Do you want to explore the backcountry mountains, lakes, streams, and wildlife but do not necessarily want to do it all by hiking? Do you want to enjoy some peace and quiet, a break from all the noises of the world and day-to-day life? How about creating memories with a great group of people and horses alike? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a horseback pack trip might be exactly what type of vacation you are looking for!
The Dude Ranchers’ Association has several member ranches throughout the Western United States and Canada that offer horseback pack trips for any level rider or adventure enthusiast. Soak in the serenity and tranquility of the mountains in some of the most beautiful locations only accessible by foot or horse. You will experience a sense of peace that is not easily found in everyday life, and you will leave refreshed and ready to plan your next trip back!
Read on to learn about 6 horseback pack trips you don’t want to miss…
In the West, very few places remain that offer both solitude and beauty on a grand scale. The Absaroka Ranch, is such a place, located at the headwaters of Wyoming’s Wind River and at the base of the spectacular Absaroka mountain range. If you are looking for top-notch amenities in the woods, Absaroka’s pack trips are for you. Located in the Shoshone National Forest, their camp is a unique and beautiful place to spend a few days. The 4 ½ hour horseback ride begins right from the ranch and offers amazing views and challenging terrain. The scenery is unforgettable and the memories created will be too. You can enjoy anywhere from 3 to 6-night stays while on a pack trip, it is all up to you on how long you want to be in the backcountry. Plus, lodging and meals are offered the night before you leave and the night you get back for a small charge, that way you are not rushing to get accommodations figured out for when you get back! While in the mountains on your trip you will get to enjoy crystal clear lakes and small stream fishing, incredible 360-degree views while on horseback rides, delicious camp cooking and even a shower tent with on-demand hot water! Tents, cots, sleeping bags, sleeping pads and wood stoves are all provided on the trip, all you have to worry about is warm clothes and an adventurous attitude.
Absaroka Ranch – Dubois, WY
On your horseback pack trip with the Broken Arrow Lodge and Outfitters in Montana you will venture through beautifully forested mountain ranges with wildflower-blanketed meadows all while breathing in amazing mountain fresh air, seeing elk, deer, moose, antelope and other wildlife and experiencing what it is like to sleep under the stars, or in a wall tent whichever you prefer. On your trip you will get to see the Rocky Mountains as only a few do, hike across wildlife-made trails, fish in calm mirror-like streams and lakes and make unforgettable memories with your favorite four-legged friends. At Broken Arrow you can tailor your pack trip in whatever way you like; if you choose to fish the whole time, explore the mountains by foot or spend quality time on your horse the choice is entirely up to you. The friendly, entertaining and experienced guides will make your trip fun and comfortable, even though this trip may be light years out of your comfort zone. You will also enjoy delicious and hearty home-cooked meals, you will truly appreciate a Dutch oven after being in the mountains. You will have the opportunity to encounter firsthand exactly why Montana is referred to as the Big Sky State.
Broken Arrow Lodge and Outfitters – Alder, MT
Horseback pack trips have been a part of the CM Ranch’s rich history for decades. The CM Ranch in Wyoming was started back in 1927 when Charlie Moore started the Yellowstone Camp for Boys in the Dubois, WY area. For several years, teenage boys from the East Coast would come West to endure month-long pack trips into Yellowstone National Park. Upon returning home to their families explaining in exquisite detail the ruggedness and great adventures they endured on their trip, the families soon wanted their own introduction to the Western lifestyle and Yellowstone National Park. Charlie Moore turned his focus to dude ranching and creating a western experience for family vacations. The ranch has done guest horseback pack trips for many years and continues to carry on the tradition still today. The pack trips are a little less rugged and much shorter than when Charlie Moore first started. On these trips, you will ride horseback into the ranch’s base camp located in the Wind River mountain range. During your trip you can enjoy day rides to beautiful lakes and some of the best fishing Wyoming has to offer. Your pack trip can be planned in conjunction with your traditional week-long dude ranch vacation or it can be added onto the beginning or end of your vacation. You will sleep in wall tents and admire the techniques of cooking in the mountains. For years guests of all ages have experienced the tremendous beauty and solitude of the Fitzpatrick Wilderness always returning to the ranch with big smiles and so many stories to tell. Not many will want to miss out on a horseback pack trip with the CM Ranch!
