Paddling Whistler’s River of Golden Dreams

In ADVENTURE by Janice and George2 Comments

River of Golden Dreams

Isn’t the River of Golden Dreams a dreamy name for a river?

Well, this river in Whistler really is like its name. And the weather has been perfect these past summer weeks for paddling a canoe or kayak down it. (Head down the river, and you’ll feel as happy as our paddler looks in our featured Tourism Whistler pic above :-)

Canoeing the River of Golden Dreams

Canoeing the River of Golden Dreams

Alta Lake

Alta Lake

The route

Put in at Alta Lake to paddle first across the lake. You might see Canada Geese (and in early summer, perhaps cute little goslings swimming in a line by the shore).

Goslings follow mama and papa...

Cute goslings follow mama and papa…

At the end of the lake, you glide by a field of bulrushes. Then you enter the narrow, slow-moving River of Golden Dreams for a magical paddle through wetlands, eventually getting out at Green Lake.

Water lilies on the river

Water lilies on the river

Green Lake

Green Lake

If you go in high summer, the water level is usually low (only two or three feet) and you can lazily make your way along the river’s many twists, turns and sharp bends.

One word of caution: If you don’t want to get wet – consider portaging the tricky curve of the river (you’ll know it when you come to it!). Your canoe might tip otherwise, and you could get dunked (like one of us did), especially if the river is running high.

Map of River of Golden Dreams

Map of the River of Golden Dreams

A guided tour of the River of Golden Dreams

The best way to enjoy the river? Take a guided canoeing or kayaking tour (three hours long).

Go with Whistler Eco Tours, and your naturalist guide will entertain you with tales about Whistler’s history (and fascinating local characters), as well as the area’s geography, wildlife and flora and fauna.

See that beaver den? It actually has different chambers – including a separate beaver “toilet” room and another room for drying off after coming in from the river.

Backroads Whistler also offers guided and self-guided paddling trips on the river.

Prefer a lazy float?

Do as the locals do and float down in a cheap little inflatable or inner tube, taking only the bare essentials (like beer or soft drinks dangling in the water to keep chilled – and duct tape for that “pffft…” sound).

Floating down the river in an inner tube

Floating down the river in an inner tube


  1. I’ve kayaked down this river before and loved it! I’m just wondering.. if you were to float down in a tube.. where would your starting point be? When we kayaked, we crossed Alta Lake first. Is there a way to park and be able to start tubing directly at the river?

    1. Author

      Glad you liked kayaking down the river… But we don’t really know the answer to whether you can park closer to the start of the river. Perhaps look at a Whistler map and see if there’s a street close by. Or ask a local – how do they do it?

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