Kicking Horse Ski Resort

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, interior British Columbia’s big mountain skiing destination, began as an idea after a visit to Whitetooth Ski Hill (the resort’s former name) by award winning Vancouver architect Oberto Oberti in 1996.

Oberti saw the potential to expand the infrastructure into a four season destination resort. With immense support from the local town of Golden, as well as local and international investors, the resort was bought and redeveloped and opened in December 2000 under its new name of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

A far cry from its humble beginnings of one double chairlift, one T-bar and 2,000 ft of vertical, the ski resort of Kicking Horse now has access to some of the most formidable terrain in Canada. The Golden Eagle Express gondola shuttles skiers and snowboarders directly into the high alpine in just over 12 minutes. This 8-person gondola serves the majority of the 2,750 acres (1,100 ha) of terrain. The only other high alpine lift is the Stairway to Heaven, which runs from the bottom of Crystal Bowl to Blue Heaven Peak 8,033ft (2,450m).

Kicking Horse has built its reputation on its steep terrain and high annual snowfall; average 275 inches (700cm). The unique layout of the ski resort is the way it traverses three distinct ridges – Terminator Peak, CPR Ridge and Redemption Ridge. These three areas have countless couloirs, each more hazardous than the last. And many of the ‘skiable’ lines of these ridges would be classified as permanently closed areas at bigger more popular resorts. Local skiers and riders have a common sense factor that keeps them away from such areas when the conditions are not forgiving.

The lower mountain has plenty on offer for beginners and intermediates. Long, flowing groomed runs, steep bumps and a network of easy to navigate green runs make the lower mountain ideal for families and those looking for less of an ‘extreme’ experience.

Kicking Horse’s small base village has a handful of hotels and restaurants. High end homes within walking distance of the village provide a base of luxury vacation rentals.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is located 6 miles (10km) outside Golden, British Columbia. The closest major city with an international airport is Calgary, two hours and 30 minutes drive away.

Updated for Winter 2015-16 – David B. Cronheim

Kicking Horse Ski Area

Kicking Horse ski area offers high alpine bowl skiing that is the equal of almost anything in North America. Kicking Horse makes it easy to get spoiled skiing 4,100' laps all day without seeing more than a few dozen other skiers.

Kicking Horse Ski Area

The alpine areas and bowls of Kicking Horse ski resort are more suited to expert skiers, who will appreciate the lack of crowds on powder days. The vertical in Kicking Horse is on par with the biggest in North America at 1,260 metres (4,133 feet). The only drawback of the fast, high capacity gondola is that it has no mid-station. If the snow quality is not as good at the lower elevations, you have no choice but to grin and bear it until you reach the bottom of the mountain. The Stairway to Heaven lift is the only other option and is a great short cut back to top of Redemption Ridge once the more accessible areas have been skied out.

It is important to note that many runs designated as 'single black' in Kicking Horse would be either double blacks or unmarked lines at other North American resorts. Be sure to inspect all the lines from below before plunging off into jagged rocks, especially in the couloirs off the ridges. Zones designated as permanently closed are to keep from skiers from triggering avalanches that run onto marked runs.

Beginner skiers have one main option from the top of the gondola - It's a Ten - a 10 km switchback trail. Otherwise, beginners are confined to a novice area near the village.

Kicking Horse is also renowned for its lift-accessed backcountry. Super Bowl lies on the other side of Terminator Peak, approximately 20 minutes hike from the top of the Golden Eagle Express. In the other direction, ski tourers may hike past Whitewall and Feuz Bowl to the more remote back country area of Rudi's Bowl.

Kicking Horse Ski Lifts

The main artery of Kicking Horse ski lifts system is the Golden Eagle Express gondola. The cabins seat 8 people and have a capacity of 600 persons per hour. From the top of the Golden Eagle Express you can access the runs on CPR Ridge and all the lower mountain runs.

Kicking Horse Ski Lifts 660X260

The Golden Eagle Gondola nearing the summit station (Photo Credit: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

Kicking Horse Ski Lifts

The only other alpine lift is the Stairway to Heaven which runs from the bottom of Crystal Bowl, next to the Heaven's Door Yurt Restaurant. This lift drops you at the peak of Blue Heaven, where you can access all runs on Redemption Ridge, White Wall and Feuz Bowl.

The lower mountain is serviced by the Catamount chair quad and the Pioneer double chair. The Catamount is the best access to the beginner runs while the Pioneer reaches a few more intermediate and advanced runs. The Pioneer is the chair advanced skiers take when the Gondola is shut due to avalanche danger or poor weather.

Kicking Horse Ski Lift Passes

Day ski lift and multi-day lift passes include special rates for seniors (65+), youths (13-18) and children aged (7-12) while children under 6 ski for free. Reduced rates are also available for afternoon skiing or if guests chose to ride the Catamount learning chair only.

Kicking Horse Beginners

The majority of the beginner terrain at Kicking Horse ski resort is accessed from the Catamount chair, for which you can buy a specially discounted learning lift ticket for this chair only.

Kicking Horse Beginner Skiing 660X260

Beginner skiers on a green trail near the base (photo credit: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

Beginner skiers have limited options at Kicking Horse. The resort has a well-deserved reputation for off piste and big mountain free-skiing. The rugged peaks of the Selkirks are not ideally suited for novice ski trails, so it is unsurprising that Kicking Horse's novice options are limited.

Most of the beginner skiing is concentrated around the base area, where the Catamount fixed grip quad services a handful of green trails. Although this main beginner terrain pod is somewhat small, the trails are enjoyable and uncrowded.

Kicking Horse's longest run is also its premier beginner trail - "It's a Ten." This 10 km trail starts at the summit terminus of the gondola and falls 4,100' back down to the resort's base. "It's a Ten" is a fantastic beginner trail because it offers long views of the valley around every bend. It's the type of trail that a beginner feels a sense of accomplishment after completing. One top to bottom run might take as long as an hour for a beginner skier, so be sure to know your skill level before setting out. A great way to preview the lower portion of the trail is to take the Pioneer Double Chair to its top terminus. From there skiers can ski the lower quarter of the run back down to the base.

 

Kicking Horse Intermediate Skiing

Kicking Horse's intermediate skiing is on the more challenging end of the spectrum. Confident blue skiers will enjoy the resort's high alpine bowls. From the top of the Golden Eagle Express gondola there are options for intermediates wanting to see the views from the summits.

Kicking Horse Intermediate Skiing 660X260

(Photo Credit: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

Sluiceway is a great blue run that runs from the easier entrance into Bowl Over right down to the bottom of CPR Ridge. There are plenty of cat track access roads which have signs pointing you in the right direction for the next blue run. If you can handle moguls some of the black runs in the lower mountain are a great training ground.

Cloud 9 runs from Blue Heaven into Crystal Bowl and merges with the road from the top of the gondola. The Northern Lights trail also runs down the middle of Crystal Bowl. These trails can either lap back to the Stairway to Heaven chair or keep descending down to Tail Spin and the other rolling groomers on the lower mountain such as Wiley Coyote. Take care with speed travelling over blind rollers.

Kicking Horse Expert Skiing

Expert skiers in Kicking Horse will have no difficulty in finding challenging terrain. Many single black trails in Kicking Horse would be designated double black or unmarked in many other ski resorts in North America and ‘permanently closed’ area signs must be respected.

Kicking Horse Expert Skiing 660X260

(Photo Credit: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

Stepping straight off the Eagle Express gondola there is a field of steep glades on The Flying Dutchman, a great way to start powder days that may have poor visibility. This run links up to more steep runs towards the lower mountain such as Terminator, Liberty and Double Header.

For bluebird days you can ski the bowl down Think Twice on the other side of the ridge for an excellent warm up to the steeper terrain. This route links up with Bubbly and Euphoria and then down to the long, rolling descent down Porcupine. This route is a great opportunity to inspect the more complex lines off lower CPR Ridge. Be sure to use caution when choosing a line here, this zone has been used in numerous free skiing competitions.

Once you have had a good few laps on CPR Ridge you'll be looking for the next zone to get fresh tracks. Take the Stairway to Heaven lift once it is open and ski the steep glades on My Blue Heaven, lap back to the top and explore the dozens of line off Redemption Ridge into Feuz Bowl. From the top of the chair you can hike over towards The White Wall, which offers yet another network of steep and technical lines.

Pay attention to not hike into the permanent closure on the far side of this bowl, locally known as the 'no-zone'. All runs from Feuz bowl need to lap back to the Golden Eagle Express. The fast, rolling groomers such as Kicking Horse and Race Place ensure the ski down is more than filler between your alpine laps.

Kicking Horse Snowboarding

Kicking Horse's snowboarding offering are geared more towards the big mountain rider. Snowboarders who prefer mainly park skiing will be happier elsewhere, but the resort's legendary powder, chutes, trees and big mountain bowls create a massive playground with ample opportunity for big air that would put any park to shame...

