CANADIAN SKI & SNOWBOARD VACATIONS

KICKING HORSE MOUNTAIN RESORT

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is your true big mountain experience on the famed Powder Highway in British Columbia.

If you’re an advanced to expert skier or snowboarder then Kicking Horse Mountain Resort has your name on it (though to be fair the front side has loads of wide open groomers). 45% of the resort’s 3486 acres (1411 ha) is advanced and 15% expert, with some of the steepest double black diamond chutes around.

You come here to ski and snowboard true interior British Columbia powder with 120 runs and over 4265 feet (1300 m) of vertical.

That’s a ton of thigh burn.

WHY KICKING HORSE?

The skiing of course. It’s not known as the Champagne Powder Capital of Canada for nothing.

Kicking Horse consists of four large bowls (Super Bowl, Bowl Over, the central Crystal Bowl, and Feuz Bowl) that combine about two-thirds of the way down the mountain where the terrain flattens out somewhat to intermediate and then beginners’ slopes.

The resort also has one of the best jaw dropping views — nowhere else can you ride a single gondola right to the summit, where you’ll see 360 degree stunning views of the Rocky Mountains.

There is a small, and we mean small village at the base of the resort, with a variety of accommodation of all standards. Many visitors opt to stay downtown in Golden, 8.5 miles (14 km) away, and do the daily 20 minute ski shuttle up to the ‘hill’.

FUN FACT- Grizzly Bear Refuge

Boo is the resident grizzly who calls Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Refuge, his home — the largest enclosed and protected grizzly bear habitat in the world. Within this 20-acre (8ha) natural mountainside habitat, Boo hunts, plays, forages, and explores just like his wild cousins.

During the winter, Boo is fast asleep, hibernating in his winter lair, though if you’re spring skiing he may pop out early to say hello. To see him, you will need to come back in summer to visit the Interpretive Centre, to observe an adult grizzly bear going about his daily routine.

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About kicking horse

THE SNOW

Man skiing at Kicking Horse The Resort is situated in the Kootenay region of south-eastern British Columbia, and lies between two mountain ranges — the Columbia Mountains (consisting of the Selkirk and Purcell Ranges) and the Rocky Mountains.

 

The average season receives 24.5 feet (7.5 m) of prime dry BC cold smoke powder known as the Champagne Powder Capital of Canada.

 

KICKING HORSE LIFTS

The resort has four chairlifts, one of which is solely for beginners. The Golden Eagle Express gondola, is the main lift at the resort, giving you a single vertical ride to the summit, and the Eagle Eye Restaurant.

 

The rest of the lift system is still limited, and you need to hike and traverse to access some of the expert terrain at the top of the mountain, before skiing or snowboarding all the way down to the bottom to catch the gondola again.

 

There is the Stairway to Heaven chair at the top, but it’s slow and only provides access to one side of Crystal Bowl and Feuz Bowl.

 

For the less experienced, there is also a magic carpet, another surface lift, and two smaller chairs that operate from the base. The Pioneer chair is almost a relic from many years ago. The resort has plans for new lifts in the future, but this is not likely in the short term.

 

Whilst the slopes are uncrowded, lift lines develop at the gondola, particularly on a powder day during the busy holiday peak periods. Other times, you will have the “Horse” to yourselves.

 

SNOW HOW— How Does Kicking Horse Compare to Revelstoke?

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and Revelstoke Mountain Resort are often compared to one another. Although different they are similar, with both boasting significant vertical pitch and powder dumps.

 

The Kicking Horse lift infrastructure might not be quite as good as that at Revelstoke, but some will argue the snow quality and terrain are much better at KHMR. Our advice – visit both.

 

FOR THE BEGINNER 

This mountain will be ok for beginners, when travelling with advanced skiers.  You would not come here on your own, as a beginner. There are plenty of other BC resorts that would be better suited to learn to ski including Big White and SilverStar. The beginners’ terrain is at the base of the mountain with reasonable progressions from the surface lifts to a chair lift.

 

Another green option is the  6.2 mile (10 km)  run known as “It’s a Ten” —  that starts at the top and weaves its way down to the base. It’s a great opportunity for beginners to gain access to the magnificent views at the top, but this run is probably suited to very confident beginners.

 

We cannot stress enough; The Horse is really a mountain for the intermediates and advanced skiers and boarders.  Be warned, this run is more like a trail, and has quite a drop off either side of the trail which may be intimidating for beginners.

 

FOR INTERMEDIATES 

The pitch of many of the blue runs is a little steeper than some other Canadian resorts and could be classified as “dark blue”. There are about a dozen long fall line runs for intermediates, but not all are groomed, and some are accessed via green runs.

