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Horse Riding in The USA: Top Destinations You Must Check Out

by Lystia Putranto

The go-to resource for planning your horse riding holidays. Find all you need to know about the top destinations and take your riding skills to new heights.
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Spanning over 3.8 million square miles across its 50 states, it’s no surprise that the good ol’ U.S. of A offers an abundance of amazing horse riding destinations. 

With such a vast selection to choose from, it can be a daunting task to narrow down a list of places that a horse riding enthusiast simply must experience.

Fret not – here, you’ll find a list of hand-picked 10 top states (listed in alphabetical order) to go horse riding in the USA that promise plenty of unforgettable adventures fitting for beginners to advanced riders.

Before getting down to the list, please note that if you are used to the English style horse riding and/or this is your first time going on a horse riding in the US, know that most horse riding excursions offered in the States are catered to the Western riding style.

Hence, it is highly recommended that you read up a bit on the differences between the two before saddling up.

Being well informed in advance will likely to help you too get the most of your horse riding experience in these great American states:

Arizona

 

horse riding Arizona

 

Also known as the Grand Canyon State, home of the world’s biggest canyon, Arizona is well known for its dramatic and striking landscape making it an ideal choice for horse riding vacations.

Imagine yourself riding with the Grand Canyon, towering mesas, vast desert sands, and breathtaking sunsets as your backdrop. To add to its appeal, you also have the option to sneak a peek at the rich Najavo cultural life that is very much alive in this region.

Beginners and intermediate riders are recommended to spend quality time at one of the many ranches which offer horsemanship & cowboy skills such as learning how to herd cattle in addition to (Western) riding lessons.

Those who have more experience under their belt can test and sharpen their skills in the rocky paths descending to the depth of the Grand Canyon. Though this area has some of the steepest trails, it comes with some of the most spectacular views too!

Here, you can ride along the border between Utah and Arizona which covers three famous national parks: The Grand Canyon National Park, The Zion National Park, and The Bryce Canyon National Park. Going by horseback will allow you to see parts of the country around the national parks that not many tourists get to visit.

As there’ll be a lot of grounds to cover, this particular excursion would fall under ‘pack trips’ where one or more nights to be spent on the trail and your baggage will be carried by pack animals that will be traveling along with you.

On these trips, you will be guided by Arizona’s cowboys & cowgirls who are bound to treat you with steak dinners and plenty of exciting horse riding stories!

 

California

 

horse riding California

 

When you think of California, you may instantly think of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood as well as the state’s renowned beach & surf culture. But did you know that the Golden State is also home to some of America’s top ranches?

If you are a fan of horse riding and planning a trip to this beautiful state sometime soon, be sure to set aside some time away from the hustle and bustle of life by joining an idyllic horse riding & ranch vacation!

The great thing about going on a horse riding holiday in California is that most of its trails are suitable for all levels and the programs usually consist of fun yet more laidback and less physically strenuous activities. It makes a perfect getaway for the whole family – including the little ones.

For seasoned riders looking for a challenge, why not gallop along California’s spectacular beaches such as Malibu Lagoon State Beach, Pismo State Beach & Salinas River State Beach on All-American breeds like the Mustang? Roam free and let go of your worries as you ride with the wind in your hair and soothing sounds of the crashing waves.

Alternatively, you can also ride along Mammoth Mountain and Sherwin mountain range that offers great trails and an idyllic picturesque setting like no other. Here, you can even bring and ride your own horse!

 

Colorado

 

dude ranch Colorado

 

Welcome to the Centennial State - Home to the Rocky Mountains and the Rocky Mountain National Park (in addition to Mesa Verde, Great Sands Dune, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison), it is a particularly excellent choice for trail riding holidays and pack trips.

Experience Western riding at its best on a horse riding vacation in Colorado as it is especially known its long-established cowboy lifestyle and dude ranches.

Don’t know what a dude ranch is? Let us shed a bit of light as its history is quite fascinating.

Dude ranches first got its name in the late 19th century where guest ranches in the Old West earned the nickname due to the guests that they host. The ‘dudes’ were wealthy & cultured socialites (Theodore Roosevelt was the most famous of them all) who often came to the West to ‘pretend’ to be cowboys without having to face genuine risks as the ‘real’ cowboys did on a daily basis.

Fast forward to today, dude ranches have long shed this ‘reputation’. In fact, they are ideal for solo riders as well as families where people of all ages and skill levels can (temporarily) live out the Wild West lifestyle.

 

Florida

If a laid back yet an exhilarating horse riding experience with beautiful sceneries is what you’re looking for, the Sunshine State may just be your best bet.

While a horse riding vacation in Florida won’t exactly show you the ropes to the cowboy lifestyle, from beach rides to deep-forest treks, it offers the perfect getaway to relax, disconnect from your gadgets and connect with horses and nature instead. 

You’d also be pleased to know that Florida has one of the best trail systems in the nation, spanning millions of acres of public lands. The Goethe State Forest, located in the Northwest part of the state, for example, offers miles of multi-use trails, excellent trailhead facilities, as well as the largest stands of lush longleaf pine trees. It’s a favorite among equestrians and trail riders alike.

If galloping by the water is more of your cup of tea, you’re in luck as Florida is home to some of the best beach trails too. Take your pick of riding in the renowned Amelia Island (it also has a park which offers wooded trails), the Hutchinson Island, Cape San Blas, Bradenton Beach, and St. Petersburgh Beach. With plenty of options to choose from, Florida truly is a horse riding wonderland!

 

Idaho

 

pack trip Idaho


Do you love horse riding, enjoy spending time in the great outdoors and planning to be in The US during the summertime? The Gem State is the place to be as its summer pack trips, in particular, are legendary.

