10 Best Horseback Riding Tours in the United States
Karyn Wofford is a freelance writer in the fields of travel, eco-tourism, and wellness. She’s an avid traveler and Georgia native. She grew up with a passion for travel, exploring everything from the mountains to the ocean, and continues to find new and unique things to do in the places she travels.
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Horseback riding was one of the early forms of transportation in the United States. And now has become more of a novelty, or refined skill to be used in racing or competition. But there are some destinations more equipped for an exciting horseback riding excursion. Horses can wind around areas cars can’t reach, the slow pace allows for optimal exploration, and you’ll just feel like a local cowboy or girl all situated in an authentic saddle. Come explore the history, views, and this fun form of transportation, at various locations around the United States.
When in Las Vegas, outrageous adventures are expected. But that goes beyond the bright lights and tumbling dice of the glittering strip. Saddle up and enjoy transportation to a working ranch, which will give that real Wild West feeling—a refreshing jump from city life. Friendly horses are ready to tote guests along dusty paths and a picturesque rocky backdrop. And if you weren’t totally feeling like a cowboy yet, wait until that hearty breakfast of eggs and pancakes are set before you. Las Vegas just got way more diverse.
Kualoa Ranch isn’t set in the outback but in the green surroundings of Oahu. Wind through the vibrant Ka’a’awa Valley, and marvel over the dramatic beauty of the Kanehoalani Mountains. While trotting about, the sites may begin to look familiar, even if you’ve never been to Hawaii. And this, of course, is because the silver screen has flashed these stunning sites in films like Jurassic Park and Pearl Harbor. So while it’s a horseback tour, guests get double for the money with a movie set tour. And triple for their money if you count the extensive info on Hawaiian history.
Moran is just over 30 miles from Jackson Hole—iconic for pristine mountains and streams. When not coated in fluffy snow in the winter, the fields and mountain bases turn a striking green, with a sprinkling of wildflowers that stand out against the blue sky. It could be mistaken for heaven. You could hike it, but then you could go true Jackson Hole cowboy style and swing your leg over a mighty steed. There’ll be plenty of riverside photo ops and deep exploration of Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Walking in Memphis…but the sweet horses are doing all the walking. This definitely isn’t your jaw-dropping overlook trail jaunt, but rather a more urban experience within a park in the heart of this Tennessee city. Particularly good for beginners, a nice gallop through nearby trails is a fun way to start a day. Shelby Farms is noted for being highly hospitable, offering a serene, easing experience even for those who never placed their back end atop a horse.
Arrowmont Stables isn’t far from the beloved North Carolina town of Asheville. One day you could be hitting up the artsy shops while stopping for small plates at the creative eateries. Then the next you could be driving one of the east coast’s most scenic roads, the Blue Ridge Parkway, followed by a mellow horseback ride among the Nantahala National Forest‘s Fern Forest Trail. While beautiful and fun, the ride is an intro to horseback safety, and kiddos are provided with helmets. So it’s a good family-friendly pick.
Horseback riding is relaxing, typically featuring glimpses of breathtaking landscape, like this tour in California that reaches Skaggs Vista for sweeping views of Sonoma County. But we love that adventurers get to simultaneously take in different aspects of the wine region while clip-clopping through Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley—it’s wine country sightseeing at its best. And we bet you’ll really appreciate that tasting later, after your up-close look.
Alaska is another one of those landscapes that one should truly drink in very slowly. Venturing into Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, a wealth of natural beauty and history is to be discovered. Delve further into the local past at Dyea ghost town and the Chilkoot and White Pass trails. Graze alongside a river, take in the mountains from afar, and enjoy locally influenced snack like a savory salmon pate. It’s a full rounded experience.
As if simply hiking Sedona wasn’t bucket list-worthy enough, guests can pair excitement and culinary flare with their journey through the multihued rocks of Arizona. Horses are entrusted to individuals based on how much experience they have had riding, so everyone gets what they want—excitement or something more chill. A Jeep tour will take guests along the longer distances. Which honestly this can be equally as awesome. But the wine tastings of regional varietals, now that is the cherry, or grape, on top.
Waco is increasingly becoming a sought after tourism destination thanks to two certain HGTV stars who’ve created a very special market and bakery. Now the world has realized the undeniable charm of this lush part of Texas. Trainers will be sure you are comfortable with your horse before setting off along quiet trails, with the exception of blissful birds chirping in the distance. Come fall in love with Waco.
History buffs rejoice, and swing into a horse and saddle to explore more about the infamous Battle Of Gettysburg, fittingly on horseback. A seasoned expert of both horses and the past leads the way among Pennsylvania trails, and the meadows and walkways provide incredible scenery. It’s a surreal experience to be somewhere so significant and going by horse, you’ll travel more ground at a pleasant pace.