Kicking Horse Snowboarding 660X260

(Photo Credit: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

Kicking Horse has allocated a small zone in the Catamount learning area for a terrain park . While the features are small, there is enough there to keep the park riders entertained while waiting for the higher lifts to open.

A new addition to the ski resort is the Hidden Nugget terrain features. These are constructed features built from trees or other natural obstacles that are made to fit into the flow of the ski run. Each feature is marked with a grading and they are great for jibbers looking for play areas on their way down the mountain.

Kicking Horse Backcountry Skiing & Off-Piste

Kicking Horse's high alpine bowls create an in-bounds backcountry skiing experience with many bowls providing excellent powder skiing just a short hike from the lifts. Perhaps more than any resort outside Jackson Hole, Kicking Horse has marked runs that can and should induce terror.

Kicking Horse Backcountry Skiing 660X260

(Photo Credit: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

In keeping with the ski touring popularity of nearby Rogers Pass, Kicking Horse can be just a start point from anything from an hour of off-piste skiing at the resort boundary to a long, multi-day tour off-piste.

Terminator Peak is around 20 minutes hike from the top of the Golden Eagle Express. From the top of this ridge you can access the expert only lines of Glory, Truth, Dare and Consequence. These exposed double black runs are within the boundaries of the resort, but care should be taken due to the high amount of exposure to cliffs and slide paths.

On the other side of Terminator Peak you can drop into Super Bowl, known as a favourite 'slack country' area which only requires the initial hike up to Terminator Peak. There is a large zone that is permanently closed on the lower end of this ridge, look for the signs as you traverse and you will know when you must turn into the fall line. The ski out from Terminator Peak eventually traverses back to the resort.

On the other side from the top of the Stairway to Heaven you can hike up to Whitewall which is still in the resort boundary and skis into the enormous Feuz Bowl. You can hike further along the ridge from Whitewall until you drop into Rudi's Bowl. This area is considered remote despite the possibility to traverse back to the resort further down.

Avalanche safety equipment is essential and a mountain guide recommended for skiing off-piste. You should also check to make sure that snow conditions are suitable.

For more information on guided trips around Golden enquire to Cirrus Alpine Guides.

Kicking Horse Mountain Restaurant

Kicking Horse's mountain restaurant - The Eagle's Eye Restaurant - is the highest in Canada and serves up some tasty gourmet ski chow. The main Daylodge base at Kicking Horse has a cafeteria serving grill style food, sandwiches and snacks. All the amenities make this a convenient location to grab a quick bite before hitting the slopes or snacking between runs.

Kicking Horse Mountain Restaurants

The pride and joy of the on mountain Kicking Horse dining experience is the Eagle's Eye Restaurant. Located at the top of the Golden Eagle Express gondola, this is one of the highest restaurants in Canada at 7,705 ft.

With a 360 degree panoramic view, beautiful chalet setting and a world class menu, the Eagle's Eye is a must for any visitors looking for a luxurious dining experience. The gondola occasionally runs late so the Eagle's Eye can serve evening meals and the facilities are available for weddings and other functions.

For an alternative stop while on the slopes try the Heaven's Door Yurt at the base of The Stairway to Heaven chair. This framed tent structure serves sandwiches and snacks and has a barbeque grill outside for burgers and hotdogs.

Kicking Horse Village

The village at the base of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is small but has some great apres ski bars and restaurants.

Kicking Horse Village 660X360

(Photo Credit: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

Many hotels and lodges have their signature bars located in the building, making the locals' word of mouth the best way to find the kind of place you are looking for.

All the amenities such as supermarkets, motels and gas stations can be found in nearby Golden. Built during the industrial boom, Golden has retained much of its 'railroad town' image. It's still very much a blue collar working class town.

The Trans-Canada Highway runs straight through the town, making it an easy drive from Calgary. Coming from the west from Revelstoke you can drive through Glacier National Park over the famed Rogers Pass.

 

Kicking Horse Restaurants, Apres Ski & Bars

The choice of bars and restaurants in Kicking Horse may be limited in comparison to Whistler, but there’s plenty of fun off the mountain and more apres ski bars and restaurants nearby in Golden.

Kicking Horse Apres Ski Bars

After a big day on the slopes head for Peaks Grill at the base, one of the most popular apres ski spots in Kicking Horse and invariably busy in a fun way. Enormous servings of nachos, tasty pizzas and a selection of micro brew beers on tap together with a sun-baked patio.

The Whitetooth Grill in the Daylodge has a bar with domestic beers on tap. Corks Restaurant has a great après selection of entrees and a comprehensive wine list. The Local Hero has a patio to enjoy one of their special malt whiskies.

