Outdoor Adventures: The Best Places to Ride Horses
Do you love horseback riding? Include horses in your travel adventures! From Africa to America, here are the best places to ride horses.
Maybe the recent Triple Crown winner Justify got you curious about horses. Maybe you’re a horse enthusiast whose idea of tourism is visiting the most prestigious equestrian events in the world.
Or maybe you’re just an ordinary person who’s always been curious about horses but never saddled up.
You don’t have to be a horse expert to enjoy riding horses, and you certainly don’t need to know a hoof from a bridle to be able to enjoy the best places to ride horses in the world. Here are eight of the best places to go horseback riding (even if you’ve never gone before).
Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina
Not sure if you can afford to travel? Start in your own country!
If you’re on the East Coast, start by checking out the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Whether you’re a seasoned equestrian or a newbie, you’ll be in awe of the chateau-inspired property with over 80 miles of trails, meadows, and brooks.
If you’re not sure whether you’re ready to dive headfirst into the Biltmore Estate, you can check out Camp Hobbit Hill nearby, a sleepaway camp offering riding lessons, equine education, and more.
Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile
If you’re ready to venture a little further, we suggest making friends with horses in the Andes Mountains.
These are for the more experienced trail rider, winding through rugged mountain peaks and soft grasslands with ancient forests, rivers, and glacial valleys.
It’s a long ride, especially if you take a multi-day adventure ranging 12 to 24 miles, but you won’t see the scenery (or the view) anywhere else.
There’s rich history in all of the sites listed here, but Cappadocia takes the cake. It’s also one of the most visually exotic locations.
The area is full of history ranging from Greek, Roman, Ottoman, and early Christian. The trails are difficult, but the horses reward a dedicated rider.
Wandering from village to village, you’ll see fairy chimneys–rock formations that look almost lunar–as well as ancient monasteries, Byzantine churches, and signs of land cultivation that has turned the landscape ever more eerie.
Some trips also stop in Istanbul, which is among the most beautiful cities in the world.
Depending on the trip you choose, you can camp under the stars or hotels.
Loire Valley, France
You’ve never seen France this way.
The Loire Valley is a World Heritage Site in central France renowned for gorgeous chateaus–Cheverny, Chaumont, and Chenonceau, among others. You can get a feel for history each night by staying in these castles.
But during the day? Nothing can beat a gallop through the meadows and rivers on the estates, or riding into courtyards over drawbridges like a hero from ancient tales.
It’s a fairytale come alive, with a perspective you won’t get anywhere else.
Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii
For those who are more tropically minded, you can’t do much better than Haleakala National Park in Maui, where ancient and modern Hawaiian culture intersects with scenery you can only see in Maui.
Think a volcanic landscape surrounded by tropical forests, waterfalls, and rivers that take you all the way to the coast and the wide open ocean.
For the rainforest portion located in Kipahulu, visitors must venture through the Road to Hana, a scenic highway with more than 600 bends. If it sounds like a chore, you won’t be disappointed by the journey or the reward.
The Road to Hana follows the northeastern coast, and once you reach the rainforest, you’ll see lush mango trees, bamboo, rocky forest trails, and the Waimoku Falls, the tallest waterfall in Maui.
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Horses are the only way to experience Banff National Park, Canada’s oldest national park.
Seriously. No cars are allowed on the premises.
That’s good news if you want to explore the Rocky Mountains through this treasure of a park.
You’ll see a lot of dense woods, but you’ll also see snowy mountaintops and glacier-fed
mountain lakes and the wildlife that populate the park, including elk, black bears, and deer.
If you like camping, this is an excursion you’ll enjoy, as nights are spent in tents or backcountry lodges.
Donana National Park, Spain
Donana National Park is one of the largest national parks in Europe. It’s on the southern coast where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Guadalquivir River Delta.
Donana is a sensory experience. As you ride, keep your nose awake–you’ll smell red lavender, thyme, and rosemary.
Keep your eyes open too, because you may spot an Iberian lynx and any of the various species of bird that stop here on their way between Africa and Northern Europe.
The park is in Andalusia and prompted the founding of the World Wildlife Fund in 1961, so make sure to saddle up on an Andalusian horse for your ride.
Wadi Rum, Jordan
Finally, take your world horse tour to Wadi Rum, thought to be the birthplace of the original Arabian horses.
If you’re a film nerd, you’ll recognize the landscape–it featured heavily in Lawrence of Arabia.
Wadi Rum is the Valley of the Moon, where Bedouin tribesmen can teach you about survival in the desert. And, of course, how best to gallop through sandstone and granite in the footsteps of Lawrence.
Remember, Arabian horses aren’t just known for their beauty–they’re known for their speed, and they have a certain competitive streak. If you think you might want to gallop, get ready for a ride.
Travel Beyond the Best Places to Ride Horses
Sure, you could ride horses almost anywhere in the world, but if you truly want to experience partnership with a horse, why not do it in some of the most beautiful places in the world?
That’s why we gathered some of the best places to ride horses, and we hope you’ll write your own adventure there.
If you’re curious about where to start adventuring, take a look at where this blog has gone for some ideas.