Experience the Idaho backcountry on horseback and take in the natural beauty of this state by exploring the stunning Nez Perce National Forest, The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, and the Gospel Hump Wilderness. Transport yourself back in time by riding the trails that gold miners and early settlers used to cross the country centuries ago.

Much of these areas are pristine and protected so while horse riding in Idaho, expect frequent sightings of Idaho’s wildlife such as hawks and deers as you ride from the top of the majestic Salmon River mountains to its picturesque canyons. Rides in this neck of the woods will surely create a lasting memory.

 

Montana

 

Montana cattle drive

 

Dubbed as the ‘Big Sky Country’, in Montana, horse riding is not just an activity, it’s truly a way of life!

Whether you’re looking for a working ranch vacation, pack trips or trail riding trips, the home of Glacier National Park, has got you covered.  

Offering horse riding experiences for all types of riders, you can find plenty of dude ranches where you can both spend some time horse riding through spectacular terrains and get your hands dirty by experiencing working in the ranch – just like a real-life cowboy or cowgirl. Yeehaw!

Should you feel taking some time off the saddle, you have the option of hiking, white water rafting or even go fly-fishing. In other words, you will not run out of exciting outdoor activities in Montana.

Note that Montana is also home to a large population of free-roaming Mustangs, feral horses often referred to as ‘wild horses’. So while you’re here, it’s highly recommended to check out a wild horse sanctuary like the Pryor Mountains Wild Horse Range or the Wild Horse Island State Park to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

 

Pennsylvania

horse riding pennsylvania

 

Unlike all the other states in this list, Pennsylvania is located in the East Coast part of the US where there are a variety of options for both English and Western riders. This includes everything from guided private and group trail rides to family-friendly ranch vacations.

Unwind and treat yourself to an invigorating escape from city life with a mountain horseback trail ride in the Keystone State. Here, you can find trails that will allow you to trot and canter the region’s well-trained horses during the ride, rather than just walk.

You can expect to be surrounded by lush and vivid green ferns and pine trees that will awaken your senses. Some options to consider is to ride through the woods of Susquehanna State Forest or along the meadows of the renowned Pocono Mountains, a popular year-round getaway destination for East Coasters.

If you are seeking a therapeutic horse riding adventure that promises to soothe the soul, horse riding in Pennsylvania may just be what the doctor ordered. 

 

Texas

The Lone Star State has horse riding traditions going back centuries and horses have played a crucial part in its history. If Western riding & an authentic cowboy lifestyle is what you’re looking to immerse in, Texas is definitely where you ought to go!

The 2nd largest US state by square miles, Texas is where you can ride in the open, unspoiled land as they did centuries ago. It offers the ultimate Wild West experience where you are indulged with excellent trail rides and cattle drives.

In the nation’s biggest cattle state, you can find an abundance of excellent ranches where you can learn to work as a ranch hand and sharpen your riding skills where you and the horse would need to truly work as a team to herd cattle.

If trail rides are more up your alley, rest assured that you can find plenty of them here too! Trail rides are usually done in small groups guided by an experienced wrangler through areas surrounded by Oak and Juniper trees.

While there are countless trails that cater to beginner riders to skilled equestrians in this neck of the woods, there are 10 top trails that are considered exceptional which includes Copper Breaks State Park and The Davis Mountains State Park.

 

Utah

 

Utah pack trip

 

Made famous by John Ford’s Western movies, the stunning terrains that Utah & Arizona shared have captured the hearts and eyes of millions across the world. This backdrop has become symbolic of the American West so it’s no wonder that many flocks to this part of the country to experience it for themselves.

As they border each other, similar to Arizona, the Beehive State is also popular for its trail riding and pack trips on sure-footed ranch horses. Here, you can opt to explore and ride through areas that are seldom visited by tourists such as the trail which descend far into the depth of the majestic Grand Canyon.

Alternatively, you can also explore Utah’s ‘super 6’ national forests and 5 national parks. Together, the Ashley National Forest, Dixie National Forest, Fishlake National Forest, Manti-La Sal National Forest, Uinta National Forest, and Wasatch-Cache National Park comprise 15% of the state’s land and are all interconnected with a network of horseback riding trails. It is definitely a one-of-a-kind trail riding excursion that you won’t want to miss out on. 

If you’re looking for a ‘taste’ of authentic cattle drives, it is recommended that you visit in the autumn season. During this time, you’ll get a firsthand look to the rigorous yet rewarding experience that is the fall cattle drive - when large herds of cows are moved between Utah and Arizona. 

On a horse riding vacation in Utah, you can also opt to immerse yourself to a life on the ranch. Learn to ride on the range from generations of cowboys and seasoned wranglers and leave with a greater understanding of the rural life and Western heritage in addition to improved riding skills.

 

Wyoming

 

cattle drive Wyoming

 

Did you know that though Wyoming is one of America’s largest states, it actually has the smallest population? Because of this, much of its land is undeveloped and makes it possible for the Equality State to have such vast open and pristine land that makes it simply perfect for horse riding vacations.

Home to the world-famous Yellowstone National Park, much of the state is mountainous and offers some of the best and most diverse horse riding excursions – riding possibilities here are endless!

Horse riding in Wyoming is also particularly unique because much of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem can be found here which boasts the largest wild ecosystem in America’s lower 48 states. Additionally, it is home to the Shoshone National Forest, the first protected National Forest in the US as well as the Wyoming Game & Fish habitat.

Whether you’re looking to do some trail riding, a wilderness pack trip, or a cattle drive, Wyoming is certainly a destination you ought to really experience at least once in your lifetime!


Want to spend less time planning and more time on the saddle? Why not sign yourself up for an all-inclusive horse riding trip in the USA?

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