Top Horseback Riding Vacations in the US

When it comes to breathtaking horseback riding vacations, the United States is an absolute gold mine. Whether you’re looking for mountains, valleys, plains, or seas, the US has a horseback riding destination for them all.

If you’re like me, you likely don’t have time to see them all at once, so we’re left with the difficult decision of choosing which one to visit first. To make your decision a little easier, here are the top horseback riding vacations in the US:

  • Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee 
  • Chincoteague, Virginia 
  • Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
  • Acadia National Park, Maine
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
  • Bryce Canyon, Utah 
  • Yosemite,  California 
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee 

Best Horse vacation

The Smoky Mountains are known all over the world for their breathtaking scenery and bountiful wildlife. They are a paradise for anyone that loves hiking, fishing, and horseback riding.

Riding Options

There are multiple guided horseback riding options available in the park that are great for beginner riders. Rides can last from just 45 minutes, all the way up to several hours. If you’re an experienced rider that wants to move at a faster pace, a guided option probably isn’t right for you.

If you’re planning on bringing your own horse, with more than 500 miles of hiking trails open for horseback riders, you’ll have no shortage of scenic trails to explore. If you’re the more adventurous type, I’m sorry to say that all cross-country or off-trail riding is not allowed in the park.

When to Go

The national park warns against horseback riding from December to May of each year because many of the trails won’t be in good condition.

The drive-in horse camps available in the area are only open from April to October of each year, so you’ll want to plan accordingly if you’re going to bring your own horse.

Best Places to Stay

I recommend staying in Gatlinburg, Tennessee for your visit. Gatlinburg has a ton to see and do even apart from horseback riding, so you’ll easily stay entertained in the evenings. There are plenty of beautiful log cabins with amenities and rooms to accommodate groups of all sizes.

There are 5 horse camps available with easy access to the riding trails in the area. In order to stay at these camps, you have to have a horse with you and you must make reservations in advance because you won’t be able to pay at the campsite.

Each of the campsites has a maximum limit of 4 horses and six people. So you’ll need to make multiple reservations if you plan on traveling with a larger group. You can learn more about staying at one of these camps on the park’s official website.

Estimated Budget 

Guided Horseback Ride Cost: Averages $30 per hour.

Drive-In Horse Camp Cost: Averages $25 dollars per night.

Cabin Rental Cost: You can find quality cabins available that range from $150 to $250 a night, but prices will vary depending on the season.

Chincoteague, Virginia 

Horseback Riding Vacation Ideas

Chincoteague is an island in Virginia’s Eastern Shore region, and it serves as the gateway to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge that is famous for the wild Chincoteague ponies that can be found roaming there.

Riding Options

There are a number of riding and boarding options available in the area. Queen Hive Farm is located just minutes from Chincoteague Island, and they offer guided trail riding for riders of all experience levels. They have rides directly on the beach, as well as through rural farmland. If you would like to bring your own horse, they also offer boarding options for visitors from out of town.

When to Go

The beginning of fall is a great time to visit Chincoteague Island. The temperatures will still be fairly warm, but the crowds from the busy summer season will have significantly subsided. You can expect temperatures to be in the mid-70s if you go at this time of the year.

There is an event called pony swim week that takes place every year at the end of both May and July. Huge crowds pour into the area to see the wild Chincoteague ponies swim across the channel between Chincoteague and Assateague Island.

If you’re not a fan of crowds, you’ll definitely want to stay away during these events. In addition to the crowds, you’ll also have to deal with increased accommodation prices.

Best Places to Stay

There are beautiful dream houses available directly beside the water. They can be fairly pricey depending upon which one you go with, but they are well worth the extra expense for the breathtaking views.

Estimated Budget 

Guided Horseback Ride Cost: Averages $25 per hour.

Horse Boarding Estimated Cost: $30 per night.

Vacation Home Rentals: In offseason, you can expect to find rentals at about $85 per night. During warmer months, prices will be around $130 per night.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Horse Vacation Tips

Shenandoah National Park is known for its great trails and fantastic views almost everywhere you look. And what better way to enjoy it than by horseback?

Riding Options

There 180 miles of trails available for horseback riding. However, some of the trails can pose a challenge, even for more seasoned riders. When you travel to the park, you should be mindful of the weather. Even just a day or two can make some of the trails very difficult to traverse.

You can easily arrange for guided horseback and pony rides on one of the park’s official websites. The ride lengths available vary from 1 hour to 2.5 hours long.

Backcountry camping with your horse is allowed, but you must first obtain a free backcountry permit. You can find more information about the guidelines and regulations for horseback riding and camping in the park by going here.

When to Go

Horseback riding in the park is available from the spring to fall of each year at Shenandoah National Park. The better the weather is, the more people will be at the park, so be mindful of this as you make your plans.

Best Places to Stay

There are numerous cabins and lodges in the area that will provide a comfortable stay for your riding vacation. The most popular ones are Big Meadows Lodge, Skyland, and Lewis Mountian Cabins.

