Slow down, put away the cell phone and car keys, and discover how cowboys of yesteryear felt riding a horse through Colorado’s mountains. The Roosevelt National Forest and Rocky Mountain National Park have countless secluded trails to explore on horseback.
Where to Go Horseback Riding
Where should you go riding? Local stables are located in the Estes valley and Rocky Mountain National Park:
- The National Park Gateway Stables takes riders on horseback to Little Horseshoe Park, Endo Valley, Deer Mountain, Ypsilon Lake and Lawn Lake on rides ranging from two hours to full days. Pony rides are available for little cowpokes. Gateway Stables is open from May through the end of summer.
- The Cowpoke Corner Corral offers rides from one-hour to all day on mountain trails in Rocky Mountain National Park and Roosevelt National Forest. Among the destinations are Giant Track Mountain, the summit of Rams Horn, Cub Lake and Fern Lake. There are also 10 and 30-minutes rides around Glacier Lodge. Little cowpokes ages 2-7 years old can take a pony ride. The Cowpoke Corner Corral is open from May through the end of summer.
- Jackson Stables at the YMCA of the Rockies offers trail rides into Rocky Mountain National Park and on the YMCA property. Destinations for short rides are Deer Mountain, Glacier Basin, Emerald Mountain, and Moraine Park with longer rides to Beaver Meadows, Cub Canyon, East Portal, Mill Creek, Wind River and Bierstadt Lake. Pony rides and wagon rides are also offered.
- The Dao House (formerly Aspen Lodge) has horseback rides that explore Tahosa Valley, Roosevelt National Forest or Rocky Mountain National Park. Wranglers lead riders on short beginner horse rides on the property to longer rides to Lily Lake, Estes Cone, Eugenia Mine, Charlie Eagle Plume’s store and the Longs Peak Boulder Field. Cowboy breakfasts and chuck wagon dinners are also offered.
Horseback rides are ideal for the entire family, from beginners to experienced riders. If you’re new to the area contact a local stables and take a guided ride.
Prepare for Your Horseback Riding Experience
If you’re planning a trip on horseback, consider the following to make the most of your experience:
- Dress accordingly – Wear a wide-brimmed hat, long pants and boots; no flip-flops or sandals. Always bring a rain jacket in case the weather changes. Many stables provide rain slickers. Bring a water bottle or hydration pack and don’t forget snacks or lunch if you’re planning a longer ride.
- Ride within your comfort level – Knowledgeable wranglers determine your level of ability, match you with the appropriate horse and make sure you feel comfortable on horseback.
- Listen to the professionals – Wranglers teach basic horsemanship and safety before the ride. Wait for a wrangler to help you on and off the horse. Once you are comfortable, always mount a horse from the left side. On the trail maintain one horse length between animals.
- Be mindful of your animal – Horses are social animals. If you fall behind they will want to catch up. Avoid sudden noises or movements that will cause the horse to jump and run.
Need some boots, a cowboy hat or a pair of jeans for the trail? Stop by Moose Creek on Moraine Avenue before your next ride. They carry boots, handcrafted leather handbags and western wear.
Horseback riding symbolizes the great American West. So saddle up and hit the trail! For more fun things to do in Estes Park this summer, pick up our free seasonal guidebook in town.Tags: What to Do