Fun x 3 = The Golden Triangle

B.C. and Alberta’s Golden Triangle is a short drive to big adventure

Kootenay Valley Viewpoint is one of the sights to see within the Golden Triangle.
Kootenay Valley Viewpoint is one of the sights to see within the Golden Triangle. — Photo courtesy Parks Canada

It’s time for you to embark upon the Golden Triangle. Don’t worry, it’s not as dangerous as the triangle in Bermuda. Instead of pirates, you’ll encounter wildlife from furry to feathered, spiral tunnels in a National Historic Site and one of Canada’s most popular lakes.

The Golden Triangle weaves through B.C. and Alberta’s Kootenay and Yoho national parks. This RV adventure includes hot spring heat, lengthy trails to stretch your legs and ancient fossils that date back over 500 million years.

The route

The Golden Triangle starts—as you may have guessed—in Golden, B.C. The first leg of your trip takes you east through Yoho National Park along Highway 1 to Lake Louise. Head southeast a little farther to reach Castle Junction. After admiring the craggy peak of Castle Mountain, take Highway 93 south down to Radium Hot Springs. Along this section of highway, you’re in the midst of Kootenay National Park. After you’ve seen more bighorn sheep than you can shake a stick at, take Highway 95 north to Golden. Congratulations—you’ve completed the Golden Triangle! If you feel like you missed anything, set out for lap number two.

Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park.
Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park. — Photo courtesy Parks Canada

Yoho National Park

The Cree have an expression for awe and wonder: Yoho. It’s easy to see why the park chose this word to represent its landscape—the Burgess Shale, its railway history, the unique town of Field, world-class hiking and backpacking experiences, and blue-water alpine lakes.

“The Burgess Shale refers to layers of fossil-bearing rock in Yoho National Park on Fossil Ridge between Wapta Mountain and Mount Field,” said Amélie Goulet-Boucher, promotions officer for Yoho and Kootenay national parks. “It is distinguished, in part, by the presence of extraordinarily preserved soft-bodied organisms—imagine a fossil of a jellyfish. The fossils are estimated to be 505 million years old—from the Middle Cambrian time period—making them some of the oldest fossils of complex animals in the world.”

The Burgess Shale was recognized in 1981 when it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Have your camera ready as you take in the beauty of iconic Lake Louise—one of the most visited lakes in Canada. Lake Louise is known for its turquoise hue and the immaculate chateau that overlooks it. Ride a canoe on the lake in summer or use its frozen surface as a skating rink during winter. The Lake Louise Ski Resort features a wildlife interpretive centre at the top of a gondola.

The next not-to-miss National Historic Site to explore is Kicking Horse Pass and the Spiral Tunnels. When the Canadian Pacific Railway was being built, quick construction meant that compromises were made in the completion of the line through the Rockies. The descent from Kicking Horse Pass to the river valley was built on a slope with a steep grade of 4.5 per cent, more than twice the maximum allowed according the CPR directives. Numerous runaway lines failed to prevent derailments on the Big Hill. Constructing the Spiral Tunnels remedied the problem by driving the trains through two loops deep inside the mountains and reducing the slope of the descent to 2.2 per cent.

The Spiral Tunnels still see 25 to 30 trains pass through the tunnels daily. There are two viewpoints where you can safely watch trains:

From the viewpoint 7.4 kilometres east of Field on the Trans-Canada Highway, you can see the Lower Spiral Tunnel in Mount Ogden.

The Upper Spiral Tunnel in Cathedral Mountain can be seen from the pull-off 2.3 kilometres up the Yoho Valley Road.

Wrap up your time in Yoho National Park by spending a day with locals in the charming village of Field and backpacking in the remote Yoho Valley’s backcountry trails.

The world-famous Radium Hot Springs mineral pools are surrounded by natural rock walls.
The world-famous Radium Hot Springs mineral pools are surrounded by natural rock walls. Taking a dip is a scenic way to relax and recharge. — Photo courtesy Parks Canada

Kootenay National Park

You packed your hiking shoes and swim trunks, right? Kootenay National Park boasts plenty of areas to traverse on foot. “The Rockwall is the best backcountry trail,” said Goulet-Boucher. “Kindersley-Sinclair is the perfect one-day experience. Marble Canyon is a short walk across the clear waters of Tokkum Creek. The hot pools at Radium Hot Springs at the entrance of the park are a great way to relax hiking muscles after a day of walking, too.”

Don’t forget to look up every now and then when travelling through the Golden Triangle. The area is home to thousands of waterfowl, great blue herons, ospreys and eagles.

Driving through the Golden Triangle won’t put many kilometres on your RV’s speedometer, but there’s a lot to see within its confines. If you want to see it all, you’ll want to pull off the highways often. You don’t want to miss out on a memory, do you?

Related Articles