Horseback Riding in Vail, Colorado

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Welcome to ThinkVail – we hope you find this article about horseback riding in Vail, Colorado helpful.
There is no better way to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Colorado than from horseback.  These magnificent animals can get you into the back-country and onto an adventure like no other.  From atop a horse you can relax and enjoy the big beautiful views, and enjoy the sounds and smells of nature all around you, a while being immersed in the moment. Check out these local outfitters to find the perfect trip for you and your family.


Types of Trail Rides

  • Beginner Rides are perfect for kids or beginners.  Beginner rides are usually about an hour in length.
  • Advanced Rides are for people who have experience riding horses, are not afraid of horses and feel competent controlling their horses.  These rides are usually 3-6 hours longs and will offer more technical challenges.

Ride Length

  • 1-Hour Tours
  • 2-Hour Tours
  • Half Day Tours
  • Full Day Tours
  • Multi-Day Tours

What to Expect

  • Unless otherwise stated horseback riding is a summer activity only.
  • A safety talk before the ride
  • Try not to allow your horse to eat grass along the ride by pulling up gently with your reigns. It can become a very hard habit for a horse to break and makes a ride very difficult
  • Be quiet to view wildlife, and have your camera or cell phone handy
  • That your wrangler will ask your horse riding ability so they can partner you with the best horse
  • There is a minimum age for kids to ride and it varies between 5-8, check with your outfitter to make sure your kiddo can ride.
  • Tip your guide if they did a good job this is a main source of their income.
  • Reservations are usually required.

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What to Wear

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Jeans or long pants
  • Closed-toe shoes with a small heel, boots are preferred
  • Sweater as it can get cold at elevation
  • Rain jacket
  • A hat with a brim ( cowboy hat, visor or baseball cap is best)

Cost

Horseback riding is an exhilarating adventure, but it is not inexpensive, tour prices usually start around $90 per adult for a 1-Hour tour and around $120 per person for a 2-Hour tour and goes up for longer rides. But to be fair, there is a lot of cost in keeping and maintaining a string of horses.

For example, most outfitters only run 4-5 months per year, yet they need to provide the daily needs for all of their 60+ head of horses year-round. Horse require shelter, food, water, medications, love and care 365 days a year.

Horses

All of these outfitters have been operating in the area for years they have proven time and time again that they treat their horses with respect and their well-being and health is very important. I myself, have worked as a wrangler at 2 local outfitters and the horses were well taken care of including routine shoeing, veterinarian needs, breaks from rides throughout the day, good grain, fresh water and lots of hay and grass. Horses are groomed regularly and wranglers give them a lot of love and company.

Other Details

  • There is usually a weight limit for horses maxing out around 225-250 lbs.
  • Horses are matched with riders based on experience, weight, and personality
  • There is a minimum age for children but it varies by outfitter. 5-8 depending on the child
  • Most outfitters offer pony rides for smaller kids
  • Pony rides are usually around $25. If they don’t charge, a donation is appreciated to help feed and care for the pony.
  • You can almost always tie an additional sweater or jacket to the saddle strings so you don’t have to wear or carry it.
  • Most outfitters operate under special use permit to access national forest, federal lands or BLM lands

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See Also: Best Winter Gear for Horse & Rider


Horseback Riding Outfitters in Vail


Piney River Ranch

This gorgeous private 40-acre ranch is situated on the edge of beautiful Piney Lake, and nestled at the foot of the majestic Gore Range mountains. It is very close, located just twelve miles north of Vail Village, on a dirt road in the mountains. This pristine spot is surrounded by thousands of acres of back-country wilderness and lies within the White River National Forest.

This is the perfect place to make a day of it because aside from amazing horseback riding they also offer fly-fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding. There is also a lodge and restaurant on-site


Offered Horseback Rides:

1-Hour Ride – Enjoy the beauty of the Piney River area in a short 1-hour window. Perfect for sightseeing and photo taking and the ideal length tour when trying to fit in all the available activities at Piney Ranch on the same day. Daily scheduled rides are at 10am & 2pm but are limited and based on availability.


2-Hour Ride – The perfect ride when you want a little more time on your horse. This scenic ride winds through the Piney River Valley, taking in the fantastic views along the trail. Rides are scheduled daily at 10am and 2pm but limited and based on availability. Rides depart from and conclude at the ranch.


