Top 10 Places to Go Horseback Riding in North America
Horseback riding opens a world of fun and wonderful activities for travelers — both experienced and inexperienced.
A horse tour can take you through rough terrain you wouldn't be able to see on a hike. Or it can show you familiar territory, like the soft sands of a beach, in a new light.
Whether you're looking to try this unique activity for the first time or are an expert equestrian, check out these incredible horseback riding destinations in North America. (And, yes, that includes Central America and the Caribbean.)
Time to get the cowboy boots out.
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10. Denton, Texas
Texas has more horses than any other state. And Denton (a small town within the Dallas-Fort Worth Metro Area) has more than any other place in Texas. It has even been called "the equine mecca of Texas."
And while many of the horses here are bred for racing and treated like the elite athletes they are, you'll also find many working ranches that give lessons and tours. If you're in the area for longer, there are plenty of summer camps for kids. Some favored places are Marshall Creek Ranch, which offers over 39 trails, and the family-friendly RNR Stables.
Where to stay: Residence Inn by Marriott Denton
9. Healdsburg, California
Most people don't think of Sonoma County as a place for adventure travel. And they couldn't be more wrong. In Healdsburg, you'll find plenty of outdoor activities that, yes, often revolve around wine. You can wine and bike, wine and hike (wiking) or wine and horseback ride.
The most popular experience is at Dry Creek Valley, where you'll ride along rows of vineyards, catch views from Overlook Mountain and wander through a redwood grove. The tour ends with — surprise, surprise — a wine tasting as a reward for your hard work (even if the horse did most of it).
Where to stay: The Madrona
8. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
The U.S. doesn't have a monopoly on cowboy culture. In Mexico, charreria (similar to rodeo culture) is ingrained into daily life. In fact, it's an official national sport and a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
So, it makes sense to see this wonderful country on a nice horse ride tour. Head to the state of Jalisco, where ranchos abound next to tequila, mariachis and beautiful beaches. In Puerto Vallarta, you'll ride along the foothills of the impressive Sierra Madre Mountains. Or you could go to nearby towns like Sayulita for a scenic beach ride. Rancho el Charro is one of the most respected in the area.
Where to stay: Hotel Mousai
7. Big Sky, Montana
Riding horses is part of daily life for many Montana residents. The state has countless working ranches as well as dude ranches, which welcome curious guests to get an immersive look into cowboy life.
Horses are the main focus of dude ranches. In Big Sky, you'll get to ride through wide pastures decorated by snowy peaks towering in the background. Don't hesitate to do forest rides, which often pass by rivers and streams. In the summer, you can cool off with a nice refreshing dip.
Where to stay: Elkhorn Ranch Montana
The smaller half of Saint Kitts and Nevis is one of the most underrated islands in the Caribbean. Safe from mass tourism, the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton is as idyllic as it gets. It also happens to be a perfect spot for equestrian activities in the tropical region.
The Nevis Equestrian Centre offers different tours that pass through mountains, lagoons and, of course, beaches. If you love animals, this is one of the best experiences you can have on the island (besides watching sea turtles nest and hatch).
Where to stay: Four Seasons Resort - Nevis
5. Monteverde, Costa Rica
While you can do horseback riding all over Costa Rica, Monteverde has one of the strongest living horse legacies in the country. Besides, you can hardly beat the region's green hills, which are often covered by the mist of the cloud forest.
There are several tour operators here, but we cannot recommend Horsetrek Monteverde enough. Your guide, Marvin, has been riding since the womb and makes it a point to show you how to be a true vaquero. As you ride down the mountain to a river on the regional border, keep your eyes open for monkeys, birds and other animals that hide in the trees.
Where to stay: Hotel Belmar
4. Banff, Canada
Banff is the undisputable queen of Canadian national parks, so it's no mystery why equestrians trip over themselves for the opportunity to ride here.
The landscape of the imposing Canadian Rockies is astonishing enough to make you cry. Plus, you'll get to head into parts of the wilderness in and outside the park that is pleasantly devoid of crowds.
Where to stay: Royal Canadian Lodge
3. Antigua, Guatemala
Horseback riding into an active volcano? Yes, please! Especially when that volcano comes with views of several other peaks spouting lava and smoke. Tour operators like Finca in the Clouds offer some seriously cool packages that include rides, picnics, roasting marshmallows over lava and stargazing.
But if heading into a volcano isn't your idea of fun, there are plenty of trails around Antigua that stay within a fair distance of the peaks.
Where to stay: Hotel Museo Spa Casa Santo Domingo
2. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos is known mostly for its absurdly breathtaking beaches. But, sometimes, you want to do more than just lie on the sand. For an active water-land activity, horseback riding is the obvious choice.
The most popular beaches in Providenciales for riding are Blue Hills Beach and Long Bay Beach, both located near Grace Bay Beach, considered the most beautiful in the world. Go with the trusted Heritage Tours TCI. Their horses love the water as much as you do and won't hesitate to go right in.
Where to stay: West Bay Club
1. Grand Canyon, Arizona
The world's biggest canyon, the most beautiful national park in Arizona and an astonishing natural wonder — there simply is no place like the Grand Canyon.
But we won't lie to you, exploring it can be tough. Temperatures are high most of the year, and the dryness of the air doesn't help. There's no better way to go farther into this deep canyon than on horseback. Plenty of tour companies offer this opportunity for fairly reasonable prices. Some even have multiday treks that'll have you feeling like a veritable cowboy.
Where to stay: The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon