Boo is one of the most famous grizzly bears in the world and for good reason!
Located near Golden, BC, you’ll find the Kicking Horse Mountain Refuge where Boo the Bear lives on a beautiful 20-acre area on the mountain he calls home.
This 20-acre area was made specifically for Boo to call home as he was rescued from poachers many years ago.
Now he lives here at the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort where a team of experts take care of him and learn from his behaviours in order to help other rescued bears.
In this post, we’ll share Boo’s story, how you can visit him, and debunk some myths about grizzlies!
Disclosure: This post has been created in collaboration with Tourism Golden. Everything in this post is based on our personal opinions and experiences. This post also contains affiliate links which means if you decide to use the links and make a valid purchase, we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Visiting the Kicking Horse Mountain Refuge near Golden
Golden is home to some pretty amazing places – one of them being the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
Kicking Horse is a mountain resort where you can dine at Canada’s highest-elevation restaurant; Eagle’s Eye, hike awesome mountain trails like Terminator Peak, and also visit Boo, the local Grizzly Bear that lives right on the ski hill!
Boo is very important to Kicking Horse and Golden, and when you visit the mountain resort there are a few ways you can see Boo and his 20-acre home.
If you take the gondola up, you might get lucky and see him walking around between lift towers 7 and 9. You will go right above his home then!
You can also go on the Ranger Assist Program (RAP) where you’ll get to see Boo up close doing his thing! This is what we did and it was awesome!
Lastly, you can also go on an interpretive tour to learn more about Boo and, hopefully, you’ll be able to see him on this tour as well.
We had the chance to visit the Northern Lights Wolf Centre just outside of Golden which is a little similar to the refuge here.
If you are interested in Canadian wildlife, both of these experiences are well worth visiting during your time in Golden!
It’s such a unique experience seeing these animals up close and learning how humans have helped not just the animals living in the refuge but also other animals in similar situations (through applied research)!
What is Boo’s story?
Boo the Bear was born in 2002 and was one of three grizzly cubs which is pretty amazing!
Usually, grizzlies get one to four cubs with the average being two. The fact that Boo’s mom had three cubs at once was quite spectacular.
Sadly, this caught the attention of a poacher who decided to end Boo’s mom’s life.
One of the cubs ran away never to be found again. Boo and his brother, Cari, (which are named after the Caribou Mountains where they were born) were rescued.
The two brothers were taken care of for a few months before they moved to Kicking Horse which became their home.
During their first winter, Cari sadly passed away of natural causes during hibernation leaving Boo on his own.
Boo has now called the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort home for over 20 years where a team of experts help take care of him and make sure he’s living his best life and keeping his bear instincts intact.
Now, let’s go over the different ways you can visit Boo!
Ranger Assist Program (RAP Tour)
As we mentioned above, there are a few ways to learn about and see Boo. We’re going to start with the tour we did – the Ranger Assist Program (RAP tour).
The Ranger Assist Program is a private tour that takes place once a day at 9 am (an hour before the bear refuge is open to the public).
The Rap Tour has a maximum of 5 guests to keep it intimate. This allows everyone to enjoy the experience and gives you time to ask the ranger any questions you may have!
Make sure to give yourself some time when you go to the mountain resort and leave earlier than expected!
We almost missed our tour because we got stuck waiting behind an 11-minute-long train when we left from Golden to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
Once you get to Kicking Horse Resort, you’ll find the guide waiting for you to take you up to Boo’s enclosure where they will explain everything about Boo and his life.
One of the coolest things about going on the RAP tour is that Boo usually goes on his daily scavenger hunt at that time.
His scavenger hunt is how he gets food. A ranger hides different types of food in many different places inside the smaller section of his enclosure. You’ll get a chance to watch Boo search for food just like he would in nature.
We got a chance to see him dig under rocks, climb up trees, and search around his enclosure for all the food that was hidden for him by the rangers.
It’s definitely (hopefully) the closest you’ll ever get to seeing a grizzly out in nature in its natural habitat searching for food!
On top of that, you learn so much from the local rangers – not just about Boo but about grizzlies and other bears as well. We learned everything from where and how bears live to what to do if you ever encounter one in the wild.
We actually met our guide, Jenni at the local farmers market in Golden a few days earlier at the bear awareness stand. She was super nice and ended up asking to be our RAP tour guide!
It’s a very special tour where you get to see a grizzly explore and have the freedom to roam in its natural habitat.
Once your RAP tour is done you can also join the public tour and check out the yurt where you’ll find an interpretive area of the Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Refuge.
When you’re ready to leave, you can make your way back to the chairlift and head down to the resort.
Please note that the RAP Tour must be booked at least one day in advance!
You can book tickets online, call 1.866.SKI.KICK (754-5425), or visit Guest Services in the Day Lodge to make a reservation.
Adventure Pass Grizzly Bear Refuge
As we mentioned, we had the chance to go on the RAP Tour and it was awesome! In case this is booked out the day you want to go or if it’s outside of your budget, there are other ways you can try to see Boo.
So the Adventure Pass for the Grizzly Bear Refuge is the next best thing to do. This will give you access to the chairlift that takes you up to the Grizzly Bear Refuge where you’ll find Boo’s area of land!
The Adventure Pass also gives you access to the gondola so you can head to the top of Kicking Horse afterwards for some epic views and hiking.
Visiting the Grizzly Bear Refuge with the Adventure Pass will give you the opportunity to go on one of the public tours where the guide will talk about Boo the Bear similar to the RAP program.
