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The Kicking Horse River History

The Kicking Horse River in the Canadian Rockies near Golden BC begins as a glacial meltwater stream flowing down the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. It begins high up on the Wapta Icefields, so the water we see in the river during our adventures was locked in a glacier for thousands of years. It is a wild, untamed river and is the Canadian Rockies premiere whitewater rafting river

The river received its unusual name during the famous Palliser Expedition of 1858, when James Hector (the expedition doctor), was kicked in the chest by his horse attempting to cross the swift-flowing waters of the Kicking Horse. Canada’s first transcontinental railway – the Canadian Pacific Railway- and in present day the Trans Canada Highway follows the river’s course.  The Kicking Horse provides a thrilling ride for rafters, stand up paddleboarding, and those looking for gentle river adventures.

Canadian Rockies Whitewater Rafting History

Whitewater Rafting in the Canadian Rockies began in the late 70’s. Likely the first whitewater rafting trips were taken in the Banff area, on the Bow River. These days, whitewater rafting in the Canadian Rockies can be enjoyed on half a dozen rivers which include the Bow, the Kananaskis, the Maligne, the Sunwapta, the Kicking Horse, Beaver and Columbia Rivers.

Whitewater Rafting on the Kicking Horse River began in the mid 1980’s. Alpine Rafting is pleased to be on of the pioneers of Whitewater Rafting on the Kicking Horse River opening it’s doors in 1984. Almost 4 decades later, whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River is considered the Premiere rafting river in the Canadian Rockies

The History of the Kicking Horse River

The Kicking Horse River has a pretty wild & interesting past. 80 Million years ago, glaciers carved it’s wild landscape. A century and a half ago, the first explorers came thru the area looking for a mountain pass for the CPR to complete is route to the west. After all these years we are pretty lucky that the Kicking Horse is still a wild untamed river. It flows freely from it’s source high up on the Wapta Icefield near Field, BC all the way to it’s terminus in the Town of Golden where it joins with the Columbia River.

  • Golden, BC
    It was adventure that brought the first explorers over the Rocky Mountains. But it was the treasures of Golden that made them stay. The area still exudes the same feeling of discovery and exploration the first pioneers felt.
  • Discovery
    In 1807, David Thompson first crossed over the Rocky Mountains and traveled along the Blaeberry River to the future site of Golden. In search of the Columbia River and, ultimately, a passage to the Pacific Ocean, it was Thompson’s sense of exploration that led him here. Thompson’s travels took him to the junction of the legendary Columbia and Kicking Horse Rivers.
  • How did the River gets it’s name? The Kicking Horse River gets it’s name from when one of the explorers,  James Hector fell off his horse and was left for dead along the banks of the Kicking Horse River. In the end Hector survived the incident, and the nearby mountain pass and river were named in honour of the incident
  • How did Golden get its name? In an attempt to outdo a camp to the east, which called itself “Silver City”, the name “Golden City” was chosen. The gold mining industry didn’t meet the optimistic expectations and soon the term “City” became a little too pretentious for most and the town became known simply as Golden.
  • The History of the Railway in Golden – Golden would simply not exist without the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). In fact, the railway’s presence helped establish Golden’s place in Canada. As the CPR constructed its cross-country network of rails, it used Golden as a base camp as it extended further into the western part of B.C. The railway was completed in 1885 and Golden soon became a prominent stop on the line. The CPR also paved the way for the Trans-Canada Highway, which helped to transform the area from a forest outpost to a true community.