As the sun rolls over the Dogtooth range signifying the impending end to another busy day in Golden, I bring a fresh goblet of cool Sessions Ale to my lips and drink in both the refreshing brew and the view from the patio at Whitetooth Brewery. I may be sitting on the patio at the local craft brewery, but I could be anywhere in town. I parked my car at the hotel a few days ago and since then, I’ve pedalled or walked almost everywhere.
I won’t lie, Golden is my favourite destination for a few days of escape from Calgary and it doesn’t matter what season it is. In winter, of course, I’m here for downhill skiing at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and on the many kilometres of cross-country trails blanketing the valley. But in the summer, it’s all about biking, hiking, the new Golden Skybridge and finally meeting Boo at the Grizzly Bear Interpretive Centre.
Golden offers over a dozen hotels and motels primarily scattered along the TransCanada highway with a few in town and at the ski resort. What I like is they are all very accessible with plenty of free parking either outside your door or down a few flights of stairs. I’m not loyal to any brands so when I’m booking, it’s about availability. If we plan a long bike ride, maybe a pool or hot tub comes into the equation. If we travel with the pooch, there are lots of options for him too.
A few days ago, we stayed at the Prestige Inn. I’ve stayed there a few times and really appreciate the swift service at the front desk and the high level of cleanliness. Ricky’s All-Day Grill is on the main level so a hearty breakfast was consumed before we were off to visit our favourite and new attractions.
Speaking of new, check out the Golden Skybridge that opened in May 2021. The site offers something for everyone. The showstopper is the two suspension bridges hanging 130 metres and 80 metres above Hospital Creek. Walking across the highest suspension bridge in Canada might test your comfort zones but take your time and do it. The view of the waterfalls and the beautiful valley and mountains beyond are worth it. If that sounds like a piece of cake, maybe you should try the tandem bungee swing and 1500 meter zipline– both of which are slated to open soon. Until then, enjoy the bridges, the ridge walk, the family treetop village playpark and the entertainment plaza.
Another place to test your comfort zone is clinging to the rock face high up at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. The Via Ferrata has you accessing the peaks via ladders, suspension bridges, pegs, and iron rungs bolted to the rock. Tours are from one to three hours long. If you brought your mountain bike, toss it on the gondola and head for the summit for some hot laps. The terrain offers so much from easy to “holy crap!” with berms, wooden rollers, rock slabs and loads of white-knuckle single-track routes through the trees.
A softer but rewarding adventure at Kicking Horse is meeting Boo – the rescue grizzly who has called the enormous habitat under the gondola home since 2002. Choose between the interpretive tour with a guide or my recommendation, meet the massive bruin on the Ranger Assist Program. It’s quite relaxed. You hang out and learn a ton about grizzly bears while the rangers make sure Boo is happy both physically and emotionally. The photography opportunities are endless! End the day on top of the world with dinner or drinks at the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant.
Back in town, the plaza along Kicking Horse River has taken shape to entice you to relax, attend the weekly Wednesday farmers markets or settle in for a brew. All the restaurants in Golden are within a five-minute drive of any hotel. For high-end dining, reserve a table at Eleven22 or the Island Restaurant or meet your friends for a night at any of the pubs and bars, now that you can do that again. (You can walk back to the hotel if you have to)
With most of the hotels so close to everything in town, it’s easy to head out with the minimum for the day and come back for jackets or forgotten helmets. (Yes, I’m speaking from experience.) At the end of the action-packed day, there’s a pool or hot tub to dip in before slipping into the comfortable bed. Set the alarm clock to REPEAT. Tomorrow’s adventures are moments from your door.