If you remember anything from sixth-grade geography class, you’ll know that at 9,984,670 sq. km, Canada is the second largest country in the world. This means that many of its 10 provinces and 13 territories – with a combined population of only 36.95 million people – are larger than entire countries. British Columbia in particular, is 944,735 km2, and while it trumps most U.S. states in size, it is almost twice as giant as the UK. Here are some images for comparison:
Yup. This means that for most of the year, we are indeed a frozen wasteland.
But you know what? We’re still pretty.
This summer, my friend Alexina and I encountered this beauty first-hand on our 8.5+ hour drive from Vancouver to Golden, B.C. last weekend. En route to a friend’s *gorgeous* wedding, we saw many a mountain, glacial lake, waterfall and small-town charm. City girls born and bred, “nature” being so close at hand had also made it easy for us to forget how vast and breathtaking our province – and our country – really is.
Some people living outside of Canada may not understand why anyone would travel over 17 hours by car in the span of two nights just for some mountain-top views…
Trust us – it’s worth it.
Where to Stop
Pro-tip: on a hot day, skip the double-double and opt for a large Iced Capp with a shot of espresso from Timmy’s to mark the start of your journey. This will set you up for at least a few hours and provides a mandatory bathroom break before hitting the road (oh, and of course a donut as well).
If you haven’t seen/heard/smelled the latest A&W campaign for their vegan burger “Beyond Meat” you must have been living under a rock this summer. While I don’t usually frequent fast food chains other than Tim Horton’s (is it really fast food though?), the iconically Canadian A&W is my first pick on the road – and there are plenty of drive-through opportunities along Highway 1 to entice you.
Order the Beyond Meat burger with a side of onion rings and root beer. It will be worth the temporary guilt and fast food belly.
Salmon Arm, B.C. located in Shushwap Country, is the ideal rest stop to grab lunch or dinner before making the last 3 hours to Golden. This city is right off the highway, and offers not only stunning views of the lake (passengers can enjoy this view the whole ride), but a smattering of restaurants and fast food joints to keep you satiated.
My dad recommended Namaste Authentic Indian Cuisine and Alexina and I – lovers of Indian food in general – were pleased. Pro-tip: add the +$1 for garlic naan. We ordered the palak paneer and chicken shahi korma, and they were both delicious!
Take a peek at the BCL and stock up so you don’t have to pay resort prices for alcohol later on. If you’re feeling adventurous, try a bottle of local Naked Grape BLUE. We can’t promise it tastes like wine, but it definitely doesn’t taste bad.
Passing through Revelstoke, before entering Glacier National Park, you’ll notice a good handful of gas stations advertised along the highway. This isn’t a simple coincidence. Once you’ve driven a couple of kilometres into the mouth of the park, you’ll notice signs calling for drivers to check their fuel levels. We did so and realized that should something happen (traffic, mountain goat stampede, construction, etc.) in the park before reaching the next town, we could very easily run out of gas.
We turned around and filled up. Better safe than sorry.
Where to Stay
The wedding itself took place atop Golden’s Kicking Horse Mountain Resort gondola (after a BEAUTIFUL 15-minute ride to unbelievable views), and accommodation options for guests included a number of larger resort buildings at the base of the gondola, as well as smaller lodge options a few minutes away. I’d grabbed a non-refundable deal (not recommended, but hey – desperate times) for the weekend at Winston Lodge. Quoted by the concierge as the “cozy, rustic” lodge, the inside decor was indeed warm and cozy, and our private deck the perfect place for a morning coffee or afternoon glass of wine.
What to Eat
The lovely employee at the Kicking Horse General Store recommended trying the breakfast bowls at Big Bend Cafe in downtown Golden. Not only was the decor retro and kitschy, but the staff was incredibly friendly, there was serve-yourself coffee within arm’s reach, they had all-day breakfast and they even offered a variety of hot sauces (we bought the in-house bottles to take home). Our breakfasts were giant and very, very tasty.
Hands down you have to eat at Double Black, across from the gondola entrance at Kicking Horse. Open for breakfast, but boasting a well-rounded, killer menu, the meals we had here were phenomenal. Alexina discovered she was able to enjoy pulled pork without the pork – Double Black offers a vegetarian pulled jackfruit sandwich, and I was talked into the coffee-crusted beef sandwich with a stout beer dipping sauce. Paired with a witbier from locally-run Whitetooth Brewery… I would eat here again in a heartbeat.
A Revelstoke favourite, gourmet Popcycles are exactly what you need for a quick refresher. Made with fresh, local ingredients and minimal sugar, I’d classify these bad boys as healthy… enough. And yes, we grabbed two more for the road on our way back.
The wedding reception/feast was held at Eagles Eye Restaurant – perhaps one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever seen in my life. Located 7,700 feet in the Purcell Mountains, buffet-style dinner was enjoyed with a panoramic eyegasm of snow-capped mountains and sprawling valleys. The food we had was delicious, so if you’re able to try their regular menu, let us know what you recommend!
What to Do
If you aren’t attending a wedding, there is still plenty to do in Golden during the summer. The ski hills turn into mountain biking trails and hiking trails perfect for any photographer looking for some landscape and wildlife photo ops. There is also nearby whitewater rafting, a grizzly bear refuge, golfing, rock climbing and plenty more to keep you occupied.
Check out the Farmer’s Market located in downtown Golden Wednesdays and Saturdays in the summer. The market is small, but we still bought and spotted some goodies, including freshly baked cheddar apple muffins, homemade soap/organic products and very…unique cream soda and root beer jelly.
If you’re planning to road trip to Golden and buckle up for a full day on the road, please keep in mind:
- Rogers Pass on the Trans Canada Highway can be treacherous during the winter and at night. The road is winding, and semis frequent the area, so check traffic reports!
- Let people pass. We noticed that many Albertan drivers seemed to have a need for speed – which is perfectly fine. Just don’t get in their way.
- Look out for deer. And mountain goats – this be avalanche country.
- If you’re getting tired, or you don’t have the option of switching drivers (sorry Alexina), a good mid-way stopover is Salmon Arm. In this town, you can refuel your body and your car, or even stay overnight in one of their accommodations.
And perhaps most importantly: always, ALWAYS pack road snacks and 90’s dance hit playlists. This is non-negotiable.