Horse riding pack trip holiday in Canada
Horseback packtrip vacation in Canada
Pack trip horse riding holiday in Banff national park
Pack trip horseback vacation in Banff National Park
Lodge based horse riding holiday in Canada
Lodge based horseback vacation in Canada
Wild River Lodge Trip
Horseback vacation in Canadian Rockies
Comfortable horse riding holiday in Canadian backcountry
Horseback vacation in Canadian wilderness
Relaxed horse riding holiday in Canada
Western riding in Canada
Relaxed horseback vacation Canada
Family horse riding holiday in Canada
Gastro food on Canadian horse riding holiday
Gastro food on horseback vacation Canada
Comfort trail riding in Canada
Horse riding holiday in Canada
Horseback vacation Canada
Riding through wild Canada
Riding through Canadian backcountry
Western riding in Canadian backcountry
Lodge based holiday in Canada
Wilderness lodge riding holiday Canada
Cowboy experience in Canada
Cowboy experience in wild Canada
Horse riding holiday Canada

Explore the wild mountains and valleys of Banff National park on this 6-day horseback riding vacation with comfortable lodge accommodation within the park itself. Pack horses carry the groups belongings to the accommodation, as the horseback riders travel alongside the river Bow with towering snow-capped mountains on three sides. The trail follows historical routes used by the early explorers, and little has changed in this time. Enjoy cook-outs on the shores of the river just as they would have done, while trusting the horses to find their way safely, leaving riders to marvel at the scenery and wildlife of the park. This equestrian vacation is ideal for all levels of horseback rider, however a good stomach for heights is necessary the ride may reach 8,100 feet!

Accommodation on the trail is in lodges originally built in the 1920s as rest points for trail riders. While still exploring the wild expanses of Banff, these lodges provide a more comfortable option than the Cascade Valley Pack Trip. The rustic appearance adds to the charm of these buildings and minimizes their intrusion on the nature all around, but a few touches of home comforts such as solar heated showers, provide a more luxurious experience for those not so keen on ‘roughing it’. This is emphasized by the gourmet cuisine that is freshly made by professional chefs and served with style.

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 MG of Chichester on 18/08/2023

Ride Summary
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Absolutely fantastic! The scenery is stunning, the horses are amazing, along with all the guides, cook and packers. Incredible 3 days!
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
The details of the ride were described perfectly with sample itinerary and packing list.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
What could we do to improve this ride?
Nothing to improve it was 5*
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
6
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
The ride is done at walk because of the terrain, there are a few steeper sections but the horses know what they are doing. The main part that some beginner riders might find hard is that you are riding 5hrs a day so could be a little sore or stiff if not used to riding for so long.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
100%, I already recommend to friends
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your comments - it's a stunning ride isn't it!!! :)

Please note: Due to the early start time for this ride it is recommended that guests arrive the day before and stay in a hotel locally. Hotels in Banff fill up very quickly in the summer.

6 Day Programme
Day 1
Arrive at the stables for 9:30am to meet the guides, fellow guests, and the horses. The horses are all experts on these trails, allowing riders to relax and tune in to the wilderness all around them. Everybody is working on ‘Western Time’, so the schedule is quite relaxed and riders will have time to get to know their horses and ask any questions before setting off. The 10-mile ride to the first lodge is the first stage, and follows the rushing Bow River where the group stop for a traditional cowboy cook-out lunch. Relax on the banks of the river as the food is cooked over an open fire and embrace the feeling of being free from the stresses of modern life. A gentle afternoon ride to the lodge arriving at about 4:30pm to freshen up with a warm shower and relax for the rest of the day. The hosts are exceptionally welcoming, and while the professional chefs cook up something sumptuous in the kitchen, guests can enjoy the sights and sounds of this beautiful backcountry.

Day 2
After a hearty breakfast, the ride follows the historical Erling Strom Trail. As the sun creeps above the rugged Sundance mountain range to the east, the group follow in the footsteps of the early explorers of the Rocky Mountains. Enjoy a picnic lunch in an open mountain meadow where the plants start to indicate the change in altitude before continuing higher up through the trees in the afternoon. On approaching the lodge, the vegetation starts to thin and emerge into a picture-postcard scene with the lodge nestled in a striking cauldron of mountains. With propane lanterns, candles and a woodstove for warmth, this lodge is brimming with rustic charm and completes the mountain retreat feel.

Day 3
Today the riders can leave belongings at the lodge and set out on a loop along the Allenby Pass. By now riders will have become accustomed to their horses, essential as the ride climbs to 8,100 feet (approx. 2470m). The stunning panoramic views of the valleys and distant mountain ranges are magnificent, but remember to have a look at the rocks closer to hand as well. Many millions of years ago, this mountain was, in fact, the sea floor, and one can still see fossil remains trapped in the rocks. The route picks its way back down the mountain pass to return to the lodge. As the sun sets behind the mountains the group can relax around the fire with a glass of wine and share stories with their fellow riders.

Day 4
Today the horses take a break and guests have a choice of how active they want to be. Maybe explore the area more on a hike to a sparkling glacial-fed lake at the end of the valley which also offers up more spectacular views of the amphitheater-like valley, or just take some time to relax. This is an incredibly peaceful spot to get lost in a book, or perhaps spend some time grooming the horses. Don’t forget to look up every now and then though, one never knows what might be seen munching in the meadow or taking a drink in the creek.

Day 5
As hard as it is to ride away from this idyllic spot, there is still more to see in this wild backcountry. Follow the winding trail along Brewster Creek, criss-crossing the valley as the early pioneers did to find exciting new places and a different perspective of the surrounding mountains. Lunch is taken out on the trail before the afternoon ride back to the lodge in the afternoon. The hot shower and electric lights seem very decadent after the simpler accommodation in the mountains. After freshening up, the final dinner of the trail awaits.

Day 6
Enjoy breakfast before riding back to the stables. Follow the gently winding river trails through the backcountry of thick Pine forest with the Rockies framing everything on the horizon. Stretch out on the riverbank one last time for lunch before making your way back to civilization, arriving at the stables at approximately 4:30pm.

2 Day Programme
Day 1

Begin the journey at 9:30am at the stables at the backcountry check-in area of the large barn. Slickers and saddle bags will be handed out before meeting the horses. Things happen on “Western Time” here so riders have time to get to know their horse and ask any questions. Ride along the route that early explorers of the Canadian Rockies blazed nearly a century ago. It’s the ideal way to experience horseback trekking in Banff. Saddled up and ready to ride, hit the trail for the ten mile journey to Sundance Lodge. Follow the trail alongside the rushing glacier-fed waters of the Bow River, Healy Creek and Brewster Creek. Stop along the way for a simple, hearty cowboy-style hot lunch on the banks of the river. Arrive at the lodge in the late afternoon. After settling in and freshen up from a day on the trail, gather around the table for a gourmet meal and an evening of conversation.

Day 2
After a deep and restful sleep in the peaceful quiet of the backcountry, the day starts slowly with time to soak up the peace and beauty of this lodge. Sundance was built in 1991, near the original Ten Mile Cabin, built in 1923 where the trail riders used to stop and rest on their way to Mount Assiniboine. (Ten Mile Cabin is still there and Sundance Lodge sits where the corral would have been.) With no emails to answer or errands to run, time is ones own. Sit on the deck, get lost in the pages of a good book, or have a chat with the horses. Begin the ride back to Banff in the late morning and enjoy a picnic on the way back to the stables, arriving at around 4:30pm

Please note that vegan / vegetarian meal options will incur an extra charge. Pleae enquire with your consultant

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

There are about 300 horses and mules available for trail riding, and as pack horses, with a large variety of sizes, breeds and temperaments within the herd, and there is something suitable for any level of rider. The riding is all done at a walk and the terrain can be steep or rocky in places. On occasion, riders may need to dismount and lead their horse for short periods.


Rider requirements

No previous experience is necessary for this ride, the guides will be happy to teach beginners the basics that they will need on the tour. The riding is all done at a walk and the horses are well trained. A good level of general fitness is required and riders should have an adventurous nature. The minimum age for this ride is 9 years, and the maximum weight is 250lbs (113kg). These restrictions are strictly adhered to for the safety of the horses and all riders, guests may be asked to provide proof of age for children and be weighed before being allowed to ride.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 230 lb/105 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

On the 6 and 4 day trails you will be staying in two different lodges. On the 2 and 3 day trails you will stay at Sundance Lodge.

Sundance Lodge: The first and last nights of your trip will be spent in this warm and cozy lodge on the edge of the mountain range. It is a modern upgrade of the original Ten-Mile Cabin that was built in the 1920s. Secluded and rustic, it is also warm and cosy with solar power and a wood-burning stove. Hot showers and electricity are available here, and the large professional kitchen allows the excellent chefs to offer a fully catered rotating seasonal menu for guests. There is a porch where you can sit out and watch for wildlife and a social area with comfortable chairs by the fireplace perfect for reading a book or swapping stories. The shared bathroom facilities are inside and there are 10 rooms available.

Halfway Lodge: The middle three nights of the trip will be spent at this lodge set at the base of the Allenby Pass. It was built in the 1920s for trail riders in their way to Mount Assiniboine. This a more basic lodge than Sundance but charming in it’s own way. Propane lanterns and candles provide the lighting while a woodstove provides the heat and keeps the coffee warm. There is a cosy kitchen, dining and living areas inside, and two shared outhouses (outdoor basic toilet facilities) and an outdoor shower on site. There are 4 bedrooms that have space for up to 4 people each.

Meals are cooked on-site by professional chefs with expertise in backcountry cooking. Breakfast and dinner will be served in the common dining areas each day, while lunches will be packed in saddlebags and taken on the rides. A traditional cowboy cook-out takes place on the first day which is usually a juicy AAA Alberta steak paired with home-made baked beans, baked potatoes and other fixings. Dinners at the lodges are more sophisticated than you might expect out in the wilderness with everything from braised beef short ribs to plump Cornish game hen matched with a side of fluffy mashed potatoes to crème brulee cheesecake.

Camps and lodges are licensed and offer a small selection of wine and beer.

Please note that vegan / vegetarian meal options will incur an extra charge. Please enquire with your travel consultant.


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

Summer is generally 15-30 Celsius each day with cooler mountain mornings. It is warmest in July and August. The climate here is generally dry. Stunning autumn colours are best seen in September.

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

One lodge has solar power while the other has no electricity so please bring spare batteries or a powerpack for charging equipment. 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

Duffle bag to carry your belongings
A warm coat — Essential to ward off chilly nights or a windy day. Also bring a heavy sweater (wool is a great insulator) or fleece jacket.
Rain gear — A rain coat and waterproof trousers, and if possible, coverings for your boots and hat. Please DO NOT bring rain ponchos, they flap in the wind and can scare the horses. If you have one, we recommend a slicker. There is a limited supply of full-length slickers (traditional cowboy rain coat) available. These are available for pick up upon check in based on a first come first served basis. Clothing that is easily layered works the best. You can always remove what you don’t need, but you still have it just in case. Also, bring your most comfortable gear — this is not the time to break-in new boots or a new hat.
Shirts – long sleeve and t-shirts to your preference.
Jeans – a cowboy classic. Jodhpurs are also acceptable. Also important is a pair of long underwear for chilly nights.
Riding boots — A boot with a heel that can easily slip in and out of stirrups. Alternatives would be a narrow style of hiking boot or solid sneaker. For safety reasons, clunky hiking boots are not recommended. Water (rain) resistant boots are recommended.
Sneakers — or an extra pair of shoes for wearing around camp, an extra pair of DRY socks is also recommended.
Toiletries — facecloth, biodegradable shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, disposable razors, etc. Toilet paper and hand soap are provided at the lodges.
Hat — A cowboy hat offers the most protection from the elements. Baseball caps or canvas-type hats are also fine. Please ensure that your hat fits snug or ties on and will not blow off in the wind. Chin straps are recommended. If you prefer to wear a riding helmet, there is a selection available upon check in on a first come first served basis.
Gloves — Lined leather or suede gloves provide protection from the elements and a sure grip on the reins (bring two pairs just in case one gets wet).
Scarf — A silk or cotton scarf is recommended for extra warmth.
Sunscreen
Sunglasses
Mosquito repellent.
Your camera – extra batteries.
Torch — Remember to check your batteries!
Cellular phones do not work in the areas you’ll be riding in so leave them somewhere safe. If you will be using the camera on your phone, please note there is no charging station in the backcountry.
Water bottle – for refreshment while you are riding. You will be able to refill your water bottle at each camp.
Saddlebags – You are welcome to bring your own; saddlebags are available at check in. Please fill them with only those essential items that you would need during the day, such as lip balm, your camera, sunscreen, etc. We reserve the right to limit the amount of gear in the saddlebags for weight. Daypacks, backpacks or other bags are NOT allowed — they are hard on your back and hard on the horse’s back, and do not tie properly to the saddle.
Cash – you may want to bring some cash to purchase drinks or leave a gratuity for your cooks. You can also use credit cards to purchase liquor.

Programmes

This is a 6 day/5 night programme with riding on 5 days available between June and September starting on Thursdays and Sundays. Shorter stays also available: 2 days/1 night starting on Saturdays; 3 days/2 nights starting on Mondays; 4 days/3 nights starting on Wednesdays.

Departure Dates

2024: 29 Aug still available. All other dates fully booked
2025: 6 day ride: Thursday and Sunday departures - From 19 June - 11 Sept
2025: 2 day ride: Saturdays only - From 17 May - 4 Oct
2025: 3 day ride: Mondays only - From 19 May - 29 Sept

Pricing
No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2024 6 Day Programme6d/5n5double pp2,145
2024 6 Day Programme6d/5n5single supplement325
2024 6 Day Programme6d/5n5Discount for sharing triple room -75
2025 Sundance Explorer (3 Day Programme)3d/2n3double pp1,059
2025 Sundance Explorer (3 Day Programme)3d/2n3single supplement375
2025 Sundance Explorer (3 Day Programme)3d/2n3vegan/gluten free supplement 59
2025 6 Day Programme6d/5n5double pp2,745
2025 6 Day Programme6d/5n5single supplement1,059
2025 6 Day Programme6d/5n5vegan/gluten free supplement 119
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2024 6 Day Programme6d/5n5double pp2,545
2024 6 Day Programme6d/5n5single supplement385
2024 6 Day Programme6d/5n5Discount for sharing triple room -89
2025 Sundance Explorer (3 Day Programme)3d/2n3double pp1,259
2025 Sundance Explorer (3 Day Programme)3d/2n3single supplement445
2025 Sundance Explorer (3 Day Programme)3d/2n3vegan/gluten free supplement 70
2025 6 Day Programme6d/5n5double pp3,255
2025 6 Day Programme6d/5n5single supplement1,259
2025 6 Day Programme6d/5n5vegan/gluten free supplement 139
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
2024 6 Day Programme6d/5n5double pp2,865
2024 6 Day Programme6d/5n5single supplement429
2024 6 Day Programme6d/5n5Discount for sharing triple room -99
2025 Sundance Explorer (3 Day Programme)3d/2n3double pp1,395
2025 Sundance Explorer (3 Day Programme)3d/2n3single supplement495
2025 Sundance Explorer (3 Day Programme)3d/2n3vegan/gluten free supplement 77
2025 6 Day Programme6d/5n5double pp3,615
2025 6 Day Programme6d/5n5single supplement1,395
2025 6 Day Programme6d/5n5vegan/gluten free supplement 155
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2024 6 Day Programme6d/5n5double pp29,179
2024 6 Day Programme6d/5n5single supplement4,379
2024 6 Day Programme6d/5n5Discount for sharing triple room -1,029
2025 Sundance Explorer (3 Day Programme)3d/2n3double pp14,415
2025 Sundance Explorer (3 Day Programme)3d/2n3single supplement5,089
2025 Sundance Explorer (3 Day Programme)3d/2n3vegan/gluten free supplement 795
2025 6 Day Programme6d/5n5double pp37,319
2025 6 Day Programme6d/5n5single supplement14,419
2025 6 Day Programme6d/5n5vegan/gluten free supplement 1,589
Other Activities

Banff is an excellent location for outdoor activities. Some available options are:
Hiking
Cycling
Rock Climbing
White Water Rafting
Hot Springs
Helicopter Rides
Sight-seeing tours
Lake Cruise
Carriage Rides
Ice Hockey
Cave Tours

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. The birds that are often spotted are Clark’s Nutcrackers, Stellar Jays, ravens, falcons and white-tailed ptarmigan. orcupine, marmots, pika, pine martens, rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks are some of the smaller wildlife you might come across in various terrains of the mountain parks.

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 stables just outside Banff
Transfer:
2024: Transfers from the airport can be arranged through Banff Airporter or through us. From $118 per person return. (subject to change)
Flight Guide:
London to Calgary from £520
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