Horseback Riding through Banff National Park
For as much beauty as the Canadian Rockies provides, Alberta is also best known as a country western spot, and is home to more horses than any other province in the country. And while nothin’ says cowboy better than riding horseback, few things say Alberta better than riding horseback through their prized treasure of Banff National Park and the world famous Lake Louise.
With travel packages starting at $395 (CDN), one of the best ways to experience the wild beauty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains is with the rush of riding to forge your own connection to the western landscape. Inexperienced riders and first-timers can take easy guided tours by the hour. Consider also the popular Tea House Ride, a day trip with a sweet ending at the famed Lake Agnes Teahouse. The century-old mountain tea house started in 1904. Further along the trail are the beloved Little Bee Hive, Wapta Icefields and Jasper Road. Those looking for more of a commitment as experienced riders can create their own route for a multi-day independent “horsepacking” trip using a comprehensive list of recreation areas as a map guide - from staging and riding facilities to horse-friendly campsites.
Accomodations are available by pitched-tent camping or ride-and-lodges with guided horse-packing excursions accompanied by legendary outfitters. It was with these guides that the first sights of the untamed wilderness and glacier-fed rivers were initially explored and mapped centuries ago. The outfitters serve as knowledgable cohorts explaining the tranquil landscape to international visitors, mountain climbers, celebrities, artists and photographers. History buffs will love trail riding along the Rockies, alpine streams and wildflower meadows, a scene that has changed very little since the early days of the mountain park.
Families can also check out the many guest ranches and “dude ranches.” These working ranches with accommodations in the main house or individual cabins lend themselves to riding and learning from a herd of real working cowboys. To complement the horse riding, learn about mining history in the area, and take your pick of sleigh rides in the winter or a traditional barbecue in warmer weather. Other great horseback riding options in the province include the rolling hills of the Peace River and the summer horse camp at Peace Country Pioneer in northern Alberta and Ft. Assiniboine, which has four ecosystems and over 200 species of birds, located in central Alberta.