You can float down the 'River of Golden Dreams' in Whistler

May 10 2020, 12:48 pm

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UPDATE as of August 12, 2020: Please be advised that the Tapley’s section of the River of Golden Dreams will be closed starting Friday, August 14 to protect the sensitive habitat of kokanee salmon. The closure is expected to last into late October.

Visitors are reminded to help protect these sensitive ecosystems. Please properly dispose of inflatable boats and water toys that have deflated, along with any garbage and recycling such as bottles and cans, in the appropriate bins. 


You can experience a quiet, serene river float, without needing to travel several hours into the interior of British Columbia.

The River of Golden Dreams, which is located in Whistler, is a five-kilometre river that begins at Alta Lake and runs down all the way into Green Lake.

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The river requires at least two hours to complete depending on the number of people in the party and the equipment used.

The still, quiet water is surrounded by wildlife and greenery. Within 30 minutes of travelling on the river, all sight of power lines is replaced with old-growth forests, wildflower-lined banks, and stunning views of the mountains.

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It’s ideal for those who wish to try their hand at canoeing, paddleboarding, and tubing (depending on the size of the inflatable).

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How to make sure you enjoy the river safely:

If you’re planning on trying to float the river with an inflatable, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper equipment and choose the right time of year to try the river.

Late summer is the optional time to enjoy the river. While it’s possible to canoe or kayak the river in the spring or fall, the water will be colder and likely faster moving than normal.

It’s important to invest in a proper inflatable tube or miniature raft that can be used in larger bodies of water. As a rule of thumb, if you can blow up the inflatable with your mouth, it likely isn’t safe for use in the river.

Also, you’ll want to make sure that you’re an experienced swimmer and have a life jacket on. Do be warned, occupants of the river can actually be fined for not having a life jacket while in a floatation device.

In addition, you’ll want to pack: 

  • A waterproof bag for your phone (or a Ziploc bag if nothing else). Either can be purchased in Whistler Village or outdoor recreation stores.
  • Snacks (a two-hour trip can be a long time, especially if you’re doing the paddling all by yourself).
  • A bag to put your own garbage in (don’t be that person).
  • A hat and sunscreen (nobody likes sunburns).
  • A hoodie or jacket. Remember, even though it’s summer, the water can still be cold if you make the trip early in the day. Also, the longer you’re on the water, the more likely you’ll get cold.

As an alternative option to see the River of Golden Dreams, visitors can also sign up for guided or unguided tours from a local Whistler company.

The tour makes the river less intimidating if you’re aiming to do it on your own at a later date.

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Please note: As recommended by BC’s provincial health officials, if you choose to participate in events or leisure activities outside of your home, please adhere to COVID-19 health and safety measures, including proper physical distancing and frequent handwashing. If you are sick, please stay home. 

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