Explore Utah from horseback on one of these varied equine camping trips, venturing deep into the wilderness and 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. Horseriding trips early in the year 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 equestrian adventure is for adventurous horseback riders; staying in a fully-equipped campsite far from the beaten path, in comfortable canvas wall tents complete with showers. Each day, after breakfast, ride out in a different direction equipped with a picnic lunch, and return to camp in time for a delicious dinner prepared by the camp cook. Horseback riders will be joined by experienced hosts who have been running these equestrian vacations 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. Always visible are the spectacular views of the 4-Corners region where ten or more national parks and monuments may be seen in a single panorama. This is a completely unique equine experience that explores 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 AC of London on 14/06/2022

Ride Summary
great itinerary, great horses and excellent staff
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
great food in camp, evening entertainment lasso and whip cracking lessons
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
able to replace a shoe in camp
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
we had high expectations, but they were surpassed. We had one novice and one beginner rider and the horses and itinerary were well chosen
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?
Please give more details to explain your response:
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?
4
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
some quite taxing ups and downs into and out of creeks with some slippery rocky descents, but the pace was walking & trotting, to conserve the horses' energy as we were out an average of 5 hours per day.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Found Sarah's advice and support invaluable as the holiday was a big investment for us, we absolutely relied on her experience to choose the right location and host
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
We loved our wrangler and cook, we had the bonus of making friends as well as having such a fantastic time in the saddle. The scenery was superb and the camp location beside the creek was so peaceful
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Colorado Plateau - San Rafael Swell Rides

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 base camp 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 the 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 the trip leader and the trip's interpretative specialist. Meals included: none. Overnight at the Hotel

Day 2
(Tuesday) Ride to Base camp: After breakfast, transfer to the headquarters in downtown Torrey. The gear is packed into the 4X4. Meet the remainder of the crew and the horses, then depart (9 am) for the trailhead near Penitentiary Canyon or at the Head of Sinbad. From the Penitentiary trailhead, ride wild horse trails to the mouth of Red Canyon, past Tomsich Butte, by Hondoo Arch, and on to the base camp at the old mining camp on Muddy Creek. From the Sinbad Trailhead, visit Locomotive Point, Devil's Race Track, Twin Priests and the Golden Gate before arriving at base camp in Cold Canyon. Meals included: Lunch & Dinner. Overnight at the Base camp

Day 3
(Wednesday): Full Day Ride: After breakfast and preparing lunch, leave the Muddy Creek base camp to 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 base camp, ride through 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 base camp. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner. Overnight at the Base camp

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 ride to the Long Neck for views of Swasey Arch, Saddle Horse Canyon and upper Cold Canyon. After lunch, 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 the ride covered during the trip. 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 Base camp

Day 5
(Friday): Back to Torrey: After packing personal gear and breaking camp, ride to McKay Flat via Red Canyon and the Grey Breaks. This route leads to a favorite watering spring of the wild horses and gives breath-taking panoramas of the country. At trail’s-end, say goodbye to the horses and transfer over the San Rafael Swell to Torrey, 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 that may be used. Each camp is unique and often offers more trails to explore than time will permit.

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, and riders can immerse themselves in the heart of beautiful white and red sandstone surrounded by ancient ponderosa pines and tranquil Pleasant Creek Waterfalls. A great place to dip a toe in the cool water and 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.

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. Ride through Aspen and Conifer trees, mountain meadows, and 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 riders 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 riders will be provided with waterproof gear bags, water bottles and saddle bags. Each day will vary but riders should plan to leave the 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. The hosts on this trip are 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. The 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 dismounting to lead the horses 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. Riders 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, and 3 nights accommodation at a campsite. The normal bed and breakfast lodgings used is at the Broken Spur Inn, Red Sand's Hotel or The Chuckwagon Motel.



For the other three nights guests will stay in a deluxe base camp which includes canvas tents which can be set up for single, double or family occupancy. Riders are 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 eaten by the campfire or in a specially set-up dining tent. Fresh, local food is provided for all meals. 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. Guests will need to bring their 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 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

Health

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

Electricity

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 accomIf 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

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

2024: Capitol Reef National Park 22* April; 13 May, 2, 9, 16 Sept.
Dixie National Forest: 17, 24, Jun; 8, 15 July; 5 Aug.
* No Single Supplement fee Special

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 £
2024 6d/5n4double pp1,845
2024 6d/5n4single supplement165
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2024 6d/5n4double pp2,189
2024 6d/5n4single supplement199
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
2024 6d/5n4double pp2,459
2024 6d/5n4single supplement215
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2024 6d/5n4double pp25,095
2024 6d/5n4single supplement2,195
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


Other Activities

Those wanting to accompany someone on a trail ride but are not a rider but simply want to spend time camping and relaxing in a wilderness setting, or maybe want to hike this spectacular landscape, guests are 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: 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
Transfer:
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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