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Kicking Horse History


The entire Golden and Kicking Horse region of British Columbia is filled with rich history and remarkable stories about exploration and pioneering. Serving as a railway development outpost, bustling forestry point and now a popular tourist location, Golden has remained an important element in the BC economy.

History of Golden

How did the Kicking Horse get its name?

Early explorers had combed through the Golden areas in the early 1800’s, but it wasn’t until near the end of the century before settlements arrived. A base was established to support the Canadian Pacific Railway development, termed ‘Golden City’ in competition with nearby ‘Silver City’.

Shortened to just Golden, the town became a popular stop when the railway was completed in 1885. Forestry has built the prosperity of Golden BC for more than a century before it developed several world class tourist attractions. Now it serves as a base for industry and tourism, supporting thousands of travelers every year.


Like so many developments and discoveries in the Rocky Mountains, the Kicking Horse River and Pass was named a result of railway expansions from the prairies. In 1858 Sir James Hector, a geologist and member of the Palliser expedition, set out in search of mountain passes, crossing the Continental Divide into a western river valley. At his camp near Wapta Falls, a packhorse bolted, and Hector gave chase. As he rounded up the horse, it kicked him, breaking his ribs and knocking him into unconsciousness. His guides, thinking him dead, began to dig his grave. But the indomitable Hector came to, recovered, and followed the river east to its summit pass. Both the river and the pass were named "Kicking Horse," for Hector's ornery steed.


Activities around Golden


The superb spring and winter conditions around Golden BC and the Kicking Horse region have encouraged dozens of outdoor sports and tourist activities. Everything from extreme outdoor sports to casual, relaxing adventures, there is something for everyone!

Winter Activities

Winter sports have dominated the snow-laden landscape, giving rise to snowmobiling opportunities, skiing, snowboarding and skating. The unparalleled powder quality of the Rocky Mountains have made the Golden BC region one of the top destinations for downhill and cross country skiing.

  • Heli skiing
  • Snowmobile tours and trails
  • Acres of downhill skiing and boarding
  • Miles of trails for cross country

Summer Activities

Having your backdrop as the Rocky Mountains has sprouted a variety of summer experiences to enjoy around Golden BC. With extensive mountain trails, water sports and even skydiving, the area has become an extremely popular tourist location.

  • Over 100 km of bike trails
  • Whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River
  • Rock climbing
  • Award winning golf courses
  • Tandem skydiving

For more great summer and winter activities, check out our friends at Banff Adventures.