“Maybe we could check out the grizzly bear refuge instead?” Ever patient Hubby offers up a hopeful solution to my sullen state.

Moping over my steaming cup of latte my shoulders slump. Looking through the coffee house windows at the base of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, the upper slopes lay covered in snow. Planning to climb the Via Ferrata in Golden, British Columbia, the early arrival of Canadian winter in September has thrown a wet and very cold blanket on the agenda.

Grizzly Bear refuge

The cancelling of our assisted rock climb puts my adventurous spirit in a tremendously bad mood.

“Really I think seeing the world’s largest grizzly bear refuge has to be pretty cool.”

Hubby is clearly trying to distract me from my sulking.

“You’re telling me that on this world class ski hill there is a grizzly bear?” The sarcasm in my voice drips off the end of my sentence.

View from base of Kicking Horse Mountain

View from base of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

As several mountain bike riders careen down the snowy trails, visions of them being chased for bear breakfast comes to mind.

“I’m telling you the world’s largest enclosed grizzly bear refuge is just up past that chairlift.”

Why is there a grizzly bear refuge on a mountain resort?

In 2002, in the Caribou Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, a poacher shot and killed a female grizzly bear leaving her 5 month old cubs defenseless orphans. The grizzly bear refuge at Kicking Horse Mountain was specifically constructed for the twins who may have otherwise been euthanized.

Grizzly Bear Refuge Golden

Boo and his brother Cari, named for the mountains of their birth, arrived to an enclosed 20 acres of wild land, unused by ski or mountains bike trails. The baby grizzly bears found a safe and protected new home where they could explore and hunt like their wild cousins.

Besides being a grizzly safe haven, researchers learn about the play, foraging, sleep and social skills of grizzly bears. To monitor winter dormancy a hibernation den with video monitoring shows that grizzly bears don’t actually sleep solidly through the winter months.

Kicking Horse Resort Grizzly Close Up

Photo courtesy Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Sadly, Cari did not awake after the first winter. A necropsy by a provincial veterinarian showed a twisted intestine caused the bear to pass away during winter dormancy.

Boo continues to roam and thrive. Grizzly bears are solitary animals, although in mating season of 2006 Boo made national news in his quest to visit grizzly bear girlfriends. Escaping from the refuge Boo returned voluntarily when the fun and games were over.

Where do I find Boo the bear?

Map Golden British Columbia

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, overlooking the town of Golden, British Columbia, is 270kms (168 mi) west of Calgary on the Trans Canada Highway.

In the prime season hourly tours from 10am to 4pm to the grizzly bear refuge are available. Except for 1pm when Boo is likely gone off for a nap in his natural forested habitat and not usually seen. Apparently grizzly bears are keen on a siesta time.

Was the Grizzly Bear Refuge better than climbing the Via Ferrata?

“Are you in a better mood now?”

Hubby is gloating at his clever distraction methods honed over more than three decades with me. He now has taken me to the top of Kicking Horse Mountain for brunch. Great food being another of his happy tricks.

Kicking Horse Summit Via Ferrata

View of Via Ferrata route at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

” It was very cool to see Boo.” I admit. ” I am happy to know Boo has this massive safe haven and that the research will help other orphaned grizzlies for years to come.”

I give Hubby my familiar smile of determination.

“But just so you know we are coming back to Golden to do the Via Ferrata one day.”

Hubby smiles and sighs.

“I have no doubt we are.”




With thanks to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and Tourism Golden for hosting our stay. All opinions are our own.

Photo credits as above. Photo #1 and Pinterest photos #1 and #2 provided by Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and edited by Travel Tales of Life with text.