If you’re planning a holiday to the Canadian Rockies there are many benefits of staying in Golden, BC.
Banff and Lake Louise are well known and they get a lot of hype. They’re beautiful and absolutely worth a visit, but the international recognition means 1000s of people all have the same idea. This has some downsides.
The great news is Banff and Lake Louise are both easy day trips from Golden. You can still see everything you want to see, and receive the benefits of staying in Golden. Lake Louise is only 60 minutes and Banff is 90 minutes (click here to see how to get here). We do this trip all the time and it’s a beautiful drive with lots to see.
Here are the 5 Benefits of Staying in Golden, BC – Instead of Banff or Lake Louise
1. There are Way Fewer Crowds
Banff and Lake Louise are world renowned as the ‘must see’ destinations in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. They are beautiful, yes, but this notoriety means they’re also incredibly busy.
With so many people vying to see the same things, and stay in the same places, the most popular attractions get overwhelmed. There are often crowds and lineups and a continuous cycle of tour buses.
It’s understandable you want to keep the main sites on your list and we aren’t saying you shouldn’t visit. Just make sure your expectations align with reality.
You aren’t going to have these natural sites to yourself. You’re going to have to be patient if you want unobstructed views and photos without other people in them.
Staying in Golden is an amazing alternative. Golden is an authentic mountain town. It has as many stunning views and natural landscapes as Banff and Lake Louise, and there are way fewer people.
You can walk down the street without bumping shoulders. You’ll have many instagram worthy spots to yourself. There are endless opportunities for photo taking, and it isn’t a stop on the tour bus circuit.
Golden is less touristy, less commercial, and people are very laid back. It has such a warm feel and the locals love living here. They’re proud of Golden and will be honoured to share it with you.
We’ll share a few more of our favourite spots with you right now. Head to any of these locations for big mountain views, outdoor adventure, natural experiences and pristine wilderness. We can guarantee you’ll lose the crowds, and you might even have it all to yourself.
2. It’s Much Cheaper
Travelling isn’t cheap and we know financial considerations are an important part of any travel plan. If you’re thinking about ways to save as you organize your trip, you’ll want to consider staying in Golden.
Golden has many top notch accommodations and restaurants, and they’re cheaper than what you’ll find in Banff or Lake Louise.
Accommodation also books up quickly in Banff and Lake Louise, so if you’re not booking a year in advance chances are your options will be slim.
Golden has many lodges, chalets, hotels, motels, B&Bs, AirBnBs and campgrounds. You’ll be able to find a beautiful and comfortable place to stay, regardless of what you’re looking for.
For a few recommendations, we like Whitewater Lodge for a bed and breakfast and Mount 7 Lodges for your own private cabin. The Golden Eco Adventure Ranch is a campground with all the amenities and Lush Accommodations will set you up with your own private chalet.
For being a small town, Golden also has amazing dining experiences.
It doesn’t matter what you’re craving, you’ll be able to find it here. To get some ideas, check out the 10 Best Restaurants in Golden, BC
3. There’s Way More to Do – Activities are Limited in the National Parks
Banff and Lake Louise are both located in a National Park. Because of this, there are many laws that regulate the activities that can take place.
If you book a rafting, skydiving, ATVing or snowmobiling tour in Banff or Lake Louise, you’re going to be coming to Golden anyways!
Yes, it’s true. Lots of companies advertise adventure activities in Banff and Lake Louise, but the truth is they actually take place in Golden.
Same goes for skydiving, ATVing and snowmobiling. All of the companies that offer these tours are based in Golden. These activities aren’t offered in the National Parks because motorized vehicles aren’t allowed.
If you stay in Golden there will be no driving to do on the morning of your trip. Save yourself the time and hassle.
4. Day Trips are Possible to 3 National Parks
The location of Golden couldn’t be better. It sits at the heart of 6 National Parks which means there are endless opportunities for day trips. Whether you want to hike, sightsee or visit the alpine lakes, you can do it all from Golden.
This means it’s easy to head east if you do want to go back and explore Yoho and Banff National Parks, or west to explore Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park is home to some of the most amazing hikes in all of British Columbia. If you want huge peaks, glacial topped mountains, endless waterfalls and lush green forests, Glacier National Park is where it’s at.
To do any of these big hikes, a day trip from Banff or Lake Louise is not recommended. You’ll be adding 2 – 3 hours or driving to your day, and you’re going to want to spend that time enjoying the scenery as you hike.
Another big benefit of staying in Golden is that there are endless opportunities for hiking and sightseeing that aren’t in the Parks.
If you’re the kind of traveller who likes getting off the beaten track and away from the crowds, there are many hikes we can recommend.
Here are some photos from a few of our favourites. We think you’ll love the peace and quiet.
5. There are 2 World Renowned Landscapes You Won’t Get in Banff or Lake Louise
1. Columbia Wetlands
The Columbia Wetlands are wetlands of international importance. They’re one of the longest intact wetlands in the world, and are recognized as one of the world’s living natural treasures.
Located between the Canadian Rockies and Purcell Mountains, the wetlands contain significant biodiversity. They’re home to over 260 species of birds, as well as many species of amphibians, reptiles, fish and mammals.
The wetlands are the source of the Columbia River – the largest river that flows into the Pacific Ocean in all of North America. The Columbia River flows through the heart of Golden, BC.
The Wetlands are beautiful and they’re a popular spot for canoeing, kayaking, SUPing and birdwatching. If you’re lucky enough to visit them and would like to go for a paddle, look at renting an inflatable kayak
2. Kicking Horse River
The Kicking Horse River was the first river in British Columbia to be designated a Canadian Heritage River. It’s renowned as a world class whitewater rafting and kayaking river.
The Kicking Horse River is located in Golden, British Columbia. It flows through the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the southeastern corner of B.C.
It has some of the longest and best whitewater rafting in all of BC and Western Canada. It’s unusual for a commercial rafting river to have kilometres of continuous class 4 rapids, but this is the standard on the Kicking Horse.
The Middle and Lower Canyons offer over 22 km of continuous whitewater – it’s definitely something to experience.
The most popular rafting trips on the Kicking Horse River are:
Full Day Rafting – a complete rafting experience of a beautiful float and fun big whitewater
Half Day Rafting – an afternoon trip to get you right into the fun rapids
Gentle Family Rafting – great for nervous guests or families with young children
The Kicking Horse and Columbia Rivers also meet in Golden and Confluence Park is a beautiful area to spend some time. You’ll see the glacial water of the Kicking Horse flowing into the higher volume Columbia.
There’s a lot of interesting history surrounding the Kicking Horse. From being carved out by glaciers millions of years ago, to how it got its name, you can read all about the history of the Kicking Horse River here
The Canadian Rocky Mountains are a spectacular place. We do hope you have a chance to visit, and experience the treasure they are.
When you come, consider staying in Golden, BC. It’s a hidden gem with just as much to offer as Banff and Lake Louise. When you factor in the crowds, pricing and what there is to do, you’ll realize you made a very good decision.
Get in touch if you have any questions. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org
– Alpine Team