Explore Utah, riding through the Capitol Reef National Park and Escalante Canyons National Monument on horseback. Cover new trails each day, spending nights in comfortable inns and guesthouses with daily forays deep into the wilderness. You’ll experience ancient petroglyphs, slickrock mountains, slot-canyons, rock arches, buttes and spires such as Cathedral Valley, The Mummy Cliffs and Circle Cliffs, Paradise, Hell’s Hole, The Velvet Ridge, The Golden Throne and Pleasant Creek Falls among others. Offering a unique way to visit Utah's vast and varied landscapes, these trails are ideal for novice to experienced riders who want to explore this wild region while still enjoying guesthouse accommodation. For those who want a full immersion into the wilderness, we also offer these rides with a camping option.
You'll begin the ride staying in the small, friendly town of Torrey for 3 nights before transferring to another guesthouse in Boulder as the ride meanders down the Waterpocket Fold towards Lake Powell. These trail rides vary throughout the seasons; during warm weather or autumn foliage season, excursions to the lakes and alpine meadows of Fishlake or Dixie National Forest become part of the itinerary.
These trails are mostly un-groomed and use the original tracks pioneered by wildlife, Indians, outlaws and herdsmen. Areas explored are selected for their scenic quality, pristine natural condition and remote location. As a general rule, the rides explore higher environs (to 11,500 ft.) during mid-summer and lower elevations (to 3,900 ft.) earlier or later in the season.
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This is a sample itinerary as several different trails are used throughout the season. Each trail is unique and you'll always be taken on the best trail for the conditions.
Arrive in scenic Torrey, Utah and check into your accommodation. You will meet with your trip leader and interpretative specialist for orientation and to outline details, destinations, and scheduling particulars at 7:00pm at your accommodation. Dinner is not included tonight.
Your guides will meet you after breakfast at your inn and then you’ll depart for a short vehicle ride to the trailhead meeting the remainder of the crew and your horse. After becoming familiar with your mount, you’ll hit the Sand Creek Trail for The Mummy Cliffs and Fremont River Overlook, Hell’s Hole and Paradise Overlook or you’ll ride along Pleasant Creek as you pass through the Waterpocket Fold in Capitol Reef National Park.
From your Torrey inn, you’ll visit Sulfur Creek Gorge and The Goosenecks; or you’ll ride the Keller Trail to Capitol Reef Overlook on Chokecherry Point and The Terrace.
Today your accommodation will shift from the Torrey area to Boulder, Utah. For those guests traveling by automobile, you’ll transfer car and luggage to trails end then ride The Slickrock Trail or you’ll ride The Great Western Trail to The Terrace and Meek’s Lake. Arrive at your new accommodation with plenty of time to unpack, relax and enjoy a distinctive dining experience with your guide before bedding down for the night.
From your hosts' Boulder base, you’ll experience the Burr Trail into the Escalante river canyons of Sand Hollow and Deer Creek or alternatively you’ll ride from Roundup Flat Trail to Long Lake, Scout Lake and Sunflower Flat.
You’ll depart for a final day of riding, joining your mount in Indian Gulch, then journey to The Lamp Stand, Lamanite Natural Bridge and Egg Canyon or venture to Edmund’s Hole, Steep Creek Lakes and Deer Creek. On this final evening, you’ll enjoy a group dinner before your final night’s stay.
After breakfast it's time to pack up and head back to the airport. Departing flights should be booked no earlier than 11am.
|April 12; May 24||Capitol Reef NP & Escalante Canyons NM: Wildflowers; Springtime in Red Rocks|
|June 14; July 5, 26||Capitol Reef NP & Escalante Canyons NM: Explore Capitol Reef NP & the Escalante Canyons NM headwaters including alpine settings|
|August 16, 30||Capitol Reef NP, Boulder Mountain & Escalante Canyons.: Views of the Canyonlands, Four Corner area, alpine lakes, and aspens|
|September 20; October 11||Capitol Reef NP, Boulder Mountain & Escalante Canyons NM: Fall colors in the aspens and cottonwoods|
Capitol Reef Area
This is a landscape where thousands of feet of layered sediments, deposited over three-hundred million years of geologic history, have been thrust skyward by faulting of the earth’s crust. Eons of water and wind have then carved the jagged, multi colored spectacle you see today. It is little wonder the Ute Indians called Capitol Reef and environs: “Land of the Sleeping Rainbow”. Exploring a new trail each day, you’ll visit ancient petroglyphs, slickrock mountains, slot-canyons, rock arches, buttes and spires. Experience Cathedral Valley, Paradise, Hell’s Hole, The Golden Throne, Pleasant Creek Gorge, Deep Creek Gorge, Tantalus Canyon, and more.
The Grand Staircase/Escalante Canyons National Monument Area
This is Utah’s largest tract of unspoiled wilderness. Over the eons, the Escalante Canyons have been sculpted by wind and water into a maze of gigantic proportions. This is a landscape of slickrock punctured by deep, narrow canyons. A landscape so rugged and remote that the tiny village of Boulder, Utah, which lies within its midst, could not be reached by automobile until 1938. The Escalante River was the last named and explored drainage in the continental United States.
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 used for these rides are seasoned mountain horses and the herd consists of ranch-raised Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Arabs and Mustangs. Most of the horses in the herd have been bred and raised by your hosts. Some of the terrain on these rides is mountainous so the pace of riding is mostly walk and trot with the occasional canter. Western tack is used and you will be provided with waterproof gear bags, water bottles and saddle bags. Each day will vary but you should plan to leave your accommodation around 9am and return around 6pm.
The rides are leisurely and might be divided into two groups, one group going a longer distance and one a shorter distance. Daily travel time to or from the accommodation to the start of the trail averages at about twenty minutes. Your hosts on this trip are very experienced at leading rides and hikes into this remote region and have been guiding travellers for over four decades. They are joined by a small group of seasoned guides who share a similar interest and enthusiasm for the canyonlands.
This destination is open to all horse enthusiasts and nature lovers. Although heart and athleticism are often more important than experience when judging horses or riders, riders should be in control at walk, trot and during short canters. Your hosts strive to give experienced riders all the pace and challenge they desire, and to give inexperienced riders all the instruction and patience they need. Time and logistics permitting, the group may divide into two smaller groups riding to separate destinations or scenic features.
Some parts of the ride may require you to dismount and lead your horse for short periods, the distance depends on local conditions. Each day will consist of between 4-6 hours in the saddle although riders can choose to rest for a day rather than ride if they want to. You are not required to help catch, groom or tack up your horse but help in these areas is almost always welcomed.
The weight limit for this ride is 225 lb/102 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
For the first 3 nights accommdation you will stay in a guesthouse in the small, friendly town of Torrey, Utah. Torrey is a town with a population of a little over 200 people and is located near the west entrance of Capitol Reef National Park. You will be staying at one of the area’s three best inns; either Torrey Schoolhouse B&B, The Red Sands Hotel, or the Muley Twist Inn, depending on availability.
After three nights, you will transfer to Boulder, Utah. Boulder is a tiny town with big scenery. It is famous as the last town in the continental United States which could be reached by car, it wasn't accessible until 1938. It is located on Highway 12, one of the three most scenic roads in America and is forty miles south of Torrey. Lodging is quite scarce; you’ll stay at either the Boulder Mountain Lodge or Pole’s Place for the last three nights, depending on availability.
Breakfasts will be provided at your accommodation and dinner will be eaten in local restaurants. American breakfasts are varied and you can expect a range of cold meats, eggs, bacon, fruits, yogurts, toast, baked goods or pancakes. Lunches will be eaten on the trail and could include sandwiches, snacks, fruit and biscuits. Dinner is generally a meat or fish main (vegetarians can be catered for) followed by dessert.
Please note that dinner on Day 1 is not included in the price of the holiday.
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
Utah’s portion of the Colorado Plateau region is a semi-arid tableland or steppe ranging in elevation between 3,800 ft. and 11,500 ft. with vegetation classified as upper-Sonoran to Alpine. This landscape is famous for its dynamic elevation changes with hundreds, even thousands, of feet change literally in one step.
The key word in this description, as far as weather is concerned, is semi-arid. It is generally dry with most precipitation falling as snow in the winter and occasional thunderstorms during the summer. Higher elevations are cooler and receive more moisture than lower environs. These trips explore the lower, slickrock and pinyon-juniper forested areas on spring and autumn trail rides. In the heat of the summer, ponderosa-pine or aspen-spruce forests form the backdrop for experiencing the canyonlands. Trip temperatures rarely exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32C) daytime or 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4C) at night. With warm days and cool nights, it is best to layer your clothing to maintain comfort and you should always pack rain gear just in case.
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
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.
There is electricity and wifi available in the accommodation on all nights. Hairdryers are also available to borrow at the accommodation.
These trips feature guesthouse accommodation where bedding and towels are provided. Each guest will be provided with water-proof gear bags for personal items while on the ride. Other items to pack include:
• riding hat (available to borrow, hats are required for minors and strongly encouraged for adults)
• wide brimmed hat with a string
• heeled, smooth soled, riding boots
• riding gloves
• long underwear, underwear and socks
• long sleeved shirts and pants
• sweater, medium and heavy weight jackets
• bandana or scarf
• casual shoes for evening
• quality rain coat and trousers
• camera and batteries
• sun protection - sun cream, lip balm, sunglasses
A 7 day/6 night/5 riding day available on set dates between April and October.
2020: Apr 12; May 3 (FULL), 24; Jun 14; Jul 5, 26; Aug 16, 30; Sept 20; Oct 11.
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Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey - An impassioned, tactile, acidly funny memoir of Abbey's seasons as a park ranger in the rugged Utah wilderness.
Wildlife sightings are common on these rides; ranging from antelope and desert bighorn sheep to elk, deer and large birds-of-prey. You'll be able to observe these majestic creatures with spotting scope and binoculars while on the ride.
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.