On this adventurous trek through northern Arizona and southern Utah, riders will have an opportunity to view three of the Southwest's most amazing geological formations: the pink and orange hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, the red and buff labyrinth of Zion Canyon, and the multicoloured depths of the Grand Canyon.
At beginning of this riding holiday the trail leads through the Pariah River Canyon, part of the nation's new Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. The terrain and scenery is constantly changing. One day the trail will wind through the cool shadows of narrow sandstone canyons and the next, riders will climb into ponderosa pine forests with a view across hundreds of miles of the Colorado Plateau. It is extremely sparsely populated country, and riders are unlikely to encounter many people during the course of the trip.
Each night is spent camping under the stars, with a traditional cowboy feast eaten around the camp fire. Most of the camp equipment is brought by back-up vehicle, allowing for some stretches of faster riding that would not be possible with pack-horses. The horses used for these trails are extremely sure-footed, able to carry riders up and down the extreme inclines with no effort meaning you can just relax and take in the stunning views.
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 KD of Swansea on 29/09/2017
Pickup in St George, Utah at 2:00pm and transfer to the first camp. This camp is located in the Pariah River Canyon near an old movie set where westerns were filmed.
Ride north through Red Rock Canyon. Take a break at an old wagon stop where the early pioneers wrote their names on the cliff face with axle grease. After a cold drink from Crack Springs, ride on to camp in the Sheep Creek Canyon.
Follow Willis Creek toward Bryce Canyon National Park. At some points, the canyon is only 6-10 feet wide. Leave the canyon behind, and follow the old ranger trail along the boundary of the National Park (horses are not allowed in the Park). The trail winds through stands of pinon pine and juniper. Camp in a small meadow with the pink cliffs of Bryce Canyon in the background.
Ride up onto the Bryce Plateau, where you can canter through meadows and stands of ponderosa pine. The trail continues to climb through aspen and fir forests to elevations of 9,500 ft where there are spectacular views. Ride down to meet up with the trucks and trailers and transport to the next camp along the Virgin River.
Ride along the Zion formation through deep sand and sagebrush, surrounded by white cliffs. Pass through Elephant Cove. In the late afternoon, transport the horses again to a "cow camp." In ranching terminology, a "cow camp" is a permanent camp where cowboys live while herding cattle in that area.
The terrain today is flat as far as the eye can see. The elevation here is about 4,500 ft. Ride off the Yellowstone Mesa, through Antelope Valley to Hat Knoll. Camp in a stand of ponderosa pines, which is like an oasis at the base of an extinct volcano known as Mt. Trumbell. The sunsets and sunrises in this wide-open country are spectacular.
Ride to the top of Mt. Trumbell, from where you can see over a hundred miles in every direction. Previous riders have described this as "a place where you can look two days into the future, and one day into the past." Follow a trail south along ancient lava beds to Tuweep Valley. Take one last canter down the valley to Toroweep Point, an overlook of the Grand Canyon. This seldom-visited area is a spectacular location for viewing the most famous of all canyons. Here one has a sense of how the early Spanish explorers must have felt when they first rode to the edge and look into the chasm. Transfer back to St George for an arrival time no later than 6pm.
**THE ITINERARY ON THIS RIDING HOLIDAY IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE DUE TO WEATHER AND OTHER UNFORESEEABLE CIRCUMSTANCES. **
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 on this ride are chosen for their stamina and surefootedness in rough terrain. Although predominantly Quarterhorses, other breeds and crosses will be among the outfitter's remuda. Western-style tack is utilized. Riders are welcome to bring their own saddles. Participants are expected to assist with tacking and untacking their horses.
Participants should be comfortable at walk, trot, canter and some galloping in rough terrain. Expect to spend an average of 6-7 hours a day in the saddle.
In general this is a “minimalist camping experience,” and appeals to riders who are willing to experience rustic conditions to see this remarkable country. Riders should be prepared to help with chores around camp; set up tents, assist with tacking and feeding horses, and lend a hand wherever assistance is needed.
The weight limit for this ride is 14st 2lbs/198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
This is a vehicle-supported camping trip. Nylon external-frame tents with flooring, zippers and a screened window are utilized. The tents comfortably fit two people and their gear. Low camp beds are used and foam pads are provided for placement under sleeping bags. A portable toilet is provided at the campsite. Warm water is available for washing one’s hands and face in the morning and evening, but there are no shower facilities. An assortment of home-cooked meals will be provided while on the trail. The cuisine is hearty and variable, prepared in an outdoor kitchen and over an open fire. Lunch is carried on a packhorse or in individual saddlebags and consists of fresh fruit and sandwiches. Clients should advise us in advance if they are vegetarians or have other special food considerations so these needs can be accommodated. This ride is not a good choice for someone with extremely unusual or demanding dietary considerations. You can bring your own alcohol on this trail and should you be staying in St George the night before there is a store you can buy supplies from right opposite the hotel.
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
The climate in this part of the southwest is variable and unpredictable. The temperature is primarily a factor of elevation. Elevation varies from 5000 ft at the Pariah River camp, to 9000 ft on the Bryce Plateau. At the higher elevations and in the desert where the humidity is very low, evenings cool down considerably, frequently to 35 F. Daytime temperatures will vary between 70 F at the higher elevations, to 90 F on the Arizona Strip.
During July the days are usually clear and warm, with cool nights. However, anything can happen and riders should be prepared for a summer storm. Layered clothing is the easiest way to prepare for erratic temperature fluctuations.
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.
Jeans or jodhpurs
Chaps or leggings
Riding boots (comfortable for hiking as soon walking on foot may be required)
Long and short sleeved shirts
Bandana or buff to protect your face from the dust
Winter coat and lightweight rain coat
Sneakers or soft shoes
Wide-brimmed hat with tie
Warm sleeping apparel
Hot water bottle
Long Underwear/thermal underwear
Sunscreen & skin lotion
Waist pouch (recommended)
Water bottle/canteen - two 1 litre bottles which can be re-filled at the water tank prior to setting off for the day.
Towel/washcloth, small shampoo
Flashlight and extra batteries
Camera and film
Sleeping bag -(should be rated down to minus 10 degrees F)**
Pillow and case
*Riding helmets are not required, but Unicorn Trails strongly encourages riders to consider wearing one.
**A pillowcase which can be stuffed with a sweater or jacket is a handy substitute for a pillow.
***Sleeping bags may be rented for the week at a cost of $35.00 (2015 rate) with prior arrangement.
Low camp beds are used and foam pads are provided for placement under sleeping bags.
Extra luggage cannot be left at the hotel in St. George. However, the outfitter is able to arrange for a secure place to keep extra luggage while you are on the ride. Please enquire at Unicorn trails.
2018: 12 (FULL) May; 9 (FULL) September
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Talking to the Ground by Douglas Preston. This book also has an extensive bibliography. 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
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.