the most well known. Yoho National Park was created in 1886 and encompasses 1,310 square kilometres of the Rocky Mountains Western slopes. The park’s name, Yoho, is a Cree word used for expressing awe and amazement. It also sounds better than WOW National Park. The park’s glacial lakes, stunning waterfalls, impressive snow covered peaks and majestic forests ensure that any visit will be awe inspiring.

The park is home to snow topped peaks and many waterfalls including the world famous Takakkaw Falls, and the park’s glaciers are responsible for providing the silty runoff that creates the deep turquoise colour of Emerald Lake and Lake O’Hara.

Its history is bound with railroad spiral tunnels inside mountains and stories of runaway trains. As well, one of the world’s most important fossil finds, the Burgess Shale, is located in Yoho. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1981, the Burgess Shale Formation contains the fossilized remains of more than 120 marine animal species dating back 515 million years.

Paragliding the Canadian Rockies, Golden

Leave a comment

Golden, British Columbia

By John McKiernan
Staff Writer

Get a bird's eye view of the mountains around B.C.

Get a bird's eye view of the mountains around B.C.

Everybody has dreamed of being a flying penguin at some stage. Well, at Golden you have the chance to kill two birds with the one stone, so to speak. No, you can’t become a penguin for the day but you can launch off a cliff with nothing but the wings of a paraglider above you and admire the stunning views of Golden’s Canadian Rockies from above.

Golden is a world renowned gliding Shangri-la. Paragliding embodies the sheer thrill of flying through the sky without an engine. Paragliders are a free-flying, foot-launched wing with the pilot attached and suspended in a harness below. Gliders look for thermals or ‘updrafts’ of warm air that enable them to fly for hours and range over wide distances. In fact, paragliders can climb faster than some aircraft: A 206 Jet Ranger helicopter climbs at 800 feet per minute while a paraglider in an expert climb can reach speeds upwards of 2,000 feet per minute! Note: don’t challenge 206 Jet Ranger Helicopters to a race should you meet one.

Mount 7, one of Golden’s most spectacular mountains, was host to the National Paragliding Championships in the summer of 2007. As well, one of the most popular flights from here cuts south to the small community of Canal Flats. The extraordinary 145 kilometre flight was recently described in the prominent glider magazine Cross Country as one of the “top, classic cross-country flights of all time.” In fact, eight world records for distance and time have been set from the launch at Mount 7. Maybe you could be next.

The scene is the unforgettable Canadian Rockies. Imagine three mountain ranges, two rivers, and one vast expanse of blue sky. Now imagine a bird’s eye view. Tempted now?

Rafting and Kayaking the Canadian Rockies, Golden

2 Comments

Golden, British Columbia

By John McKiernan
Staff Writer

Depending on the season, there are several ways to experience the stunning sights of the Canadian Rockies. During winter, it’s hard to beat the views while skiing. In summer, there are even more options. Sure, you can take a hike or take a tour but for exhilaration as well as sights, white water rafting Golden is hard to beat.

Rafting the Kicking Horse River

The whitewater of the Canadian Rockies will certainly satisfy the biggest adreneline junkies.

The whitewater of the Canadian Rockies will satisfy the biggest adreneline junkies.

The legend of Sir James Hector and the crazy horse might have been the inspiration for naming Kicking Horse River. But the river itself hasn’t been shy in living up to its untamed reputation.

The Kicking Horse River is one of the wildest, most intense waterways in Canada, if not the world. But don’t get intimidated. Kicking Horse River boasts unparalleled white-water rafting excitement for rafters of all levels. Witness some of the world’s most incredible scenery in the world along the way and perhaps spot some extraordinary wildlife. Depending on the time of year, look for moose, deer, elk, black bears, grizzly bears, mountain goats and bald eagles along the river banks.

Rising from Wapta Lake and joined by the Yoho, Emerald, Amiskwi and Ottertail Rivers, the Kicking Horse flows wild and free, unobstructed through some of Canada’s most spectacular mountain terrain. As an ecological, recreational, and historical jewel of the Canadian West, the Kicking Horse enjoys the distinction of being the first river in B.C. to be recognized as a Canadian Heritage River.

Kayaking Golden

Golden is conveniently perched near the hydrological apex of North America. In everyday terms, this means all melted ice from Golden’s surrounding glaciers and snow field’s flows downhill.

In a kayaker’s terms, this means some of the stoutest flow on earth. There are over ten rivers within an hour-and-a-half drive from Golden. With skill levels ranging from I (calm water, scenic routes) to V (expert, or a ‘hero route’), there are incredible routes for every paddler. Be careful not to take the hero route too literally!

For Kicking Horse River, come late springtime (around late-May or early-June) when the snow is melting, all that run-off comes barrelling down the mountains. High water season lasts around six weeks, until about mid-July, but great paddling trips can be enjoyed from May to September.

If white-water isn’t your speed, check out some of the flat-water trips (larger ‘sea kayaks’ or canoes). There are many casual levels I or II routes for those wanting an exhilarating day without the daredevil component. Check out the Columbia or Blaeberry Rivers for a day of comfortable current and beautiful wildlife. This is perfect for family trips.

