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A mix of pioneer heritage and outdoor adventure gives Golden its unique character. This is where the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains collide, surrounding the town with three mountain ranges and no less than six national parks. Golden is rightfully proud of its role in developing Canada's mountaineering scene in the 20th century, but the skiing, mountain biking and rafting here is worth celebrating too. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort makes summer and winter sports even more accessible with lifts and colour-coded routes.
Hostels in Golden are centrally located. You can stay in a restored 1920s building and get to know the friendly hostel dogs. There are often communal kitchens, although the restaurants of Main Street are usually minutes away. Choose a Golden hostel with a private room or meet hiking buddies by going for a dorm. You'll have free Wi-Fi so you can book outdoors activities, and you can chill with a beer and a book in the common areas.
Golden is very compact and downtown is the centre. Cafés, microbreweries and boutiques fill the historic Main Street, while 9th Ave North is home to a weekly farmers' market. You can walk south over the Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge to the new town for supermarkets and a residential feel. Edelweiss Village is a 30-minute walk west of downtown. It still contains alpine chalets built in 1911 for the Swiss mountain guides who were brought over to train locals in European climbing techniques.
Rafting is a popular activity in Golden thanks to its position at the convergence of the Columbia and Kicking Horse Rivers. In the winter you can head up to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (a 15-minute drive from Golden) for snowboarding and Nordic skiing. There are via ferrata mountain climbing routes of three levels in the summer, including one with a 60-metre suspension bridge. For a day off the mountains, learn more about the town's mountaineering history at Golden Museum or drive an hour south for a soak at Radium Hot Springs.
To reach Golden you can fly to the Canadian Rockies International Airport (2.5 hours south) or Calgary International Airport (3 hours east). From Vancouver, you can take the 10-hour Rider Express bus. The main bus station in Golden is at 1050 Trans Canada Highway (30 minutes' walk from downtown) and local services run to Revelstoke and Canmore. Downtown is very walkable and cycle routes run along the river.