CM Ranch – Dubois, WY
There’s still a place where time slows down and the only signpost is a hoof print. The Bob Marshall Wilderness is considered the “crown jewel” of America’s wilderness system. The JJJ Wilderness Ranch’s fully-guided horse pack trips are designed to accommodate all levels of riders through this magnificent, unspoiled country where the only travel is by foot or horse. Each pack trip at the JJJ Wilderness Ranch in Montana is unique ranging from base camp oriented to trips that traverse the wilderness over the Continental Divide. On your horseback pack trip, you will travel across wilderness trails on sure-footed saddle horses that are mountain-savvy and a joy to ride. The ranch’s trusty string of pack mules carries all the gear so you can rough it in comfort. The ranch’s crew, wrangler, packer, guide and camp cook, will provide a comfortable, complete camp. To ensure a high level of personal service and to make sure camp is not too crowded, the trips average around eight guests. Trips with bigger groups can be arranged, but they do have to be discussed in detail with the ranch. During your Montana riding vacation, the rugged landscape unfolds before you, revealing elk, mule deer and whitetail, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, eagles, moose and black bears. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to fly fish the natural streams and lakes for native Cutthroats and Rainbow trout. This is truly a fisherman’s paradise, all wrapped up in the awesome beauty of the remote wilderness. Layover days on the trip offer options of riding, hiking, fishing or relaxing around the campfire. The Bob Marshall Wilderness is hard to describe with words, it is a place you have to experience for yourself to understand the beauty it holds. By booking a horseback pack trip with JJJ Wilderness Ranch you will discover this natural wonder for yourself and endure the magic the mountains seem to capture.
JJJ Wilderness Ranch – Augusta, MT
Go deep into the mountains of Wyoming to enjoy a horseback pack trip like no other. With the folks at Spotted Horse Ranch you will ride through the forest to their base camp which provides great customer service, food, horseback riding, fishing and amazing scenery. The main objective of your pack trip will be to enjoy and take in all that the mountains and landscape around you have to offer. You will find a sense of relaxation and true enjoyment that you probably would not expect to find being in a camp without running water or electricity. Pack trips are a great way to really unplug from the real world and find your true self. The Spotted Horse Ranch offers a great setting for large or small groups to experience the rugged outdoors and wilderness. Prior riding experience is not required to go on the trips, just a willing and “ready to have fun” vibe! All of the necessary gear, horses, tack and guides are provided by the ranch. Saddle up and take in all the wilderness surrounding the ranch has to offer!
Spotted Horse Ranch – Jackson Hole, WY
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is an incredible landscape with a diversity of wildlife and geographical features that extend beyond the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. In this area lies the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch in Montana. The ranch offers pack trips within the boundary of the park and also in the surrounding wilderness areas. Trips within the Park’s boundary do require early planning. Scheduling your trip in January will give the folks at the ranch enough time to create an itinerary to meet your needs and plan accordingly. If you are looking to take a horseback pack trip outside the Park’s boundaries you can experience one of the ten backcountry camp locations that Nine Quarter Circle Ranch has to offer. Experienced outfitters will guide you on these multi-day trips into some of the wildest and most beautiful areas of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Taking a pack trip into this area is something few people get to enjoy in their lifetime. Whichever destination you choose, the trip will offer wildlife sightings, stunning views and once-in-a-lifetime memories that won’t soon be forgotten. Experiencing this wild country via horseback is an adventure you won’t quite understand until you embark on the adventure yourself!
Nine Quarter Circle Ranch – Gallatin Gateway, MT