Visit PineyRiverRanch.com for current rates and more information


Vail Stables

Located directly across from Vail Mountain, Vail Stables is the closet stable to Vail and offers breathtakingly scenic views of the Rockies on horseback. The trails are truly awe-inspiring, wide-open scenic views and dense aspen glades with lush green undergrowth will make you feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of town.

These relaxing rides are mixed with adventure and include wildlife sightings, singing birds, fields of wildflowers and blue bird skies. Gentle horse and knowledgeable guides round out the perfect ride.


Offered Horseback Rides:

Rocky Point 1-Hour Trail Ride – A lovely, easier 1-hour introductory tour with lots of beautiful scenery and photo ops. Ideal when you don’t have a lot of time but still want to enjoy the experience. Daily scheduled rides at 9am/11am/3pm/3:30pm


Bear Hollow Trail 1.5-Hour Ride – Enjoy a scenic ride on mountainous terrain, through a leafy-green Aspen forest with wide open view points of the Gore Range, Vail’s ski slopes on down to Beaver Creek. Daily rides at 10am and 1pm.


Dark Timber 2-Hour Trail Ride – This technical horseback ride travels through endless Aspen trees, Lodge pole pines, thick foliage and wildflowers, while offering two amazing, wide open viewpoints of the mountains from the Gore Range down to Beaver Creek. Daily scheduled rides at 10:30 and 12:30.


Private Trail Rides – All above trail rides can be a Private Ride. If you want to ensure that it is only your group, this is the perfect option especially if you’re looking for a memorable experience for the family or a romantic date on horseback. This is also ideal for experienced riders looking for an exclusive experience. Minimum of 3 people needed for a private ride.

Pony Time – perfect for young kids. Kids can groom, lead and/or ride the adorable ponies!. Parents lead the pony, who is carrying the children, up a pretty path, It’s the perfect photo opportunity with your Li’l Buckaroos. Available Mon/Wed/Friday/Saturday/Sunday 11-3pm. Pony Ride lasts 20 minutes. For kids under 6 years old.


Visit VailStables.com for current pricing and more information

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Beaver Creek Stables

Located on Beaver Creek Mountain just a short 13-mile drive from Vail. Beaver Creek Stables offers amazing horseback riding from their stables located high on Beaver Creek Mountain. This is a trail ride experience that is second to none. Children must be 7+ for horseback rides


Offered Horseback Rides:

1-Hour Horseback Ride –When you are short on time, or a beginner, the signature Beaver Creek 1-hour ride is perfect. It’s an amazing ride that offers beautiful views, an incredible horse and a memorable experience while easily fitting into your busy vacation schedule.

Daily scheduled rides at | 9:30am | 11:00am | 2:15pm


2-Hour Horseback Ride –
The 2-hour horseback trail ride on Beaver Creek Mountain brings you to the top of the eastern hillside of Beaver Creek and back. At the top of the ridge, riders enjoy breathtaking, picturesque views of the Gore Range, Vail Mountain’s back bowls, and Beaver Creek Resort. By horseback is the best way to experience one of the most untouched natural environments in Colorado. Daily scheduled rides at 9:30am | 10:00am | 1:00pm

A 2-Hour Horseback Picnic Ride with a delicious deli lunch on the trail is also available daily at10am


Beaver Lake Picnic Ride –
If you get the chance and have the time the Beaver Lake picnic ride is a Must-Do trail ride and an extraordinary way to experience Colorado. You’ll need a full day to enjoy the magnificence of Beaver Creek’s amazing and incomparable views, as it takes 1.5 hours to reach the lake and 1.5 hours to return to the stables, but it’s all worth it. Follow Beaver Creek all the way to Beaver Lake, into the White River Holy Cross National Forest Wilderness area and be immersed in this pristine area. Reservations required 24 hours in advance. This ride is very limited as only 165 riders per season are allowed to be guided into this exclusive wilderness area.

