Explore Utah from horseback on one of these unique camping trips where small groups venture deep into the wilderness exploring craggy 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 and Capitol Reef National Park.

This destination is for adventurous travelers; you'll stay in a fully-equipped campsite, far from the beaten path, in comfortable canvas wall tents complete with showers. Each day you'll ride out after a hot breakfast in a different direction equipped with a picnic 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 two 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.

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Colorado Plateau - San Rafael Swell Rides

Trail Rides to the San Rafael Swell: The San Rafael Swell is 2,800 square miles of uninhabited wilderness of the American West where outlaws used to hide from the law and Native Americans made their home.

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 canyonlands geography. Riders will discover intricate trails established by native Americans, herdsmen and outlaws during the day, then hear stories about these trailblazers while relaxing around the campfire at night.
Always a highlight of the trips are views of mustangs or bighorn sheep which occur frequently. From a deluxe basecamp riders will 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.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1 (Monday): Arrival

Arrive in scenic Torrey, Utah and check into your specified lodging, to be confirmed at the time of reservation. Torrey is a town of a little over 200 population which is located at the junction of highways 12 and 24 near the west entrance of Capitol Reef National Park. At 7:00pm meet for an orientation and final packing session with your trip leader and the trip's interpretative specialist.
Meals included: none
Overnight at the Hotel

Day 2 (Tuesday): Ride to Basecamp
After breakfast, you'll travel a short distance down the road to our headquarters, located on highway 24 in the middle of downtown Torrey. Here, we'll pack your gear in the camp 4X4, meet the remainder of the crew and your horse, then depart (9 am) for our trailhead near Penitentiary Canyon or at the Head of Sinbad.
From the Penitentiary trailhead you'll ride wild horse trails to the mouth of Red Canyon, past Tomsich Butte, by Hondoo Arch, and on to our basecamp at the old mining camp on Muddy Creek.
From the Sinbad Trailhead you'll visit Locomotive Point, Devil's Race Track, Twin Priests and the Golden Gate before arriving at basecamp in Cold Canyon.
Meals included: Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the Basecamp

Day 3 (Wednesday): Full Day Ride
After breakfast and preparing lunch, from the Muddy Creek basecamp you'll visit Red Canyon Narrows, Courthouse & Family Buttes or The Chute and Penitentiary Canyon before returning to camp situated under majestic cottonwoods along the picturesque stream.
From the Cold Canyon basecamp you'll ride thru the Golden Gate to Bullock Canyon and the Blue Man pictograph panel, then on to the South Fork of Coal Wash and the pictograph panel there before returning to the hot showers and cold drinks at the slickrock canyon basecamp.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the Basecamp

Day 4 (Thursday): Full Day Ride
From the Muddy Creek camp you'll explore the upper reaches of the Muddy Gorge where it meanders through the splendidly colored slickrock of Triassic sandstones. Mustangs are numerous along the stream where they come for water from their pastures in the deep side canyons.
From the Cold Canyon location you'll ride to the Long Neck for views of Swasey Arch, Saddle Horse Canyon and upper Cold Canyon. After lunch, you'll ride up the McCarty Canyon trail to the head of Mesquite Canyon where a promontory point will provide a striking vista encompassing all the country you've covered during your trip.
You will always arrive back at camp with plenty of daylight and time to clean up and enjoy hors d'oeuvres before dinner.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the Basecamp

Day 5 (Friday): Back to Torrey
After packing personal gear and breaking camp, you'll ride to McKay Flat via Red Canyon and the Grey Breaks. This route will take us to a favorite watering spring of the wild horses and furnish breath-taking panoramas of the country you've visited on your trip. At trail’s end you'll exchange your saddle seat for the cushioned comfort of a vehicle ride over the San Rafael Swell to Torrey, Utah arriving in the late afternoon. Overnight in hotel.
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
 

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


Note: This is a sample itinerary for two of several camps we may use. Each camp is unique and often offers more trails to explore than time will permit.

2022 Dates and Highlights
April 18th to 22nd: Wild horses at Muddy River Gorge & Red Canyon
April 25-29: Wild horses at Muddy River Gorge & Red Canyon
September 19 to 23rd: Wild horses and fall foliage: brilliant hues, cooler weather in a maze of red rock canyons
September 26-30: Wild horses and fall foliage: brilliant hues, cooler weather in a maze of red rock canyons.

 

Dixie National Forest/ CRNP (Pleasant Creek)

Known for its rich history of Native Americans and early settlers. Capitol Reef National Park is a geological and historical wonderland. Early settlers described, Capitol Reef National Park, as the Land of the Sleeping Rainbows, for its magnificent sandstone colors, streams and desert plant life and beautiful blue sky. Riders will enjoy riding along streams shadowed by majestic canyon walls, observing petroglyph of early Native Americans, and learning of the trailblazers around the campfire at night.

