Situated at the junction of the Kicking Horse and Columbia Rivers, Golden, was made by the railroad. The whistle of the Canadian Pacific still echoes through town, but that isn't what brings most visitors anymore. It's the mountains and the surrounding national parks, which in winter are the ideal playground for skiing.
Kicking Horse Mountain has 3,486 acres of skiable terrain in the heart of the massive Purcells. With four chairs and plenty of fresh snow—roughly 300 inches a year—after a storm you're almost guaranteed to have fresh tracks each run, especially midweek.
You’ll reach Golden after following the Columbia River north on Highway 95, cradled between the Canadian Rockies and Purcell Mountains. Start by taking a left hand turn onto Kicking Horse Trail and follow the road up the mountain where you’ll come to the Dogtooth Bridge, a one lane wooden crossing with low metal guardrails. Locals say there's a sort of unspoken four-car rule—let four cars pass, and then it's your turn. Welcome to Golden. You’ve got 48 hours. Here’s how to spend it.
5:00pm: Roll into Red Tomato Pies for a quick dinner after your day of travel. Try the Chicken King pizza with mozzarella cheese, banana peppers, and bacon, drizzled with their honey garlic sauce.
7:00pm: Check into lodging for your stay at the Kicking Horse River Lodge. The Lodge has dorm rooms starting at $39 per night, and also has private rooms with multiple beds and loft spaces. They also offer a complimentary breakfast and have a seating area in the lobby with plush chairs and a roaring fireplace.
If you prefer ski in/ski out (you lucky folk!!), Lush Mountain Accommodations has properties on mountain that are pricier, but beautiful and worth the convenience.
9:00am: Get the first gondola up to the top of the resort and start exploring. With 5 bowls and 4314 feet of vertical, you've got your work cut out for you. To get your bearings, drop into Crystal Bowl or take the groomer to the Stairway to Heaven chair. At the top is the resort's highest lift-accessed point, so here you'll get a good view of the terrain and what to ski next. Head south on Redemption Ridge and take a few laps exploring the open old growth glades that will get you ready for the bigger terrain that the mountain offers.
The bottom half of the mountain has a plethora of intermediate skiing options. Sometimes the groomers aren't groomed every day, so check the snow report to find out where the corduroy is.
There are over 85 alpine chutes at Kicking Horse; however, the resort doesn't sign most runs off the ridges, so it takes some time to learn the terrain. Check out the north facing chutes on CPR Ridge off the Gondola. You'll get a good look at them from the bottom of the Stairway to Heaven chair, so keep your line in mind for the next time you hop on the gondola.
1:30pm: Stop into Double Black at the base for a hot beverage. You'll probably find yourself in here a lot to warm up, meet up with friends, or grab a snack. They have a delicious breakfast and lunch menu, and also beer on tap from Whitetooth Brewing in town. If you're hankering for a treat, the hot chocolate chai is to die for.
4:30pm: Après at Whitetooth Brewing. The building is large but the tasting room is small, giving it a cozy, intimate feel. The brewery makes their beer onsite, and offers a selection inspired by the adventure that awaits in the mountains of Golden, which is certainly something I can get behind. My personal favorite is the Thread the Needle witbier, which is a nice, light, fruity beer that's perfect after a long day of skiing. Whitetooth also made a beer specifically for the Freeride World Tour stop at Kicking Horse in early February, toasting to the skiers and riders that dedicate their winter to the tour.
7:00pm: If you're looking for a local favorite, head down to dinner at Eleven22. With offerings such as Stilton Fondue and the Chili Ginger Noodle Bowl, every item on the menu is sure to satisfy the hungry skier.
If you're really hungry, Wolf's Den has four pages of massive burgers to choose from, and a warm low-lit log cabin feel and nice bar scene.
If you're traveling on more of a budget, Golden Taps has fairly priced eats and awesome live music. And if you're in town on a Tuesday, check out their weekly trivia night.
9:00am: Ok, it's your last day. Get up early, review a map; there's tons more to ski.
If you happen to make it up on a powder day, keep in mind that Kicking Horse staggers their bowl openings, working from the inside out. Check in with ski patrol and keep your eyes and ears open for the next rope drop. It will be worth it, I promise you.
10:00am: Take a hike to Ozone, the most recent addition to Kicking Horse's terrain. This has been the venue for the Freeride World tour for the past two years (2018 and 2019), making it the only stop in North America. If you're looking to catch some action during your visit, plan to come when the Freeride World Tour (FWT) is in town. Watching the best skiers and snowboarders in the world rip down Ozone will seriously inspire and renew your stoke for skiing. This year Jacqueline Pollard (USA) won the women's ski division with a stunning and committed line down the face.
12:00am: Grab lunch at the top of the gondola at Eagle's Eye Restaurant, Canada's highest dining spot at 7700 feet. Although it looks fancy, there are menu options that will work on a budget. If you want the true Canadian experience, grab a Mountain Top Caesar—Canada's Bloody Mary, made with clamato juice. If you're feeling bold, order the Rocky Mountain Bacon Cheeser with all the fixings, and additionally, bacon infused vodka, a maple and bacon crumb rim, cheddar cubes, and a pickle selection. Enjoy while taking in the view of crowned peaks as far as the eye can see.
2:00pm: If you don't mind the hike, take another gondola run and find yourself on the top of the Stairway to Heaven chair again. Drop into Feuz Bowl and head for the Middle Ridge Bootpack on the other side of the bowl. Fifteen minutes up and you're staring down a steep powder field in the newly added Rudi's Bowl, or ski the south side for some mellow trees down Middle Ridge. Either are dreamy, especially when the snow is right. If you find yourself in Rudi's Bowl, take some time to marvel at the gorgeous landscape. No, you're not in the backcountry but it sure does feel like it.
3:30pm: Pop into Double Black one more time, for good measure.
5:00pm: Grab some dinner at Indian Kitchen before making the drive home. The authentic Indian cuisine is hard to beat, especially in a small ski town. The menu is large too, so take some time to look over the options.
If you're heading south, stop at Lussier Hot Springs on the way home for a well-earned soak. The road leading to can be a bit sketchy in the winter with ice and logging trucks, so travel carefully. Watching a sunset next to the brook is the perfect way to wrap up a trip in BC, and reminisce about a truly unforgettable place.