Explore Utah on a horseback riding vacation through the Capitol Reef National Park and Escalante Canyons National Monument. Cover new trails each day, spending nights in comfortable inns and guesthouses with daily forays deep into the wilderness. Experience ancient petroglyphs, slickrock mountains, slot-canyons, rock arches, buttes and spires such as Cathedral Valley, The Mummy Cliffs and Circle Cliffs, among others. Offering a unique way to visit Utah's vast and varied landscapes, these trails are ideal for novice to experienced horseback riders who want to explore this unspoilt region while still enjoying hotel accommodation and restaurant food at night. These rides are offered with a camping option for those who want a full immersion deeper into the wilderness.

The 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. The trails are mostly wild and use the original wildlife tracks pioneered by 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 regions (to 11,500 ft.) during mid-summer and lower elevations (to 3,900 ft.) earlier or later in the season. This package is a horseback vacation 'must'.

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 FI of St. Louis, Missouri on 13/06/2024

Ride Summary
Great! Very picturesque area. Four different areas on the four rides that were geologically different:
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments



Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
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Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
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What could we do to improve this ride?
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
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A couple of rocky inclines were out of my comfort zone.
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Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Explore the wild and beautiful Colorado Plateau, but retire to a comfortable guesthouse each night.
This is a sample itinerary as several different trails are used throughout the season. Each trail is unique and riders are taken on the best trail or the conditions, moving between Capitol Reef National Park, and Dixie and Fish Lake National Forests.

Day 1
Arrive in scenic Torrey, Utah and check into the accommodation. Meet with the trip leader and interpretative specialist at 7:00pm for dinner, and orientation, and to outline details, destinations, and scheduling particulars at the accommodation.

Day 2
After a continental breakfast at the guesthouse, meet the guides and transfer to the trailhead to meet the remainder of the crew and the horses. After becoming familiar with the horses, hit the Sand Creek Trail for The Mummy Cliffs and Fremont River Overlook, Hell’s Hole and Paradise Overlook. Ride along Pleasant Creek and pass through the Waterpocket Fold in Capitol Reef National Park.

Day 3
Ride out to visit Sulfur Creek Gorge and The Goosenecks; or ride the Keller Trail to Capitol Reef Overlook on Chokecherry Point and The Terrace.

Day 4
The Great Western Trail to The Terrace and Meek’s Lake.  Return with plenty of time to relax and enjoy dinner with the guide before bedding down for the night.

Day 5
Depart for a final day of riding, joining the horses in Notom, Utah to ride along tranquil Pleasant Creek to see ancient petroglyphs and historical inscriptions on steep canyon walls of Capitol Reef National Park.

Day 6
After breakfast it's time to pack up and head back to the airport. Departing flights should be booked no earlier than 11am.

Capitol Reef Area
This is a landscape where thousands of feet of layered sediments, deposited over three-hundred million years of geologic history, that was thrust skyward by a fault in the earth’s crust. Eons of water and wind have then carved the jagged, multi-colored spectacle one sees today. It is little wonder the Ute Indians called Capitol Reef and environs: “Land of the Sleeping Rainbow”. Exploring a new trail each day, riders 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 and 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 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.

Horses & Riding

The horses used for these rides are seasoned mountain horses and the herd consists of ranch-raised Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Arabs and Mustangs, 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. They are joined by a small group of seasoned guides who share a similar interest and enthusiasm for the canyonlands.

Rider requirements

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.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 250 lb/114 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

For the first 3 nights accommodation you will stay in a 5-Star Hotel in the friendly town of Torrey, Utah. Torrey is a town with a population of a little over 200 people known as, “The Gateway City” to Capitol Reef National Park.  You will be staying at one of the area’s three best inns: either Broken Spur Inn, Torrey Schoolhouse B&B or Red Sands Hotel.

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 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

You will need to get a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver to enter or transit the USA as a visitor. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need.

You should be aware that if you have travelled to or have been in Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen on or after 1 March 2011, you are normally not eligible for an ESTA visa waiver and will need to apply for a US visa.

