Horseback riding is one of the best family experiences and there is no better way to embrace the Rocky Mountains in Salida, Colorado. Family members of all ages can participate and experience a view of Colorado’s “fourteeners”, (mountaineering parlance for mountains that stand at an elevation of 14,000+ feet) visitors are left in awe at nature’s majesty. Several local guides provide horseback rides to novice and expert alike, furnishing guests with horses whose native hooves easily navigate the terrain.
Several local stables offer a wide variety of options for experiencing the breathtaking mountain views on horseback. Riders receive attentive care from guides and are given a top-notch horseback riding experience. Granite Mountain Outfitters and Colorado Trail Rides are some of the best local rides in town. All recreational horseback rides are nose-to-tail on account of the nature of the terrain.
From 1-hour novice rides to full-day adventures and private tours. There are plenty of options for just about everyone.
Novice and Beginner Rides
Lighthearted and scenic, rides between one and two hours are best for those just starting out or who want to just relax and ride. Enjoy stunning views of the Sangre De Cristo mountains, as well as the Rio Grande National Forest. You and your horse will be transported through nature that will leave your heart smiling. This natural dreamscape is perfect for beginners.
Intermediate Trail Rides
Straddling the middle ground between first-timers and experienced riders, there are plenty of tours that offer incredible views of the three mountains in the Sawatch Range (Mount Ouray, Chipeta Mountain, and Pahlone Peak), the Sangre de Cristo’s, Simmons peak, Hunts peak, and the Rio Grande National Forest. Regarded by some as the perfect amount of time to sit on horseback rides between 1.5-2.5 hours are popular for those comfortable on horseback.
Experienced Rides and Private Tours
If you are comfortable on horseback and want to get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, there is no better time to book your ride. Due to both the duration and nature of the terrain, these options are not recommended for anyone that has not ridden before. Additionally, those who have knee or back injuries may want to proceed with extreme caution due to the steep areas of the trails.
2.5-Hour Sunset Ride
Experience the profound wonder of the breathtaking wildfire sunsets that gave the Sangre de Cristo Mountains their name. This ride features a steep climb to 10,000 feet where you will have an unforgettable view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Great Sand Dunes, San Luis Valley, the Sawatch Range, and the Rio Grande National Forest. Bask in the tranquility and magic of the blazing sunset before heading back down the trail.
For those ready and able to revel in the natural wonder of the Rocky Mountains for an extended length, there is the 3.5-hour ride. It begins with guests along the San Luis Creek, allowing them to bear witness to one of the most captivating aspen groves on Earth. Climbing up over the forest ridge to 10,550 feet, continuing on to the 10,000 foot Granite Mountain, riders will be given a 360-degree panoramic view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Great Sand Dunes, San Luis Valley, the Sawatch Range, and the Rio Grande National Forest.
Private Rides (5/6 hrs)
Accommodating to the desires, needs, and experience levels of the guests, private rides give you freedom of experience. Lunch is also provided.
The Granite Mountain riding season, timed from Memorial Day Weekend to October, spans Spring, Summer, and Autumn in the Rocky Mountains. This leaves room for an array of different experiences given the time of year you go riding.
May and June allow guests to marvel at the beauty to be found in springtime in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The snow that tops the mountain peaks has not yet melted, despite the fact that temperatures range between sixty and seventy degrees in the daytime. The forests and hillsides are dressed in the splendid green that marks the new life of spring. You will not be disappointed.
The Rocky Mountains boast hundreds of acres of aspen groves, allowing for guests to be fully ensconced in the sultry colors of autumn. Featuring breathtaking panoramic views, the fiery reds, robust oranges, and delightful golden hues of changing foliage will be fully on display. For those looking to witness the majesty of nature adorning itself in fall colors, a ride with Granite Mountain Outfitters will do the trick and then some.
What to Bring
While horseback riding can be fun for the whole family, it’s important that everyone comes prepared. The Coloradan mountains can be especially prone to extreme weather changes, so it’s important to be prepared for the temperature (and possible precipitation) you will face.
What to Wear
Long pants and closed-toed shoes are ideal for horseback riding in general and prevent your skin from chafing against the horse. Sunglasses and a wide brim hat will assist greatly in keeping the sun out of your eyes. If bringing a cowboy hat, make sure it has a stampede string. In the event you’re riding in the rain, having a rain-slick jacket will keep you focused on enjoying the scenic views instead of how wet you’re getting. While backpacks are not allowed, pommel bags are provided.
What to Pack
The last thing you want to do is regret an otherwise memorable experience because you didn’t come prepared! Sunscreen will keep you from only remembering the blistering pain of sunburn after the fact and chapstick will help ward off the dry mountain air. Snacks and drinking water are also encouraged, particularly for the longer rides. Last but not least, a camera — whether your phone or otherwise — to take pictures that will help you share this memorable experience for years to come.
After a long mountain ride, you will need to rest and recuperate. Allow Creekside Chalets to be the place to go. Boasting lodging from one to three bedrooms, there are cabins for any size camper. A mere twenty-minute drive from Granite Mountain Outfitters, you’ll be resting comfortably in no time. Book now to enjoy all that Chaffee County has to offer! Have any questions about your lodging? Don’t hesitate to contact us.