Where to Take Your Horse Camping

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Photo courtesy of Getty Images/JohnnyGreig


Horse Camping can be done anywhere on the North American continent where it is legal to take horses and where the climate and terrain make horse camping pleasant for both camper and horse. For example, the Appaloosa Horse Club has an annual five-day ride in Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest. Most horse camping is done in the West, but there are good horse camping locations in every state and province.

Much public land is open for horse camping. Some is not, and for that reason, always contact the land manager of the area under consideration and ask if horses can be used. Private landowners occasionally make their property available for horse camping, but many have stopped the practice after careless campers abused the privilege.

Uninvited guests trespassing on private land are too often careless about leaving litter and closing gates. These are the two most common complaints cited by private owners for keeping their land closed. Users of both public and private land must recognize that access is a privilege, not a right. The land must be treated with the same respect as one’s own front yard.

Cover courtesy of Washington State University Press

A wide variety of country can be reached by pack string. There is sharp contrast between the Arizona desert with its giant saguaro cactus and the Canadian Rockies with their towering snow-covered peaks and rushing streams. Choosing the place for your trip depends upon what you want to see, do, or investigate.

Whether your aim is fishing, scenery, or old mining towns, keep in mind the characteristics of a good horse camping area. Well-marked and maintained trails are important. You will need drinking water for both people and horses, and good grazing for the horses. In the beginning, avoid steep, rugged, rocky country, and choose terrain where horse and rider will both be comfortable. If you are limited by time, look for a place where the trailhead can be reached in one day to simplify hauling – although there are horse motels along most major interstates in the western United States. An internet search for ‘horse motel’ will yield places that offer over-night lodging for horses.

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Reprinted with permission from Horse Camping by George B. Hatley and published by Washington State University Press, 2009.


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