Good places to ride out west
We are planning a trip next summer to Colorado,Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. We need guidance on good places to ride and camp. Thanks.
The Yellowstone back country of Wyoming and/or Montana would be spectacular. They have camping and riding areas.
The Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota is a favorite of many people, and I believe you can also camp and ride in parts of Yosemite in Colorado.
What? You have not seen my photos of Utah and you've excluded it from your choices.
The area around Jackson Hole and Yellowstone is fantastic for riding.
The Wind River Wilderness and the Popo Agia wilderness of Wyoming are both good places to ride if you want a more remote place to ride
Northern Utah has fantastic places to ride. The Uinta Wilderness along the Utah /Wyoming state line is beautiful.
Lots and lots of places to ride in Northern Utah. Although you would probably move your trailer every couple of days to a new camp
Central Utah has both high alpine areas to ride as well as Red Rock canyons
Some of the largest Quakie forest in the world
And of course Southern Utah offers you Red Rock and canyon country to explore. Follow the trails of Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch
Bryce Canyon and Zion National park both offer some spectacular trail rides
Tellme what you want to see and I'd be happy to make some specific suggestions
You don't have where you live. We have taken 20-some years of horse riding/family vacations (also camping with the dog) principally bc it was cheaper to taking riding vacations that to go somewhere else and pay for the animal sitting.
I would start by limiting myself to one section of one state, unless you have 3 months of vacation time. In CO, where my DH's grandmother grew up and he has to go each year for his "fix", you'll be hard pressed to find any riding just west, northwest and southwest of Denver. There is a BIG, BIG suburban Denver sprawl, which you can't see until you drive around, and it's very limited to any places that will let you ride your horse. Take MY word, it's really over-developed.
I would go on the I'net and look for privately owned horse camps further west, or SW, like around Durango, and avoid the high peaks. Talk to the owners and see what is available. Sometimes there are miles and miles, and sometimes there are 3 rides total you can take. It is a 20 hr drive from home to Denver for ME, and I don't want to travel that far for a limited few trails. In 1987 we took a small group out and rode from Empire on a very old mining road/trail, up to Waldorf. On one section of the trail, it was SO overgrown with aspen that we sent our herd leader through on foot, and then sent each horse through one at a time. I'm sure it is IMPASSABLE today, even for a hiker IF you could find it.
It sounds like Utah has some nice places to ride, but I've never ridden there. Put it on my list!
There is good riding in the Black Hills, SD. It feels like CO, but the dropoffs aren't as treacherous. We've stayed in several camps there, but I would recommend starting in the French Creek Horse Camp, in Custer State Park. It's a little more pricey than other places, but every ride takes you into the park, where you can ride on the paved or gravel roads, or ride the trails. Leave the buffalo alone and they won't bother you. Also, get your reservation before January 1st bc they fill up fast. Don't bother camping anywhere that juts up to the Mickelson Trail. There are so many "don't do this" and "don't do that", that DH and I decided we wouldn't.
We're going back to:
Elk Haven Horse Camp
There are only a few rides that originate from the property, but we're planning to to trailer out for the rest of them.
You WILL have to buy and feed certified weed free hay. At a privately owned camp, like above, you can feed your own, but you can buy some to take with you on rides in the park or in The Black Hills National Forest areas. They carry that for sale, too. The same is true with EVERY state park or national forest out west now.
Hope this helps you plan. =D
I see I need to post some pictures.
This may wind up being more than one post. Have not tried this before. I see the link worked so I post some more
From the Gallatin Range in SW Montana
Mounument Mtn pictures by bbsmfg3 - Photobucket
From Double Cabin in Wyoming:
Double Cabin pictures by bbsmfg3 - Photobucket
That's a fair showing of some areas with pictures.
We have ridden, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana in the west.
