This 7-day equine pack trip vacation offers a unique opportunity to explore some of the most remote mountain routes of the Alberta Rockies, home to elk, big horn sheep, and little else! This is not a horseback ride for the faint-hearted and riders should be comfortable riding in open areas and at height, as some of the riding is in the highest and wildest areas of the Alberta Rockies.

A team and wagon are used to haul camp which remains in one place. Then a truck moves horses and riders out into different areas during the trip which expedites the jump from one mountain area to another.  Guests will be in awe of the breathtaking scenery as they explore a completely different mountain trail each day.

The food is wholesome and there’s plenty of it, home-made by professional back-country cooks.

This equine pack trip vacation is one for confident riders and offers a fun filled vacation with breathtaking scenery in every direction.

There are no reviews for this holiday at the moment

Riders are advised to arrive in Calgary the day before as the ride starts early in the morning. We can help you organise accomodation the night before if required.

Day 1
Everyone meets at 9:30 a.m at the stables. Horses and gear will be trucked to the trailhead where the wagon is loaded. Riders are given a basic horsemanship course before mounting and setting off on the trail to the camp site where the group will be based. Riders set up their own sleeping tents and unpack, have lunch, then head out for an afternoon ride.

Day 2-6
Breakfast is served at 8:30 a.m. Riders leave camp at approximately 10 am. and head out to a different destination every day. The trails for these days are chosen each day, based on weather conditions and the riders.

Day 7
After breakfast, the horses are ready and the wagons packed by 10:30am ready to head to the trailhead. Riders and their horses will be trucked to the last destination, a ride through 'Mist Valley', over into another mountain range and finally descending into Sheep Valley. Riders to arrive at the Bluerock trailhead in the late afternoon. Riders will be met by a van for the drive back to the ranch (arriving around 4-5pm) for the transfer.

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

The ranch has 75 horses available for trail riding and riders are guaranteed to find a suitable mount whether preferring 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. Expect  between 4-6 hours in the saddle each day with a long break for lunch. The pace of each trail ride depends on the condition of the trail 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 riders have previously only ridden in English tack and riders will be helped with pointers. 



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 wagon-loads of supplies to the camp.



Please note that we recommend bringing your own hard hat as the ranch does not supply them.


Rider requirements

This trail is for confident intermediate and advanced riders only. You should be comfortable riding on steep terrain and happy to mount and dismount without assistance.
You will need to be confident at all paces, able to control a responsive horse in open ground and be happy cantering on the trails. Hats are recommended but not provided so please ensure to bring your own if you want to wear one.

Weight Limit

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

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.



On nights 1 - 6 riders camp out at one base camp which is set up on Day 1. 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 includes a main mess tent for cooking and eating that is equipped with woodburning stoves.



All camping equipment is provided excluding a sleeping bag.  These are available to rent if riders don't want to bring their 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.



Meals are varied, generous and homemade. Breakfast could be sausages, pancakes, peaches & cream on one day, and eggs benedict, hash browns & fresh fruit the next. For lunch one 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.



On return to camp, riders can refuel with some after-ride snacks while waiting for dinner to be served. Drinks available with each meal are coffee, tea, water, iced tea and lemonade. If riders would like any alcoholic beverages or canned soft drinks they will need to bring their own. The hosts can arrange a store trip prior to the ride to stock up if required.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.

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).

Mobile, WiFi and charging

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. Wifi and electricity is only available at the ranch near the ranch office. If you want to bring a GoPro please be advised that you will have to have permission from all other guests and guides that they are willing to be filmed.

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 (soft 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 repellent, 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 July.

Departure Dates

2024: 29 July - 4 Aug (Full - waitlist only)

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 £
20247d/6n7double pp2,285
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20247d/6n7double pp2,659
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
20247d/6n7double pp3,005
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20247d/6n7double pp31,029
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

The Rocky Mountains are home to an array of mammals and birds. Most commonly seen are elk, bighorn sheep and deer, less frequently spotted are bear, mountain goats, coyotes, wolves and moose and rarer still are lynx, mountain lions (cougars) and wolverine.

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, a 1h30 drive from Calgary Airport.
Transfer:
2024: (All transfers are subject to availability). Transfer from B&Bs in Black Diamond or Turner Valley included in the price. From Calgary Airport via taxi, payable on site C$180 per vehicle. A list of recommended transfer providers available upon enquiry.
Flight Guide:
London to Calgary from £920pp return
Riders who booked this ride also considered
Cougar Creek, Canadian Pack Trip
Canada, Wilderness Pack Trips

Take a horseback riding vacation through the forests and ...Read more >

from US $2,869
Wildlife pack trip in Canada
Canada, Wildlife Research Pack Trips

This horseback riding vacation is an immersive nature exp...Read more >

from US $2,479
Monastery ride in Bhutan
Bhutan, Himalayan Monastery Trail

A cultural equestrian adventure in the Himalayan mountain...Read more >

from US $4,609