Taking advantage of its deep water and abundant forests, Gold River developed in 1967 as a prototypical logging and pulp and paper industry community. Gold River quickly sprang into prosperity and established excellent community facilities. When shifting world markets brought the mill closure in 1998, many of Gold River's inhabitants were forced to relocate. Since then, the village has attempted to capitalize on its idealistic setting among picturesque mountains, lakes, rivers, ocean, and forests to develop tourism and sport fishing as its main economic supports.
Currently, Gold River serves as a base for such famous activities as the Nootka Island trek, hiking the Elk Lake trail and mountain climbing Golden Hinde (Vancouver Island's highest peak), Crest Creek climbing crags, MV Uchuck III, and the Great Walk.
Gold River also serves as a historic point, being the closest village to the famous Yuquot, or "Friendly Cove", where British explorer Captain James Cook first set ashore. There Cook met the Mowachaht native band's chief, Chief Maquinna.