What better way to experience Alberta than on horseback? Every summer I don my western duds and head out to spend a few days on a working guest ranch or trekking with my horse-crazy friends. Here’s the inside story.
Cattle Drives and Down-Home Cooking
Riding alongside wranglers on a cattle drive is definitely bucket list material. I can hardly believe I was able to help move a herd across a river. It was scene straight out of the Old West.
You too can indulge your inner cowboy on a Sierra West Frontier Cattle Drive in the foothills of southwestern Alberta. Being part of getting a real job done takes the thrill of horseback riding to a whole new level. Feel the total immersion in this way of life as you join your fellow wranglers in another round of “Yah, yah! Hooyah!”
After a day in the saddle, you’ll return to a hearty home-cooked supper and lively cowboy entertainment around the campfire. I promise this will be as far from your everyday world as you can possibly imagine.
A Week in the Backcountry
Ride deep into the mountains and leave the trappings of daily life behind. Time on the trail is a chance to learn about horsemanship, the wilderness and the joys of a simpler way of life. After a week in the saddle with Banff Trail Riders in the Canadian Rockies, I reluctantly left my horse behind, but took away amazing memories. Some days we rode into spectacular valleys, others along sensational rocky ridges. A day off the saddle gave our horses a break and us a chance to take to the water in canoes. Meals seemed more delicious cooked over a campfire. And whether we slept in tents or cozy cabins along the trail, sleep was easy and deep.
Yoga, Massage…and Stagecoach Rides
Many ranch vacations in Alberta expand the experience to include activities like yoga and massage. Last year I rounded up the gal pals and headed to The Outpost at Warden Rock. I knew our Chicks in the Sticks adventure was going to be non-stop fun. The first thing we did was load into a real stagecoach pulled by four horses for a two-hour ride into the backcountry camp on the border of Banff National Park. The days flew by, filled with trail rides, hikes and cowgirl boot camp sessions mixed with yoga, massage and nightly campfires, where we rekindled lifelong friendships.
Bale and Breakfast
Do you have a horse that likes to roam? Maybe the two of you want to learn to work the herd or just explore some incredible Alberta scenery. Well, pack a bale of hay in the trailer and bring your own horse to places like Sierra West Cabins and Ranch Vacations in the south, Rafter Six in the Rockies, Rocking R Guest Ranch near Calgary or Lucasia Ranch in the foothills. You and your horse are welcome to join in on the adventure with horseless folks like me. I just love seeing the young riders bring their horses so they can learn together. The smiles and the whinnies say it all.