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Kicking Horse – Golden

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (KHMR) is arguably Canada’s most extreme ski resort. Nestled in the southeastern part of British Columbia, deep in the Columbia Mountains, it is known as Canada's ‘champagne powder’ capital. Combine that with some of the steepest inbound terrain in North America, and your experience here will be nothing short of thrilling.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Kicking Horse is one of Canada’s larger ski resorts, with over 60 mi (100 km) of ski runs and a vertical difference of 4,133 ft (1,260 m). The resort has more advanced terrain than any other resort in North America. It can humble the most advanced skiers with its steep chutes, gnarly bowls, and exposed alpine hikes to some of the best runs of your life. The resort has 128 runs, five alpine bowls, and 85 inbound chutes. The closest town to the ski resort is Golden, BC, 9 mi (14 km) away.

One important thing to note is that prices here are in Canadian dollars. Canada is an excellent ski destination for international travelers because US dollars, euros, pounds, and other Western currencies are subject to a favorable exchange rate. As of April 2023, the exchange rate is 75 US cents per Canadian dollar, meaning a lift pass or meal that costs $100 Canadian will only be $75 US.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Location

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a ski resort in the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District east of quaint Golden, British Columbia, in Western Canada. It is one of several ski resorts close to Calgary, Alberta, 170 mi (274 km) away.

Geographically, KHMR is in a subrange called the Purcell Mountains and on Kicking Horse Pass. On a larger scale, the resort is part of the Columbia Mountain range rather than the Canadian Rockies, as some would think. The Canadian Government explicitly identifies them in the Columbia range due to significant differences in geology and climate. United States geography considers them part of North America's Rocky Mountain Range.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is within the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park, Glacier National Park, and just to the west of the larger Yoho National Park.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Getting to Kicking Horse

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is relatively easy to get to by air, with regional and international airports nearby.

Nearest Airports

The closest airport to Kicking Horse is Calgary International Airport (YYC) which is 180 mi (291 km) away. From YYC, you can take a shuttle or rent a vehicle.

Driving Directions

YYC has several rental companies available. Rentals cost around $40 a day, and the drive to the ski resort is easy to navigate. After leaving the airport, hop on Hwy 2 N/ AB-2 N and then transfer to AB-1 W to Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1W. The drive is 180 mi (291 km) and takes just over three hours.

Important: Driving this highway in winter will test your driving abilities and concentration, as regular snow and rain storms make this stretch of road incredibly demanding. You’ll want to opt for a vehicle with snow tires as you drive through mountain passes and two million-year-old glacier fields. Don’t let the conditions deter you, though. This drive is one of the most scenic in the world.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Shuttle Services

The Champagne Powder Shuttle runs multiple trips daily from YYC to Golden and Golden to Kicking Horse. It costs $199 one way. The Golden Kicking Horse Connector Resort Shuttle provides transportation to and from the resort and around Golden, BC. It costs $5 per person, and you need exact change.

Parking Lots

There is plenty of parking at the ski resort's base, including FREE overnight parking! A true rarity in a ski town. The village at the resort's base is tiny, and you can easily walk around in less than 10 minutes.

If you are staying in Golden, parking in town is free. The downtown core allows two hours of free parking between 9 am and 6 pm.

You can drive to the resort in 15 minutes or take the resort shuttle. The Golden Shuttle provides you with cheap transportation around the town of Golden. There is also a taxi company called Mount 7 Taxi.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Season

Weather permitting, the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort ski season runs from early December to mid-April. Given the resort’s consistent snow accumulation throughout the fall and early winter, coverage upon opening is usually excellent. I dare say that opening day is one of the best days of the season because there are no tracks and everything is soft. As the season progresses, the steeper alpine runs will fill in and offer skiers some of the best lift-access descents in North America.

Holidays and powder days are fairly busy. However, it’s never as busy as you’d expect, given the several other resorts in the area. The best time to visit the resort is midweek in January, as the snow is consistent, the base is solid, and there are fewer skiers than in February and March.

Snow and Weather Conditions

The type of snow that hits Kicking Horse is iconic. Colder temperatures high in the mountains create low-water content and large crystal snowfall. These factors combine to produce light, dry powder. KHMR receives less snow than Revelstoke on the other side of Roger’s pass. However, Revelstoke often receives warmer temperatures and wetter snow because of the coastal influence. By the time storms reach KHMR, they have shed moisture and become colder - the recipe for blower powder.

Not that KHMR doesn’t get any snow - the ski resort still averages 24 ft (7.3 m) annually. Kicking Horse has a few snow cannons primarily used at the mountain's base to prolong skiing to the bottom in the spring.

