Kicking Horse Resort
Kicking Horse is Canada’s newest and perhaps most exciting resort. The area was once heli-ski terrain but has now been developed as a lift accessed area. Huge high alpine bowls dominate the terrain, but excellent glades and groomers are plentiful all over the mountain. Huge Powder reputation – ranked #1 in North America by SKIING. One of the most northern resorts so snow is always light and soft.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
3 hours west of Calgary Airport, the main international access, located in the Purcell Range adjacent to the BC Rockies. One hour west of Lake Louise and 1.5 hours north of Panorama. The town below is Golden, BC, just 15 minutes drive. Airport transfer shuttle available daily through winter.
Massive mountain with seemingly limitless terrain options. 4100 vertical feet (1250 m), three huge alpine bowls with tree skiing and more than 80 steep chutes. Kicking Horse has incredible champagne powder if you are lucky enough to hit a snow day. Even if you don’t, because of the small crowds and large skiable area, you'll find fresh snow even days after snowfall.
It’s a long way to the bottom! And for some, that may be a pro, but for others it’s a sure leg-burner. The mountain is best appreciated by advanced and expert skiers, with fewer options for novices and intermediates. Nightlife is limited, but if you can make your own fun, who cares.
Kicking Horse is gaining a reputation as being one of the worst ski resorts to work for. Staff who are hourly are often promised ride breaks in their interview rarely receive breaks at all. Servers and bar tenders are required to share all their tips among the kitchen staff. Even the office environment can be very sour, Kicking Horse is well known to put people on salary and abuse the unlimited hours they require you to work.
Phone: (1) 250 439 5424
Fax: (1) 250 439 5401
Postal: PO Box 839, Golden, BC, V0A 1H0, CANADA
The visitor has basically three options: drive from Calgary (280 km), drive from Vancouver (700 km), or drive from Cranbrook (200 km). There were bus transfers available from Calgary and Banff. It’s a great region to mix ‘n match a few different resorts. It is a nice drive from Calgary and takes approximately 3 hours.
Kicking Horse had three brand new, ski-in-ski out accommodation lodges. Each lodge has its own personal touch and surprisingly enough aren’t too outrageous on the wallet. There are a variety of motels, hotels, hostels and privately run b&b’s in the Golden area.I stayed at Copper Horse Lodge, a stylish 10 room, ski-in-ski-out cozy lodge with its own restaurant downstairs. A hot breakfast is included every morning and each suite has either two twin beds or a king-size bed that come with cozy down duvets. All rooms have a refrigerator, bath and an amazing shower. Definitely a personal favourite. The lodge also has a hot-tub as well as equipment and drying room.The resort has a large condominium hotel and another one that is nearly finished construction, that are literally only steps from the gondola. It is pretty sweet to be able to walk right out the door and jump on to the gondola. There was even a sushi place in the bottom.
There is also a ton of motel and hotel-style accommodation in the town of Golden that is going cheap in winter. There are some pretty good deals to be found if you are on a budget. Kicking Horse River Lodge (www.khrl.com) offers hostel-type accomodations and private rooms, and it's right on the road to the mountain.
Very reasonably priced at $CAD60 - a good bit cheaper than other mountains offering similar vertical: Jackson Hole ($USD72), Snowbird ($USD64), Vail ($USD85), Aspen ($USD82), Whistler ($CAD81)
Available at Canyon Creek Outfitters.
No car is needed if you stay on the mountain. There is also a shuttle from Golden provided by a joint venture between the resort and Mount 7 Taxi. Discover Banff tours have a day trip bus to KH for those staying in Banff.
Generally good, with three decent-sized parking lots close to the lifts. As anywhere, get there early on weekends. Parking attendants seem to do a good job.
- EDIT ACTIVITY
EDIT ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION
For a treat you can have lunch or dinner at Eagle’s Eye restaurant at the top of the mountain and you get there by gondola. It is a spectacular view on a clear day. Prices are very reasonable given the setting (lunches $12-18), and the food and wine list are both excellent.
Corks Restaurant + Bar is located in the basement of Copper Horse Lodge. It is a great place to relax for dinner, or even stop by for a cold one after a long day of skiing.
Golden has a full range of dining options: franchise fast food outlets, pubs, Greek and Chinese restaurants, white linen fine dining at the Kicking Horse Grill.
Bars & Entertainment
Packers Place often has bands from out of town and there are other good pubs that are meeting places.
Golden is your typical small town, but welcoming and friendly. There are cafes, pubs, restaurants and casual dining. Golden doesn’t have a huge nightlife, but fun can definitely be found. Packers Place often has bands from out of town and there are other good pubs that are meeting places.For a treat you can have dinner at Eagle’s Eye restaurant at the top of the mountain and you get there by gondola. It is a spectacular view on a clear day. Prices are slightly above average. Corks Restaurant + Bar is located in the basement of Copper Horse Lodge. It is a great place to relax for dinner, or even stop by for a cold one after a long day of skiing.
There's a store in the Day Lodge packed with KH merchandise. Canyon Creek Outfitters & Selkirk Sports also offer equipment and clothing.
From the Catamount quad chair at the bottom of the mountain there are 8 or so novice runs that are well groomed and wide. However, they do receive a fair bit of traffic from fast skiers cruising back to the gondola. One thing that is a must on a nice day is to ride the gondola to the top of the mountain and then ski down the "It's a Ten" beginner run all the way to the village. Beginner skiers can see the entire mountain this way without being committed to steep terrain.
There are 15 or so intermediate-rated runs. This is the one category in which Kicking Horse is lacking, and finding interest for a week-long holiday could be tough. The runs they do have are a blast, though. Right in the fall line, with rolling terrain and plenty of width for easy cruising. Grooming is good and frequent.
This is Kicking Horse's forte. Over 50 black and double black runs await the expert. In the upper third of the moutain, the terrain is alpine, with wide bowls that invite the skier or boarder to drop into one of the many long steep chutes. Short hikes (5-15 minutes) are required to fully access some in-bounds terrain, but this means better chances for fresh snow. On the south-facing slopes, scattered small trees add more interest.
Lower down the mountain, the advanced terrain takes the form of fall-line bumps in runs cut from the forest. Some glading has been done between the runs as well. Unlike at many big mountains, it is possible to ski virtually top to bottom on black runs.
Out of Bounds
Area boundaries are clearly marked. Back country skiing is permitted; there are the usual warnings regarding safety equipment and training. These should be heeded as the terrain and snow conditions can be extreme. Having said that, there is a strong backcountry culture among locals, who exploit the enormous possiblities offered.
Parks & Pipes
One park on the lower slopes near the Catamount Quad - mostly rails with a couple of small tables. No pipe.
The middle third of the mountain is well stocked with bumps. They are generally straight down the fall line and the runs are fairly wide. In lean snow years, the runs off the old Pioneer double chair are a good bet as this area was extensively slope-groomed over the years by the locals when this was the only lift.
A few high-traffic areas in the alpine bowls form bumps when there are extended dry spells.
On the right day, the whole mountain is one big powder zone! In general, the alpine area receives as much as 20% more snow than the mid-mountain reporting station. The prevailing wind is from the south, so typically the northern slopes will have even more snow again.
Short hikes out wide of the normal bowl areas can net big returns, even whilst remaining within patrolled boundaries.
The great part about Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is that the winter weather conditions aren’t too cold, but cool enough to sustain great snow. It was pretty mild near the bottom and cooled off a few degrees at the summit. My trip consisted of a couple snow days with some awesome sunny breaks throughout. The view is absolutely incredible from both the top of the gondola as well as from Stairway to Heaven.