Best Places to Go Horseback Riding
From the coast of Hawaii to the mountains of Chile, explore our list of best places to go horseback riding.
Cappadocia, TurkeyIn Cappadocia, also known as the “Land of Beautiful Horses,” a horseback ride is a must. Riders can saddle up on Arabian or Barb horses, both native to the area, and meander along trails that wind through ancient Turkish villages past underground cities and Byzantine-era churches, to valleys surrounded by orchards and the region’s famous fairy chimney rock formations. 960 1280
Masai Mara National Reserve, KenyaKnown as one of Africa’s greatest wildlife reserves, Masai Mara is home to the largest quantity of big cats in the world. A part of the Serengeti National Park, Masai Mara, located in southwest Kenya, provides horseback riders with the ultimate safari experience as they get close-up views of the wildlife, including lions, leopards, cheetahs and zebras that roam the park. 960 1280
Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NCNovice and experienced horseback riders alike can experience the majestic beauty of the chateau-inspired Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Guided private and group trail rides explore some of the property’s 80 miles of estate trails, meadows and brooks, which are often graced by wildlife of the Appalachian Mountains. 960 1280
Loire Valley, FranceA World Heritage Site located in central France, the Loire Valley is known for its historic towns, chateau-inspired architecture and vineyards. Trail rides wind through the French countryside and forests, providing riders with stunning landscape views of rolling hills and castles that make for a riding experience that’s straight out of a fairytale. 960 1280
Haleakala National Park, HawaiiKnown as the “House of Sun,” Haleakala National Park is the highest peak on the island of Maui. Horseback riders can experience the Hawaiian culture as they travel across a tropical, volcanic landscape that’s surrounded by lush forests, waterfalls and streams that stretch out to the coast. 960 1280
Torres del Paine National Park, ChileWhile horseback rides through Torres del Paine may be for the more experienced rider, the surrounding views of the Andes Mountains and Patagonia are ones you won’t want to miss. Trails winding along the rugged mountain peaks, colorful meadows, streams and glaciers provide riders with a breathtaking view of scenery you won’t get anywhere else. 960 1280
Bryce Canyon National Park, UtahLocated in southwestern Utah, Bryce Canyon is known for its unique and colorful rock formations called “hoodoos.” Horseback rides descend 2,000 feet into the canyon where riders can experience breathtaking panoramic views with up to 200 miles of visibility, rock formations, forests and wildlife. 960 1280
Banff National Park, CanadaLocated in the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park is Canada’s first national park. Mountainside or riverside trail rides provide novice and experienced riders alike with breathtaking mountain views and scenery as they wind through lush forest, past rivers, and the park’s historic sulfur hot springs. There’s even a good chance to spot some of the park’s wildlife, including black bears and elk. 960 1280
Donana National Park, SpainDonana National Park, located on the Atlantic coast of Spain in Andalusia, is a World Heritage Site, one of Europe’s largest parks and the site that prompted the creation of the World Wildlife Fund in 1961. Riders can saddle up on majestic Andalusian horses and explore the Mediterranean region’s vast marshes, forests and sand dunes that are home to hundreds of species of wildlife, including the endangered Spanish lynx and Adalbert’s eagle. The sound of ocean waves crashing on the nearby shore, coupled with the scenery, make for an unforgettable horseback riding experience. 960 1280
Garden of Eden, Arches National ParkNear the center of Arches National Park you’ll find the Garden of Eden -- so named because its rocky shapes resemble flowers and trees. 960 1280
Wolfe Ranch CabinIn the late 1800s, a Civil War veteran named John Wesley Wolfe and his son built this 1-room cabin in what is now Arches National Park. For more than 10 years, Wolfe lived on this rugged ranch, where the area’s water and desert grassland were enough to sustain a few cattle. 960 1280
Fisher Towers, Colorado RiverRiver guide Arne Hultquist leads a whitewater rafting trip through the Fishers Tower section of the Colorado River. The area comprises a series of towers made of sandstone; they’re named after a miner who lived in the area in the 1880s. 960 1280
Matrimony SpringFill up at Matrimony Spring, a natural spring along Byway 128. Legend has it that anyone who drinks from the spring will continue to return to Moab. The water that issues forth begins its journey as snowmelt from the La Sal Mountains, 20 miles southeast of Moab. 960 1280
Pacific Northwest TrailThe Pacific Northwest Trail spans 1,200 miles -- including 3 national parks and 7 national forests. To tackle this route, which runs through Montana, Idaho and Washington, you'll have to keep a pace of 20 miles per day. That'll get you to the trail's end in about 60 days.
Best times to hike:Year-round at lower elevations, summer and fall at higher elevations. 960 1280
Appalachian TrailThe famed Appalachian Trail spans more than 2,180 miles. A thru-hike usually takes between 5 and 7 months, cutting through 14 states between Georgia and Maine. Along the way, enjoy views of pink rhododendrons along the trail’s Tennessee-North Carolina state line and in southwest Virginia, from late spring to early summer.
