This 7 day pack trip incorporates two of the most breathtaking high mountain rides and has been developed to provide new and different riding opportunities for those of you who return to ride the Continental Divide year on year. 
It begins at the North Rim of the ranch's mountain area, on the Little Elbow. As you make your way south, you will ride through three major river basins and explore five different mountain ranges, before arriving back at the ranch. 
Supplies are taken by wagon, to allowing you the freedom of following more adventurous rugged trails.  Across the 7 day expedition you will camp out in the wilderness at two different high mountain locations for 5 nights as well as spend the last night at the ranch in comfortable guest cabins before one final day of riding.  
 

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from RS of Shawnigan Lake on 11/09/2022

Ride Summary
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Fantastic experience
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Evidence of saddle soreness on a few horses
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
Please give more details to explain your response:
I expected a bit more set up from staff
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Maybe a bit detail about the rustic nature of accommodations, washing in the river. Recommend taking bamboo body/face wipes for quick cleansing. Water proof boots essential as drying out boots in cold wet evenings wasn’t possible for some.
What could we do to improve this ride?
Less people on the ride. 15 + wranglers was a lot.
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
8
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Some days were long due to the nature of the terrain and the riding being active. Navigating spruce forests was hard in unprotected shins and knees for some. I had thick tall boots so was fine.
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
Fantastic experience. True cowboy culture
Unicorn comments:

Riders are advised to arrive in Calgary the day before as the ride starts early in the morning.  We can help organize accommodation for the night before if required.

Day 1 
Meet at the ranch at 9am.  From here you will be transported along with the horses and gear to the Ford Creek trailhead, where the wagons are then loaded up. You will meet your horses and set off riding along the Little Elbow River for most of the day. You will wind your way over to Romulus camp where we will camp for three nights.

Day 2
After a hearty breakfast you will head out to Talus Lake, where you will have the opportunity to admire the iconic Tombstone Mountain in the backdrop. Talus Lake is located up a tall headwall and is a good ride from the Mt. Romulus camp.  

Day 3
After breakfast you will set out to ride the high trails to Paradise Pass, offering some incredible views over the Alberta Rockies.  The elevation is approximately 8500’, so don’t forget the sunscreen!  

Day 4
After breakfast we will be packing up camp and loading up the wagons. You will head out over Tombstone pass to Tombstone Lake.  We will stop for lunch and a short rest before riding on to our second camp on the Sheep River. Enjoy dinner by the campfire before settling down for the night.

Day 5
After breakfast you will embark on the highest trail yet – Skyline Ride.  You will climb to 9000’ elevation for more truly spectacular views from the top. At this height sunscreen is a must, even if it feels cool. 

Day 6
You will break camp after breakfast and ride through the Sheep River Valley, crossing the Sheep River 12 times to get to the Indian Oils Campground, where the trucks and trailers will meet you to take us back to the Ranch.  One night is spent at the Ranch, where a great dinner in the lodge will be served, and showers will be available.

Day 7
Your final day of this adventure will start with you being trucked to the Indian Oils Trailhead, this trail ride is off the beaten track and for the adventurous rider, from here you will ride the last day back into the Ranch arriving at around 4pm-5pm. 

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

This ranch has 75 horses available for trail riding so you are guaranteed to find a suitable mount whether you prefer a more lively ride or a quieter mount. The herd is made up of mainly quarter horses, appaloosas, paint and draft crosses. Many of them are homebred and all are used to the steep trails on this ride.

You'll be riding for between 4-6 hours each day with a long break for lunch in between the morning and afternoon rides. The pace of each trail ride depends on the condition of the trail and the ability of the riders but generally there are areas where the group can trot and canter. This destination uses Western tack, this is very easy to get used to even if you have previousy only ridden English. 

Riders will follow rocky, winding trails high up into the mountains while the wagons carrying the camp supplies follow paths through the valleys. The wagons are pulled by draught horses; teams of Percherons and Belgian Warmbloods, that freight the wagonloads of supplies from camp to camp.

Please note that we recommend bringing your own hard hat if you wish to wear one as there are non to borrow on site.


Rider requirements

This trail is for intermediate riders onwards.
You should be comfortable and confident at all paces and able to control a responsive horse in open ground. You should be comfortable riding on steep terrain and happy to mount and dismount without assistance.
Assistance is welcomed with care of the horses and setting up camp while on the trail, however it is not obligatory so if you would rather sit back and relax that is also fine.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 255 lb/116 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

For nights 1-5 you'll be camping out on the trail.

