Horseback Riding in Zion National Park
Nothing beats a trail ride around the natural beauty of Zion National Park. You can get away from crowds of tourists; let your horse do the work and take you to the natural wonders of Zion. For visitors of all experience levels, riding a horse in such a monumental and gorgeous place is inspiring and indescribably fun. There’s no better way to explore the gorgeous Western sights than on horseback!
There are many benefits to touring Zion on horseback. There’s plenty of unique wildlife in the park, like gray foxes, ringtail cats, and mule deer. These animals are significantly more likely to be spooked by an automobile or people walking afoot than exploring the park on horseback. This gives you a closer look at Zion’s wildlife you might not get from hiking or traveling via automobile.
Zion is a unique park for its diverse terrain and trails. From red desertscape, to alpine forests, to gorgeous rivers, there are many riding options that fit all experience levels. And thankfully, Zion’s winters are mild at lower elevations, so it’s a great park to ride year-round. Vendors offer horseback rides directly inside Zion Canyon. Just outside of the park, rides are also available on both public and private land.
Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort
Zion Ponderosa is the most popular ranch resort in the area, providing top-notch rides for those looking to enjoy Zion’s sights on horseback. The resort is located on the East Plateau. It overlooks Zion Park roughly 6,5000 feet above sea level, surrounded by beautiful ponderosa pines.
The ranch resort was once a pioneer logging camp where pioneers required horses to get from place to place. In Zion Ponderosa, many of those pioneer trails and riding roads are still in-tact! This allows visitors to explore the high country of Rocky Mountain through a variety of rugged and historic trails. Horseback rides are available for all riders, beginners and veterans alike. The rides are organized and conducted by Easton Zion Adventures, where horses are chosen and trained to work with a diverse variety of guests. Just be prepared to inform your wrangler of your past riding experience. This way, he or she can assign the best horse for you. All horses ridden are at a young enough age to 1) be obedient for rider safety, 2) possess the strength required to make the climbs, and 3) enjoy the ride.
Kids Horseback Rides
Zion Ponderosa also offers rides for children. Children under 8 are too young to qualify for the regular horse rides. However, children of all ages can enjoy horseback rides led by wranglers. These are extremely safe rides that lasts around 10 minutes.
Wagon rides are also available. These are great kids and adults that may prefer a guided experience. (These rides are also available separate of their “Dutch Over Dinner” experience.)
Canyon Trail Rides
Trail rides are also offered by Canyon Trail Rides, with paths that pass by gorgeous natural wonders at Zion Canyon. The trails provide phenomenal views of some of Zion’s natural wonders, like the Beehives, the Three Patriarchs, and breathtaking cactus gardens.
Canyon Trail Rides offers two different rides. One of the rides is a relaxing, 1-hour ride following the Virgin River before visiting the Court of the Patriarchs and returning to the loading corral. The other ride is a more adventurous trip. It’s a 3-hour ride that leads you around the Sandbench Trail, ascending 500 feet for a fantastic view of the Southern part of Zion.
Jacob’s Ranch is a very unique vendor that can take you to the trails of Zion. This ranch offers a three-step educational and memorable experience that prepares you for exhilarating horseback rides.
The first step is the horse introduction. This is an orientation where staff provides a fantastic educational experience on the ranch’s horses, clearing any myths and misconceptions about the behavior of horses. With this new knowledge, they actively help you create the best equestrian experience on their ranch. After the introductory experience, you will meet the horses in the barn, stalled and unsaddled. Riders are given a thorough description of each horse, including details like its age, breed, height, weight, color, and “horsenality” profile. This allows you to understand each individual horse and its personality before choosing
The next step is a unique experience known as “cowboy camp.” In a 50-foot-diameter training pen, you will spend some time with your chosen horse. You will learn things such as how to direct them, slow them down, speed them up, and change directions. After mastering the basics, you will be led to the tack area, where wranglers and riders saddle up the horses. After riding tips such as rein control and posting, you will then be ready to start your ride with Jacob’s Ranch.
According to the site, riders are taught the “six gears,” allowing them to not only bond with their horse, but learn the six crucial gears in preparing for your ride. These include (1) walking, (2) trotting, (3) loping, (4) galloping, (5) running, and (6) racing. Yes, you will be able to participate in a horse race with your new horse friend, climbing hills surrounded by gorgeous redstone. Each rider will set their own limit, since the wranglers encourage you to expand your abilities and enjoy your ride to the fullest. After the first ride, riders will head on to the North Camp for some good food and refreshments. This leads riders to phase two of their ride at Jacob’s Ranch, “The Gauntlet.” According to the website, what the Gauntlet entails is something you will have to come and experience yourself. This part of the ride can be “mild to wild” depending on your preference and it is only offered at Jacob’s Ranch. The last phase of the ride at Jacob’s Ranch is free-riding. If your wrangler gives you the go, you will be given the freedom of choosing where you ride and how long you can ride. And that’s all there is to it!