A “Golden” Opportunity for Winter Family Fun!

“A family that skis together stays together.”

Okay, that might be my motto but apparently it’s still working for me. What used to just be trips to the local ski resorts has turned into weekends and mini stay-cations in Golden, B.C. We gravitate to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort to ski but have found a few more “Golden Gems” to amuse us when we decide not to ski. Here’s a quick list of family fun things to do in Golden.

Visit with the wolves

Northern Lights Wolf Centre near Golden, BC

Ever told the kids to not wolf down their lunch? Watching the wolves eat at the Northern Lights Wolf Centre is proof that wolves tend to eat quickly. What’s even more interesting is that when they are done eating a meal, over twenty other species benefit from what is left over.

The Northern Lights Wolf Centre is only a few minutes west of Golden up a paved road into a thick forest. A visit to the centre gives you and the kids a chance to learn about the elusive hunters and to see them up close. There is no need for reservations; the hosts are always available to take your group on a quick tour of the wolf enclosures.

When we got there, the wolves were all just lazing around, cured up in the snow. Suddenly their ears perked up and they all stood up. One by one they started to howl. The wild wolf pack was in the vicinity and had called out. For about ten minutes we stood there watching as they howled – stopped – listened then howled again. That was worth the trip. A concert we will never forget.

During the winter and until May, Northern Lights Wolf Centre is open 12-5 daily. The hours extend in the spring. Check the webpage for options to walk with the wolves (no leash required!) Admission to the centre is $35/family. Walks and photography tours are extra.

Kicking Horse kicks up the family fun factor

Winter in Golden is all about the snow. We’ve been making the trip at least once each winter to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort since my daughter lost her first baby tooth while skiing there ( no – not skiing…it just fell out). Some people may think of it as more of an expert’s hill but we can attest that toothless six-year-olds can handle the green runs. My quads screamed the entire route of “It’s a Ten” that first year but jump forward a dozen years and she handles everything – I just wish I could!

Being that it’s a bit of a trek from our home in Calgary, it turns into a weekend event that we anticipate each season. We’ve stayed in Golden, at the hotels along the highway, at B&B’s tucked into the trees but our favourite place to stay is up at the base within walking distance of the Golden Eagle Express Gondola.

The view of Kicking Horse Gondola Base from our balcony at the The Glacier Mountaineer Lodge near Golden

The view of Kicking Horse Gondola Base from our balcony at the The Glacier Mountaineer Lodge

Kicking Horse Lodging has a variety of room configurations in a few different lodges but we like the one or two-bedroom units complete with kitchens. It’s perfect. We pack a cooler of food for breakfasts and lunches to keep the costs down. Mornings are a snap. At lunch, while they rip down yet another bowl, I head in to heat up the soup and lay out the sandwiches. Everyone comes and goes as they please. I love it. And, the view from the deck facing the slopes is my favourite. Hot tubs, a tube park and a skating rink round out the après ski activities. Day care and lessons are available too.

There are a few choices for dinner on the hill from fine dining at Corks to pub grub at the Kicking Horse Saloon. Kids are invited into the saloon until 8 pm. If you are visiting on the weekend, pamper yourself with reservations at Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at the top of the gondola. Peaks from five national parks surround you during a spectacular dining experience.

Kicking Horse has four lifts taking guests to over 2,800 acres of skiable terrain with a stash of over 1,000 more acres waiting to be opened. There are 121 marked runs, four bowls, countless chutes and terrain to challenge everyone with 20 per cent perfect for beginners, 20 per cent for intermediates, 45 per cent for the advanced skier and 15 per cent ready to kick the experts (or your cocky teenagers) into next week. Each winter the summit sees an annual snowfall of over seven metres while the mid-mountain runs are covered in almost four metres of that champagne powder.

At the top of Kicking Horse Mountain near Golden

At the top of Kicking Horse Mountain

Looking for tamer skiing? Try Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre

A short drive from Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is the Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre with 33 kilometres of track set for both classic and skate skiing. The trails are well marked from green to black and offer opportunities to try harder terrain by taking routes that branch off and loop back. All the trails eventually loop back to the club house so you can’t get lost. I didn’t think of this before but I heard that lots of people bring their cross country gear and headlamps and head out after supper for a night ski.

The snowshoeing trail turned out to be just as fun as the cross country trails. If you do the entire snowshoe circuit it will take just over an hour.

There is a small user fee to use the trails and it’s collected at the drop box if there isn’t someone present at the day lodge. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available on weekends. The fee for the rentals is surprisingly inexpensive considering the quality of the gear.

Dawn Mountain cross country

Dawn Mountain cross country

Climb the walls in Golden

Maybe the kids don’t want to ski every day of the holiday or as usual, have too much energy left over. Dog Tooth Climbing Gym in Golden is perfect for anyone needing to climb the walls, across the ceiling and back down again. Every surface has hand and foot holds – except for the floor. Its covered in a soft surface or padding. Top ropes are there to clip in for the longer climbs. The drop-in rates are reasonable – you can entertain the family for less than $60. The facility is open daily from 4-9:30, Monday to Thursday. Saturday 1 – 8 pm and Sunday noon to 9:30.

Dog Tooth Climbing Gym credit Bruno Long

Dog Tooth Climbing Gym credit Bruno Long

For more information about Golden visit the Tourism Golden webpage. Check the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort page for deals on accommodations.


Photos by Joanne Elves unless noted.