Horseback riding in Rocky Mountain National Park ranks way up on my favorite-things-I-did-this-summer list (2015).
When we started planning our trip out there — a long overdue visit to family in the Denver area — we decided to spend a couple nights camping in Rocky.
I told my husband, Nick (who was yet undecided whether to go along) I was looking into trail rides in the Park and his ears pricked up. I’m pretty sure that’s what nudged him over the edge!
Since we ended up at Moraine Park Campground there on the east side, the rides closest to us are run by Hi Country Stables. Their two locations there are Glacier Creek and Moraine Park.
We had a great experience with this outfit, starting with our first visit to Moraine Park Stables.
It was after hours and I’m sure Kathy, the manager, would’ve been glad not to have tourists drop by after a long day. But she graciously spent an unhurried 15-20 minutes with us, telling us about their horses and their rides.
That’s what clinched it for our son Jason. He hadn’t had any interest in going along before that. But when he saw the horses and heard Kathy’s stories, he changed his mind.
When we told her we wanted the 3-hour ride because of our time frame, she directed us over to their partner stable at Glacier Creek, saying their 3-hour ride was the best.
So we headed over there the next evening — again after hours. We were met by more gracious and friendly folks eager to accommodate us for a ride the next morning.
John, the asst. manager there, went out of his way to fit us in on an 8:00 ride, shifting his guides around to meet our schedule. By that time there were six of us going — my sister and two nephews had joined us at the Park, and all decided they wanted in.
(Again, my youngest nephew was talked into it when one of the guides brought him over to meet a couple of their horses)
We were in a party of 10 — larger than their usual, so they sent along two guides. I hope it was as good an experience for them as it was for us! We were with another very friendly family from Oklahoma.
The variety of landscape was stunning. Up hill and through vale, crossing streams, along the Wind River, through aspen groves and ponderosa pine, a switchback trail on a mountainside, and several views of the high peaks nearby.
When we stopped after two hours for a 15-minute break for both the horses and our stiff selves, the guides told us this was their favorite ride the stable offers. We could see why!
(I wish I could remember their names — both young guys returning to college in the fall.)
Nick had taken half a dozen riding lessons back home from a friend of ours a few months ago. So he was experimenting with his horse to see if it would respond to his cues the way his lesson horse did. He was gratified to see it all worked.
And Jason hadn’t been on a horse since he was a little guy, so he had no experience to speak of. He enjoyed the ride just as much as Nick and I did. “It was amazing!”
My sister and two nephews also had a great time. Her son was our youngest group member at 8, and had never been on a horse before. The lead guide did an awesome job with him, holding his horse’s lead rope the entire 3 hours.
That gave him the confidence to really enjoy himself, knowing he didn’t have to worry what this big animal was going to do.
I ride fairly often, but not for 3 hours at a time! So we were all wondering how stiff we would be the next day or two. I made a point of walking around quite a bit afterwards and was pleased to be just fine. Now I know I can do at least the half-day ride next time!
I highly recommend a trail ride with this outfit. Between their friendliness and professionalism and the unbeatable beauty of the area, you can’t go wrong.