It may just have been our best ski day as a family ever. We were visiting Kicking Horse Resort as part of a series on skiing the Powder Highway in British Columbia, Canada with kids. Over two years, this family road trip adventure had taken us to Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Fernie Ski Resort, Kimberley Alpine Resort, Panorama Mountain Resort, Whitewater Ski Resort, and Red Mountain Resort. We had finally manage to make it to a mountain spoken about in almost mythical proportions by my expert skier friends (those with various metal screws in their joints). Read on to learn about our family adventure.
Discovering Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
While my husband was all about exploring Kicking Horse’s epic powder bowls and chutes, those were neither here nor there for me (a blue square skier). What interested me was the fact that in recent years the resort had become much more family-friendly, with increased beginner and intermediate terrain and the addition of family-friendly amenities and facilities. What once looked like a trip that would be entirely geared for my double-black skiing husband, now looked like something our whole family could enjoy, or any family, for that matter, that was traveling with a baby, toddler or young child.
We arrived at Kicking Horse after dark due to a temporary maintenance closure of the highway. Admittedly, this is a traveling scenario I have always enjoyed— waking up the following morning to see what surprises are in store. To my delight, we were greeted by gorgeous sunshine, and the happy discovery that the gondola was located right outside the back door of our hotel for our stay, the Glacier Mountaineer Lodge. Twenty paces away I also found was the Kicking Horse Daycare and kids learning area. Also in this area was a little ice rink, warming hut, and fire pit. Perhaps even more important, was the Double Black cafe for my morning caffeine fix.
As we had never been to Kicking Horse before, my husband and I popped the kids into morning lessons so we could explore the mountain for several hours on our own. Typical of Kicking Horse during mid-week, there were no hoards of children, no long line ups, but just a couple of instructors waiting patiently for their students. Within minutes, the kids were on their way, and we were on the gondola headed for the top. While the powder gods had not smiled upon us on this particular day, it was still an incredible morning. Check it out !
After our morning of freedom, we picked up the kids from ski school and hopped back on the gondola to enjoy lunch on top of the world (or at least that’s how it felt). While there are times to brown bag it when skiing, this was not one of them. The Eagle’s Eye restaurant is a worthy splurge with excellent food (4.5/5 on tripadvisor) and, on a clear day, spectacular views. After our hungry children devoured their kids meals, they set to work building an igloo on the deck, giving us the rare opportunity to savor our lunch (along with a nice sauvignon blanc). It was truly heavenly.
What goes up, however, must come down. While the top of the gondola is surrounded by steep bowls, there was fortunately a cat track to guide us down to what quickly became our favourite family run – Cloud 9. Freshly groomed, it was perfect for all of us with its wide open spaces on one side and tree skiing on the other.
Skiing back to the lodge that day, we came across something truly fascinating that I just had to know more about – the Grizzly Bear Refuge. Through chatting with a local over dinner, we learned that Boo the grizzly bear had been orphaned as a cub when a poacher killed his mother. For more than a dozen years he has lived in a 20 acre enclosure within the Kicking Horse Resort ski area. He hibernates for most of the winter (occasionally sleepily popping his head out for a breath of fresh air) and skiers are sometimes lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him in the spring. For more of Boo, see his Facebook page (grizzlybearboo) and this little video of him playing in the snow.
Getting to Kicking Horse Resort: The resort is 1.5 hours west of Banff (145 kilometers), 2.5 hours west of Calgary (270 kilometers) and 7 hours east of Vancouver (700km) on the Trans-Canada highway (I mention the latter because we drove those 700km from our home in Vancouver – it can be done). For more transportation options, see getting here on the Kicking Horse website.
Note: When driving in from the west, you pass through Glacier National Park, which on a clear day, has some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. You can also pop by the Northern Lights Wolf Centre, which is just outside of Golden.
Where to Eat: Other than our excellent meal at the Eagle’s Eye, we also enjoyed the casual family friendly pub food at the Kicking Horse Saloon (within the Winston Lodge). While their website makes it look like it is one big college party, there is a more laid back section of the restaurant that has a kids menu and board games. We also had some decent meals in the town of Golden itself (a 15 minute drive from the resort) at both Eleven22 (tapas) and The Wolf’s Den (burgers). Both restaurants have kids’ menus.
Where to Stay: Kicking Horse has a number of mid-range on-mountain accommodation options including 2 condo lodges (Glacier Mountaineer Lodge, Palliser Lodge) and several townhome developments (Whispering Pines, the Aspens, the Selkirks). If a boutique hotel is more your style, the Winston Lodge gets good reviews and kids 12 and under stay free (the Copper Horse Lodge and Vagabond Lodge only accept children 13 and over.).
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