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Put it in Drive: A Golden Triangle Road Trip

If your idea of a Sunday drive includes scenic highways and the occasional bird-call, it’s time to take it to the wilds; Kootenay Rockies-style. Shift into gear with a three pronged excursion that links both Yoho and Kootenay National Parks with neighbouring Banff; dubbed the “Golden Triangle”.  This well-tread stretch blends natural wonder, soothing hot springs and the unique Canadian Rocky Mountain communities of Golden, Field, Banff and Radium Hot Springs.

The best part? You can make a day of it with a mere 320-km (199 miles) to conquer. Indeed, your Sunday drive will never be the same, thanks to Yoho’s Spiral Tunnels viewpoint off Highway 1; a refreshing trek to Takakkaw Falls – one of Canada’s highest waterfalls; a peacefull-stroll around Emerald Lake (and a visit the historic Emerald Lake Lodge, on its own island); followed up with an awe-spiring family hike to Wapta Falls.

And for the more adventurous, Burgess Shale fossils were discovered in the Canadian Rockies (more than 508 million years old) and Parks Canada offers guides hikes at all three locations, in Yoho (Mt. Stephan & Walcott) and Kootenay (Stanley Glacier) National Parks. (Guided hikes to the Burgess Shale fossils are temporarily closed.)

Takakkawa Falls in Yoho National Park; photo by Heidi Korven

Continuing west, is the community of Golden. Be sure to include these “must see & dos” when visiting – a whitewater-rafting excursion down the famous Kicking Horse River; ride the gondola to the top of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and hike the alpine trails; or visit ‘Boo’ their resident grizzly bear. And with a bounty of tasty menu options and cozy accommodation at each stop, who knows? You may just be tempted to put it in park!


Rafting the Kicking Horse River; photo by Best Impressions (Dave Best)

Neighbouring Kootenay National Park/Radium Hot Springs, provides it’s own lure, complete with a luxuriating soak in this Rocky Mountain hot spring gem. Have an itch for outdoor adventure? Easily remedied with a roadside hike into Kootenay National Park, such as the Juniper Trail, Marble Canyon or Paint Pots just to name a few.  A drive south (15-minutes) takes you to Invermere and Lake Windermere.  Why not cool off with a refreshing dip in this recreational hot spot.  Or fly like an eagle with Valley Zip Adventures in Radium Hot Springs. (Radium Hot Springs pools are temporarily closed.)

Sinclair Canyon and Radium Hot Springs; photo by Ryan Creary

Know Before You Go!

~ Take extra time to research and plan your trip in advance. Many of our tourism businesses and services have adopted new COVID-19 protocols and changes to their schedules or policies to ensure your safety. You’ll want to become familiar with them ahead of time.

~ If you normally travel with extended family or with several friends, consider travelling in a smaller group this summer. Travelling with fewer people makes it easier for you to practise physical distancing in public, and may have less of an impact on the destination.

~ Consider a slower travel pace this summer to help curb the spread. Instead of checking in and out of multiple destinations during one trip, choose one or two destinations and one/two accommodation properties for your entire trip (and explore all the things to do & see nearby).

Related Stories
~ Celebrating 100 Years in Kootenay National Park
~ Cool Ways to Travel in the Kootenays

~ Funky Kootenay Fun Facts
~ Pit Stops for a Kootenay Road Trip
~ Quirky Attractions Only Found in the Kootenays
~ What’s Open in the Kootenay Rockies (2020 Summer)

Story by Destination BC.  Top/Cover photo of Wapta Falls in Yoho National Park by  Best Impression Photography.

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(Original published date: July 20, 2016)

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