A Guide to Kayaking in Golden, BC

With three different rivers with easy access from Golden and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, kayakers of all skill levels can enjoy kayaking in this beautiful destination. Here’s all you need to know about kayaking in Golden, BC.

Golden and the nearby Kicking Horse Mountain Resort are fantastic destinations for kayaking and whitewater rafting as there are three very accessible rivers nearby, most notably the famous Kicking Horse River. No matter your skill level, there’s various areas with convenient access to kayak so beginners can enjoy the beautiful scenery just as much as the experts.


Although it has a reputation for being an awesome whitewater experience for expert kayakers, the Kicking Horse River near Golden, also offers tamer waters for intermediate level kayakers.
Stemming from the glacial waters of Wapta Lake and the ice fields of the Canadian Rockies, the river follows an exciting path that begins with a steep fall, a flat valley bottom and finally a fast and furious rush through the narrow channels of the famous Kicking Horse Canyon.
Exhilarating rapids, powerful waves and narrow passages spike your adrenaline, but there are also calm stretches of the river that will allow you to relax and take in the spectacular mountain views. The Kicking Horse River’s headwaters are in Yoho National Park.
The river eventually flows into the Columbia River. The upper canyon is a class 3-4 whitewater run and is suitable for most levels of kayakers. The middle canyon is another class 3-4 and the lower canyon offers a thrilling 3 km of continuous class 4 whitewater rapids only suitable to expert kayakers.
A little history of the Kicking Horse River
The Kicking Horse River earned it’s name back in 1858 when James Hector of the Palliser Expedition received a hefty kick to the chest by one of the horses.
The Palliser Expedition was responsible for determining a reliable route for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) through Western Canada, as well as discovering new species of plants. The Kicking Horse Pass was chosen as the CPR’s route when it was built in the 1880s.


Nearby, and also easily accessible from Golden, are the Columbia and Blaeberry Rivers. We love these two rivers for their much more peaceful current than the Kicking Horse which allows kayakers to take in the beautiful scenery and maybe even spot wildlife.
The section of the Columbia River between Nicholson and Golden travels through the Columbia Wetlands, part of the largest intact stretch of wetlands in North America. Be sure to have binoculars and keep an eye out for the varied bird and fish life in the region.
These two rivers are perfect for families, as skill levels of these rivers range from I (calm and scenic) to V (expert). For canoe and kayak rentals, as well as shuttle service to a variety of put-ins, we recommend contacting Columbia Valley Canoe Rentals at 1-250-272-0859.
In late spring, the snow melting on the mountains comes rushing down the rivers. High water season lasts until early or mid July, depending on how deep the snow pack was that winter. This can make kayaking and rafting the rivers more intense. Paddling season is May to September.


We have a selection of vacation rentals in Kicking Horse and Golden to suit a variety of needs. Call our highly knowledgeable Destination Experts who can answer any questions you may have about kayaking in Golden, or our selection of accommodations.