It might not have felt like it on Sunday when wet, slushy snow was pouring down from the skies, but rafting season is right around the corner for Golden’s three whitewater tour operators, Alpine Rafting, Glacier Raft Company and Wet ‘N’ Wild Adventures.
This year, Alpine Rafting is celebrating its 30th anniversary and the local tour operator will have a slightly new look to it this season.
Renovations are ongoing at Alpine’s lodge next to the British Columbia Visitor’s Centre and the new-look centre will have brand-new flooring and a small cafe with grab and go food when the renos are complete.
The company will also be offering stand-up paddleboard excursions, with both a morning tour and an early evening tour on offer for the fast-growing recreational activity. The evening tour will be particularly visible for Goldenites, as it will run along the Kicking Horse River through town, starting from past the municipal campground and ending at the confluence of the Kicking Horse and Columbia Rivers. The morning tour will start on the Beaver River further east before eventually joining up with the Kicking Horse.
Of course, whitewater rafting remains the bread and butter activity along the Kicking Horse River, bringing in around 20,000 rafters every year to experience Western Canada’s biggest rapids. However, it’s the consistency of the experience that makes this river particularly attractive for the adventurous.
“The Kicking Horse has great water levels all summer long,” said Val Pleym, co-owner of Alpine Rafting. “In springtime, the rapids are great because of snow melt. Then, once things warm up and Yoho glacier melts, the rapids are the result of glacial melt.”
Pleym has seen plenty of changes in the industry in both the equipment and participants involved since her husband bought the company in 1995.
“I’ve seen major improvement in the quality of the gear and the rafts which allows people to enjoy the sport more,” Pleym said. “I’ve also seen a big increase in the different walks of life that come rafting. We’re getting different ethnicites and age groups that you wouldn’t normally think would come rafting.”
Daily rafting tours will start up on May 17 and continue until mid-September. Discounts for locals are available.