6 National Parks Near Golden

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The mountain town of Golden, British Columbia draws visitors from all over the world; nestled in the Canadian Rockies, just a short drive across the BC-Alberta border from Banff, the area offers countless opportunities for world-class outdoor recreation. One of Golden’s biggest claims to fame is that it is located near six of Canada’s national parks, five of which are within one and a half hours’ drive, making it a great home base to explore these beautiful spaces. Learn a little about each of them, courtesy of the staff at the British Columbia Visitor Centre @ Golden:

1. Yoho National Park

Turqouise Emerald Lake with Emerald Lake Lodge across the water and the tall mountain peaks of Yoho National Park in the background.

Emerald Lake Lodge, Yoho National Park. Photo: Leslie Veen via Flickr.

Yoho National Park, situated in the western slopes of the Canadian Rockies, is home to towering peaks, expansive glaciers and impressive waterfalls, including Takakkaw Falls, (Canada’s third highest!). With 28 mountain peaks and over 400 km (249 mi) of hiking trails, Yoho is a hiker’s dream. From half a billion-year old fossils in the Burgess Shale to the magnificently turquoise Emerald Lake, roaring rivers and silent forests, Yoho definitely delivers.  The park is home to abundant wildlife and it’s highly likely you’ll spot a mountain goat during your visit!

2. Glacier National Park

Grinnell Lake in the foreground with the towering snow-capped peaks of Glacier National Park surrounding it and bright blue skies above.

Grinnell Lake, Glacier National Park. Photo: -Ted via Flickr.

Glacier National Park is located 57.6 km (36 miles) west of Golden. It is home to over 400 glaciers, as a result of the abundant snowfall in the area. There are two camping areas within the park with water, kitchens, shelters, firewood and flush toilets. An extensive trail system provides challenging peaks for backcountry enthusiasts, as well as short trails for those looking for a more relaxing experience. The park’s Rogers Pass Discovery Centre is the best national park museum in Canada, according to Explore Magazine.

3. Kootenay National Park

A still Floe Lake reflecting the towering snow-capped peaks of Kootenay National Park.

Floe Lake, Kootenay National Park. Photo: Adam Kahtava via Flickr

Kootenay National Park represents the southwestern region of the Canadian Rockies. It’s a area of startling contrasts: from glaciers to grasslands, broad vistas to narrow canyons, icy rivers to steamy hot springs – this park has it all. Camp in oTenTik tent-cabins, soak in the famous Radium Hot Springs pools, marvel at the glorious colours of Marble Canyon or fish in the park’s many lakes and rivers for as long as your heart desires. Keep your eyes peeled for big horn sheep near the small town of Radium Hot Springs, the gateway to Kootenay National Park.

4. Mount Revelstoke National Park

Grassy grounds and tall trees in the foreground with Mount Revelstoke National Park's tall peaks in the foreground.

Mount Revelstoke National Park. Photo: Cut Off Ties via Flickr

Mount Revelstoke National Park is home to Canada’s only inland cedar-hemlock rainforest. It’s the only national park in Canada where you can actually summit a mountain five minutes from your vehicle! Stroll through the gorgeous forest and renowned sub-alpine wildflower meadows, or experience the summit’s rare mountain-top hiking, strolling, picnicking and photography opportunities. Cycling enthusiasts can try to climb 26 km (1,600 m) in elevation gain up the Meadows in the Sky Parkway. During the summer, the Summit Shuttle Bus transports visitors between the parking area and summit.

5. Banff National Park

Turquoise Peyto Lake with Banff National Park's mountain peaks surrounding it and blue sky with white fluffy clouds above.

Peyto Lake, Banff National Park. Photo: Rock Cousteau via Flickr

Banff National Park is 188 km (117 mi) from Golden, just across the border in the neighbouring province of Alberta.  It’s Canada’s first national park and the world’s third. Spanning 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 square miles) of valleys, mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows and rivers, Banff National Park is one of the world’s premier destination spots. The park offers four scenic drives, each with plenty of opportunity to stop for a short trek to stretch your legs. Banff’s most eye-catching mountain, Mount Rundle, is located along the 4.3-km (2.7-mi) Vermilion Lakes Drive,  which is covered with guided interpretative panels chalk full of information on the area, its history and wildlife. The Banff Legacy Trail is excellent for biking and hiking and it runs through the breathtaking landscapes of the Rocky Mountains. Another must-see at the park is the shimmering Lake Minnewanka, also known as “lake of the spirits”.

6. Jasper National Park 

Jasper National Park's mountain peaks reflecting in a still lake with blue skies above.

Jasper National Park. Photo: Esther Lee via Flickr

Jasper National Park is also located in Alberta, about 188 km (117 mi) from Golden. It’s one of Canada’s oldest and largest national parks and it’s home to the highest mountain in Alberta (Mount Columbia). The park is home to over 1,000 km (621 mi) of trails, thousands of campsites and abundant wildlife, including elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer and caribou. The park has the most accessible glacier in North America, the Athabasca. It offers a more laid-back experience and is a popular destination for urbanites wanting to escape the city for the day.

Have you been to any of these national parks? Share your experience in the comments below!