See Colorado by Horseback

Get out and gallop the Centennial State’s meadows and mountainsides.

By Lisa Blake

Horseback riding in Colorado is an exceptional way to get in touch with our state’s western roots and travel lesser-trodden backcountry trails. Channel your inner cowboy or cowgirl and call on these stables and ranches for only-in-Colorado experiences.

Canyon Trails Ranch near Mesa Verde will deliver you to ancient ruins and the secluded McElmo Canyon on a backcountry horseback ride. The Southwest Colorado outfitter specializes in half- and full-day guided rides through the Canyons of the Ancients, revealing the history of early Puebloan people among spectacular red rock gorges. Young cowpokes enjoy the option for pony rides or family-friendly open-drawn hayrides capped with a campfire marshmallow roast.

Departing from Buena Vista and Cañon City, American Adventure Expeditions invites riders of all ability levels to soak in that Wild West cowboy-on-the-range vibe. Experienced Colorado wranglers guide group trail rides along the scenic Chalk Cliffs near Mt. Princeton, the massive Royal Gorge and the red-hued Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Ages six and up are welcome. Whitewater rafting and horseback riding combo trips are on tap for those seeking a double-adventure day.

Visit Rimrock Outfitters in Mancos to explore Colorado’s southwest corner by horseback. Trail rides in the San Juan Mountains open up to awe-inspiring peaks, bluebird skies and expansive views of Mesa Verde National Park and Sleeping Ute Mountain. Trot along the La Plata Mountains past high alpine wildflowers and wildlife. Make it a full day and sign on for a breakfast or dinner ride or mix it up with a carriage, wagon or sleigh ride. Family reunions and corporate retreats are easily accommodated.

The Royal Gorge Stables in Cañon City offers one-, two- and three-hour trail rides as well as a sunset ride. The one-hour loop mosey-along is perfect for beginners and small children and features photo-worthy views of the Royal Gorge, while the two-hour trail ride travels up into pine forests and along the base of South Twin Mountain, dishing out views of the Royal Gorge Bridge, Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Grand Lake’s Winding River Resort prides themselves on making family memories since 1972. Once an 1800s logging camp, this secluded Colorado vacation destination comes stocked with comfortable amenities and authentic mountain activities along with fully loaded cabins and lodges and RV and tent sites. Sign on for trail rides, pony rides, hay rides and sleigh rides flanked by pristine Rocky Mountain National Park and Arapahoe National Forest. Old-fashioned trail rides take groups past wildflowers, streams and the occasional deer and elk. Prefer a waterside outing? One- and two-hour trots along the Colorado River are offered eight times daily.

For more Colorado summer and fall vacation ideas, visit

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