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Kicking Horse Pass (el. 1627 m, 5339 ft) is a high mountain pass across the Continental Divide of the Canadian Rockies on the Albertamarker/British Columbiamarker border, and lying within Yohomarker and Banff National Parksmarker. The pass is of historical significance because the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway was constructed between Lake Louise, Albertamarker and Field, British Columbiamarker using this route in 1880s, in preference to the originally planned route through the more northerly Yellowhead Passmarker.

The pass was first explored in 1858 by the Palliser Expedition led by Captain John Palliser. The pass and the adjacent Kicking Horse River were given their names after James Hector, a naturalist, geologist, and surgeon who was a member of the expedition, was kicked by his horse while exploring the region.

The original route of the CPR between the summit of the pass near Wapta Lakemarker and Field was known as "The Big Hillmarker"; with a ruling gradient of 4.5 percent (1 in 23), it was the steepest stretch of main-line railroad in North America.

Due to frequent accidents and expensive helper engines associated with railroading in the pass, the CPR opened a pair of Spiral Tunnelsmarker in 1909 that replaced the direct route. Although these tunnels add several kilometres to the route, the ruling grade was reduced to a more manageable 2.2 percent (1 in 46).

The Trans-Canada Highway was constructed through the pass in 1962 following essentially the original CPR route. It reaches its highest point at the Kicking Horse Pass with an elevation of .

Divide Creekmarker, a creek that forks onto both sides of the Continental Divide, is located at Kicking Horse Pass.

It was made famous by Dave Broadfoot in the CBC Television series Royal Canadian Air Farce. Broadfoot played The Honourable Member for Kicking Horse Pass in the satirical series, and in his personal standup routines.


  1. Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, Canadian Geographic, Jan/Feb 2008, p. 24
  2. B.C. Trans-Canada Highway

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