Growing up on the East Coast, my early perceptions of the west largely consisted of visions of horses and wide open plains – images from books and films. This reality was reinforced by trips to ‘dude ranches’ in Wyoming as a child. I mostly remember scratchy straw cowboy hats, stiff leather cowboy boots and saddle sores from vacations spent on horseback. But I also remember the gorgeous scenery and excitement of learning riding basics.
Though Sun Valley isn’t the Wild West, horseback trail riding is certainly still part of our western culture. And no trip to a dude ranch is required to get some quality time in a saddle.
The Sun Valley Horsemen’s Center, located within easy walking or biking distance of the Lodge and Inn, provides a genuine trail riding experience that is fun, scenic and great for all ability levels. During the summer, stop by the Stables, or call 208.622.2387, and book a guided one or one-and-a-half hour ride up scenic Dollar Mountain. Rides are also available by appointment.
Chana, the assistant manager at the Horsemen’s Center (who looks the part in her flannel shirt, cowboy boots with spurs and broad smile), said both rides are beautiful. The California native turned Sun Valley wrangler said the longer ride dips down the Elkhorn side of the mountain, while the shorter ride offers fantastic views of Ketchum and beyond.
“During the high season that really heats up in mid-June, we offer trail rides seven days a week,” Chana said. “The first ride goes out at 9 a.m. and the last ride at 4 p.m. Reservations are required and we can take up to eight people at one time. We cater to the ‘never-ever’, the experienced horse person and everyone in between.”
Participants must be at least eight years old, 52 inches tall and accompanied by an adult. Riders are asked to arrive at the Stables 20 minutes before their set-out time for an orientation. A one-hour ride costs $46 and the longer ride runs $59. Tax is not included.
If you don’t want to ride a horse, you can still visit with some of Sun Valley’s most popular residents. The wide pasture along Sun Valley Road is populated by some of the Resort’s gentle horses that are more often than not up for a scratch on the nose or a carrot treat.
Another way to get a taste of the western experience is to book a summer wagon ride to Trail Creek Cabin for dinner. Please call 208.622.2387 for the details on this memorable mode of transportation. Currently, wagon rides are being offered on Tuesday and Friday evenings. The cost is $28 for guests 13 years and older and $18 for ages 2 – 12. This does not include dinner.
Rustic takes a turn to the romantic when the horse drawn carriage ride is part of a special package in Sun Valley. First, you will be welcomed with chocolates in your well-appointed and elegant room. Then, step back in time as you board a carriage that will carry you to, and from, the sublime Trail Creek Cabin. There, a table for two awaits, either outdoors on the patio or inside in the one-of-a-kind dining room. This romantic special is $237 per person double occupancy and includes one night’s lodging and the carriage ride. It does not include dinner. For reservations please call (866) 616-8224.
Get your giddy up on!