Think of the Wild West and one animal always comes to mind—the horse. A ride on Old Paint gives city slickers a chance to saunter back in time to a simpler era and to simultaneously learn how ornery and opinionated horses can be.
If it rains, you’ll also learn why cowboys are so enthralled with cowboy hats. In Jackson Hole you can choose from brief half-day trail rides in Grand Teton National Park all the way up to weeklong pack trips into the rugged Teton Wilderness.
The visitor center has a brochure listing local outfitters and stables that provide trail rides and pack trips.
For rides by the hour or day ($30-40 for a one-hour ride, $45-60 for two hours, or $80-110 for a half-day), try:
- Teton Village Trail Rides
in Teton Village
- Jackson Hole Trail Rides
behind Snow King Resort
- Spring Creek Ranch
atop Gros Ventre Butte off Spring Gulch Road
307/733-8833 or 800/443-6139
- A/OK Corral
in Hoback Junction
- Mill Iron Ranch
10 miles south of Jackson
307/733-6390 or 888/808-6390
- Goosewing Ranch
Of these, Teton Village Trail Rides, Spring Creek Ranch, and Mill Iron Ranch are the most popular, but you probably won’t go wrong with any of these companies. Mill Iron Ranch, Spring Creek Ranch, and A/OK Corral also offer rides that include breakfast or dinner cookouts.
Farther afield are several companies offering trail rides, including four that operate out of Buffalo Valley (45 miles northeast of Jackson):
- Buffalo Valley Ranch
307/543-2062 or 888/543-2477
- Castagno Outfitters
307/543-2407 or 877/559-3585
- Turpin Meadow Ranch
307/543-2496 or 800/743-2496
- Teton Horseback Adventures
- Yellowstone Outfitters
307/543-2418 or 800/447-4711
More trail rides are offered at Togwotee Mountain Lodge (307/543-2847 or 800/543-2847, www.togwoteelodge.com), 48 miles northeast of Jackson on the way to Togwotee Pass. The minimum age for horseback riding is typically 5-6; young children ride while the horse is being led around by a parent. Teton Village Trail Rides also offers unique winter rides at Teton Village ($55 for one hour on plowed trails).
In Alpine (35 miles southwest of Jackson), Riding and Rafts (307/654-9900, www.jacksonholerecreation.com) offers unguided horse rentals for $50 for a half-day ride; it’s the only local place for do-it-yourselfers. (Pseudo-legal disclaimer from their website: “If you fall off and get hurt, you just have to lie there until you get better.”)
Jackson Hole Llamas (307/739-9582 or 800/830-7316, www.jhllamas.com) leads day hikes and backcountry treks with these fascinating and gentle animals.
Chuck-wagon cookouts are a very popular family option in Jackson Hole during the summer. Guests travel in horse-drawn wagons (or by horseback) and are treated to a delicious all-you-can-eat meal and entertainment.
In the foothills eight miles south of Jackson, Game Creek Ranch (1500 Game Creek Rd., 307/733-7101, www.gamecreekranch.biz) has a huge indoor riding arena with Western or English riding lessons for all levels, a five-week ranch camp for kids, riding clinics, and horse boarding.
Two local companies lead overnight wagon-train rides (in wagons with rubber tires) into the country around Jackson Hole. Guests split their time between riding in the wagons and riding on horseback.
Wagons West (307/543-2418 or 800/447-4711, www.wagonswestwyo.com) heads up into the Mt. Leidy Highlands for 2-6 days. The shortest trips (two days and one night) are $470 adults, $395 kids under 14. Four-day, three-night trips are $805 adults, $695 kids; and six-day, five-night trips run $1,025 adults, $895 kids.
Teton Wagon Train/Double H Bar (307/734-6101 or 888/734-6101, www.tetonwagontrain.com) charges $895 adults, $815 ages 9-14, and $765 ages 4-8 for a four-day, three-night package that includes horseback and wagon riding, meals, and camping gear.
Cowboy for a Day
One of the last working cattle ranches in Jackson Hole, historic Snake River Ranch (307/733-2674, www.tetonvillagetrailrides.com) has more than 3,500 head of cattle on a 5,000-acre spread. City slickers can join cowboys as they push cattle between pastures. This is real work and not for the timid, but a great opportunity at $100 for 3-4 hours. The ranch also has wagon tours and is a popular location for weddings.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Yellowstone & Grand Teton, 5th Edition