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Whistler Half Day Trip: Canoe the River of Golden Dreams

A few months ago I had the pleasure of canoeing the River of Golden Dreams for a few hours while in Whistler. It’s an easy paddle – even for the novice – and the perfect summertime activity.

Put your canoe (or kayak) in at Alta Lake – and check out the cottages as you paddle for the river opening across the lake. You pass the original site of Myrtle and Alex Phillip’s summer fishing lodge – the first people to purchase and build a house in Whistler. If you look back you’ll have nice mountain views too. You’re never far from civilization on this five kilometer paddle but you’ll feel transported to the wilderness. The end point is Green Lake but it’s possible to pullout earlier.

"The start of the trip on Alta Lake"

The start of the trip on Alta Lake

"A view of the ski hill from Alta Lake"

A view of the ski hill from Alta Lake

Paddle on flat water past beaver dams and lodges and keep your eyes out for a wide assortment of birds – including eagles and osprey. Many people will see bears, and we were lucky enough to see a black bear at the pullout. No worries when you’re in a group of four or more. Do make lots of noise though.

"Kayaking is another alternative on the River of Golden Dreams"

Kayaking is another alternative on the River of Golden Dreams

"Guide showing the points of interest along the river"

Guide showing the points of interest along the river

In the summer the water levels will have dropped so it will be easier to pass under the bridge – and any ripples will be totally manageable. It will be closer to a float trip by August.

"You need a degree of flexibility to get under this bridge"

You need a degree of flexibility to get under this bridge – early in the season

The paddle becomes more scenic the further you go – mostly because you lose sight of the overhead power lines.

"A black bear wandering along the bike path"

A black bear wandering along the bike path

All in all this is one of the most delightful outings – I think – that you can do in Whistler on a hot summer day.

Do pick your paddling partner. The river has been nicknamed the River of Broken Marriages – probably on account of poor steering on the guy’s part because they’re usually the ones steering.

Backroads Whistler rents an assortment of water craft including kayaks and canoes. You can do a guided trip or alternatively paddle the River of Golden Dreams on your own but arrange for a pickup at the end. A three hour, fully guided tour costs $99. It runs six times a day starting at 9:30 am with the last tour at 3:30pm.

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
HikeBikeTravel
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Disclosure: Tourism Whistler kindly covered this activity – and it was one, despite numerous visits over the years to Whistler, I didn’t even know existed.

Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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