Among British Columbia Ski Resorts, Kicking Horse is on the colder side. Expect temperatures to average around 13 °F (-10 ℃) and 5 °F (-15 °C) in the alpine. There can also be cold snaps that drop the temperatures in the alpine to -22 °F (-30 ℃), so it’s worth checking the weather leading up to your trip. A warm base, mid-layers, balaclavas, and hot packs are essential at this resort.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Kicking Horse Ski Map

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is all about bowl, alpine, and tree skiing. The mountain reaches 8,218 ft (2,505 m) and boasts 4,314 ft (1,315 m) of vertical over 2800 acres of skiable terrain. There is a tiny village around the resort's base and several small streets with estates, cabins, and condo-style accommodations.

The resort is broken up into four peaks and five bowls. Moving between each peak accesses steep alpine terrain. A handful of green and blue trails run from peak to base. For simplicity, we can break the resort into the left (Super Bowl and Blow Over) and right (Crystal, Feuz, and Rudi’s Bowl). The two sides are separated by the Golden Eagle Express Gondola, a fast eight-person gondola that takes about 12 minutes from base to peak. Before you visit Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, take some time to study the ski resort’s map.

The resort’s lift system can be a bit annoying to deal with especially if you’re accessing the majority of alpine bowls. Although the Golden Eagle Express only takes 12 minutes to ride, the combined hiking and skiing to the bottom after every run can get tiring.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Kicking Horse Base

The resort base is where you will find a couple of lodges, restaurants, and all the retail shops at Kicking Horse. The lifts are accessible from two separate parking lots at the base, so walking from your car to the slopes is easy. The main day lodge is where you get tickets, put on gear, store your backpack, and grab a coffee.

Super Bowl and Blow Over

KHMR’s left side is known for its steep and uncrowded skiing.

Bowl Over is the first bowl to your left after disembarking the Golden Eagle Express. Skiers can enter Bowl Over and choose from a single blue run, some groomed black runs, or mellow glades. It’s a great warm-up area for advanced skiers before pursuing more extreme terrain on the next lap.

Super Bowl is accessible from the trail Milly Goat Traverse and a small hike to access the steep stuff. Terminator 1 and 2 peaks offer seriously steep chutes from T1 South and T2 North Ridge. Most runs in this zone are double black (extreme) with slope angles of 45 degree. This zone requires a bit of hiking (10 - 15 minutes), but it is absolutely worth it. Plus, the extra effort keeps the crowds away.

Both of these bowls will take you to the base of the resort. Lapping the Super Bowl zone takes time, effort and skiing down to the bottom can be very annoying if you’re looking to lap these steep runs.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Crystal, Feuz, and Rudi’s Bowl

The terrain on the resort’s right side is tamer. It’s also home to the resort’s only lapable alpine ski lift and top-to-bottom green run. The very top of these bowls is accessible from disembarking Golden Eagle Express to the right. Skiers can also choose to stay on the lower mountain by lapping Pioneer Chair.

Crystal Bowl attracts novice and intermediate skiers due to the peak-to-base green runs allowing anyone to experience the impressive views. There’s still lots of double-black terrain to explore in this bowl on CPR Ridge.

Feuz Bowl is a steep alpine zone with 27 demanding chutes and exposed terrain to navigate before settling into the powder below in the bowl. Skiers come from the top of Crystal Bowl to the Stairway to Heaven Chairlift to get here. There’s a stairway you walk up to enter this zone, hence the name. Quite the sentimental touch. Further down the ridgeline, skiers can drop into Redemption Ridge, an area lined with short but steep double-black chutes.

The 2017 Freeride World Tour propelled the top peak, dubbed Ozone (8,218 ft / 2,505 m), into infamy. South Feuz and Rudi’s officially became part of the resort in 2018. The massive expansion added 660 acres of jaw-dropping heart-pumping extreme skiing for adventure seekers. Skiers hike about 20 minutes above Whitewall from the Stairway to Heaven chair before dropping into Ozone.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Rudi’s Bowl is the final inbound zone at Kicking Horse. It’s a bit of a mission to get over here, but worth it. You can get here by skiing Ozone and hugging the ski boundary above Middle Ridge. There is also an alternative bootpack from the center of Feuz Bowl. Skiers then drop into the backside of Rudi’s bowl, which takes you back down to the base. Hikes to access this area are extensive and will take at least 20 minutes to the top of Ozone.

Ski Lifts and Slopes

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is known in the skiing community as an extreme playground with some of the steepest and most rugged terrain you’ll find inbounds at a ski resort. The conditions are reminiscent of what you’d expect to find heliskiing. There are over 120 runs spread around five bowls, including over 80 chutes. Some of the best terrain requires a little bit of hiking to access. However, if you don’t wish to get your hike on, there’s still plenty of extreme skiing.

As with other North American ski resorts, slope classification is broken into four categories: beginner — green circles; intermediate — blue squares; and advanced/expert — black/double-black diamonds.

