I recently visited Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in the
Purcell Mountains of British Columbia. Before the trip, my first thought was
that it would be fairly isolated and, consequently, rather travel-intensive
getting there. As it turned out, it was much easier than I thought.
We flew into Calgary and were quickly through Immigration
and Customs. The rental car agencies are right at the terminal so we were
quickly in our vehicle and on our way. Highway 1 westbound took us past Banff
and Lake Louise, through some incredible scenery. The highway is extremely well
maintained and most of the trip is through Banff and Yoho National Parks. Wildlife
is very prevalent is this area and the highway has many animal overpasses and
underpasses to minimize accidents. Apparently the carnivores prefer underpasses
and the herbivores prefer overpasses, although I am not sure why. Survival tip:
if you are lost in the Canadian wilderness and are crossing a road, take the
We arrived in Golden after approximately 2.5 hours travel.
The resort at Kicking Horse is just above the town of Golden so we were soon at
the Glacier Mountaineer Lodge, our home for the next few days. It occurred to
me that getting to Kicking Horse was pretty comparable to flying into Denver
and driving to, say, Beaver Creek. Actually, getting to Kicking Horse is
probably easier because there are no high mountain passes to cross.
Being obsessed with skiing, I was eager to check out the
mountain – even though we were visiting in summer. Kicking Horse, which got its name from a nearby pass, which got its name from an early explorer getting kicked by a
horse, has the 4th highest vertical in North America. In spite of
its reputation as a difficult mountain, almost half of its terrain is rated
beginner and intermediate. The thing I liked most about the ski area is its
geography. It’s as though the mountain was built by skiers. The main gondola
takes you up 4,133 vertical feet to the Eagle’s Eye. From there, you can access
four separate bowls of varying difficulty which all naturally funnel back to
the main base area. This really spreads out any crowds. The locals say that
crowds are never a factor at Kicking Horse. We flew over the area in a
helicopter and saw another dozen potential bowls that could be
opened as the resort expands. I can’t wait to go back in winter.
From anywhere on the mountain you have unobstructed views of
the Purcell and Rocky Mountains that extend for up to 100 miles in each
direction. If you are looking for a ski vacation that has a definite feel of
adventure but is surprisingly easy to get to, I would highly recommend that you
head to Kicking Horse. See you in the bowls!