Kicking Horse

Staring off into the expanse of fluted and caked peaks before you, you’d swear you’re in Alaska. That is, were it not for the evenly spaced forest draped off each mountain with its manes of tree beard screaming: “British Columbia.” These are the Purcell Mountains as witnessed from their front range, which you’re now standing on.

Rising 8,000 feet from sea level, above the hard-edged logging and rail town of Golden, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a multi-peaked big-mountain cathedral with 4,000 feet of vertical whose closest comparable cousin is Jackson Hole. Except this place comes in a blue-collar package that scares away the Jerries.

That means a trip to KHMR and Golden is both affordable and real. You can stay in a timber-frame mansion, a cheap motel full of Swedes, or park you van or pitch your tent just about anywhere. The locus of social activity is an easy five-minute circuit of the three bars in the downtown core with live music almost every night of the week. Hidden in the tattered façade of some of the older buildings are cafés and eateries secretly dishing out some of the best coffee and home-cooked grub this side of Nelson.–Matt Cote