Daily scheduled rides at 9:30am


Beano’s Cabin 1-Hour Dinner Trail Ride – Make dining an adventure with a sunset horseback ride to one of the most unique and memorable restaurants in Colorado. This is a true feast for the senses. You are riding horses on what in the winter, is Beaver creek ski runs. Enjoy a fantastic, luxurious dinner after your relaxing, scenic ride at one of the area’s finest, on-mountain restaurants located on Larkspur ski run. Porcupine, foxes and deer visit the restaurant and adjoining meadow every evening. After dinner, take the shuttle back to the stables or anywhere in the Beaver Creek area.

Please contact Beano’s Cabin directly for reservations: 970-754-3463 (970-SKI-DINE) / Daily scheduled rides depart at 4:30 pm, 5 pm, and 5:30 pm. Reservations required


Pony Rides –
Daily rides are first come first served.


Visit BeaverCreekStables.com for current pricing and more information


Bearcat Stables

Located in Cordillera, horseback rides at Bearcat Stables depart from the historic Bearden Homestead on Squaw Creek Road. From beginner to expert Bearcat offers the perfect ride for everyone who loves horses. Each ride is limited to eight guests to ensure a quality horseback ride experience. Larger group rides are available only by special request. The terrain is easily navigable for your excursion and can be enjoyed by people of nearly all ages and skill levels.


Offered Horseback Rides:

1-Hour Ride –
An ideal ride for those who have never ridden, and for families with children who are younger. Traverse the historic Bearden homestead, following old wagon roads and irrigation ditches through open wildflower meadows full of wildflowers and aspen trees. Keep your eyes open for red tailed hawks, mule deer and other wildlife. Your guide will share the history of the area, while a gentle, trusty horse navigates the mountain trails for you.

Daily scheduled rides depart 10:30 am/ 12:30 pm/ 3:00 pm


1.5-Hour Trail Ride – A great in-between trail ride when one hour just isn’t enough but 2-hours might just be too much.

Daily scheduled rides depart at 9:30am / 12:00pm / 2:30pm


2-Hour Trail Ride – A wonderful ride suitable for all ability levels. Traverse much of the same terrain as the one hour but continue further along the valley and up to the top of a ridge with breathtaking views of Bellyache Ridge and a glimpse of the New York and Gore Mountain Ranges. Enjoy this spectacular photo opportunity before heading back to the stables.

Daily scheduled rides depart at 10am / 1pm


3-Hour Trail Ride – Ascend into the iconic White River National forest up the Stag Gulch trail into Big Park. This beautiful, immersive ride boasts breathtaking views of the New York and Gore Range mountains. Your horse will guide you through meadows of wildflowers on one of Colorado’s most breathtaking trail rides. Enjoy!

Daily scheduled rides depart at 9am


4-Hour Trail Ride with Lunch – This lovely, long ride traverses the Summit and Big Park a bit farther than the 3-hour ride and includes a delicious trail side lunch!

Daily scheduled rides depart at 9am


4-Day Trail Ride Trips from Vail to Aspen

Riding a horse from Vail to Aspen will be one of the most memorable journeys you ever make. This 4-day, 3-night trip traverses some of the most spectacular backcountry nestled in Colorado. This is a true once-in a lifetime adventure that should definitely be on your bucket list!

Visit BearcatStables.com for more information

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Sage Outdoor Adventures

Sage Outdoor Adventures is a beautiful, private 6,000 acre private ranch located near Wolcott, CO about 20 minutes from Vail. The ranch is absolutely breath taking and boasts massive views of Castle Peak Mountain and the surrounding Vail Valley. Ride through beautiful fields of Sage and Juniper, thick Aspen and Pine groves and wind around mountain lakes and babbling streams.


Offered Horseback Trail Rides:

2-Hour Trail RideEnjoy a horseback ride like no other in the area. These are unique, trailess rides where horses roam and do not ride nose-to-tail like other places tend to be. With thousands and thousands of acres of open space to ride, this is truly an exceptional, one-of-a-kind experience. Knowledgeable wranglers will share the history of the private ranch and the flora and fauna of the area. This is a breathtaking ride that you and your family will never forget.

Daily scheduled rides depart at 9:30am / 12:30pm


Private Horseback Riding TourEnjoy your 2-hour horseback ride on this private ranch all by yourself. A private group ensures only you and your group or family are on this ride with your own friendly knowledgeable wrangler by booking a private trail ride. For up to 6 riders.