There are only five ski lifts at Kicking Horse ski resort and this is the resort’s major downfall. The gondola is the only high-speed lift at the resort and it can get very busy on weekends.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Slopes

  • Total number of slopes: 128
  • Slopes total length: 60 mi (100 km)
  • Types of slopes: easy (green) — 12.4 mi (20 km), 20%; intermediate (blue) — 12.4 mi (20 km), 20%; advanced (black) — 37.3 mi (60 km), 60%
  • Longest slope: It’s A Ten (6 mi / 10 km)
  • Popular slopes: Ozone, 101, Wolverine, T2 North Ridge, Sluiceway
  • Total skiable terrain: 3,486 acres (1,410 hectares)

Ski lifts

  • Total lifts: 5 (1 gondola, 2 quad lifts, 1 double lift, and 1 surface lift)
  • Lifts operating hours: 9 am to 4 pm
  • Top station: Ozone (8,218 ft / 2,505 m)
  • Base station: 3,904 ft (1,190 m)
  • Difference between stations (max vertical drop): 4,314 ft (1,315 m)
  • Lifts capacity: 6,750 skiers per hour

Other features and services

  • Artificial snow: Yes
  • Night skiing: No
  • Cross-country ski trails: 20.5 mi (33 km)
  • Snowshoe trails: 3.7 mi (16 km)
  • Snowboard park: No
  • Snowmobile: Yes
  • Snow tubing: Yes
  • Ice-skating field: Yes
  • Ski rentals and bootfitting: Yes
  • Ski school: Yes
  • Ski guides and ski tours: Yes
  • Outdoor stores: Yes
  • Daycare: Yes

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Skiing Experience

KHMR offers a different skiing experience than almost any other ski resort in North America. Only two lifts reach the upper ridgeline of the resort, so there is a lot of hiking involved over the course of the day. These are big descents, all the way to the resort’s base. Prospective visitors shouldn’t come here expecting to make a dozen descents of the mountain. Each lap is involved, and for folks chasing after the steep chutes, four or five laps per day is a more reasonable estimate.

The lift system at KHMR leaves something to be desired - namely, more lifts. Skiers often must descend the entire mountain to return to the Gondola. Because the Gondola serves so much terrain, it can get bottlenecked on powder days, holidays, or other busy times.

The plus side is that good snow will last for days after a storm. With only so many skiers transporting up, fewer tracks are going down. The fittest among us will continue to get freshies by hiking a little farther each run.

Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing

An excellent alternative to downhill skiing is cross-country skiing, also known as Nordic skiing. The Dawn Mountain Nordic Center is a breathtaking cross-country center less than one mile from KHMR. The Nordic Centre offers 21 mi (33 km) of scenic classic and skate ski trails of all levels with impressive views of the Purcell Mountains. Lessons and rentals are available, too. A day pass costs $15 per day, and rentals are $28 per day. Trails are open from dawn till dusk, with the rental shop open from 10 am - 4 pm daily.

If snowshoeing is what you’re after, there are 3.7 mi (6 km) of trails accessible on the left side of the village. There is also 6 mi (10km) of snowshoe trails at Dawn Mountain Nordic Center, which provides a quieter and more scenic setting to experience. Day passes cost $12, and rentals are $28 per day.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Kicking Horse Backcountry Skiing

Skiing inbounds at Kicking Horse exposes skiers to a sliver of what’s available to ski in the surrounding area. There’s a massive backcountry skiing scene in Golden, with dozens of routes around the resort and some lift-access options. Information for these lift-accessible routes is somewhat limited on the internet. The backcountry here is challenging and dangerous; you need real backcountry experience to access it safely.

If you’re looking for a safer option, Adrenalin Descents offers guided opportunities to explore Golden’s backcountry scene. Rates range from $495 for a single or $195 per person in a group of four.

Heli-skiing is also available in the nearby town of Golden. Although expensive, the experience is unmatched, with some of the world’s best terrain and snow on tap. Multiday trips offer stays at remote mountain lodges high in the Purcell mountains. However, prepare to shell out thousands of dollars for these experiences.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Roger’s Pass

Roger’s Pass separates Golden and Revelstoke, B.C. The pass is the access point to Canada’s Glacier National Park. It’s also the staging point for some of the best ski touring in the world. Heli-skiing is illegal within the boundary of Glacier National Park, so it’s all man-powered ascents within this holy domain. Several parking lots are spread throughout the pass, accessing different zones within this vast playground. You can even stay the night in the park; check out the Asulkan Cabin at the foot of the Asulkan Glacier.

Park visitors must stop by the ranger station at the top of the pass to purchase a Canada Parks Pass and, if you’re skiing in a restricted zone, take a quick training on the avalanche control operations within the park.

