Top Lift: 2450m
Ski area: 1130 hectares
Adult lift pass: CDN$328.68-376.26 for six days
In a Nutshell
It’s a seductive combination: rugged terrain, a ski-in ski-out village, and a top-notch restaurant, all set in a location which, to us Brits, seems like the end of the earth. If you feel the call of the wild, but don’t want to sacrifice your creature comforts, then it’s a great choice – provided you’ve got somewhere else to go after three or four days.
Essential Advice for the Perfect Trip
When it opened, Kicking Horse was billed as the first new resort in the world to be built in a generation. This was not strictly true, but after a tricky start in a bad-snow winter this plucky little ski area has exceeded all expectations and become one of our favourite resorts.
The secret of its appeal lies in an agreeable blend of Canadian know-how and super-steep terrain, served up with a dash of sophistication.
Certainly it needed vision to choose this remote spot, the bottom third of which used to be the old community ski hill of Whitetooth above the valley town of Golden. Golden is no quaint Victorian mining town awaiting a little gentrification, but a busy blue-collar railway junction awkwardly sprawled across both sides of the tracks, which lacks even an ounce of charm.
There’s a world class mountain restaurant here
The backbone of KH is a high-speed gondola, which gives a respectable 1260m vertical drop on a mountain which offers something for everyone. Having completed the gondola, the stroke of European-inspired genius was to build, at the top of it, the best mountain restaurant in North America, the Eagles’ Eye. It’s the sort of ski-in ski-out restaurant you might find in Megeve or Zermatt.
This has been followed by comfortable, spacious and upmarket accommodation at the base village, so that no-one needs to stay down in the dreary Golden motels any more – although some people clearly want to: “Real people and that hometown feel. We loved the place so much that we moved lock stock and barrel to live in Golden” said one reporter. Calgary airport is three hours’ drive.
Another part of the resort’s appeal is that it makes a great anchor for a road trip into the underpopulated interior of British Columbia. “You can try out Kicking Horse Ski Resort from Banff for a day for little more than a cost of a lift pass by using the Kicking Horse Powder Express. It includes lift pass and return transportation” advises a reader.
To us Brits this feels like one of the world’s empty quarters – where half the traffic consists of logging trucks and there’s only ever one radio station to listen to. There’s a real thrill to be had from travelling through so much space, and then at the end of the day, pulling up at a new mountain which, by Alpine standards, is completely deserted. We’d go back again like a shot.