Kicking Horse ski resort
About Kicking Horse
Kicking Horse is one of Canada's newest ski areas, bursting onto the global stage only 15 or so years ago.
Based above the old mining town of Golden, the resort gained immediate attention upon opening thanks to its fast gondola that grants skiers access to one of the biggest lift-served verticals in North America, with over 100 trails and chutes.
That steep terrain and the deep powder snow for which the area is famous, proved a magnet to serious skiers from around the world.
But on the opposing side, Kicking Horse's 'steep and deep' image means the resort struggles to appeal to the profitable casual ski market. Because of this, there has been a drive to promote the more family-friendly side of Kicking Horse over the past five years or so, which does indeed exist, with plenty of long blue runs, perfect for younger skiers.
Kicking Horse has not yet grown in to a huge resort and has just a dozen or so shops and restaurants at the base of the lifts and runs, where slopeside lodging is also available. While the relatively small selection of après-ski facilities may not satisfy everyone, it helps gives the resort its unique intimate and friendly feel.
Kicking Horse ski resort is located above the town of Golden, two and a half hours west of Calgary. It is nestled between the Purcell and Rocky Mountains in the heart of Western Canada's British Columbia province.
Kicking HorseResort Elevation: 1190m
Top Elevation: 2450m
Base Elevation: 1190m
On the slopes
Kicking Horse normally benefits from an abundance of natural snowfall each season, which typically runs from early December to early April.
Although there's terrain for all ability levels, it's undoubtedly the case that Kicking Horse's top attraction is for advanced to expert skiers, to whom 60% of terrain is dedicated.
The resort likes to boast that it has more patrolled steep off-piste skiing than any other North American resort. There are four huge bowls, and heli-skiing is also available.
Beginners might feel daunted by all this, but in reality much of the challenging terrain is well away from the main pistes, with two of the chairlifts serving the easy runs at the bottom of the mountain. There's also a wonderful, long gentle trail winding down the mountain from the top of the gondola, affording spectacular views at every turn, which most beginners will be able to try after a few days of learning.
With predominantly steep or gentle terrain, intermediate cruisers are perhaps the most squeezed; but nonetheless most regular recreational skiers will find enough to entertain them by tackling some of the steeper blues and gentler black diamond runs and bowls.
In addition to the variety of runs, there's a terrain park for freestylers and a number of cross-country trails in the area.