Roger’s Pass is home to some serious terrain. Luckily, an incredible guidebook for the region is now in its third edition and has more beta than ever. If you’re venturing here without a friend or guide, I would spend the money on the guidebook before setting out. It’s still cheaper than a lift ticket.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Ski Pass and Discounts

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offers a few options for lift tickets and passes. Book your lift tickets 14 days in advance for maximum savings. A single-day ticket costs $140 on weekdays or $155 on weekends if you purchase the day of. Buying multi-day tickets in advance will save you roughly 20%. Half-day tickets are also available at around $100 (not much savings but an option if you slept in and still want to ski).

Epic Pass

Holders of the full Epic Pass receive seven days at the ‘Resorts of the Canadian Rockies,’ including Fernie, Stoneham, Mont-Sainte Anne, Nakiska, Kimberley Alpine Resort, and Kicking Horse. Note that these resorts are spread throughout Canada - the ‘Canadian Rockies’ tag is a misnomer. You can split your seven days between the resorts or use them all at Kicking Horse.

Tourist Information

Visit the official tourist offices at the resort and in the town of Golden, B.C.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

1500 Kicking Horse Trail, Golden, BC V0A1H0, Canada

Guest Services: 250.439.5425

Reservations: +1800.258.7669 ext #1

Tourism Golden

521 9th Ave N, Golden, British Columbia, V0A1H0, Canada

Office: 250.439.1111

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Dining

At the Resort

There are a handful of restaurants at the resort and on the mountain that can satisfy your appetite after a long day of shredding steep and deep terrain. Mountaintop dining is available at the top of the gondola in Eagle’s Eye Restaurant. This restaurant is also open for dinner. The gondola whisks you up the mountain at dusk, and you are greeted with incredible views and a superb culinary experience.

Town of Golden

Whether staying in Golden or not, the town is cute and takes you back in time with its rustic charm. It packs a solid culinary scene with Canadian and international options. Reposados (Mexican), Eleven22 (fine dining), and Nagomi Sushi (Japanese) are popular restaurants. Rockwater Grill and Bar is notable for affordable food and fun live entertainment. The Rockwater is the place for trivia, comedy shows, live music, and dances.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Lodging

Depending on your budget and the experience you want to have, visitors can opt for staying on location at the ski resort or in the nearby town of Golden. Want a trip that revolves around skiing? Choose to stay right at the resort. If you’re looking for nightlife and exploring, I’d recommend staying in Golden.

Resort Lodging

If you want an authentic ski-in-ski-out experience, Kicking Horse has various on-mountain lodging, including hotels, condos, chalets, and executive mountain estates. Glacier Mountaineer Lodge is right at the base and offers rooms and multi-room condos. Palliser Lodge is a more affordable option. Meanwhile, prospective visitors can find the most luxurious vacation homes here.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Canada

Lodging in Golden

Accommodation in the town of Golden is more plentiful and much cheaper than at the resort. You can find hotel deals at less than $100 a night! There are also many Airbnb options. Golden is an authentic town and not just a manufactured ski village; it has more character than the resort.

Events and Après-ski

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort isn’t known for its party scene. It’s quite the opposite. Besides, who even has the energy to go clubbing after skiing some of the most extreme terrain in North America? If you find yourself itching for entertainment, several excellent pubs and bars exist. Golden Taps is a resort favorite with tons of local beers on tap, while Whitetooth Grill is the place for live music right at the resort. Highland Lodge welcomes you with proper Irish music and an energetic atmosphere.

There are many events and competitions that revolve around steep and deep skiing. The most exciting annual event is the Freeride World Tour. Watch some of the best skiers and snowboarders in the world conquer the most extreme lines at Kicking Horse. The tour usually happens in mid to late February and is free to watch if you have a lift ticket. The caliber of skiing you will witness is mindblowing.

Nearby Towns

The closest town to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is Golden, B.C., known for its recreation opportunities. The town was founded in the 1800s as a fur trading post for the Pacific Northwest and eventually became a regional player in the logging industry. It boasts some of the best backcountry skiing and snowmobiling in Canada. In the summer, it is a destination for hikers, campers, mountain bikers, and kayakers. If you are an avid outdoor enthusiast, Golden is a town worth checking out.

mountain lifts
Status Type Name
Opening Hours
close
Catamount
09:00-16:00
09:00-16:00
Status
closed
Opening hours
09:00-16:00
Schedule period
3.1.2024 - 3.8.2024
Start - End
1 265 m - 1 612 m
close
Golden Eagle Express
09:00-15:30
09:00-15:30
Status
closed
Opening hours
09:00-15:30
Schedule period
3.1.2024 - 3.8.2024
Start - End
1 263 m - 2 336 m
close
Pioneer
Start - End
1 296 m - 1 805 m
close
Stairway to Heaven
09:00-15:30
09:00-15:30
Status
closed
Opening hours
09:00-15:30
Schedule period
3.1.2024 - 3.8.2024
Start - End
2 063 m - 2 425 m