Daily rides depart at 9:30am/12:30pm


Visit SageOutdoorAdventures.com for current pricing and more information


Black Mountain Ranch

Unlimited Horseback Trail Rides

When you want a truly immersive equine experience, look no further than Black Mountain Dude Ranch, one of the top guest ranches in the world. This incredible facility offer a true taste of the West and best of all, BMR offer UNLIMITED horseback riding during your stay. This Colorado dude ranch offers an authentic getaway for those who love horse. Besides unlimited trail rides they also offer pack camp trips, fly-fishing, skeet and trap shooting, and all meals are included in your stay. Have fun living and riding with these beautiful, noble animals.

Visit BlackMtnRanch.com for current pricing and more information


AJ Brink Outfitters

AJ Brink Outfitters is located in Sweetwater, in Gypsum, CO. Take a scenic drive along Colorado River I-70 west to Dotsero (Exit 133), north along Sweetwater Road. They offer 6 different types of trail rides that meander around the beautiful lake and past looming, dramatic sandstone cliffs. All rides are customized and unique.


Offered Horseback Trail Rides:

One-Hour Ride – meander through pastures to reach a beautiful overlook of the lake. The is perfect ride for young buckaroos and beginners.


Cave Ride – climb above the lake for a fantastic view of the resort and arrive at an historic Ute Indian cave with authentic pictographs. Check out these amazing rock paintings. The perfect place for photos and selfies.


Two-Hour Ride – travel through pastures and up into the lush Turret Creek basin, then continue through wide wildflower meadows on your return.


Half-Day Ride – Take your time and ascend to higher grazing pastures with breathtaking, panoramic views of the New York mountains and Sawatch range. Descend through gorgeous aspen groves, wildflower fields, and flowing streams while viewing the wildlife along the trail.


Full-Day Rides – Immerse yourself with this full day trail ride as you journey into the pristine high country of the Flat Tops Wilderness. Enjoy spectacular views of the Sawatch Range, New York Mountains and even the Maroon Bells while quietly observing wildlife in their natural habitat. Ride past scenic lakes, meadows, creeks, streams and more. An incredible day or you and your horse. Leave when the cowboy coffee is still steamin’ and return when the dinner bell is ringin’.

Wine & cheese picnic or a cowboy brown bag lunch is provided.


Visit BrinkOutfitters.com for current pricing, available times and more information

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4 Eagle Ranch

Located just 25 minutes west of Vail and Beaver Creek in Wolcott, CO is 4 Eagle Ranch.  This beautiful, authentic ranch was homesteaded in the 1880s,  and with its original, rustic cabins, open pastures, and mountain views it offers a genuine Colorado ranch experience. Enjoy a trail ride with an experienced guides through scenic pastures and mesa tops, along sagebrush, wildflowers, ponds, and various trees. Taking you back to the peaceful, romantic times of cowboys and mountain men. This is a truly breathtaking ride.

4 Eagle Ranch has something for all horse lovers. Choose from a range of scenic trail rides, advanced rides and half-day rides. Before or after your ride, enjoy lunch on the porch of the historic Nelson Cabin. Come experience a taste of the true West on a great horse in a beautiful ranch setting. Children must be 6 years old for all trail rides and 12 years old for half-day and advanced rides.

Visit 4 Eagle Ranch website for more information

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Colorado River Guides

Offered  Horseback Trail Rides:

Saddles & Paddles Raft & Trail Ride Adventure

Looking to have a truly adventurous day? Pack your boots & bathing suit and saddle up for an unforgettable day of filled with rugged, gorgeous mountain vistas on horseback, followed by an afternoon of splashy fun rafting down the mighty Colorado River. Get ready for a unique, unparalleled Western experience that you will never forget.

Visit ColoradoRiverGuides.net for more information



See Also: Best Heated Horse Troughs for Winter


Comments

We hope you found this article about horseback riding in Vail, Colorado helpful. Have you gone trail riding in the Vail valley before? What outfitter did you use? What type of ride did you do? What do you feel is the most important component for a good ride? Your horse, your wrangler, good weather, a small group, gentle terrain? We work hard to make sure all information is correct but if there is an error or something has changed from what we’ve written let us know in the comments below. Please share your thoughts, comments and stories about horseback riding in Vail, Colorado we would love to hear them. Thanks for reading.



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