Have you ever seen the mountains painted a husky rose? It’s one of the rare times that color overtakes a landscape during the white winter months. Alpen glow is a light phenomenon that gives mountains a red hue during the winter months, some say that it's caused by direct light traveling a long way through the atmosphere and reflecting off the mountains, others think that it can also be caused by indirect light acting in a similar manner.
Standing in the heart of downtown Golden, you can look to the ancient crags of the Purcell mountain range to catch this glinting rose light on a clear morning, and see it again on the Rocky Mountains in the evenings. If Alpen glow is the start and end of your day in Golden, you’re doing it right.
If you’re here already, you’re standing in the headquarters of winter adventure. Getting to Golden in the wintertime, however, can be a bit trickier. Winter driving, most of all, can be unnerving, especially if you’re new to the mountains or you don’t have a lot of experience driving through them. Here are a few things to consider before setting out on your trip to Golden.
Alpen Glow on the Purcells
Photo Credit: Dave Best
Kicking Horse Highway Construction:
The 26 km of the Trans-Canada Highway to the east of Golden is being upgraded to a modern four-lane design. These upgrades have made vast improvements for a safer and more efficient journey to Golden. The first three phases of the project are completed and included a New Park Bridge and the Kicking Horse Rest Area. Only 5 kilometers of winding 1950s-era highway remain and the transformation is ongoing.
During this current (and last) phase of construction, the highway undergoes frequent closures. Often, crews close the highway during the night and re-open it in the morning, but, depending on the work being done and winter weather, the highway can be closed for long periods of time. An informative Highway Status Calendar of all up-to-date road closures and construction delays can be found on the Kicking Horse Canyon Construction Calendar. or through DriveBC which is the most frequently updated platform. We recommend checking these resources before journeying to Golden.
Leave the car and your winter driving worries behind and use the daily shuttle service to get directly from Calgary Airport to Golden and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. This can be a great option if you’re visiting from overseas, or you’d just like to cut down on your carbon emissions. The shuttle from Calgary is called the Champagne Powder Express, view schedules and pricing here.
Once you're here a regular local service makes it easy to move between downtown Golden and the slopes at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. This shuttle is called the Golden Kicking Horse Connector. It has multiple stops in Golden and runs frequently daily as well as during Friday and Saturday evenings. You can pay-as-you-go or purchase a seasonal pass, which makes this service a great transportation option for visitors who return to Golden frequently, or who are staying for long periods of time. See the schedule here.
A large part of travel these days is traveling with intention and respect. Responsible travel helps to preserve the authenticity of Golden’s culture, nature, and community, and also ensures that you have a good experience as well. It asks visitors to consider the impacts that they might have on our community and wild places during their stay.
This includes being prepared for driving through winter conditions, like having warm layers, boots, toques, and gloves in case you get stuck on the highway for an extended amount of time. We’re a small, remote town and, as such, our emergency services only have so much time and resources at their disposal.
A second responsible travel philosophy caters to preserving our natural world. Pulling over to watch or take pictures of wildlife from the highway is incredibly dangerous for both the animals and you. Please be mindful of this on your drive to Golden, and help keep the highways clear.
What To Do Once You’re Here
After you’ve arrived in Golden, the fun really begins! If you’re a big skier or snowboarder, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is the place for you. Backcountry touring and lodges are plentiful around Golden if you’d like to experience a more rugged feel of these ancient mountain ranges.
The layout of Golden makes it easy to keep up with eco-conscious travel by walking to grocery stores, pubs, restaurants, shops, and more. The Rotary Trail is a trail loop that connected all of the major areas of Golden: downtown, residential and forested trails. This path is cleared for walking and biking in the wintertime.
For more ideas about how to spend your time in Golden visit the Winter in Golden page on our website.
Dusk on the Rocky Mountains
Photo Credit: Dave Best