Situated between Bend and Madras, Smith Rock Trail Rides in Central Oregon is a unique trail riding experience that you’ll remember for a lifetime. I’ve had the opportunity to visit Central Oregon numerous times and I jump at the chance to take a horseback riding vacation here whenever possible. Smith Rock is known worldwide for rock climbing and hiking, but I’ll bet you didn’t know that you may go horseback riding near Smith Rock and along the Crooked River.
While there are so many things to see and do in Bend and Central Oregon, horseback riding with Smith Rock Trail Rides along the Crooked River should be on your list. Your horseback ride by Smith Rock will take you through some amazing scenery. For John Wayne movie fans and the Western way of life, you’ll be able to see the trail John Wayne road on horseback in the western adventure movie Rooster Cogburn.
No prior horseback riding experience is required. Having ridden many horses from Central Coast Trail Rides in California to riding in Mexico, I’ve experienced my share of nose to tail rides and this is not one of those rides. Owner Brian Thomas, along with his wife Melanie, take exceptional care of their well trained horses.
“Smith Rock Trail Rides was such a treat,” according to Christine Bartell of Bend, Oregon. “Brian, co-owner and leader of our ride is a professional. He cares about his horses. He has trained them himself and gave us specific instructions prior to our trail ride. What a joy it was to ride my horse Slim. The tack was top notch, as well. The ride was dramatically scenic. Love the individual attention from Brian during our ride. His maximum number of riders is four. This is a very horse-friendly rider experience.”
Owners Brian and Melanie Thomas have owned horses their entire lives. They settled into the Crooked River Ranch area for its scenic beauty and the wide open country of the high desert in Central Oregon. Smith Rock Trail Rides offers several unique horseback rides. Our trail ride was a 1.5 hour ride along Crooked River. The family-owned company also offers a ride through a local vineyard with more rides to follow.
I knew upon our arrival at Crooked River Ranch that these horses were well cared for. As Christine mentioned, the saddles were comfortable, the horses tack was in excellent condition and the weather was perfect for horseback riding in Central Oregon. A bonus when riding with the folks here is that Brian is an experienced horse trainer. If you are open to positive coaching, you’ll get a riding lesson while enjoying a private or semi-private trail ride in the high desert.
If you happen to be traveling or on vacation with someone who doesn’t like horseback riding vacations (how can that be?) Or, perhaps they prefer golf over horseback riding, that person may play golf at Crooked River Golf Course while you go trail riding along the Crooked River. Our horseback ride ended next to the golf course and my horse, J-Lo was fascinated with the golfers. I know she was a reining horse; perhaps she’ll be a polo pony next?
Need to know:
You’ll need an advance reservation at Smith Rock Trail Rides. The owners will send you a form to complete to asses your riding level and request a partial deposit. Trail rides depart rain or shine, but their high desert location in Central Oregon doesn’t get too much rain. Check the website for current pricing and availability.
Bring your camera or smart phone as your wrangler will take plenty of photos of you on your horse. Be sure to wear long pants and closed-toed shoes – cowboy boots are the best option. Smith Rock Trail Rides will provide water bottles and have riding helmets available for your use. Riders 12 years and younger are required to wear riding helmets. For additional insider tips follow luxury travel writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter or Instagram @Nancydbrown
If You Go:
Smith Rock Trail Rides (541) 604-6769 [email protected]
14290 SW Chinook Drive
Terrebone, Oregon 97760
Smith Rock Trail Rides in Central Oregon horseback riding review, YouTube video and photography courtesy Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown.