The great rocky chasm known as the Grand Canyon, 277 miles long and 18 miles across at its widest point, was carved out by the Colorado River over the course of three to six million years. You could spend a lifetime exploring the Grand Canyon and still not see it all, which contributes to one of the reasons why it is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
This horse riding holiday to the winter pastures of the Grand Canyon begins on the chilly north rim and proceeds to a warmer climate at the lower elevations. In the heyday of the big cattle ranches, the pastures of the Esplanade were often used for wintering livestock during the coldest months of the winter.
The side canyons used to access the Grand Canyon are narrow, deep and cut through a dozen major formations to reveal an incredible chunk of geological history.
This is an adventurous camping experience where you will be riding to remote and spectacular areas on horses that are chosen for their surefootedness and visiting places that are seldom visited by tourists. Riders must be able to handle their mounts in steep and rugged terrain, be comfortable at all paces and fit enough to ride 6-7 hours in a day. Some days riders will return to the camp where they spent the previous night to allow for a longer day's riding, while on other nights the camp will move so riders get the true pack trip experience.
This trail is vehicle supported.
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 RL of St Austell on 17/03/2018
Pickup in St. George at 1:00pm. Transfer to Hack Canyon where the first camp is located. Become acquainted with the horses and perhaps there will be time for a short ride near to where we will be camping.
After a hearty camp breakfast in the frosty air, saddle the horses and pack the pack horses. Follow the trail down Hack Canyon to the Esplanade, a bench of the Supai formation which runs parallel to the Colorado River and varies in width from 200 feet to a mile. Keep your eyes open for wary desert bighorn sheep, which are often seen in this area.
Today's ride takes you deeper into the Canyon as far as Chamberlain Cove, where camp will be made for the night. Along the way, explore the various drainages cutting through the Esplanade. Ride further on to Dripping Springs Canyon, from where one has a spectacular view of the Colorado River some 1500 feet below.
Head down Chamberlain Canyon to Kanab Creek. Tonight’s camp will be made in this major tributary of the Colorado River.
Leave the pack horses at camp, and ride down Kanab Creek, exploring the inner gorge and some of the side canyons.
Climb at a steady pace up Kanab Creek to Hack Canyon to the rim. Help load the horses and transfer back to St George, arriving no later than 6.00pm. (Note: Accommodation is not included on this night, so be sure you either make a hotel or shuttle reservation for this night.)
**THE ITINERARY IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE DUE TO WEATHER AND OTHER UNFORSEEABLE CIRCUMSTANCES, as with many of our riding holidays.**
Please follow this link for a map of the start point of this itinerary: Grand Canyon Trail
We have an extensive range of Western Riding holidays across the world. Please click on the link below to go to our listings page:
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.
The horses on this ride are chosen for their surefootedness in rough terrain. Although predominantly Quarterhorses, other breeds and crosses will be among the outfitter's remuda. He also has a couple of mules which are excellent packhorses, and can sometimes be used as saddle horses. Western-style tack is utilised. Riders are welcome to bring their own saddles. This is a trail ride and on most nights the camp will be moved to a different location. On some days the camp will remain in the same place to allow for a longer day's riding.
Participants must be able to handle their mounts in steep and rugged terrain. The trails in this country are extremely rough and rocky, and riders are occasionally expected to dismount and follow the horses as they make their way through the rocks. Riders must be in reasonably good physical condition, prepared for to hike, and wear appropriate footgear.
Riders are expected to assist with tacking up and untacking. Help with the pack string is not expected, but is always appreciated. All saddles are equipped with saddlebags.
Weight limit: 210 lbs
The weight limit for this ride is 15 st/210 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
This is a camping trip with minimalist facilities. Nights will be spent camping at sites along the trail. Exterior frame nylon tents with flooring, zippers and a screened window will be utilised. The tents are sized to accommodate 2 people and their gear. Low camp beds are used and foam pads are provided for placement under sleeping bags. Warm water is available for washing up and washing hands and face in the morning and evening in the morning and evening, but please keep in mind that in this country water is a scarce commodity. Please use it conservatively. An assortment of home-cooked meals will be provided while on the trail. The cuisine is hearty and varied, prepared over an open fire. Clients should advise Unicorn in advance if they are vegetarians or have other special food considerations. You can bring your own alcohol on this trail and should you be staying in St George the night before there is a store you can buy supplies from right opposite the hotel.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.
All travellers are required to provide details online 72 hours prior to travel. For more information, and to apply online please visit the following website at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. Electronic travel authorities once obtained will be valid for a period of two years, or the validity of the travellers passport (whichever is shorter). There is a $14 charge for this service (2015). Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely to be detained and sent home.
On 5 January 2004, the US Authorities introduced the US-VISIT Programme. This means that all those aged between 14 and 79 travelling to the US are now finger-scanned and digitally photographed on arrival at passport control.
There are British consulates at many locations in the US, please check with the Foreign Office website for your closest one. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on 020 7008 0232/0233 or see www.fco.gov.uk
The temperatures will be primarily a factor of elevation. It is winter, and there could be snow at the upper elevations. Nights will be cold, probably down to 10 degrees F. Daytime temperatures can vary from 40's to upper 60's. Wearing layers of clothing is the best way to be prepared for the temperature fluctuations. Elevation at the first camp is 5332 feet (1625 meters) above sea level.
No specific health precautions are required for visits to the USA.
Medical treatment can be very expensive; there are no special arrangements for British visitors. The British Embassy and Consulates-General cannot assist with medical expenses.
Comprehensive travel and medical insurance is essential; at least $1,000,000 cover, which includes hospital treatment and medical evacuation to the UK, would be wise. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake including horse riding.
For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org
There are no specific health requirements although do remember sun block.
The voltage is 110V in the USA and you will need a flat blade plug and possibly an adaptor depending on the appliance. Check the voltage input required for mobile phone and digital/video cameras before leaving.
Jeans or jodhpurs
Chaps or leggings
Riding boots (comfortable for hiking as soon walking on foot may be required)
Long and short sleeved shirts
Bandana or buff to protect your face from the dust
Winter coat and lightweight rain coat
Sneakers or soft shoes
Wide-brimmed hat with tie
Warm sleeping apparel
Hot water bottle
Long Underwear/thermal underwear
Sunscreen & skin lotion
Waist pouch (recommended)
Water bottle/canteen - two 1 litre bottles which can be re-filled at the water tank prior to setting off for the day.
Towel/washcloth, small shampoo
Flashlight and extra batteries
Camera and film
Sleeping bag -(should be rated down to minus 10 degrees F)**
Pillow and case
*Riding helmets are not required, but Unicorn Trails strongly encourages riders to consider wearing one.
**A pillowcase which can be stuffed with a sweater or jacket is a handy substitute for a pillow.
***Sleeping bags may be rented for the week at a cost of $35.00 (2015 rate) with prior arrangement.
Low camp beds are used and foam pads are provided for placement under sleeping bags.
Extra luggage cannot be left at the hotel in St. George. However, the outfitter is able to arrange for a secure place to keep extra luggage while you are on the ride. Please enquire at Unicorn trails.
This programme is available on set dates and by arrangement for groups of 6 or more between November and March.
2018: 26 February (full)
Monty Roberts particularly ‘The Horse Whisperer’.
We also recommend Notes From A Big Country by Bill Bryson and Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck.
For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com. Another fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
If you prefer films we suggest you try Lonesome Dove.
This is a wilderness experience where participation in expected. Riders should be willing to pitch in with feeding horses, washing dinner dishes, setting up the tents, or wherever a hand is needed. The groups are small, and the camaraderie of working together as a team is one of the aspects of this tour which makes it unique. This is a ride for people who don’t mind the rigors of rustic camping, rugged trails, and winter weather in order to experience the drama, isolation and spectacular beauty of the Grand Canyon the way it must have looked several hundred years ago.
The USA has 4 main times zones - Eastern Standard Time (EST), Central Standard Time (CST), Mountain Standard Time (MST) and Pacific Standard Time (PST).
Vermont is on EST, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah are all on MST, California is on PST.
Weights and measures are imperial although weight is always expressed in pounds, not stone. The US gallon is 3.8 litres in contrast to an imperial gallon which is 4.2 litres.
Mobile telephone: In 2015 3G is widely available throughout the US in cities, towns, villages and along main highways with AT&T having the best overall coverage and T-mobile offering better speeds in cities. 4G is beginning to be available in cities. There are still a few rural areas which have no GSM reception but do have the older CDMA telephone networks. To be able to call from these areas we recommend buying a cheap Verizon phone from eg Walmart (from $13) and topping up with credit. Almost all hotels and airports offer free wifi connection.