Sarah Merrell and Sam Johnson cross creek on Yellowstone Park horseback riding vacation in Big Sky, Montana
Leave car behind on Yellowstone horseback riding vacation
Remember Mazda’s car commercial where the kid says, “zoom, zoom?” If you are considering a holiday to Yellowstone National Park, I challenge you to leave your car behind and take a horseback riding vacation into the park. If you are a horse lover, you probably forge your own paths and color outside the lines. I’m making sweeping generalizations, but you may be surprised to learn that of the three million yearly visitors to Yellowstone National Park, fewer than three percent venture more than a quarter mile from their cars.
Shocking you say?
Day trip or overnight horseback pack trip with Club at Spanish Peaks
On my first visit to Big Sky, I was fortunate to call the Club at Spanish Peaks my home base to outdoor summer recreation in Montana. My most anticipated activity during this horseback riding vacation? A full day ride into Yellowstone National Park on horseback. The Club at Spanish Peaks is one of approximately 40 permit holders to have overnight access into Yellowstone Park.
We left The Club at Spanish Peaks in the morning, having filled out our picnic lunch menu request the night prior. Our party of nine equestrians, nine horses and one mule, traveled by truck and horse trailer to the Daly Creek staging area, off Fawn Pass, located in the northwest corner of Yellowstone. After three Club at Spanish Peak wranglers unloaded and saddled the horses, we were off into the back country of the park. While our horseback riding vacation took place in July, peak tourist season in Yellowstone, our only encounters were with the occasional mule deer grazing in the vibrant green meadows and the birds and butterflies who flitted about during our trail ride.
Club at Spanish Peaks Wrangler Kate Levanger on a horseback riding vacation in Yellowstone National Park, near Big Sky Montana
Wildflowers galore on Yellowstone horseback riding vacation
Fall is one of the best times of year to take a horseback riding vacation in Yellowstone National Park. It’s also the best time of year for blue ribbon trout fly fishing in Montana. With children back in school and the fall rut beginning, horseback riders are apt to hear the bugling of a bull elk as mating season gets underway. On our particular trip in July, we didn’t see much wildlife, aside from bear scat on the trails, but we were ambushed with wildflowers. Riders and wranglers called out sightings of lupine, blue bell, forget-me-not and glacier lily faster than a coyote chases a jack rabbit. If you do encounter wildlife on the trail, remember Yellowstone’s rules: stay at least 25 yards from any animal and 100 yards from a bear or wolf.
Overnight pack trick into Yellowstone National Park
You can beat I’ll be returning to Montana and the Club at Spanish Peaks to try the overnight horseback riding vacation options. According to head wrangler Kate Levanger, the most popular pack trips are two nights and three days. Guests are met at the trail head by member services vehicles and whisked back to civilization in time for a massage and soak in the hot tub.
Club at Spanish Peaks Wrangler Kate Levanger and Sam Johnson of Big Sky, MT on a horseback riding vacation in Yellowstone National Park
Club at Spanish Peaks horseback riding vacation prices
Day rides $200 per person
Pack trips: $350 per day, per person
Three hour ride on Club at Spanish Peaks property, $100 per person
One hour ride on property, $50 per person
As always, check the website for current prices and booking of your Big Sky horseback riding vacation, as prices will vary.