Kicking Horse - Palliser to Kicking Horse Rest Area

Contributed by Michael Reeder
What It's Like
12 km of high quality river running
Scouting / Portaging
All rapids are boat-scoutable except "portage/shotgun" which has a sign to alert paddlers of where to scout from.
1-2 hours on the water (15 min. at flood stage)
When to Go
April to November
16.6cms↓ (Dec 5 05:40)
Rather confusingly known as the Upper Kicking horse by kayakers and Middle kicking horse by rafters, this section is the main sections for whitewater rafting.
High water in June (above 150cms) turns much if this run into class 4, while low water (below 100cms) slows everything down and the river settles into mostly class 2-3 with one class 4 rapid known as "portage and shotgun".
Portage Shotgun at high water. Can feel a little like fight club in there with unpredictable, surging waves hitting you from all angles.

The character of this run is continuous, cold river running with the glacial source of the river less than 12 hours upstream.
High water leaves very few slow places and eddies for cleaning up swims and yet still isn't deep enough to mitigate the risk of hitting rocks while swimming.
Medium-high portage shotgun from the bottom during one of the Kicking Horse Kayak festival's races

Putting in at Palliser gives you a short warm up of class 2 before you pass under a cable car which signifies the beginning of some really nice class 3 for the next 1/2 km. After this the river mellows into a few km of class 2 before the biggest rapid of this section; portage and shotgun. You will know you are getting close because the river takes a right hand turn with a large logjam on the left. Just downstream of the logjam is is a sign at the top of a nice eddy that reads "Portage and Shotgun Scout".
Not obvious unless you are looking for it, this sign is just below a logjam on river left

Beware of commercial rafting trips pulling in here and make room for those big floating undercuts to park at the beach. From the scout one can see a bit over half of the rapid, or it is possible to walk downstream and see the whole thing. Part or all of the rapid can be portaged on river left. After portage and shotgun there is nothing else as big or continuous and the whole rest of the run can be boat scouted and all the biggest holes can be avoided.
The top part of Portage shotgun at high water

High water provides fun surging waves to toss you around and fast, powerful eddies to play in as well as a few monster holes, while low water leaves plenty of eddies and opens up more boofs and slalom moves.
The takeout is at the Kicking Horse rest area, a few km after passing underneath the really tall highway bridge. Make sure not to miss this takeout as the class 5 section of the Kicking Horse begins at the rest area.
Fun, surging waves at high water, indicative of the character of the run