Passport and Visa 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 should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/usa

In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/united-states

Climate Summary

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.

Climate Chart


COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

You should always bring any regular prescription drugs you may need with you.

BE AWARE: There are restrictions and prohibitions on the import of certain prescription drugs into the US. The USA Food and Drug Administration website contains further information and advice on bringing medicines into the USA.

Medical treatment is expensive and there are no special arrangements for British visitors. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

You should take suitable steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and ticks. There are occasional outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases.

Health authorities have classified the USA as having a risk of Zika virus transmission in Florida and a few parts of Texas

You can contact the emergency services by calling 911.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in the USA and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

Health (ride specific)

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


In the USA 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 electricity and wifi available in the accommodation on all nights. Hairdryers are also available to borrow at the accommodation. 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

- Riding Helmet – we strongly recommend that you wear a properly fitted riding helmet of the current standard which is PAS015 or BSEN1384 (One can be provided, but we recommend you bring your own)
- Gloves
- Jodhpurs - jodhpurs, breeches or other comfortable trousers (jeans may rub and can also be quite hot)
- Riding Boots - it is important to have correct shoes or boots for horse riding. Jodhpur or ankle boots with a rubber sole are recommended but sturdy shoes with a heel are acceptable (such as walking boots)
- Half Chaps - these are great when worn with ankle boots and help prevent the stirrup leathers rubbing against your legs
- Long underwear, underwear and socks
- Long sleeved shirts
- Sweater
- Medium and heavy weight jackets
- Bandana or scarf
- Casual shoes for evening
- Quality rain coat and trousers
- Wide brimmed hat with a string
- Sunscreen
- Lipbalm
- Sunglasses
- Personal Items - toiletries, any medicines you require and please be sure to take insect repellent
- Refillable Water Bottle - it's very important to drink a lot of water when it's hot, especially when doing physical activities
- Camera, spare Batteries/Chargers - an absolute must! It is also a good idea to take a camera case you can strap around your waist or onto a belt for whilst you are riding

Provided by hosts
Riding helmet
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.


A 6 day/5 night/4 riding days trip available on set dates between April and October.

Departure Dates

2024: 6 - 11 May; 3 - 8 June

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   
Riding days Product item description £
20246d/5n4double pp2,315
20246d/5n4single supplement245
No of   
Riding days Product item description
20246d/5n4double pp2,789
20246d/5n4single supplement289
No of   
Riding days Product item description US $
20246d/5n4double pp3,129
20246d/5n4single supplement319
No of   
Riding days Product item description SEK
20246d/5n4double pp32,499
20246d/5n4single supplement3,349
Recommended Reading

E. Annie Proulx’s three books of Wyoming short stories (“Close Range”, “Bad Dirt”, “Fine just the way it is”)

Mary O’Hara’s “Flicka” triology.

The Virginian” by Owen Wister (a classic one) and

Zane Grey’s Western novels.

C.J. Box (i.e. “Open Season”) and

Craig Johnson (i.e. “The Cold Dish”).

Cowboy poet Baxter Black 

“Where Rivers change Direction”, a memoir by Mark Spragg about life on an early dude ranch.

Where the Rivers Run North” by Sam Morton, a historical novel.

“The Meadow” by James Galwin.

Lone Star: A History Of Texas And The Texans by by T. Fehrenbach 

Discovering Natural Horsemanship: A Beginner's Odyssey by Tom Moates.

.Monty Roberts books, particularly ‘The Horse Whisperer’

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 

Also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com


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.

Other Information

When riding in the Backcountry and the trails are ungroomed and rough in some places.

Other Country Information

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: 4G and 5G 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. There is NO cell reception at the ranch, but there is WiFi in our saloon and office. There are still a few rural areas which 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.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Torrey, Utah, USA.
Transfers can also be arranged from Salt Lake City or Nevada - please enquire.
2024: Car rental recommended. Return transfers can be arranged for approx. $600 for a single or $1750 for group of 5, please enquire for more details. (Subject to change)
Flight Guide:
London to Salt Lake City (SLC) from £970pp return
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