The difference between the two tours is that it’s not a guarantee that you will be able to see Boo on the public tour. Since it is a 20-acre area where Boo can roam free, he may be up the mountain doing his own thing.
Early mornings and late afternoons are when you’ll have the best chance of seeing Boo!
If you don’t see Boo during your initial visit, you can return for another FREE* tour.
Also, on the RAP tour, you will be in a very small group with the guide so there are lots of opportunities to ask questions. The public tour can get a lot bigger depending on the day (there were around 15 people on the tour taking place after our RAP tour).
It’s really cool seeing Boo in his “natural” habitat because it’s so different from the perception a lot of people have of bears – especially grizzlies.
Of course, bears are mighty and strong, but you’ll also see him goofing around and playing as if he’s just a big silly mammal that likes to have fun!
If you get the Adventure Pass, remember that it opens at 10 am, an hour after the RAP Tour! The tour runs at the top of the hour every hour from 10 am until 3 pm. (There’s no tour at 1 pm though).
When your tour is done, you can take the chairlift down and then head over to the gondola! When you’re on the gondola, remember to look down between lift towers 7 and 9 to see if you can spot Boo from above!
Grizzly Bear Refuge
The last way to see Boo the Bear in his enclosure is the Grizzly Bear Refuge Tour!
The only difference between the Grizzly Bear Refuge Tour Pass and the Adventure Pass is that you don’t have access to the gondola with this pass.
If you only have time to see Boo and not hike up Terminator Peak or check out Eagle’s Eye Restaurant then this is the tour to go on.
You can easily take the chairlift, get the full public experience of the grizzly refuge, and then be back down to the resort in under two hours.
You’ll take the Catamount chairlift from the bottom of the resort to the Grizzly Bear Refuge where the tours start at the top of the hour from 10 am to 3 pm (remember there is no tour at 1 pm).
You can also visit the grizzly bear interpretive area inside the yurt where one of the rangers will be there to assist you and you can ask any questions you may have.
Once the tour is done and you’ve (hopefully) had your chance to see Boo roam around his area, you can take the chairlift back down to the resort!
When is the best time to visit Boo?
Since Boo hibernates like all other bears, it is only possible to visit him during the summer season. You can visit Boo from sometime in the Spring until the end of October when the season ends.
If you do want to go to the Ranger Assist Program (RAP) during the summer peak season, it’s good to book a little bit in advance.
There are only 5 spots open daily and they do book up quickly since it is such a unique experience to do here in Golden.
In case the RAP tour is booked out on your desired dates, you can always get the Adventure Pass and try to see Boo during the public hours!
As we mentioned before, the best time to try to see him is in the morning (from 10 am) or in the afternoon (around 2 to 3 pm).
We would also suggest coming on a day when the weather is nice. If it’s raining and the weather isn’t great, you probably won’t enjoy yourself as much up on the mountain.
The best time to visit Boo, in our opinion, is in September. At that time, the weather is usually still pretty nice, the school holidays are over, and international travel starts to slow down as well.
This is also around the time when bears enter the hyperphagia phase which means they prepare for hibernation. Boo is starting to get bigger and he’s a lot more active as he is constantly eating (consuming roughly 20.000 calories a day!).
Other related questions about the Grizzly Bear Refuge in Golden
Are there grizzly bears in Golden?
Golden is surrounded by mountains and the Columbia River so, yes, there are grizzly bears in the area.
It’s not every day you’ll see a black or grizzly bear in Golden, but, from time to time, they do make their way to the city boundary.
We actually saw a black bear right by the Kicking Horse River in downtown Golden the day we arrived!
You will also be able to find Boo the grizzly bear at the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort at the Grizzly Bear Refuge.
Where is Boo the grizzly bear?
Boo was rescued from a poacher as a cub and brought to the Grizzly Bear Refuge near Golden. He lives in his 20-acre area on the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort where he is going to spend the rest of his life!
How old is Boo Kicking Horse?
Boo was only five months old when he and his brother, Cari, were rescued from a poacher. This was back in June 2002. As of 2023, Boo is now 21 years old!
This past summer (2023), Boo celebrated 20 years of being at the refuge at Kicking Horse.
Why is Boo the bear in captivity?
Unfortunately, Boo’s mom was killed by a poacher. At the time Boo was only a few months old and wouldn’t have been able to survive in the wild without the guidance and support of his mother.
At the time (2003) there were no rewilding programs set in place to help bears who were rescued to go back into the wild; it wasn’t possible to set him free.
Thanks to Boo, future bears who have been rescued may have the chance to be released back into the wild because of the studies that have been done on Boo over the years.
You may also like…
- Incredible Wolf Sanctuary Tour in Golden BC – Northern Lights
- Hiking the Epic Terminator Peak – Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
- A Grizzly Bear Encounter in The Wild – Lake Louise
Recap of visiting the Grizzly Bear Refuge near Golden BC
If you’re exploring Golden or Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and looking for something unique to do then this is it.
Visiting the Grizzly Bear Refuge in Golden and saying hi to Boo is one of the coolest things you can do!
Whether you go on the RAP Tour or you’re just visiting Boo during the public hours, you’ll be amazed by this beautiful creature.
From breaking down myths about bears to learning how they act and why, you’re bound to learn a thing or two.
We find bears so fascinating and we learned so much on this tour – we absolutely loved it! It’s such a fun and unique experience that you definitely don’t want to miss this while exploring Golden.
If you have questions about Golden or one of the grizzly bear experiences then feel free to ask. Just send us a DM on Instagram or leave a comment below!
We hope you have the best time visiting Boo and exploring the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden!