You could hear the rush of the cascading water before you could actually see the thundering waterfall. The horses carefully picked their way through the volcanic rock along the forested trail. A Kodak moment waits around every bend on the trail here in scenic Central Oregon. I’ve been riding here for as long as I can remember. In my youth, my grand plan was to work at Sunriver Resort as a wrangler at Sunriver Stables. When I learned that I would not be able to guide while riding my own horse, my dreams vanished like a puff of red dust rising in the pasture. While a summer job for this California cowgirl didn’t materialize in Oregon, I was able to take a horseback riding vacation every time I managed to visit this high desert recreation area. Below are five places to ride horses in Central Oregon.
Black Butte Ranch
Black Butte Ranch
The 1,800 acre Black Butte Ranch is located seven miles west of Sisters, Oregon and has been offering horseback rides for over 18 years at Black Butte Stables (BBR Stables.) The BBR Stables operate year-round with sleigh rides in the winter and trail rides in the fall, spring and summer. Cowboys and cowgirls must be at least seven years old to ride. Little Buckaroo rides are offered with parent’s leading the horse for children ages 3-6 years old. Rides range from “Big Loop” and “Gobbler’s Knob” to half day “Reata Trail” and the all day “Black Butte Posse.”
It’s been a long time since I stayed at Long Hollow Ranch, but if memory serves me correctly, the experience is bed & breakfast meets dude ranch. Located in Sisters, Oregon, the family operated ranch offers fly fishing and horseback riding on a historic central Oregon guest ranch.
Mount Bachelor has stood as an iconic symbol for Central Oregon in many postcards. Resorts surrounding the central Oregon mountain have come and gone. I remember vacationing at Inn of the Seventh Mountain (now Seventh Mountain Resort) when I was in grade school with my parents. In 2011 I rode at Seventh Mountain Resort when the trail ride operator was called Seventh Mountain Resort Stables. Today, Bend River Trails operates horseback rides out of Seventh Mountain Resort. While I have ridden the “Lava Island Loop” and “Big Eddy Loop”, I have not yet had the pleasure of riding with Bend River Trails. I’m told that they offer one and two hour horseback rides with rides going out at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. You’ll need to call ahead for reservations.
I’ve often seen pictures of Smith Rock and have been able to make out the monkey face. I think it would be amazing to ride on horseback under Monkey Face and along the Crooked River in central Oregon. Smith Rock Trail Rides and wrangler Brian Thomas will make it happen for you. I’ve not ridden in Terrebonne, Oregon yet, but it is on my list of places to go on a horseback riding vacation. Their website lists several rides including the “Ranch Vista Ride” with views of Smith Rock and the Cascade Mountains, the two hour “Canyon Ride” along the Crooked River and the longer “Rooster Cogburn Ride.” Smith Rock Trail Rides also offers lunch and dinner horseback rides. Cowgirl up!
If You Go:
Smith Rock Trail Rides (541) 604-6769
Horseback riding along Deschutes River.
As mentioned above, I’ve been horseback riding in central Oregon for years. I started with a chuck wagon ride along the Deschutes River at Sunriver Stables in the early 1970’s and graduated to a breakfast trail ride with my mom the following summer vacation. It’s probably about that time that I started wearing my parent’s down with weekly requests to have my own horse. You’ll find multiple reviews of Sunriver Stables on the Writing Horseback blog, from pony rides to trail rides and horse drawn sleigh rides in the winter.