Golden is trying hard to become a tourist town, but it’s not quite there yet. It certainly has a good location, sandwiched in between Yoho and Glacier National Parks, along Trans Canada Highway 1. Tourism is definitely part of its future, but Golden still holds on to a more rustic and utilitarian feel, thanks to its roots as a logging and railroad town.
Golden has two business districts, which are separated by the Kicking Horse River. On the north side of the river, you’ll find a few blocks of stores and restaurants, built around this water fountain. This area is on 9th Avenue North — which feels more like a “main” street than the actual Main Street, which is one block away.
9th Avenue also has a mural…
… and these two guys. Don’t get me started on these guys.
Golden is most proud of its covered pedestrian bridge, that spans the Kicking Horse River. The bridge is the longest freestanding timber frame bridge in Canada — 46 meters (151 feet) long. The entire community, and members of the Timber Framers Guild from around the world, came together to build the bridge in 2001, using 72,000 board feet of Douglas-fir timber.
The bridge is a nice start towards a tourist-friendly area, and it’s obviously still a work in progress (there was a tangle of construction fencing on one end of the bridge, when I visited in 2009). The only problem is, the bridge doesn’t connect to anything exciting. On this end, it joins the Rotary Trail — a paved bicycle trail that loops around lower Golden (the part south of the Kicking Horse River). On the other end…
… the bridge comes close to the 9th Avenue business district — but it’s still 2 blocks away, and there isn’t much to see, right at the end of the bridge. I imagine this will change, in time.
From the middle of the bridge, looking east, you can see the Highway 95 bridge (the only connection for vehicles across the Kicking Horse), and the backs of the buildings that line 9th avenue. Again, it’s not quite as appealing as it probably will be in a few years, as the town grows.
The area south of the Kicking Horse River is the more functional business district. It has strip malls and grocery stores lined up along Highway 95 — all the stuff you need to re-stock your car with snacks and drinks, for the drive into any of the nearby national parks.
There are several places to stay in Golden. Most of the motels are along Highway 1, on the north end of town. Golden, like most other towns in the Canadian Rockies, has expensive motel rooms, but I found a bargain at the Swiss Village Inn and RV Park. My room was less than $70 (CAD) per night…
… but it was a little funky. I’ve had motel rooms with a refrigerator before, but never a 3/4 height harvest gold fridge from the ’70’s.
The TV (on top of the fridge) was a treat too. I had forgotten that remote controls used to look like this!
I ended up in this quasi-kitchenette room, thanks to the courtesy of the motel staff. They asked if I would need wireless internet access, then placed me in a room near the lobby to get the best reception. If I had ended up in a more “standard” room, I probably wouldn’t have had a strong signal. So, no complaints from me!