If planning to bring your horse from home, there are unfortunately no boarding facilities at the park itself, and they have strict rules in place about not leaving horses in trailers overnight. If this causes problems with your plans, there are a number of stables in the area that can board your horse for the night.

Estimated Budget 

Guided Horseback Ride Cost: Horseback rides are $50 per hour, and short pony rides for children are $8.

Horse Boarding Estimated Cost: $30 – $60 dollars per night per horse.

Accommodation Cost: Average accommodation per night is $175.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Found in North Eastern Ohio, Cuyahoga Valley National Park runs right beside the Cuyahoga River. It’s scenic trails and waterfalls make it the perfect place for a horseback riding vacation.

Riding Options

Horseback riding is permitted in Cuyahoga Valley National Park on a number of designated horse trails. If you don’t own your own horse, unfortunately, there are not any places near the trails where you can rent a horse or take a guided trail ride.

Rather, you will need to bring your own horse when visiting. You can learn more about the trails available on the official park website.

When to Go

The best time to visit will be from May to early October when the average daily temperature can range from the mid-60s degrees Fahrenheit to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures can range throughout the day, so it is recommended that you bring several layers.

Best Places to Stay

If you are looking for lodging inside the park itself, the options available are The Inn at Brandywine Falls and Stanford House. If you’re open to other options, there are plenty of horse-campgrounds and hotels in the area to accommodate your needs.

Estimated Budget 

Guided Horseback Ride Cost: Not available.

Horse Boarding Estimated Cost: $30 – $60 dollars per night per horse.

Accommodation Cost: Horse campsites cost roughly $30 dollars per night. Hotels in the area will run for $60 to $150 dollars a night for a nice place to stay.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park is located on Maine’s Mount Desert Island. It has beautiful rocky beaches, lush forests, and the iconic Cadillac Mountain. It is also known for the variety of wildlife that can be spotted there, such as moose, whales, and bears.

Riding Options

On the island, there are 57 miles of historic carriage roads. The roads are roughly the size of normal roads that we use today, so there is plenty of room for groups of horseback riders and hikers. You can learn more on the park’s official site.

Unfortunately, the main stable with access to the park does not offer guided horseback riding. But they do offer historic carriage rides that will be a lot of fun for all ages.

When to Go

The popular season to visit the park is from May to October because the weather will be the most comfortable during these months.

Best Places to Stay

There is a stable conveniently located with the pad that has 34 stalls available for rent, with campsites available just across the road from the stables. Keep in mind that these spots fill up very quickly in the busy season, so you should call at the beginning of the year to make sure you’re able to get a spot.

If your board your horse at a local stable, there are many bed and breakfasts and other lodging options available close to the park.

Estimated Budget 

Entrance to the Park: You’ll need $25 dollar pass for non-commercial vehicles from May through October.

Horse Boarding Estimated Cost: There are stables in the area that offer boarding for the night at $60 a night. Boarding at Wildwood Stables within the park itself is $25 dollars per night.

Accommodation Estimated Cost: You can stay at the Wildwood Stables Campground for $15 dollars per night. They only have 10 sites available so book your dates as early as possible. Other accommodation options in the area will cost around $60 to $150 dollars per night.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park is located in Northern Colorado. It is famous for its gorgeous mountains,  rivers, and lakes.

Riding Options

Numerous stables in the area offer scenic horseback riding tours for visitors and cater to riders of all experience levels with different lengths and difficulty levels for rides.

If you’re interested in bringing your own horse, there are accommodation options available that make it easy to access the park with your riding companion.

When to Go

The recommended times for visiting the park are from May until the beginning of June, and September until the middle of October.

Best Places to Stay

If you aren’t traveling with a horse, and you’re just looking for a comfortable place to stay, there are a number of resorts, cabins, and bed and breakfast options to choose from.

If you are bringing your horse, I recommend staying at one for the designed backcountry campsites within the park itself. You can find more info about these sites on the park’s website here.

Estimated Budget 

Guided Horseback Ride Cost: There are tours available that range from $30 dollars per hour to $70 dollars per hour.

Park Entrance Cost: $25 dollars per vehicle per day for non-commercial vehicles with less than 16 passengers.

Horse Boarding Estimated Cost: Cost: $30 – $60 dollars per night per horse.

Accommodation Cost: Cost: $50 – $200 dollars per night.

Bryce Canyon, Utah 

Whether you’re visiting Bryce Canyon National Park or just a ranch in the surrounding area, the incredible landscape is something that you’ll never forget. It is famous for its plethora of crimson colored spire-shaped rock formations.

Riding Options

The ranches in the area offer a variety of horseback riders for beginner and experienced riders. There are guided trail rides through the national park from April to October of each year.

You can bring your own horse to horseback ride in the national park, but overnight camping is not allowed. You can learn more about bringing your own horse on the park’s official website.

