Horseback Riding Adventures In Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is a place you need to see to believe. The unbelievable and surreal landscape is like something out of a science fiction novel. Crimson “hoodoos” fill the landscape for as far as the eye can see down into the canyon below. The park has a 18 mile scenic drive that takes you to a bunch of amazing viewpoints. This drive is a great way to begin your visit because you’ll be able to get a good sense of the park and get all of the eye candy you’ll want to see right away! Believe me you’ll just stand in awe of the tall spires in front of you and marvel at the bright orange landscape. What better way to head down into the canyon on a thrilling guided horseback riding adventure!?
Being situated at 8,000-9,000ft in elevation, hiking around the park can be a bit of a challenge for those not acclimated, though totally worth it, even if you need to take frequent breaks.To give your legs and lungs a break, take a horseback ride down into the canyon! We had opted to go with Canyon Trail Rides for our trip and loved every minute of it!
Canyon Trail Rides is located within the park, near the Bryce Canyon Lodge. In fact you check in in the lobby, and then head out back to the stables. Everyone riding that day was given a quick rundown of how the afternoon would work and then they started getting us in the saddles.
No one person in my immediate group were experienced riders, having only ever been on a horse once before on a similar sort of trip in Costa Rica, the guides were great in teaching us what to do and not do while on the horse, and paired us with ones they thought we’d be best suited for. There were a handful of other people on our tour with the same lack of experience as well, so we felt like we fit in! There were a LOT of people on this trip, all a huge range of ages and experience, so don’t let either stop you from taking this trip! We felt the guides did a good job and broke us up into groups of 6 with a guide in front and behind each section. Someone was always close by if you needed them, and this way too you could hear what the guides were saying about the area you were covering.
One thing not explained though until we were ready to descend into the canyon, was that some horses are “edge walkers”, feeling more comfortable walking towards the cliff sides of the narrow trails. I was lucky enough to be riding one of those horses and was SO nervous for the first hour! I’d just watch his feet inches from the edge, knocking rocks and dirt down the side of the mountain! The guides said not to worry and don’t try to steer them away from the edge if that’s where they feel comfortable. I got more comfortable with it as we journeyed on, but it definitely added to the memorable experience!
Our tour took us on the Peek-a-Boo Trail, and it was just spectacular. There wasn’t a direction you could look that didn’t hold your attention. The loop is marked as strenuous, and even being in good shape was thankful for being able to let the horse do the work! At 5.5miles you lose/gain 1,555ft. The trail starts off with some switchbacks (where they’ll take your photo, so be ready to smile! Can you tell I was terrified in mine?!) then descends to into the heart of the amphitheater until your reach the floor and then climb back up. Some areas were STEEP, but the horses managed well.
Along the trail you pass through a few archways and a tunnel that open out into panoramic views.They were unexpected to us and added so much to the experience! My favorite section of the trail is called the Devil’s Slide, because you pass through a small tunnel and are greeted with amazing views of the Bryce amphitheater on the other side. My second favorite place to see what the ‘Wall of Windows’. These are visible from a viewpoint along the top of the rim, but being situated on the trail below, gives you the best view where the bright blue sky is a stark contrast to the orange landscape and shines through the windows. This trail is a beautiful maze winding its way through sights you’ll never see anywhere else in the world.
This ride is just pure magic and a must do for anyone visiting Bryce Canyon. Seeing the hoodoos up close and just made you feel. 3 hours may seem like a long time to be in a saddle, but opt for this longer trip, because you won’t want to stop exploring! There’s nothing else quite like it in the world. I’m pretty sure we had silly smiles plastered on our faces the entire time experiencing a part of the park many visitors never get to see. So get ready to sit back and enjoy the ride!
Canyon Trail Rides
For Reservations - https://www.canyonrides.com/bryce-canyon-horseback-riding/
Complete tour of the canyon; 3hour ride - $90 (photos extra)
8am or 1pm
•The trail is exposed almost all of the way, so make sure to bring sunscreen and sunglasses and dress for the weather
•You are allowed to bring a camera, so make sure your batteries are charged, and I suggest a wrist or neck strap to make sure it doesn’t go flying.
•You’re not allowed to bring any bags or belongings and we found it handy to have zipped pants or jacket pockets