You’ll get a kick out of the sounds of a family ski trip to Kicking Horse. But be warned, Kicking Horse is untamed like its name, with advanced mostly un-groomed terrain. This relatively new-to-the-ski-scene Canadian resort (opened 2000) is 2.5 hours west of Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway, anchored by the authentic western town of Golden. The Dogtooth Mountain Range makes up the dramatic ski terrain in the Purcell Mountains, which is not actually the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Kicking Horse is surrounded by six National Parks nearby, Banff National Park, Glacier, Kootenay, Yoho, Mt Revelstoke, and Jasper National Park. So yes- it’s beautiful, and the terrain is bold. So don’t bring your family on a Kicking Horse ski trip until the kids are kicking black diamond around with proficiency if you want to ski the whole mountain.
Kicking Horse’s ski terrain encompasses 3,486-acres with a vertical drop of 4,314,’ making it the third highest in Canada and the fourth in North America. For comparison, Kicking Horse is just shy of Jackson Hole’s vertical drop. Part of the Resorts of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Kicking Horse is a sister resort to Kimberely, Fernie, and Nakiska, Mont Sainte Anne and Stoneham in Quebec.
Kicking Horse is on the Epic Pass, along with Resorts of the Canadian Rockies sister resorts and Vail Resorts’ portfolio from Whistler Blackcomb to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breck, Crested Butte, Park City, Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar.
Kicking Horse’s legendary skiable terrain consists of five big bowls: Crystal Bowl, Bowl Over, Feuz Bowl, Super Bowl and Rudi’s Bowl – recently added ski tenure of Purcell Heli skiing’s owner (and namesake) Rudi. None of the terrain in these bowls is groomed, its steep in bounds butt kicking stuff. A 2,800′ vertical gondola whisks skiers from the Kicking Horse village up the mountain. From here there are a few groomers, including one Green Circle called “Its a Ten Trail” that swerves all the way to the base, but is only two cat tracks wide with precipitous drops offs in spots…be warned. This mountain is not a beginners haven, all the learn to ski terrain is at the base and on the Catamount quad. And Kicking Horse is not reputed for tons of grooming, be ready to ski natural terrain, bumps and snowy bowls more often than the few gorgeous groomed runs with fun names like Buffalo, Coyote, Bear, Grizzly.
Kicking Horse is home to beautiful on mountain lodge, and Canada’s highest elevation restaurant, Eagle’s Eye which stands at 7,705′ for the most scenic ski lunch ever. Elk burgers or Salmon and a panorama await with great table service, reached by the gondola – family members can download after lunch if they prefer in lieu of skiing the long descent. Make a reservation for Eagle’s Eye or go ahead of the lunch crowd for the best window seats or a bar stool.
Stay at the Glacier Mountaineer Lodge in the heart of Kicking Horse’s ski village for lodging steps to the Golden Eagle Express Gondola and après ski activities, with spacious suites, an outdoor hot tub and spectacular views. You will have all the comforts and conveniences of home: kitchen, washer dryer, tv, wifi, fireplace, and plus splendid views of the mountains and the ski slopes. You can walk to childcare, ski school, the general store, ski shops and few restaurants in Kicking Horse’s ski village.
Kids will love that Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is home to a 22-acre Grizzly Bear Refuge where local Grizzly bear Boo resides. Boo can occasionally be seen mid-winter from the Gondola, if he decides to wake from his slumber, though sightings are more frequent in summer. Boo is 17, he’s outlasted his sister Cari, Cari – Boo were saved by Widllife Services and brought to Kicking Horse.
Kicking Horse was previously named Whitetooth Ski Area, owned and operated by the Town of Golden, before it was purchased and expanded in 1999. Kicking Horse is actually named for the Kicking Horse River that passes through this southeastern section of British Columbia. The longest authentic covered timber frame bridge in Canada crosses the Kicking Horse River in Golden.
For on mountain lodging at Kicking Horse, Glacier Mountaineer Lodge, Palliser Lodge, Copper Horse Lodge, Vagabond Lodge, and Winston Lodge, are all located at the ski mountain base, in close proximity to the Golden Eagle Express Gondola in the heart of the ski plaza. Or you can lodge in downtown Golden, or at least visit this authentic western town and maybe go for a snowmobile tour around the river valley. A family ski trip to Kicking Horse is best saved for when the kids are skiing double black diamonds, and combine the Canadian mountain ski trip with a visit to Revelstoke. Fernie and Kimberely, or Lake Louise and Sunshine Village in Banff.
Kicking Horse Stats:
Vertical: 4,314 feet
Elevation: 8,218 feet
Trails: 120+ Runs plus 85+ in-bound chutes
Lifts: 1 Gondola, 2 quads, 1 double
On the Powder Highway