When to Go

Because of its high elevation of 8,000 to 9,000 feet, temperatures can be fairly cool, even in summer months. This said it’s recommended that you bring clothes for layering. Temperatures will be the most comfortable in the summer months.

Best Places to Stay

If you’re looking for an authentic horseback riding experience, staying at a ranch the local area will be a really fun experience. If camping is more your speed, there are plenty of campsites within the park itself.

Because overnight camping with horses is not allowed at the national park, you will need to board your horse at a stable in the surrounding areas if you’re bringing your own horse.

Estimated Budget 

Guided Horseback Ride Cost: Guided trail rides through the national park start at $65 dollars per person for a 2-hour ride. You can find more info about booking a trail ride here.

Park Entrance Cost: Entrance to the park costs $35 dollars per private vehicle.

Horse Boarding Estimated Cost: Cost: $30 – $60 dollars per night per horse.

Accommodation Estimated Cost: $50 – $170 dollars per night.

Yosemite National Park,  California 

Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. It is world renown for its massive sequoia trees and towering cliffs.

Riding Options

There are guided rides available from spring through fall at Yosemite National Park. Because of the park’s popularity, ride spots will fill up quickly during the high seasons, so booking early is recommended.

If you’re bringing your horse, there are facilities within the park that allow you to easily stay overnight with your horse and access the available riding trails.

When to Go

If you’re looking to stay away from some of the very large crowds that the park is known for, you might consider coming in September. There will still be crowds, they won’t be as bad as in other months. Just be mindful of the weather to make sure it is good for riding.

Best Places to Stay

Because of its popularity, the area surrounding Yosemite National Park has no shortage of accommodation options. If you’re looking for something specific, make sure you make your reservations well in advance.

If you’re bringing your horse, there are overnight boarding facilities within the park where you will be able to keep your horse. There are also some horse campsites available within the park that you can learn more about here.

Estimated Budget 

Guided Horseback Ride Cost: 2-hour horseback rides begin at $67 dollars per person. You can book your ride here.

Park Entrance Cost: $35 dollars per non-commercial vehicle.

Horse Boarding Estimated Cost: $60 to $80 dollars per night.

Accommodation Estimated Cost: $200 to $500 dollars per night.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California is known for Lassen Volcano and a large number of hydrothermal sites that look like bubbling mud. While this might not sound like a horseback riders paradise, the park boasts incredible views and more than enough riding trails to keep avid equestrians busy.

Riding Options

There are a number of stables surrounding the park that offer guided riding options for beginner and experienced equestrians.

Horseback riding is allowed on the majority of the trails in the park with a few exceptions that you can learn more about here. It’s important to note that cross-country riding off of the designated trails is prohibited within the park.

When to Go

The weather is at it’s best in the park from June to September of each year with temperatures averaging 7o degrees Fahrenheit. At night temperatures can drop into the 30s, so you should bring extra clothing that you can layer if need be.

Best Places to Stay

There are several ranches in the area that offer good prices and a lot to do for visitors. You can also find bed & breakfasts in the area as well, but for the most part, you will need to arrange separate accommodation for your horse at a stable. St. Bernard Lodge Bed & Breakfast do advertise on their site that they accommodate horses, but I recommend calling ahead before your visit to ensure they have room.

Camping is allowed in the park, but those with horses must use the designated horse campsites at Summit Lake, Juniper Lake Corral, or  Corral & Butte Lake Hitching Posts.

Estimated Budget 

Park Entrance Cost: $30 dollars per vehicle in the warmer months, and $10 dollars per vehicle in the winter.

Horse Boarding Estimated Cost: $30 to $60 dollars per night.

Accommodation Estimated Cost: $80 to $200 dollars per night.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park offers views that you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world. See it for the first time is truly the experience of a lifetime. If you ever get the chance, visiting the Grand Canyon is a trip well worth taking. Soaking up the incredible views while on horseback just makes the experience even better.

Riding Options

There are several options available for guided horseback rides around the canyon. Two popular options are with Apache Stables, and Canyon Trail Rides.

You can bring your own horse to horseback ride throughout the park, however, there are a number of park guidelines that you will need to abide by. You can find further information about horseback riding at the Grand Canyon here.

When to Go

The general riding season for the park is from May through October of each year.

Best Places to Stay

You can find ranches and stables near the park that will accommodate both you and your horse for the night. But accommodation books up quickly because of the park’s popularity, so I recommend booking as early as you can.

If you’re ready for some adventure, you’ll want to consider camping within the park itself. There are many campsites available, but for the Inner Canyon and North Rim campsites, you will need to have a backcountry permit. You can find more info about getting a permit here. To read more about visiting the park with horses go here.

Estimated Budget 

Guided Horseback Ride Cost: 1 hour horseback rides start at $52.50 with Apache Stables, and $45 with Canyon Trail Rides.

Park Entrance Cost: $30 dollars per vehicle.

Horse Boarding Estimated Cost: $50 to $80 dollars per night.

Accommodation Estimated Cost: $150 to $400 dollars per night.

 

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