 

For stronger intermediates, the run, My Blue Heaven (a black run) off the Stairway to Heaven chair is sometimes groomed and the steep fall line skiing is a favourite.

 

Again, we reiterate for beginners and intermediate groups consider other resorts —  such as Sun Peaks, Silver Star and Big White that have lots of options for all levels of ability.

 

ADVANCED SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING 

Many of the black runs at the Resort are very steep and superbly challenging. They are relatively easy after recent snowfall, but if it hasn’t snowed in a while the black runs can be covered with waist to shoulder high moguls. Be warned!

 

EXPERT SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING 

Hardcore and expert skiers and boarders will be in their element at Kicking Horse. There are many in-bounds chutes and steep lines available within the bowls and ridges. The couloirs vary in tightness, so if you don’t want to scare yourself unnecessarily with super narrow chutes, there are also wider chutes. Guiding is available, and this is a great way to experience some of the best couloirs.

 

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THE VILLAGE & THE TOWN

Kicking Horse luxurious on-mountain accomodation Compared to other resorts in the interior of British Columbia, such as Big White, SilverStar or Sun Peaks, the Kicking Horse village is relatively small and definitely low key.

 

If you are looking for ski-in/ski-out Kicking Horse can accommodate you with a limited variety of mid-range and more luxurious on-mountain accommodations. You can literally walk around it in a few minutes.

 

The town of Golden, just a 15 minute drive (8miles / 14km) provides a broader choice of cheaper alternatives, serviced by a regular bus service to the resort.

 

There are a few on-mountain eateries, however head down into Golden for more choice. The village amenities are adequate but not extensive considering the number of visitors.  This is no Whistler. You will find the usual essentials – ski school, equipment rental and a couple of ski and snowboard shops.

 

Après ski festivities and nightlife on the mountain is low key, but a must do is to take a trip up the gondola to the Eagle Eye for an après sunset drink with a view. There is a lot more après action downtown, however do remember, this is a country town, not an urban oasis, and the après reflects this quaint, historic town feel.

 

OUR ADVICE

Kicking Horse Resort has fantastic expert and extreme terrain, and the perfect powder playground for those looking to be challenged. This resort is a little off the radar, and you’ll find fresh tracks pretty much every day.

 

We’d recommend you include Kicking Horse as part of a multi-resort holiday, travelling along the Powder Highway including another one of our favourites, Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

 

We would recommend for your first visit to Kicking Horse to allow at least 3-4 days to truly explore this amazing resort.

 

FUN FACT

The Kicking Horse river was named in 1858, when James Hector, a member of the Palliser Expedition, reported being kicked by his packhorse while exploring the river. Hector named the river and the associated pass as a result of the incident.

 

From the summit, on a clear day, you can see the mighty Columbia River in the valley.

 

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WHERE TO STAY

People relaxing in Kicking Horse Resort The on-mountain options in the village at Kicking Horse Resort are reasonably small but there are some great deluxe options, including condos, hotels, and town houses.

 

If you’re looking for a more budget friendly option you can stay in the town of Golden, a 20 minute drive, 8 miles (14km) away and catch a daily shuttle to the mountain. Our pick of accommodation:

  • Glacier Mountaineer Lodge — on-mountain, luxury, steps from gondola,
  • Palliser Lodge — on-mountain, luxury, ski-in/ski-out
  • Copper Horse Mountain Lodge – on-mountain, 10 room luxury lodge
  • Best Western Mountainview, Golden – family rooms, downtown
  • Holiday Inn Express, Golden – downtown
  • Canyon Ridge Lodge, Bed & Breakfast, 15 minutes drive
  • Backpacker hostel

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TOP 5 REASONS TO VISIT KICKING HORSE

#1.  Kicking Horse Resort has fantastic expert and extreme terrain. 45% black runs and 15% double-black diamond runs, although some of the single black diamond runs would be considered double blacks elsewhere.

 

#2. Eagle’s Eye Restaurant — Canada’s Most Elevated Dining Experience. Take a gondola to the top of the mountain and discover Canada’s most talked about culinary experience and the crown jewel of resort dining, Eagle’s Eye. Each season Eagle’s Eye will also play host to several special dining events.  For a very special occasion, a stay at the Eagle’s Eye suite comes complete with a private chef, butler service, guaranteed first tracks in the morning and some of the most staggering majestic mountain views on earth.

 

#3. The champagne powder snow — they didn’t trade mark it is the Champagne Capital of Canada for no reason, boasting the fourth highest vertical drop in North America.

 

#4. Inbounds off piste for powderhounds. The further the hike away from the lifts, the fresher the tracks, and the new in-bounds Super Bowl is a classic. There are also some easily accessed out-of-bounds and backcountry skiing such as Rudi’s Bowl. As to be expected with the steep terrain, proper avalanche safety precautions are required, and the patrollers are fairly strict with the policing of this.

 

#5. Do a heli-skiing day trip. This is one resort, where you can easily access some of Canada’s best heli-skiing terrain as a day trip, making it a more affordable approach to heli-skiing or snowboarding. Purcell Heli Skiing have massive  tenure and powder options aplenty. They offer single day packages from 5 runs.

 

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RESORT FACTS

DESIGNATED TRAILS:

Kicking Horse     #Total Trails Beginner Intermediate Advanced Expert
128+ 20%  20% 45% 15%

There are more than 85 inbound chutes.

ANNUAL SNOWFALL:

Average Snowfall Elevation Snowfall
Lower Mountain 4263 ft / 1300 m 200 in / 252cm
Mid Mountain 5646 ft / 1722 m 140 in / 360cm
Alpine Snow Stations 7049 ft / 2150 m 256 in / 650cm
Summit Snow Stations 8033 ft / 2450 m 296 in / 750cm

ANNUAL SNOWFALL 

Kicking Horse  24 ft 730 cm

TERRAIN: RESORT AREA

Kicking Horse 3486 ac 1410 ha

VERTICAL DROP:

4314 ft / 1315 m – the fourth highest vertical drop in North America Longest Run: 5 mi / 8 km

Summit Elevation 8218 ft / 2505 m
Mid-Mountain Bottom of lowest chair 5646 ft / 1722 m 3900 ft / 1190 m
Vertical Drop 4314 ft /1315 m

NUMBER OF LIFTS:

Kicking Horse              5

NORDIC SKIING:

The Dawn Mountain Nordic Ski Club, operates one of the finest Nordic centres in British Columbia, with 33 km of track-set skiing, snowshoe loops and an incredibly homey and warm timber frame club house, right at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

 

The Golden Golf Course has 6 km of classic trail close to Golden’s downtown core.  These trails are groomed on an as-needed basis and provide the perfect opportunity to “get out” when you don’t have time to go all the way to Dawn Mountain.

 

NIGHT SKIING:

Night skiing via a magic carpet for novices is available at the Kicking Horse Plaza base area only.

 

SEASON DATES & OPENING HOURS

Kicking Horse is usually open from December to April each year.

 

WINTER HOURS OF OPERATION: 

9.00 am – 3.30 pm Note: These times are provided by the ski resort and can vary based on external conditions, day of the week, school, and public holidays.

 

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GETTING THERE

Situated on the British Columbia Powder Highway in Canada, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is located 8.5 miles (14km) outside the logging town of Golden. It’s about a 3 hour drive 170 miles (275km) from Calgary, and is about  93 miles (50km) west of Banff Alberta, and 102 miles (164km) northeast of Revelstoke.

 

FLY:

The closest international airport to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is the Calgary International Airport, (YYC); a good 3 hour winter drive 181 miles (292 km) from Golden along the scenic Trans-Canada Highway 31. It provides multiple daily commercial flights to and from many regional, national and international destinations.

 

ALTERNATE AIRPORTS

Another great option is Kelowna international Airport (YLW); located in the Okanagan Valley, some 4.5 hours south west of Kicking Horse. The good news is you could plan a road trip and spend a day at Revelstoke on your way. It’s a decent 4 hour drive in winter conditions, some 102 miles (164 km).

 

Some visitors might like to consider flying into Cranbrook, (YXC) British Columbia – is 3 hours south of Golden via Highway 95, some 162 miles (260 km) through the heart of the Kootenay Rockies. The upside of this airport access is you are literally a stone’s throw from Kimberly Alpine Resort 18 miles (29 km), and close to Fernie 60 miles (96 km). Cranbrook is very much a regional airport.

 

If you want the ultimate road trip, start or finish from Vancouver International Airport (YVR). It is a full days’ driving, covering 457 miles (735 km), and gives you lots of opportunities to really create a skiing or boarding multi-day road trip.

 

DRIVE:

Self-drive is the most common mode of transport to Kicking Horse, particularly if you want to take in other Powder Highway ski resorts. Car rentals are available at Calgary or Kelowna Airport. From Calgary, take the Trans-Canada Highway 1 westbound for approximately 2.5 hours.

 

Airport shuttles are available from both Calgary and Kelowna.

 

In terms of linking a ski trip to other nearby resorts, Kicking Horse BC Canada is 58 miles (94 km) west of Lake Louise, 93 miles (150 km) west of Banff,  making it an easy day trip.

 

The Powder Express provides daily ski transfers between Banff/Lake Louise and Kicking Horse. The bus departs select Banff/Lake Louise hotels in the morning, and arrives in Kicking Horse for epic powder on the steeps and chutes. The shuttle heads back to Banff and Lake Louise after enjoying a full day at the resort.

 

Further afield, you will find Panorama Mountain Resort 95 miles (152 km) south-east of Kicking Horse; and 210 miles (338 km) north-west lies Fernie. Kicking Horse is some 102 miles (164 km) east of Revelstoke; 231 miles (371 km) east of Sun Peaks; 206 miles (332 km) north-east of SilverStar; and 252 miles (406 km) north-east of Big White Ski Resort.

 

SNOW HOW:
Travelling between Golden and Revelstoke you may need to allow time for avalanche control work around the Rogers Pass section of the Trans-Canada Highway. This is a notorious stretch of road, with extremely dangerous driving conditions in blizzard conditions. Before embarking on this section of your drive, check the latest information about road conditions, closures, travel advisories and webcams available on Drive BC.

 

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TRAIL MAP

Kicking Horse trail map

Q & A

WHAT IS THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE?

December to February:  Low: -12°C / 11°F   High: -5°C / 23°F

March to May:                  Low: -8°C / 19°F     High: 5°C / 42°F

 

WHAT IS RESORTS OF THE CANADIAN ROCKIES?

Proudly Canadian, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies Inc. (RCR) is the largest private ski resort owner/operator in North America, owning six ski resorts across Canada including: Nakiska Ski Area in Alberta; Fernie Alpine Resort, Kimberley Alpine Resort and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in British Columbia and Mont-Sainte Anne and Stoneham in Quebec. In addition to the company’s ski resorts; RCR also owns and operates a number of accommodation properties, golf courses and a central reservation agency.

 

IS KICKING HORSE MOUNTAIN RESORT PART OF THE INTERNATIONAL EPIC PASS PROGRAM? 

Yes, Resorts of the Canadian Rockies—Fernie, Kicking Horse, Kimberley, Nakiska, Mont Sainte Anne and Stoneham are part of the Epic Pass with pass holders accessing seven days of skiing and snowboarding with no blackout dates and 50% off lift tickets after the seven days is redeemed.

Things to do at kicking horse

TERRAIN PARK

If you’re looking to ride the terrain park or half-pipe, then Kicking Horse is not the mountain for you. The resort has allocated a small zone for a terrain park in the Catamount learning areas.

 

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SNOW SCHOOL

Kicking Horse Big Mountain Tour Snowsports School
Kicking Horse Big Mountain Tour Snowsports School

TELUS WINTER SPORTS SCHOOL

Like all Canadian ski resorts, Kicking Horse has a strong ski school of suitably qualified CSIA snow pros. Because this mountain is challenging, we would definitely recommend an investment in lessons, if you want to progress your skiing or snowboarding to a higher level, and take the opportunity to learn to master the steeps. This is the place to learn.

 

COVID-19 Policy: The resorts’ products, programs and prices may change or vary for the upcoming 2020/21 season as they continue to act in accordance with the instructions of the BC Ministry of Health and other Government officials.

 

Consider their Big Mountain Centre programs – geared towards those wishing to progress and push to your limits.  Sign up for a Big Mountain Tour 90 minute clinic or go all out with a private Big Mountain experience. Not cheap, but worth the investment.

 

Big Mountain Tour Never been to Kicking Horse? This is the clinic for you! Built for skiers and riders visiting Kicking Horse for the first time, and looking for a sharper introduction than what the Mountain Hosts provide. This product is recommended for ability levels 4-6.
Rippin’ Betties Ski & Snowboard Camp This 2 day clinic is designed for women only freeski camps taught by top female instructors. For women looking to boost their confidence on off-piste terrain & learn some tricks to explore expert terrain. Includes lunch at Eagle’s Eye on final day! This product is recommended for ability levels 5-6.  Ages 19 & Up

Family Private lessons Create great family memories while improving skills and spending quality time together. Enjoy undivided attention from your own instructor that guarantees your family the ultimate mountain experience on your own terms.
Big Mountain Snowboard or Ski Lessons Premium big mountain lesson experience with top snowboard instructors. Includes lunch at Eagle’s Eye on the final day.

THE KIDS 

Daycare: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort Kids Club offers daycare services to children from 18 months to five years of age. Located at the base area of the resort, makes the child care centre really easy to access before skiing, or at the end of your day on the mountain.

 

For 3-5 year olds you can add on a private one hour ski lesson, and go skiing or snowboarding for the day.

 

Kids group lessons are for ages 6-12.

 

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RENTALS

Do not bother with the extra hassle of lugging along your old skis. Make your visit more enjoyable by renting the latest gear. As conditions and your skills change, so should your equipment.

 

At the village base, you will find a fully equipped repair shop, as well as providing a good range of quality and high performance skis and snowboards suitable for the mountain’s conditions. Brand names include Rossignol, Dynastar, Head and Burton. The Centre also has snowshoe, telemark and x-country ski packages available.

RETAIL THERAPY

Kicking Horse cable car and lodging Not a high priority at either Kicking Horse or Golden however, there are a few ski and board shops in Golden for gear and clothing, including back country equipment and essentials; along with the usual obligatory branded souvenirs.

 

DAY SPA 

After a day on the hill at Kicking Horse, then you can justifiably head to the day spa at Winston Lodge for a massage.

 

GROCERY SHOPPING 

The general store in the Mountaineer Lodge at the base of Kicking Horse Resort sells basic groceries including fresh limited produce, toiletries, and a range of wine and alcohol. If you are needing to do a decent shop, you are much better to head to the one of a few supermarkets in Golden.

 

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THINGS TO DO

ON MOUNTAIN

Here are a few of our favourite on-mountain activities: –

Nordic skiing Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre offers 33km of cross country trails. The day-use Nordic chalet is located about 1km from the gondola, where you can pay trail fees, get equipment rentals, or even a lesson. Interweaving the Nordic trails are snowshoe trails (rentals available at the Nordic centre) and fat biking is another possibility.
Heli skiing Skiing or snowboarding at Kicking Horse is the perfect warm up for heli skiing. Purcell Heli Skiing are based in Golden, boast a huge heli tenure
Cat Skiing at Chatter Creek We’ve skied with Chris, who is a regular guide at the cat skiing as well as one of the head ski patrollers at Big White Ski Resort. This operation is slick. It is the largest cat skiing operation in the world, near Golden.  Chatter Creek Cat Skiing provides phenomenal 3, 4 and 5 day powder skiing holidays.
Ski guiding and Avalanche training Adrenalin Descents offer backcountry ski guiding, sled skiing tours, custom back country tours and daily off-piste guiding from the resort.   Avalanche skills training is also on offer, usually in the Dogtooth mountain range of Kicking Horse Country & the Selkirks.
Get Married! You will be on top of the world with your marriage vows taken at Eagles Eye.  A spectacular backdrop is assured.

OFF MOUNTAIN

Tubing and Ice Skating Located in the heart of the Kicking Horse Plaza, with access by the Jelly Bean surface lift, is a mini ice skating rink and tube park, Tubing is free for children up to 12. Night skiing via a magic carpet for novices is available.
Northern Lights Wolf Centre & photography tour. Visit the Northern Lights Wolf Centre located a little out of Golden.  One for the kids for sure. The Centre offers daily interactive wolf walks where visitors can embark on a leisurely hike with some furry members of the Northern Lights Wolf Pack.
Snowmobiling Guided snowmobile tours for groups of all sizes, to provide the ultimate sledding experience.

APRÈS SKI

KICKING HORSE RESTAURANTS 

People hanging out in Kicking Horse while eating There are just a few cafes and restaurants on the mountain, all at the base, except for Eagle’s Eye at the summit, amd The Heaven’s Door Yurt near the base of the Stairway to Heaven chair is open for a casual lunch or quick snack. The outdoor fire pit is a good place to warm up.

 

For a more substantial meal, head to Copper Horse or Glacier Lodge, or the Winston Lodge for pub style offerings. Make no mistake, there is no real après scene to speak of.

 

There is more of a nightlife scene down in Golden with an old mining town feel, and lots of stories from the locals to hear at one of the pubs. There are also lots of dining options in Golden including traditional steak houses, international restaurants and cheap fast-food outlets.

 

You haven’t done Kicking Horse until you’ve had either lunch or dinner at the spectacular summit restaurant, The Eagle’s Eye. Majestically crowing the summit of the resort, it is accessible via the gondola, and the views are spectacular.

 

Non-skiers can purchase a pedestrian pass to head up the Kicking Horse gondola to enjoy the fabulous views and enjoy a wonderful culinary experience at the Eagle Eye Restaurant.

 

SNOW HOW:
In the depths of winter, remember the days are short, with sunset as early as 3.45pm, so factor that in with timing for Eagles Eye après sunset or dining experience.

 

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Ski Vacation Packages Canada

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