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Located in the “Heart of the Parks,” Golden, British Columbia is Canada’s ultimate outdoor playground. Surrounded by Yoho, Glacier, Kootenay, Banff, Mount Revelstoke and Jasper national parks, countless winter activities are at its doorstep including skating, ice fishing, dog sledding, skiing and even ice climbing. Add to that the largest concentration of backcountry lodges in Canada and hundreds of kilometre’s-worth of groomed trails for snowmobiling and nordic-skiing, and it’s clear that the mountain town has something for everyone. Here’s the ultimate guide to embracing Golden, B.C. during the winter.
Get active at: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
Golden’s main claim to fame is Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, which is nestled in the Purcell Mountains just a 15 minute drive from town. Boasting an elevation of more than eight-thousand feet, a four-thousand foot vertical and more than 120 plus runs, there’s no shortage of untouched champagne powder—especially right after one of the area’s famous dumps of snow.
No matter how many people are waiting at the base to head up the gondola, the runs are so long and spread out that the hill never feels too busy. Not only that, but the terrain found in some of its bowls rivals that usually only accessed while heli-skiing, making it easy to see why Kicking Horse is considered one of Canada’s best ski resorts.
Not much of a thrill-seeker? No problem: there are also numerous trails for nordic skiing and snowshoeing starting from the Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre, located near the base of the resort. Kids also love snow tubing, which can also be booked at the resort.
Top tip: Grab a bite at Eagle’s Eye Restaurant which lives up to its nickname of “Canada’s most elevated dining experience” thanks to its perch 7,700 feet up. The cozy lodge is a great place to rest those ski legs and tuck into a AAA beef burger or pulled pork poutine for lunch. Alternatively, make reservations for a romantic dinner, which will see you ride the candlelit gondola to the top of the mountain with your sweetie, as you cuddle under a warm blanket and enjoy the night sky.
Get wild at: Northern Lights Wolf Centre
Now here’s something you don’t come across every day: a full-on wildlife preserve, dedicated solely to wolves. Northern Lights Wolf Centre is about 20 minutes from Golden, and was founded nearly two decades ago by Casey and Shelley Black. Casey originally trained animals for Hollywood movie productions, and after adopting a wolf dog named Aspen the couple decided to turn their property into a place to educate the public about how important wolves are for our environment. While the animals are kept behind chainlink fences, they’re actually quite docile—in fact, when the wolves were cubs they were bottle-fed and even slept in the same bed as the Blacks.
Staff guide half hour tours throughout the day, explaining where their ever-growing pack of wolves came from (most are originally from zoos, and were bred in captivity), their key role in the ecosystem, and facts about life expectancy and eating habits. If you time your visit right you might even get to watch feeding time, where you’ll get to see firsthand where the phrase “wolfing down your food” came from!
Top tip: For a truly memorable experience, book one of their semi-private tours where you can actually walk in the backcountry with the wolves, who are so playful they’ve even been known to steal guests’ mittens.
Go back in time at: Edelweiss Village
Just off the Trans-Canada highway and a short drive up a hill, you’ll find Edelweiss Village which dates back to the early 1900s. Half a dozen Swiss-style homes were built there by the Canadian Pacific Railway, for guides they’d brought over from Switzerland to help kickstart the tourism industry. The towering chalets have an enviable perch overlooking the valley, and have been beautifully maintained. As the chalets are privately owned tourists are not allowed inside, but can still view them from the road.
Stay at: Mount 7 Lodges
This charming mountain hideaway is perfect for everyone, whether you’re travelling as a couple, family or large group. Nestled in a secluded, scenic spot about a 10 minute drive from downtown Golden, there are three private chalets called Deer Lodge, Bear Lodge and Eagle Lodge. Each cabin has a full kitchen, living room, two to four bedrooms, multiple bathrooms and a gorgeous patio complete with a hot tub overlooking the valley.
Surrounded by more than 60 private acres, the lodge is a great base for outdoor winter adventures including cat-skiing and cross-country skiing, and is near the Quartz, Gorman and Silent Pass snowmobile trails. Add in the fact that Mount 7 Lodges is also very well-priced and pet-friendly, and chances are you’ll never want to stay anywhere else.
Eat at: Eleven 22
This fantastic eatery is housed in a converted historic home right in the centre of town, and the cozy setup combined with the delicious smells wafting out of the kitchen makes it feel like home as soon as you walk through the door. Artwork from local artists are displayed throughout in a nod to its local ties, providing for plenty of eye candy in each room.
Eleven 22’s crowd-pleasing dishes include their wok-style calamari, savoury butter chicken and the cannelloni, which chef Konan Mar prepares differently every day.
Drink at: Whitetooth Brewing Co.
A new arrival to Golden, Whitetooth Brewing opened in December 2016 along one of the main roads connecting the ski hill to town—how convenient is that for après? Their Belgian-inspired beers are available on tap in the tasting room, which looks right into the brewery itself. They’re also set up to fill growlers or kegs with the likes of their Icefields Pale Ale, Speed Metal stout and signature Whitetooth Session Ale, which is the perfect way to enjoy some local brews from the comfort of your cabin.
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Globe Guide explored Golden in collaboration with Tourism Golden and Kootenay Rockies Tourism. As always, hosts have no editorial influence over articles