You are welcome to share a tent or have one to yourself, whichever you prefer. Tents are standard white canvas tents with a maximum of two people per tent, a mattress is provided.

As well as the tents, the camp will include a main mess tent for cooking and eating which will be equipped with woodburning stoves. All camping equipment is provided excluding a sleeping bag, although these are available to rent if you don't want to bring your own.

This is basic camping, the cooks heat water every meal for handwashing and can heat extra if you want a basin bath and solar showers are also available.

The entire camp and your luggage is transported by wagon from one camp to another.

Your last night will be spent at the ranch in twin or double rooms in traditional log cabins. These cabins are warm and comfortable with bedroom, kitchen, and living area complete with wood-burning stove. There are no single supplements charged on this trail but riders requesting single rooms will be accommodated in the main lodge house rather than the cabins.

Meals are varied, generous and homemade. Breakfast could be sausages, pancakes, peaches & cream one day and eggs benedict, hash browns & fresh fruit the next. For lunch you can expect sandwiches with lots of different fillings alongside a sweet and some fruit.

The main meal of each day is dinner which is traditional Canadian country fare such as baked ham, potatoes, corn, kale salad, carrot cake or tacos with all the trimmings followed by a chocolate cake. Each day when you ride into camp you'll be able to refuel with some after ride snacks such as tortilla chips & salsa, fresh fruit, cheese, crackers & oysters, shrimp & cocktail sauce, vegetable tray or a mixed fruit tray & dip while you wait for dinner to be served.

Drinks available with each meal are coffee, tea, water, iced tea and lemonade. If you would like any alcoholic beverages or canned soft drinks you will need to bring your own. Your hosts can arrange a store trip prior to the ride to stock up if required.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures and requirements while travelling.

Dependent on your country, Passport and Visa requirements can change from regularly depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.

Visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada are expected to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa.

To visit Canada, you will need to meet some basic requirements, such as:
• have a valid travel document, such as a passport,
• be in good health,
• have no criminal or immigration-related convictions,
• convince an immigration officer that you have ties—such as a job, home, financial assets or family—that will take you back to your home country,
• convince an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your visit, and
• have enough money for your stay. (The amount of money you will need can vary. It depends on things such as how long you will stay, and whether you will stay in a hotel, or with friends or relatives.)

Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/canada

In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Canada.html

Climate Summary

Alberta has a continental climate, with more sunshine than any other Canadian province. Winters are dry, sunny, and cold, though in the south the Chinook winds, which occur when warm, dry air of Pacific origin descends the eastern slopes of the Rockies, can raise temperatures by 40 °F (22 °C) in an hour or less. Summers are warm and wetter (except in drought years), with occasional destructive hailstorms and tornadoes. Edmonton’s mean and extreme temperatures are 6 and −59 °F (−14 and −51 °C) in January and 60 and 95 °F (16 and 35 °C) in July. Annual precipitation in Edmonton averages 18 inches (460 mm), compared with 12 inches (300 mm) in the dry southeast and more than 50 inches (1,270 mm) in the mountains. About half the precipitation falls from June to August.

Climate Chart

Health

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

The cost of medical treatment can be very expensive in Canada. For emergency health care you can go to a hospital’s emergency room or to a large number of walk-in clinics where an appointment is not required beforehand.

Giardiasis is present so do not drink water from streams. Tap water is safe to drink.

Rabies is endemic in Canada, do not approach stray dogs.

Lyme disease can be a risk in wooded regions; it is a rare tick borne disease.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Canada and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

Electricity

In Canada the supply voltage is 120V. If the appliance or its power supply are not dual voltage rated, the single voltage appliance will have to be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly (unless the appliance operates at 120V).

Film and Camera Equipment

There is no electricity available once out on the trail so we recommend a solar charger if you need to charge a mobile. Please note that mobile phone signal is extremely patchy in the mountains anyway. When staying in the log cabins on Day 6 there is electricity available for charging camera and batteries. Wifi is only available at the ranch near the ranch office and not in the rooms. Each cabin is equipped with hairdryers for guests use.

Packing List

It is possible to rent some equipment for an additional cost (payable on-site). Please let us know in advance if you wish to hire equipment:
Sleeping bags – C$30
Chaps –C$20
Raincoats – no charge

Packing List
Duffle bag for your gear – 40 lbs or less please
Warm sleeping bag & fleece liner
Pillow (optional, a pillow case filled with a fleece works nicely)
Towel
Fishing gear (optional)
Riding helmet (optional but strongly recommended)
Warm jacket
Rain gear or slicker (no ponchos, please)
Jeans/long pants for riding
Short and long sleeved shirts
Long underwear
Sweater/sweatshirt
Riding boots with a heel
Comfortable clothing/footwear for evenings in camp
Personal items including toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, towel
Camera
Flashlight
Rubber boots (optional)
Gloves
Warm hat/toque
Insect repellant, sunscreen, lip balm
Sunglasses and a hat with a brim
Bring your own beer, wine, liquor and soft drinks

Programmes

This is a 7 day / 6 night programme with 7 days of riding available on one set date in August.

Departure Dates

2023: 14-20 August

Pricing
No single rooms available (on some or all nights). Riders must be prepared to share with someone of the same sex.
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20237d/6n7double pp2,385
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20237d/6n7double pp2,689
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
20237d/6n7double pp3,029
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20237d/6n7double pp29,505
Recommended Reading

Icefields by Thomas Wharton.

This is a story of adventure and discovery that unfolds amidst the stunning beauty of the Canadian Rockies. Presented within the frame of a tourist guidebook, this novel records life in the mountains, as time and the coming of the railroad slowly transform the settlement of Jasper from a place of myth and legend to a modern tourist town. Exhaustively researched, this novel blends geology and poetry, fact and fiction, history and imagination.


Other Activities

Nearby there is golfing, mountain biking at Sandy McNabb Recreation Area, fishing, swimming, shopping and restaurants. The ranch is within a 1 – 2 hours drive from Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Remington-Alberta Carriage Museum, Glenbow Museum, Calgary Stampede, and many other attractions.

Wildlife

Blue grama and other grasses dominate the prairie area in the south, although cacti, tumbleweeds, and sagebrush are more conspicuous; few trees grow naturally outside river valleys. The transitional parklands have aspen-covered bluffs. The mixed and coniferous forests of the foothills and the north are home to various combinations of aspen, white spruce, jack and lodgepole pines, and balsam fir. Black spruce and tamarack grow over accumulations of organic peat in extensive bogs. Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir are important trees in the mountain forests. The wild rose, Alberta’s provincial flower, is widespread.

Meadowlarks and pronghorn are conspicuous on the prairies and badlands support rattlesnakes, horned lizards, and scorpions. White-tailed deer, beavers, and coyotes are familiar in parkland areas, while the great horned owl, the provincial bird, rears its young in vacated crows’ nests. The northern forests house a wealth of fur bearers and big game, including the moose, wapiti, caribou (reindeer), and black bear. Gray jays visit campsites, and loons are heard on the many lakes. Wapiti, mule deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and black and grizzly bears, together with Clark’s nutcrackers and golden eagles, are characteristic of the mountains. Rivers and lakes throughout the province support trout, whitefish, and pike. Ducks nest by every slough. Examples of most habitats and some threatened species receive partial protection in national and provincial parks, wilderness areas, and ecological reserves. The endangered peregrine falcon, however, flies among the high-rise buildings of Edmonton and Calgary.

Other Country Information

People migrating from Asia crossing the Bering Strait first settled the North American continent. They formed a number of tribes that can be distinguished by language: the Algonquian in the eastern sub-arctic and maritime areas spreading into the prairies and plains of the mid-west; the Iriquioian speaking tribes mostly in the St Lawrence Valley and around Lakes Ontario and Erie; the Salishan, Athabascan and other linguistic groups lived along the rivers and coastline of British Columbia. Small, isolated Inuit bands developed a unique culture in the harsh environment of the Arctic.

John Cabot, a Venetian working in the service of the English sailed to Newfoundland in 1497. This and later explorations formed the basis of the English claim to Canada. The Frenchman Jacques Cartier undertook a series of explorations, mainly along the route of the St Lawrence River during the 1530s and 1540s and he claimed the land for France.

It's the edginess between Canada's indigenous, French and British traditions that gives the nation its complex three-dimensional character. Add to this a constant infusion of US culture and a plethora of traditions brought by migrants, and you have a thriving multicultural society.

Canada is between 3.5 and 8 hours behind GMT depending on where you are in the country. They use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.

The international dialling code is +1.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
At the ranch 9am, a 1h30 drive from Calgary Airport.
Transfer:
2023: Transfer from B&Bs in Black Diamond or Turner Valley included in the price. From Calgary Airport via taxi, payable on site (a list of recommended transfer providers available upon enquiry).
Flight Guide:
London to Calgary from £406 return
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