Explore Utah from horseback on one of these unique camping trips where small groups venture deep into the wilderness exploring plunging canyons and otherworldly, red-rock landscapes. Ride through the Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, San Rafael Swell Wilderness, or Utah’s High Plateaus. Early trips highlight high desert environment and canyon riding, while June, July and August highlight the surrounding mountains, taking in elevations up to 10,000 feet and offering panoramic views of the lower canyons.
This destination is for adventurous travellers; you'll stay in a fully-equipped campsite, far from the beaten path, in comfortable canvas tents complete with showers. Each day you'll ride out after breakfast in a different direction equipped with a packed lunch and return to camp in time for a delicious dinner prepared by the camp cook. Riders will be joined by experienced hosts who have been running these trips for over four decades and are happy to pass on their knowledge of the areas local wildlife and scenery.
Bounded by the Grand Canyon to the south and Uintah Basin to the north this rugged scenery is home to wildflowers, elk, deer, and even wild horses that can be spotted, as well as the spectacular views of the 4-Corners region where ten or more national parks and monuments may be seen in a single panorama. A completely unique trip exploring some of Americas most dramatic landscapes.
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 AR of porthcawl on 01/08/2019
This destination offers based camping trips with the first and last night spent in guesthouse accommodation and 4 nights spent at a comfortable, fully-equipped campsite. You will ride out in different directions each day, returning to base camp each evening. Each camping ride is unique although camp location is generally situated at a higher elevation in mid-summer and a lower elevation in spring and autumn seasons. Areas explored include: Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, San Rafael Swell Wilderness, or Utah’s High Plateaus depending on the time of year.
Transfer to the local town of Torrey, where your hosts are based, and check into your first nights accommodation, a local hotel or motel. Eat a delicious first night dinner (not included) and at 8:00pm, meet your fellow riders at an orientation and final packing session with your trip leader and the trip's interpretative specialist.
After breakfast, you'll be transferred to the stables where you will meet the remainder of the crew and your horse, before departing at 9:00am for the trail. This first days riding will allow you to get acquianted with your horse. You'll arrive at basecamp at around 4pm where the camps chef will have prepared a hearty evening meal to be enjoyed.
After breakfast you'll saddle up and ride out from basecamp before returning to a hot shower and cold drinks. From the camp you'll ride to Snow Lake and the Flat Top on Thousand Lakes Mountain to admire stunning views of the canyonlands. You'll return to camp in time to relax and enjoy hors d'oeuvres before dinner.
Daylight at the Pleasant Creek camp brings the prospect of visiting Scout Lake, Long Lake and spectacular Bowns Point via the Elderberry Trail. Riders at the Wiff's Pasture camp will spend their final full day on the Saddle Pass Trail with its stunning views of Hell's Hole, Sand Creek Gorge and the Fremont River Valley. After lunch you'll return to camp via Billings Pass and the Cathedral Valley overlook.
After a hearty breakfast, riders at the Wiff's Pasture camp will spend their final full day on the Saddle Pass Trail with its stunning views of Hell's Hole, Sand Creek Gorge and the Fremont River Valley. Riders at the Pleasant Creek camp will follow Keller's Trail to the breath-taking vista on Chokecherry Point, then across the Terrace to Pleasant Creek Falls.
After packing personal gear and breaking up camp, campers will return to the start point by riding back among the multi-hued Navajo sandstone domes littered with volcanic boulders where you'll exchange your saddle for the short drive back to headquarters. You'll arrive back at your hosts headquarters in the late afternoon and check into a hotel or motel in Torrey for your final night. Dinner can be taken at a local restaurant (not included).
Departure day. After breakfast it's time to pack up to transfer back to the airport. We recommend booking your flight for no earlier than 11am.
For these rides different dates explore different regions. Please see below for schedule and brief description of the areas that can be explored.
|Departure date||Region explored||Ride highlights|
|April 14-19 & April 21-26||San Rafael Swell Wilderness||Wild Horses at Muddy River Gorge & Red Canyon|
|April 28-May 3||Escalante Canyons National Monument||Spring wildflowers in Slickrock Canyons of GSENM|
|May 26-31||Capitol Reef National Park||Spring Wildflowers in Slickrock Canyons of CRNP|
|June 9-14 & June 16-21||High Plateaus & Capitol Reef National Park||Spring Wildflowers|
|June 30-July 5 & July 7-12||America’s “Great Western Trail”, alpine lakes and wildlife||Views of Capitol Reef NP|
|July 21-26 & July 28-Aug.2||High Plateaus & Boulder Mountain||Views of the Canyon Lands, 4 Corners, the Grand Staircase|
|Aug 11-16 (women only)||High Plateaus||Views of the Canyon Lands, 4 Corners area, aspens, alpine lakes, wildlife|
|Sept. 1-6 & Sept. 8-13||High Plateaus & Escalante Watershed||Fall foliage: brilliant hues, cooler weather in a maze of redrock canyons (wild horses!)|
|Sept. 29- Oct. 4||Capitol Reef National Park Views||Capitol Reef, 4 Corners and the Waterpocket Fold Vistas|
|Oct. 6-11 & Oct. 13-18||San Rafael Swell Wilderness||Fall foliage: brilliant hues, cooler weather in a maze of redrock canyons (wild horses!)|
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.
San Rafael Swell Area
The San Rafael Swell is 2,800 square miles of uninhabited wilderness–nearly two times the size of Rhode Island without a single human resident. The Swell is a gigantic bubble in the earth’s crust which has eroded into a maze of deep, multi-hued canyons punctured by the mesas, buttes and pinnacles typical of the world famous canyon lands geography. Riders will explore intricate trails established by native Americans, herdsmen and outlaws during the day, then hear stories about these trailblazers while relaxing around the camp fire at night. Always a high point of the trips are views of mustangs or bighorn sheep which occur frequently. Riders may visit Red Canyon, The Penitentiary, The Chute, Muddy River Gorge, Chimney Canyon Gorge, Head of Sinbad, Courthouse Butte, Family Butte, Golden Gate, Twin Priests, Devil’s Monument, Devil’s Racetrack, Joe and his Dog, Sid’s Mountain, Swasey Arch, Dutchman Arch, Saddle Horse Canyon, Cold Canyon, The Snake Dance pictographs, South Fork pictographs, The Blue Man pictographs, 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.
High Plateaus Area
When summer’s heat in the slickrock country becomes oppressive for both horse and rider, the lure of glacial lakes and lush meadows beckons. These guided horseback trail rides explore the plateau tops and canyons where the San Rafael Swell, Capitol Reef National Park and Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument make their dramatic break towards the Colorado River. Always a favorite feature of this ride are the lakes, wildflowers, elk, deer, and other wildlife, as well as the spectacular vistas of the 4-Corners region where ten or more National Parks and Monuments may be seen in a single panorama. The Colorado Plateau is shaped by the Colorado River system as it runs from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California and was the last explored region of the continental United States. This broad expanse of rugged, colorful tablelands encompassing much of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona (the 4-Corners area) is bounded by the Grand Canyon on the south and Uintah Basin on the north.
Non-riders: All camping rides are ideal for non-riding companions who want to spend time camping and relaxing in a wilderness setting, or want to hike this spectacular landscape. Daily guided hikes from the base camp can be arranged and riders are welcome to spend a day hiking/ exploring rather than riding. Non-riders can travel with the cook and crew to and from the base-camp.
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 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 you will depart camp after breakfast at around 9am and return by 4-4:30pm. Although each day's ride will be slightly different with some days longer and some days shorter.
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 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 and riders should have an adventurous nature. On these rides, there is the option to skip some of the riding and either spend the day relaxing at base camp or hiking in the area. Riders are not required to help catch, groom, tack up, pitch tents or assist with food preparation 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.
These rides include the first and final nights accommodation in a hotel/motel in the small town of Torrey, Utah and four nights accommodation at a campsite. The bed and breakfast lodging is at the Red Sands Hotel or The Chuckwagon Motel.
For the other four nights you will be staying in a deluxe base camp which includes canvas tents which can be set up for single, double or family occupancy. You will be provided with a freshly laundered sleeping bag and a sheet, pillow, blanket, foam sleeping mat and cot. All camp amenities are provided such as showers, camp chairs and coolers.
A cook travels with the group to base camp (special diets accommodated with advanced notification). Meals include locally raised, grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free beef and are taken by the campfire or in a specially set-up dining tent. Fresh, local food is provided for all meals, as well as beef the cook will prepare chicken, pork and fish on camping rides. Breakfast is a choice between a cooked breakfast or fruit, granola, yogurt and juice. Lunch is a packed lunch eaten on the trail. Guests pack their own lunch from a buffet which includes sandwiches, snacks, fruit and biscuits. Dinners are prepared by the camp cook and include hors de ouevres, salad, and entree. Coffee, teas, hot chocolate and soft drinks are provided with all meals. Beer and wine is not included but guests can bring their own if they like.
Spirits are welcome on these camping rides but are not included. You will need to bring your own favourite which can be safely carried into camp in the camp truck. Beer (3.2%) is available locally on the first night, however stronger spirits should be purchased prior to arrival. Utah has state-operated liquor stores and the closest is in Bicknell, 6 miles west of Torrey. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, noon until 7 PM.
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 no electricity available when camping. We suggest bringing spare batteries for your camera or investing in a solar powered charger. There is electricity available for charging devices in the hotel/motel accommodation on the first and last night.
These trips feature tent camping at primitive sites and are supported by 4WD vehicles. These vehicles allow your hosts to furnish cooking, eating and shower tents, chairs and a commode as well as feed for the horses. We recommend that you: 1) pack as lightly as possible, 2) pack practically and with a utilitarian eye, and, 3) pack so you may layer clothing for warmth.
Each guest will be provided with water-proof gear bags for personal items. Participants on these rides will be assisted with final packing during the pre-trip orientation, the evening of Day 1. 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
• rubber overshoes (optional - for spring & autumn mud)
• camp shoes (tennis shoes or light hiking boots are good)
• quality rain coat and trousers
• camera and batteries
• Solar-powered phone/camera charger (optional)
• head lamp or torch, extra batteries
• sun protection - sun cream, lip balm, sunglasses
• beer and liquor
A 7 day/6 night/5 riding days trip available on set dates between April and October.
2019: 14, 21, 28 April; 5 May; 9, 16, 30 June; 7, 21, 28 July; 11 August (women only) 18 August; 1, 8, 29 September; 6, 13 October.
2020: 19 Apr (ESCORTED)
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2019 - Camping||7d/6n||5||double pp||1,545|
|2019 - Camping||7d/6n||5||single supplement||105|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2019 - Camping||7d/6n||5||double pp||1,725|
|2019 - Camping||7d/6n||5||single supplement||115|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2019 - Camping||7d/6n||5||double pp||1,919|
|2019 - Camping||7d/6n||5||single supplement||129|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2019 - Camping||7d/6n||5||double pp||18,379|
|2019 - Camping||7d/6n||5||single supplement||1,235|
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey - An impassioned, tactile, acidly funny memoir of Abbey's seasons as a park ranger in the rugged Utah wilderness.
If you want to accompany someone on a trail ride but you are not a rider, you simply want to spend time camping and relaxing in a wilderness setting, or you want to hike this spectacular landscape, then you’re welcome to join one of these rides. Although the trips are designed for riders, it is not uncommon for participants to not ride one or more days. Daily guided hikes will venture forth as arranged. Non-riders may travel with the cook and campjack to and from the base-camp.
Wildlife sightings are common on these rides; wild horses and desert bighorn sheep can be spotted on the San Rafael Swell, and elk, deer and large birds-of-prey can often be seen on the high plateaus. 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.