The Wind River range in Wyoming is nice, Battle Park in Wyoming is terrible, and the best, by far, is the Gallatin Range in
Regardless of where you go in the mountains of the west, the best camping locations are primitive. We like to get water for
the horses close, but after that it is all primitive, we carry our own water, and use a generator when we need power for a micro,
etc. Seldom do you need AC. We normally camp above 6500 ft. That makes the nights cool and comfy.
This year we were there the first 3 weeks of July. Low temp was 30 high was 80. It rained on us every day we were there.
Rain did not dampen us, just made it feel that much better.
Be aware that Utah is 74% public lands, So there are very very few horse camps like you find in other states. We, the public that live here in utah, Just pull off at wide spots or end of the road and set up camp.
So don't search the back of magazines looking for place to camp with your horses. There are almost no private horse camps. The few you will see advertised are usually full service dude ranches.
A lot of the Forest Service trail heads will have some corrals that the Back Country Horseman have built. They are available on a 1st come basis. The Forest Service usually charges $10 a night, For that you get a parking spot, picnic table and usually a pit toilet nearby.
This is an example of the Horse corrals at a lot of the Forest Service Trail heads. These are usually a circle with 6 or 8 pie shaped pens.
Most of the time I just primative camp. I pull off in a nice spot and park near some trees. High line the horses and enjoy what I have brought with me. I never turn any A/C while camping, Frequently at our elevation you will be looking for heat at night vs trying to cool off. If you park near a stream or lake, Your horses can water there and you will only need to haul people water with you in the trailer.
Horse highlined near Bryce Canyon
And my camp backed into the Pinon Pines
Another Dispersed campsite
Because there are no Privately owned camps. There will be very little advertising about any trails. Most trail heads will have 1 or 2 trails that depart from that trail head. So it is easy to ride those trails in a couple of days. You may be able to ride straight west for 50-60 miles with out crossing a road. But if you want to ride from your trailer each day, chances are you wil be riding the same trail in and out of camp. But it is very easy to move your trailer 20 miles and access a totally different trail system. There are abundant trails to ride, But if you want to came out west and park your trailer and leave it parked for 2 weeks,and ride a different trail each day, You will be disappointed. If you are willing to relocated your base camp every few day, you will never run out of new trails to ride.
Since this is all public lands, the trail maintenance is mostly done by the forest service or volunteers. Wilderness areas don't allow any wheeled vehicles or even chain saws, So any maintenance is done with hand saws or pick and shovels. Expect rocky trails.
But they have put in some improvements along the trails.
Wooden walkways over boggy areas
Thanks for all hints! Too many places so little time. We live in Indiana. Also does anyone know anything about Ten Sleep WY?
You had me laughting with the words "primitive camping" and AC. DH and I have to have a generator now bc he uses a CPAP, but ALL of our horse camping was primitive with canvas tents when our 3 daughters were small. I think you can still camp 100+ feet off of the paved road in the national forests for free. Check campfire restrictions. ALL of these states are technically desert and they hardly ever rate the fire dangers (at the local ranger stations) as LOW for a reason. Look into self-contained flame-type units. I'm gonna say again, go to the horse camps that are popular first to get an idea of how to camp in the mountains. We did, and we learned a lot in the 15+ horse camping vacations we took over the last 25+ years.
They now have 12 volt(battery) operated CPAPs. However, if he is really dependent on it, I'd highly recommend a small 1000 watt generator. They will run for 10 to 12 hrs on 1/2 gallon of gas. We have one we use to connect to our deep freeze. We have a 9 cu ft freezer we use to freeze our meals in. Very handy for a quick meal when you get back in from a long day's ride. Fire up the larger generator and throw the meal in the micro.
Some areas are starting to restrict primitive camping just off the roads. Need to check with the local Forest Service first.
We primitive camp, but not really, We may not have hook ups to water and electricity, but we carry 400 gallons of fresh water, and have LP for the stove and refrig. and generators as needed for comfort.
Seems the older we get, the less labor we're able to spend camping. I guess you could call it, "Wiser Camping"
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