Biking the Canadian Rockies in Golden, B.C.

1 Comment

Golden, British Columbia

By John McKiernan
Staff Writer

Mountian biking in the Canadian Rockies is full of challenging trails and great views.

Mountian biking in the Canadian Rockies is full of challenging trails and great views.

There are many superlatives that can be used to describe the mountain biking terrain in the Canadian Rockies around Golden. Exciting, unique, vast, terrifying – it really is everything it is built up to be. Although Banff and other local national parks are considered amongst the best, Golden takes the biscuit. Golden is a community that wholeheartedly welcomes the mountain biking culture.

Golden is blessed with Mount 7, one of the finest and most challenging downhill systems in Canada. Mount 7 boasts several double black diamond trails. This is the place to push it (the skills, not the bike). The steep single track is a guaranteed rush for intermediate to advanced riders. With various levels of difficulty and various offshoot trails with stunts and ladders, bombing Mount 7 provides stunning valley views, some great drops and a pipeline reminiscent of a bobsled course gone stupid.

Prefer a great single- track cross-country trail to serious up and downs? Try the trails near the bottom section of Mount 7, or check out the single track heaven, 48 km of cross-country bike trails at Moonraker and Canyon Creek.

Want all the buzz of the downhill runs without the lung buster ride to the top, you lazy cyclists?! Head over to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and take the chairlift up the mountain. After that cushy ride up, get ready for a serious 10 km long single-track downhill. Rentals available.

Winter Activities in Golden’s Canadian Rockies

Leave a comment

Golden, British Columbia

By John McKiernan
Staff Writer

Pull on your woolies, grab your shades and get out the Canadian Rockies through Golden.

Powder hounds will fall in love with the Canadian Rockies.

Powder hounds will fall in love with the Canadian Rockies.

Winter in Golden has so many incredible opportunities, you’re gonna need a raging blindside blizzard to keep you indoors. Golden is the spectacular home to all things winter including skiing, ice shoeing, curling, ice fishing and so much more. Below is some information to help you plan your next winter season.

Cross-Country Skiing

The Dawn Mountain Trails at the base of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a 28 kilometre network of some of the best-groomed trails in the Canadian Rockies. Maintained by Bombardier 400 snow groomers, the track-set trails range from gently rolling beginner loops to challenging tracks for more advanced skiers. When you’re ready for a break, slide into the 8-10 person warming hut, complete with a wood stove, just 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) into the trails. The word “heaven” about describes this hut. Many more maintained trails lie just minutes from downtown Golden. Ski rentals are available.

If you are looking for a more extreme and natural experience, head out to the Moonraker trails. Unless a fellow XC skier has broken trail, chances are you’ll find fresh, fluffy snow waiting for you.

Snowshoeing

Strap on the ‘raquets’ and go crunch some snow on the trails around Kicking Horse Mountain Resort or the Moonraker area. Other than that, take a left turn anywhere and head out in the woods for a snowshoeing odyssey. (Just make sure to bring a compass!) A good tip is to venture out on a snowmobile to get to those incredible, yet hard-to-reach places.

Ice Skating

Golden has a number of great skating areas for you to lace ’em up. Check out Reflection Lake for a bit of skating on a natural surface. You can also visit the new outdoor skating area at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort or the Golden & District Recreation Centre’s arena for indoor public skating.

Ice Fishing

If your idea of fun is cracking a hole in the ice and dropping a lure, Golden has your bait. With lots of lakes in and around Golden, this is the perfect opportunity to try out that new thermos. Locals say Susan Lake is especially good and that the best spots are often only accessible by snowmobile.

Curling

Golden’s Curling Club was the first curling club in B.C., opening its doors December 11, 1893. Check out the Golden curling rink if you want to get your rocks off and get into the house.

Tobogganing

Get out the GT and old wooden sled and get nostalgic. Snake Hill (by Reflection Lake, behind the rodeo grounds) is said to be the best tobogganing in the area.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

For alpine purists – skiers and boarders alike – Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is the ultimate destination. Here the snow is a lot lighter and a little deeper than anywhere else in the Kootenay Rockies and, with 4,133 feet of vertical and 70 inbound chutes, it’s one unforgettable ride on this horse!

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a world class skiing and riding destination and is situated on the mountainside just above Golden. The resort is renowned for absolutely breathtaking views as well as boasting the Rockies’ highest vertical (1,260 metres or 4,133 feet), 106 different runs, 70 inbound chutes, ski-in ski-out lodging and exceptional staff.

Golden is also in close proximity to other ski resorts such as Lake Louise, Sunshine, Revelstoke, and Panorama. All within a two hour drive from Golden.

Snowmobiling in Golden, B.C.

Leave a comment

Golden, British Columbia

By John McKiernan
Staff Writer

There are many activities to keep the most restless visitor happy in Golden and the Canadian Rockies. However, snowmobiling has become the natural choice for many B.C. and out of province snowmobilers, simply because of its beautiful scenery and terrain, light and dry snow and convenient location.

The Canadian Rockies offer a true winter wonderland to adventure seekers.

