Kicking Horse Resort; Photograph by Will Wissman
Words: Lynsey Dyer
Most powder junkies know there are a few regions around the globe that seem to get more than their fair share of cold smoke. For North American shredders, one of those legendary deep-snow destinations is the Powder Highway, a 680-mile stretch of road that winds through the southeast corner of British Columbia, Canada. Kicking Horse Resort near the town of Golden is one of my favorite stops along the Pow Highway.
Kicking Horse Local Stats
• Vertical: 4th highest vertical in North America, 4,133 feet (6 feet less than Jackson Hole)
• Once named Whitetooth Ski Area, the resort was bought out, expanded, and reopened as Kicking Horse in December of 2000.
• Annual snowfall ranges from 254 cm (100 inches) at the bottom of the mountain to 700 cm (275 inches) at the summit.
• Terrain: Kicking Horse has 75 inbound chutes and limitless bowls ranging from advanced to expert skiing.
• Backcountry Access: With a 15-30 minute hike one can access amazing backcountry options. South of the resort, you’ll find Super Bowl by hiking up Terminator Ridge. Or head North of the resort to Rudi’s Bowl and many more.
• Best Place to Stay: The Vagabond Lodge is a luxury boutique hotel just steps away from the gondola with a great community atmosphere.
• Bo, the Grizzly Bear: Can sometimes be seen in his 22 acre pen from the gondola in winter and most certainly in summer months.
• Summertime means Kicking Horse is open for downhill mountain biking, offering Canada’s longest downhill decent off the Golden Eagle Express Gondola.
• While You’re There: Try an ice wine martini. It’s a special treat.
• Kicking Horse Coffee: Canada’s number one organic, fair-trade coffee is roasted here and makes a great gift to bring home.
After an 18-hour driving adventure from Jackson Hole, we finally pulled up to the Vagabond Lodge at Kicking Horse Resort. It had been dumping for weeks and the lure of a sunny day, spectacular accommodations, and good friends had us white-knuckling through blizzard conditions. I was welcomed with fresh cookies, cold Kokanee, and friends Lexi duPont and Jacqui Edgerly. With four days of shredding to look forward to, the trip promised to be one to remember.
I first discovered this place six years ago and have been in love ever since. A rockin’ gondola shuttles skiers up 4,000 vertical feet to one of the most breathtaking mountain vistas I’ve ever seen. The terrain offers a bit of everything from steep chutes to wide open bowls and unrivaled tree-skiing. Kicking Horse truly is a skier’s paradise, and when it snows like it did when we were there, let’s just say it’s “ALLLL time!”
What I love most about the Powder Highway is the potential to find that authentic Canadian culture. If you’re the kind of skier looking for a cookie-cut village with big brand name shops, best stay in the sates or head to Whistler. Most towns on the Powder Highway are still primarily old mining and logging towns with a few quaint restaurants and hippie coffee shops. As long as you’re in it for real deal skiing and down to earth resorts, the Powder Highway is a sure bet to keeping your legs tired and your soul burning.
One thing you won’t find at any other resort is the once-rescued cub and now adult resident grizzly bear, Bo, who can sometimes be spotted in his 2-acre pen from the gondola. Once you get off the gondola you can dine at the mountain top restaurant with incredible views and fine cuisine. As for accommodations, we fell in love immediately with the ski-in, ski-out Vagabond Lodge. The lovely couple who owns and operates the beautiful bed-and-breakfast felt like family. With 4 pm fresh cookies after a big day of skiing and pillow-top beds to rest our tired bodies, we didn’t want to leave.