In Golden you there is a selection pubs and bars, such as the Mad Trapper Pub, The Golden Taps and Packers Place Inn and Pub. All feature pub style food, pool tables and dance floors.

Kicking Horse Restaurants

You won't go hungry at Kicking Horse and typical of all Canadian ski resorts, prices are reasonable.

For casual yet elegant dining atmosphere, try Corks Restaurant located in the Copper Horse Lodge. With a constantly evolving menu and a comprehensive international wine list, the service at Corks is nothing short of exemplary.

If you are in the mood for a pub-style meal, the Highland Lodge features The Local Hero Pub, a Scottish-Canadian establishment with an attractive outdoor deck and great selection of malt whiskies.

Peaks Grill serves great après food and a delicious selection of pastas, pizzas and burgers. With 3 big screen TVs this is a great venue for sports enthusiasts to catch a game.

Sushi Kuma is the place for Japanese cuisine. A full menu with both Japanese and domestic beers, sake and traditional green tea make this a nice change from western foods on your holiday.

If you are looking for the high altitude dining, look no further than the Eagles Eye Restaurant at the top of the Golden Eagle Express gondola. Described as "Rocky Mountain cuisine with a French flair", the dishes, wine and amazing panoramic views will make this an unforgettable dining experience.

Golden, BC Restaurants

The Whitetooth Mountain Bistro on the main street of Golden has creative dishes as well as regional favourites. Game dishes such as Elk stew are popular.

Mannie's Curry Hut on 10th Ave offers daily lunch specials and dinner deals on Thursdays and Fridays. The restaurant is fully licensed and also offers delivery service to your accommodation.

For Italian and pizza dishes check out Panzorotties who specialise in Italian dishes but keeping to a casual North American pizza joint atmosphere, they are also licensed and offer a take-away and delivery service.

Eleven22 has an internationally inspiring menu and receives glowing reviews from locals and visitors alike. If you are looking for a steak dinner try Canyon Edge Steakhouse or the Golden Rim Gourmet & Steakhouse.

Kicking Horse Activities

Kicking Horse's winter activities are broad. There are plenty of activities for both skiers and non-skiers at Kicking Horse ski resort.

Snowshoeing, Ice Skating and Tubing in Kicking Horse

If you aren't up for skiing some of Canada's steepest slopes, you can try your hand at snow shoeing, ice skating or tubing. All of these activities have their facilities located in the village and can be booked by calling 1.866.SKI.KICK. If the weather is grim you can try indoor rock climbing at The Dogtooth Climbing Gym located just outside of Golden.

Snowmobiling in Golden

Snowmobiling is a popular past time in Golden and the Golden Guides (headquarters in the Daylodge) cater for all abilities. Tours are available as a half or full day. For more information call 1.866.SKI.KICK or email goldenguides@kickinghorseresort.com

Cross-country skiing in Kicking Horse

For skiers looking for something different, the Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre just north of the resort has a world class network of cross country skiing trails. With everything from beginner slopes to advanced climbs with amazing vistas, the Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre has it all covered. For more information go to www.goldennordicclub.ca

Heli-skiing in Kicking Horse

Skiers looking for the ultimate backcountry experience need look no further than Purcell Helicopter Skiing. A small company, the staff at Purcell look to provide a relaxed yet thrilling day of heli skiing rather than trying to break records of vertical. For more information, call 1.877.HELISKI or visit www.purcellhelicopterskiing.com

Ski First Tracks in Kicking Horse

For a more budget fresh tracks experience, the First Tracks Program runs every Saturday morning. Complete with breakfast at the Whitetooth Grill, skiers are first to load up the Golden Eagle Express.

Avalanche Safety Training in Kicking Horse

If you are looking to learn about avalanche safety, the Big Mountain Centre in Kicking Horse offers the AST (Avalanche Safety Training) Level 1 courses throughout the winter.

Kicking Horse Rating
  • Ski Area star rating
  • Snowsure star rating
  • Advanced star rating
  • Intermediates star rating
  • Beginners star rating
  • Ski Lift System star rating
  • Lift Queues star rating
  • Scenery star rating
  • Resort Charm star rating
  • Apres Ski star rating
  • Non-Skiers star rating
  • Getting There star rating
  • Kicking Horse Statistics
  • CountryCanada
  • RegionBritish Columbia
  • Base1314 m
  • Peak2450 m
  • Vertical1260 m
  • Longest run10 km
  • Number of ski lifts5
  • Gondolas1
  • Chairlifts3
  • Surface lifts1
  • Riders per hour8000
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