The Canadian Rockies offer a true winter wonderland to adventure seekers.

Golden is the perfect base and a friendly place to get out and have some snowmobiling fun. Golden even got the prestigious mention as one of the best places for powder and scenery by the SnoRiders Choice Awards. For sledders, this is sheer paradise.

The options for riding are virtually endless here: Quartz Creek, Gorman, Silent Pass, Hope Creek, Susan Lake, and Chatter Creek to name just a few. Wide varieties of trails are perfect for novice sledders and offer adventurous yet safe family routes. Those seeking greater challenge and adventure will be happy to hear there is no end to the steep and deep possibilities.

For a great family outing with plenty of powder and virtually no risk of avalanches, check out the Blaeberry River Trail; this 160 kilometre route follows the steps of great Canadian explorer David Thompson. Or, try West Bench Trail; this route features 100 kilometres of logging roads and powder playgrounds.

The Golden Snowmobile Trail Society and the Golden Snowmobile Club work together to keep the trails in top-notch condition by grooming trails, maintaining bridges and cleaning cabins. As well, a number of hotels have designated parking spots for trucks with trailers and offer special rates for snowmobilers. There are few better ways to see this gem of the Canadian Rockies than by roaring around on a snowmobile. Happy sledding!

History of Golden, B.C.

Leave a comment

Golden, B.C.

By John McKiernan
Staff Writer

How Golden was Founded

It was adventure that brought the first explorers over the Canadian Rockies. But it was the treasures of Golden that made them stay. Despite its increasing list of stunning hotels and varied activities, the area still exudes the same feeling of discovery and exploration the first pioneers felt.

Jumbo Pass, one of the many beautiful places near Golden.

Jumbo Pass, one of the many beautiful places near Golden.

Back in 1807 David Thompson first crossed over the Rocky Mountains and traveled along the Blaeberry River to the future site of Golden. In search of the Columbia River and, ultimately, a passage to the Pacific Ocean, it was Thompson’s sense of exploration that led him here. Thompson’s travels took him to the junction of the legendary Columbia and Kicking Horse Rivers.

Canadian Pacific Railway

Golden would simply not exist without the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). In fact, the railway’s presence helped establish Golden’s place in Canada. As the CPR constructed its cross-country network of rails, it used Golden as a base camp as it extended further into the western part of B.C. The railway was completed in 1885 and Golden soon became a prominent stop on the line. The CPR also paved the way for the Trans-Canada Highway, which helped to transform the area from forest outpost to a true community.

Swiss Guides

The CPR recognized many travelers through Golden would want to stay, explore and discover the incredible area for themselves. To this end, the CPR hired Swiss guides to assist in providing connections to this compelling yet rugged landscape. In 1899, Eduard Feuz Sr. and Christian Haesler came to Canada from Switzerland to serve as mountain guides. In 1911, the CPR built homes for them as well as other guides in Golden and named it the ‘Swiss Village’, or ‘Edelweiss.’ This village provided a base for the now-famous Canadian Alpine Club which, in turn, drew many more guides from Switzerland in the following years. The village is still situated 1.5 kilometres west of Golden.

Forests

For well over a century, Golden’s fortunes have been linked with the forest industry; sawmills have come and gone, been burned down and rebuilt and are wrapped in a list of owners as long as a Douglas Fir log – where the health of the industry went, so went Golden’s well being. The forest industry was initiated with the building of the CPR Railroads, which required 3,000 railroad ties per mile. There was also demand for buildings, bridges, trestles and snowsheds, some of which took huge quantities of large timber.

Getting to the Canadian Rockies town of Golden

Leave a comment

Golden, British Columbia

Getting to Golden has never been easier! Pack those bags, book accommodations, choose some great activities and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime. Golden is a destination of ‘must do’ and ‘must see’. Below are some hints to help you achieve as much as humanly possible.

By Air

Getting to Golden is the easy part, but you may never want to leave.

Getting to Golden is the easy part, but you may never want to leave.

Golden is roughly a three hour drive from Calgary International Airport and the Canadian Rockies International Airport in Cranbrook. If you choose to fly into Calgary International Airport, there are several companies who provide shuttle service directly to Golden. A shuttle service from Calgary is provided by Jasper Vacations.

By Car

Access to Golden from east or west is simple, thanks to its location right on the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy #1). Hwy #95 begins in Golden and heads south to the U.S. border. Beyond the border, Interstate 95 continues through Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and all the way down to the U.S.-Mexico border. Drive Times vary depending on season and weather.

The Trans-Canada Highway between Golden and Yoho National Park was upgraded to a modern four-lane design, including a new Park Bridge over the Kicking Horse Canyon. These upgrades have made vast improvements for safe and quicker travel to Golden from the east.

By Bus

Greyhound Buslines stop four times a day in Golden, coming from either Calgary, Alberta or Vancouver, B.C. Greyhound also has a daily bus leaving from Cranbrook, B.C., plus services to every other community throughout the region, province and country.

Getting Around Town

Car and truck rentals are available in Golden. Golden also provides a Taxi/Limousine service through Mount 7 Taxi.