Pleasant Creek Falls is a picturesque location where Boulder Mountain meets Capitol Reef National Park. Immerse yourself in the heart of beautiful white and red sandstone surrounded by ancient ponderosa pines and tranquil Pleasant Creek Waterfalls. A great place to dip your toes in the cool water, listen to the soothing Pleasant Creek Falls as it cuts its way through the sandstone rock. Pleasant Creek is a wonderful trip for families with kids and provides opportunities to play in the water or cool off from the heat.

Day 1 (Monday): Arrival
Arrive in scenic Torrey, Utah and check into your specified lodging, to be confirmed at the time of reservation. Torrey is a town of a little over 200 population which is located at the junction of highways 12 and 24 near the west entrance of Capitol Reef National Park. At 7:00pm meet for an orientation and final packing session with your trip leader and the trip's interpretative specialist.
Meals included: none
Overnight at the Hotel

Day 2 (Tuesday): Ride to Basecamp
After breakfast, you'll travel a short distance down the road to our headquarters, located on highway 24 in the middle of downtown Torrey. Here, we'll pack your gear in the camp 4X4, meet the remainder of the crew and then depart (9 am) for our trailhead near Notom, Utah. Just east of Capitol Reef National Park. From the Notom trailhead you'll ride up Pleasant Creek, passing through canyons where petrogylphs and historical inscriptions from early settlers can be viewed and onto basecamp at Pleasant Creek Falls.
Meals included: Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the Basecamp


Day 3 (Wednesday): Full Day Ride
After breakfast and preparing lunch, from the Pleasant Creek basecamp you'll visit Tantulus flats and Tantulus Canyon, Lower Bown’s historical reservoir seated in the desert overlooking Capitol Reef National Park.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the Basecamp
 
Day 4 (Thursday): Full Day Ride
From the Pleasant Creek camp you’ll visit ancient petroglyphs, slickrock mountains, slot-canyons, Tantulus canyon.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the Basecamp
 
Day 5 (Friday): Back to Torrey
After packing personal gear and breaking camp, you'll ride to Miners Mountain trail head near Grover, Utah. At trail’s end you'll exchange your saddle seat for the cushioned comfort of a vehicle ride on scenic Highway 12 to Torrey, Utah arriving in the late afternoon.
Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch
 
 

Boulder Mountain, Dixie National Forest

Boulder Mountain, part of the Colorado Plateau, consists of alpine meadows and forest that overlook the picturesque red rock and rugged canyons of Capitol Reef National Park and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. You’ll enjoy riding through Aspen and Conifer trees, mountain meadows, and can picnic at beautiful high elevation fishable lakes.  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 campfire at night.

Note: Many camps are available on the Boulder Mountain. Each camp is unique and often offers more trails to explore than time will permit.
 

Fish Lake National Forest, Thousand Lake Mountain

Located at the eastern region of Fish Lake National Forest. Thousand Lake Mountain overlooks the northern part of Capitol Reef National Park and Boulder Mountain can be viewed to the south. Camp is located near mountain meadows and streams. Daily rides will take you through conifers, aspen trees, and pinion and juniper trees at lower elevations. Thousand Lake Mountain is unique for its forested upper slopes and Red Rock in lower elevations.

Note:  Fish Lake National Forest has a variety of camping locations which offers more trails to explore than time will permit.


 


 

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.

These rides include the first and final nights accommodation in a hotel/motel in the small town of Torrey, Utah and 3 nights accommodation at a campsite. The bed and breakfast lodging is at the Broken Spur Inn, Red Sand s Hotel or The Chuckwagon Motel.



For the other three 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 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 owner- 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 favorite 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.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

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.

General information:

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

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

Health

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

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

Electricity

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.

Film and Camera Equipment

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

Packing List

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

Programmes

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

Departure Dates

2022: San Rafael Swell: September 19
Dixie National Forest & Capitol Reef: May 16, 30
Dixie National Forest: June 13; July 25; August 8, 22
Fish Lake National Forest: June 27; July 11; September 5

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 £
20226d/5n4double pp1,749
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20226d/5n4double pp2,095
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
20226d/5n4double pp2,325
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20226d/5n4double pp21,809
Other Activities

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

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 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: 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.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Torrey, Utah, USA
Transfers can also be arranged from Salt Lake City or Nevada - please enquire
Transfer:
Transfers can be arranged from Salt Lake City or Nevada
Flight Guide:
London to Salt Lake City (SLC) from £688 return
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