Bryce Canyon Utah Horseback Riding

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Horseback riding near Bryce Canyon. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

As our Ford pickup truck and RV trailer snaked along the two lane road entering Southern Utah we marveled at the red rock canyon and hoodoo formations jutting toward the bluebird sky in front of us. After pulling into Ruby’s Inn, parking our trailer, and checking into the resort, we circled back to Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest to explore the area on foot, our Labrador Retriever in tow. I immediately spied a sign noting that horses were allowed on the trail and said to my husband, “we’ve got to see this Bryce Canyon area on horseback.” That afternoon I spotted a cowboy perched behind a wooden reception desk at Ruby’s Inn lobby, the sign above him read Ruby’s Horseback Adventures.

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Wranglers gather at Ruby’s Inn to take guests horse riding in Bryce & Red Canyon. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Jan Krepp of Northwest Pennsylvania had this to say about her Utah horseback riding vacation, “I have my own horses and have been trail riding for over 45 years. The horse I rode at Ruby’s Inn was perfect in every way. The Thunder Mountain trail was the most amazing ride of my life! I don’t know how it could get any better.”

“The horse I rode at Ruby’s Inn was perfect in every way. The Thunder Mountain trail was the most amazing ride of my life! I don’t know how it could get any better.

Cowboys & coffee
My husband is not an equestrian, but he is a good sport. He agreed to join me on Ruby’s favorite half day ride along Red Canyon Outlaw Trails. This 3- 3.5 hour horseback ride weaves through the beautiful red rocks of Losee Canyon in Red Canyon, Utah. Our morning trail ride took place in mid-October, but rides go out from May – October. As the cowboys gathered in the lobby of Ruby’s Inn, clutching mugs of hot coffee and decked out in boots, denim, silver rodeo belt buckles & straw hats, we exchanged pleasantries and shared our various stages of riding experience. The couple from Annapolis, Maryland owned horses, while two senior ladies and my husband confessed that it had been years since they had last ridden. The day prior, we had been instructed to wear closed toe shoes, but both of us had packed cowboy boots (just in case an opportunity presented itself for horseback riding.) That morning we had brought along water bottles and apples to reward our horses after the ride.

Dressed in layers, and dropped by van at our staging area, the cool morning air reminded me that we were no longer in California. In fact, the water trough had a sliver of ice along the top that broke apart into pieces when the horses pushed their velvet muzzles deep into the icy, clear water. The wranglers matched our group of six with appropriate horses and we were off to explore the same country that Outlaw Butch Cassidy and his wild bunch rode in over 100 years ago. Of course, our trail ride was much more civilized. Head wrangler Cherish Moore peppered our ride with the history and geology of Red Canyon; pointing out hoodoos, windows, red walls and washouts along the trail.

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Life between the ears of a horse near Bryce Canyon in Southern Utah. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

My 17 year old paint mare, Sunny, liked to stay ahead of the pack, as hoo doos and red walls appeared before us. I marveled at the years of history that unfolded in front of us. Tree rings show their age in years, while canyon walls show their age by the many layers of sediment stacked upon one another. The horses walk on, as birds and animals take cover in the shade of the surrounding mountains and forest.

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Trail guide Cherish Moore points out rock formations and shares the history of Red Canyon. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Halfway through our ride a tall red wall, reaching high into the sky, served as our backdrop for photo opportunities. Cherish gracefully dismounted from her palomino horse and led the other horses into position for our Butch Cassidy photo session. Our horses patiently stood ready while the paparazzi snapped pictures on our smartphones. Heading back to the pipe corral, Sunny picked up the pace while our guide pointed out window rock formations looming above us. Behind one rock window stood a lonely burned tree; torched by a bolt of lightning. How any plant life thrives out of those rocks is amazing to me.

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Red Canyon rock formations photo © Nancy D. Brown

We disembarked from our steeds, handed over the apples and headed back to Ruby’s Inn for a soak in the hot tub. Next year, I hope to return to Utah to join Ruby’s Grand Adventure on a four-day, five night ride in Bryce Canyon and Grand Staircase-Escalante area. Guests stay each night at Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel after horseback riding in Southern Utah.

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Nancy Brown riding Sunny on the trails of Red Canyon.

Need to Know:
You’ll be greeted by cowboys and cowgirls at Ruby’s Inn lobby and shuttled to the staging area, depending on the ride you select. Dress in layers, leave backpacks, purses and expensive cameras behind. Saddle bags are supplied for snacks and water bottles. Rides range in length from 1.5 hours to half day and all day rides, check the website for current pricing. Guests must be 7 years old and above to ride and weigh less than 230 pounds. Guests have 48 hours to cancel without penalty. Horseback rides may be booked from May – October.

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Bar G Wranglers at Ebenezer’s Barn & Grill. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Insider Tip:
Looking for a hearty Western meal, along with country Western entertainment? Make a dinner reservation at Ebenezer’s Barn & Grill across the street from Ruby’s Inn. Fun for the entire family with kid-friendly dinner menu and Western music.

If You Go:
Ruby’s Horseback Adventures (435) 834-5358
26 South Main
Bryce Canyon City, Utah 84764
Ruby’s Horseback review, photos and video by Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Ruby’s Inn for this horseback riding adventure.