Horse Riding Holidays. 10 of the best destinations in the USA

Horse Riding Holidays. 10 of the best destinations in the USA


Anyone who loves to ride horses also has a
penchant for adventure. There’s something about the creak of a leather saddle and the
companionship of a trusted equine that gets our blood pumping. Going exploring on horseback
is still one of the most fun ways to see the country, so we’ve compiled 10 of our favorite
places to ride. 1. Ouray, Colorado. Nestled into a majestic mountain pass and
filled with warm, friendly locals, Ouray is rightly nicknamed the Switzerland of Colorado.
A tiny town with only windy mountain roads leading in or out makes it a cowboy’s dream,
and horse-friendly trails and campsites abound. There are a few stables that offer guided
rides, but if you bring your own steed you’ll want to make sure that he’s sure-footed and
sound enough for difficult mountain trails. Because of the high elevation, the best time
to ride here is midsummer, when the wildflowers are in full bloom and the bright sun makes
nearby snowcaps shimmer. 2. Bryce Canyon, Utah. Words aren’t really enough to describe Bryce
Canyon. It’s a beautiful, otherworldly maze of hoodoos and steep rock walls. What makes
Bryce more hospitable to equine adventurers than nearby Zion is its primitive style, fewer
crowds and higher elevation. Guided horseback treks into the canyon are a popular tourist
activity, and while individually owned horses are not allowed in the canyon, there are beautiful
trails all over the park. 3. Big Bend, Texas. No Western-centric list is complete without
a nod to the Lone Star State, and Big Bend National Park didn’t exactly eek its way into
our list. It’s an imposing 800,000 acres of mountain, desert and prairie in southwest
Texas, with miles of trail and plenty of horse-friendly primitive campsites. It also includes 118
miles of the Rio Grande river, the natural boundary between Mexico and Texas, and a boon
for horseback adventurers, since the climate is hot and dry most of the year. Horses are
not allowed to graze in Big Bend, but if you’re willing to pack in your feed and rough it
for a few days, it offers an incredible, truly Texan horseback experience. 4. Sonoma, California. While known for its wines and quaint, touristy
towns, Sonoma County has some of the best environments for riding. The weather is perfect
– usually mild year-round and boasting an almost constant light breeze, a great relief
when you’re trapped in jeans and boots. Several wine-country trails make for beautiful weekend
strolls, or head to the local redwood groves for a longer overnight excursion amongst the
giant trees. Plus, you should stop for some wine tasting on your way out of town. It is
Sonoma, after all. 5. Amelia Island, Florida. About a 40-minute drive from Jacksonville,
Amelia Island is a beautiful glimpse at unspoiled Florida. The state park protects over 200
acres of beach, salt marsh and coastal forest along the southern edge of Amelia Island,
and is one of the few parks in the country that offers horseback riding on the beach
and along the shoreline. The park has partnered with an outfitter to guide these rides, and
boasts that horseback sightseers see more wildlife than anybody else on Amelia Island.
Riding on the beach has a romance that can’t be denied – doing so in Florida’s welcoming
weather on a protected coast. It doesn’t get much better than that. 6. White Mountains, Arizona. While the Grand Canyon gets most of the tourist
love in Arizona, many people miss an incredible mountain playground close by. Only a few hours
by car from Phoenix or Tucson lands you in an utterly unique slice of Arizona. The White
Mountains are dotted with guest ranches, B&Bs, and campsites, nearly all of them welcoming
to you and your four-hoofed companion. Majestic mountains, high-elevation meadows, great fishing
lakes, and frequent summer thunderstorms make the White Mountains the perfect “Home on the
Range” destination. 7. Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi and
Tennessee. Even though the Natchez Trace Parkway covers
444 miles of scenic roadway, horses are only allowed on a few 5 to 30 mile sections of
designated trail – all of which must be ridden as day rides, since horses are not allowed
in the campgrounds. Don’t be discouraged, however, as it’s definitely worth trailering
in. The lush vegetation, changing topography and frequent hitching posts make these trails
a delightful weekend getaway. Plus, nearly all the trails start close to a Southern hub
like Jackson or Nashville – so after you work up an appetite there’s always fried food available
to curb your hunger. 8. Custer State Park, South Dakota. If you love the West, you’ll love Custer.
Deep in the Black Hills, Custer is 71,000-acres of mountains, lush meadows and wild forest.
The park is also home to one of the world’s largest publicly-owned bison herds, nearly
1,500 head, which are rounded up every September by local wranglers. It doesn’t get much more
like the Old West than the hearing pounding feet of a buffalo herd rumbling by, but even
if you don’t come to watch the round-up, the horse-friendly campsites and gorgeous scenery
will make you feel like an old cowpoke anyway. 9. Central Park, New York. OK, so it may be expensive, and not exactly
a “trek”, but what horse enthusiast hasn’t dreamed of riding in Central Park? Rides are
offered all summer and are a once-in-a-lifetime chance to ride in one of America’s most iconic
places. 10. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. We had to finish out this list with the most
American of serious treks. A multi-day pack trip in one of the nation’s oldest National
Parks is an incredible way to see the back country and experience Yellowstone the way
Teddy Roosevelt did – with plenty of creaking saddle leather. With more than 3,740 square
miles, Yellowstone is so huge that many of its treasures remain unseen – unless you’re
on horseback.

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