Kicking Horse kicks Ass! Situated above the railway town of Golden BC, Kicking Horse is loved equally by the extreme powder hounds - for its gnarly chutes - and by Foodies, for Canada’s most elevated dining experience at the Eagle Eye Restaurant.
OverviewKicking Horse has stiff competition for skiers, as it’s right in the heart of British Colombia’s powder highway, and as such, the region has a whole host of world-class resorts to choose from.
The locals love the fact they’re a little isolated, as they get all the slopes and the abundance of powder snow for themselves. If driving from Calgary, you will need to drive past many well-known, and excellent, resorts to get here, but that just makes it all the more special for those who put in the effort to drive just that little bit further (3 hours plus from Calgary airport).
The resort's base, a little charmless when compared to European Alpine resorts, has a central dining base station, a bar, a few tall condo units and some smaller private chalets. But it’s not the resort’s base you come here for; it’s the excellent and varied terrain and the legendary BC snow (750cm seasonal average).
Ski areaKicking Horse consists of three huge bowls, which are divided by long spine-like ridges. The piste skiing here, while very good and well maintained, winding through the trees and adding up to some 40% of the resort, is not really why you would choose Kicking Horse over some of the other powder highway resorts.
If you’re looking for a wide choice of piste skiing to keep you, or a young family, happy for a week, you would probably stop at Lake Louise before you got here. But, and it’s a huge but, if you like to ski or snowboard uncrowded powder, Kicking Horse will be right up your street.
From the top of either the Golden Eagle Express Gondola or the Stairway to Heaven Chair, you can ski along CPR or Redemption ridge and choose where you would like to drop into one of the legendary chutes. Entrances to the many chutes range from wide open to terrifyingly narrow rock slots. Once in, the chutes are steep but never too long before you’re into wide open powder for a quick blast, before heading back to the chair for another loop.
To access the black chutes from North and South ridge you will need to take a short hike from the Golden Eagle Express, which is well worth it, as the snow, as well as the fantastic long descents, will make you soon forget the hike.
The Big Mountain Centre ski school, offers private instruction, group lessons and a range of excellent Avalanche Skill Training Courses.
On mountain, the Whitetooth Grill is the best place to catch a beer post ski: there is often a good offer on the locally produced brew, and the nacho plates could easily feed a family of four. If you’re looking for something a little more stylish, then at the very top of the mountain is the Eagle Eye Restaurant, which is simply fantastic. It does come at a cost, yet is still reasonable considering the service and quality of the food.
Off the slopes and apres ski
Golden is the place to stay, if you want more of a ski town local vibe. It's a bit rough round the edges and has a real frontier town feel, which is great and completely the opposite to staying in Banff, which has a very sterile generic North American feel.
In the nearby town of Golden, the Rockwater Grill and Bar has live music and comedy served up with the staple Canadian bar food, while the ELEVEN22 restaurant is a more family-friendly place with an Asian twist. If looking for a cheap bed, then the Dreamcatcher Hostel has affordable bunk rooms ($33) and privates from $85 for two. Just out of town on the Interstate 1, there are a whole host of chain hotels, such as Best Western and Ramada.