Best times to hike: Spring to fall. 960 1280
John Muir TrailNaturalist John Muir loved this area of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. Today, the trail named in his honor runs 211 miles, from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney (the highest point on America’s mainland). Most hikers start their trek at Yosemite’s Happy Isles or Tuolumne Meadows.
Best times to hike: Generally July to September. 960 1280
Hayduke TrailUber-hiker Andrew Skurka calls Hayduke Trail “one of the finest ways to discover the Colorado Plateau … and get away from it all.” No wonder. The 800-mile trail running through Utah and Arizona covers the area’s big national parks: Zion, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches.
Best times to hike: Spring and fall. 960 1280
Pacific Crest TrailThe massive Pacific Crest Trail covers more than 2,600 miles, from California, Oregon and Washington to British Columbia. The trail is among the “Big 3”: If you hike the Pacific Trail, as well as the Continental Divide Trail and the Appalachian Trail, you’ll get the American Long Distance Hiking Association’s Triple Crown Award.
Best times to hike: Late April to late September. 960 1280
Sierra High RouteThe Sierra High Route is one of pro hiker Andrew Skurka’s favorite trails. The 195-mile trail in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains offers amazing views of meadowlands, lake basins and mountain peaks. Keep a pace of roughly 20 miles per day, and you’ll complete the trail in a little over a week. Also, keep in mind logistical considerations.
Best time to hike: Depends on skill level. 960 1280
Arizona TrailThe 800-mile Arizona Trail runs north and south through the state, and showcases some of the region's most unspoiled terrain: ridges, mountains and wilderness areas that have remained untouched since Arizona became a territory in 1863. That remoteness also means hikers must stay current on Arizona Trail conditions.
Best times to hike: Year-round at lower elevations, summer and fall at higher elevations. 960 1280
Long TrailKnown simply as the Long Trail, this route runs 273 miles through Vermont -- the whole length of the state. The trail also happens to be America’s first long-distance hiking trail. Construction began in 1912 and continued for nearly 20 years. Today, hikers can enjoy short day hikes and extended treks (including to Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest mountain).
Best times to hike: Late spring through late fall. 960 1280
Continental Divide TrailAt 3,100 miles, the Continental Divide Trail is not for the faint of heart: Only about 25 people a year attempt to hike the entire trail, which runs between Mexico and Canada. Some areas can only be traveled by bushwacking, aka make-your-own-trails, and roadwalking.
Best times to hike: April to October. 960 1280
Superior Hiking TrailEveryone loves Superior: Hiker Andrew Skurka ranks the trail among his 10 favorite US hikes, Readers Digest ranks it among its top 5. The 275-mile footpath showcases scenic views -- boreal forests, rushing waterfalls and the 30-mile-long Sawtooth Mountains are among the attractions -- as well as 81 campsites for a little R&R.
Best times to hike: Late spring to early fall. 960 1280
Florida TrailAlligators are among the wild critters that hikers can encounter along the Florida Trail. The 1,400-mile trail starts at Big Cypress National Preserve (about 45 miles west of Miami) and ends in the Pensacola, FL, area. And if you see a gator along the way? Give it space, circling around its tail end so it doesn’t feel threatened.
Best times to hike: Year-round. 960 1280
Colorado TrailHikers, horse riders and bicyclists, the Colorado Trail is calling your name. The 486-mile trail runs from the Denver area to Durango, CO, with some of Colorado’s most beautiful scenery in between: wildlife (marmots, deer, sheep and more), as well as wildflowers, forests, lakes and streams ideal for fishing. A thru-hike generally takes 4 to 6 weeks to complete -- a feat accomplished by roughly 150 people per year.
Best times to hike: Primarily July and August. 960 1280
Cabrillo National Monument,
Gray whales make the longest migration of any mammal on the planet -- and the western overlooks of Cabrillo National Monument are one of their pit stops. The peak time to see these massive 44-foot-long, 33-ton creatures is mid-January; they’re also visible from mid- to late December through March.
Santa Barbara, CaliforniaSee the migration of the gray whales, as well as spot other marine life -- in fact, more than 27 types of whales and dolphins inhabit these waters at various times of year. The best times to go are February to early April for California grey whales; May to September for blue whales (the largest known animals to have ever existed), minke, humpback and, occasionally, right whales and orcas. 960 1280
Monterey Bay, CaliforniaEnjoy year-round whale-watching in Monterey Bay. Running alongside California’s central coast, the bay sees humpback and blue whales from April to December, and gray whales from December to April. The coast also attracts killer whales, who hunt gray whales during their migration north. 960 1280
Kodiak Island, AlaskaIn addition to these cute sea otters, Alaska’s Kodiak Island sees gray whales, in April. In June, minke, sei, fin and humpback whales also visit these waters -- with fins and humpbacks a common sight from June to November. Another great time to visit is April: That’s when the annual Whale Fest Kodiak, a 10-day-long festival, celebrates the return of Eastern Pacific gray whales to Alaskan waters. 960 1280
San Juan Islands, WashingtonOrcas love the San Juan Islands, off Washington State. Three pods, known as the “Southern Residents,” usually make their appearance from mid-April to early October. Gray, minke and humpback whales also visit these waters, as do seals, porpoises, sea lions and otters. 960 1280