The 4 Superb Trails for Horseback Riding Yellowstone Visitors Love Most
Written by Nick on June 18, 2023
An Overview of the Top Horseback Riding Yellowstone Destinations
There are many ways to explore America’s first national park, but one of the most uniquely western ways to explore Yellowstone National Park is by discovering the scenic, awe-inspiring horseback riding Yellowstone has to offer.
You aren’t just limited to the park itself. There are plenty of lodges and ranches outside Yellowstone National Park that offer excellent horseback riding opportunities. But riding horses inside Yellowstone itself is an opportunity that experienced equestrians simply shouldn’t pass up.
You don’t have to invest in a 3-night backcountry trip to enjoy the best horseback riding Yellowstone has to offer, either. There are outfitters who will take you for a couple of hours, an afternoon, or even a whole day, ending with a great meal around a campfire beneath the sprawling western sky.
Ready to learn about the top horseback riding Yellowstone destinations? Check out these four areas in Yellowstone best experienced from the saddle.
1. Beaver Ponds Loop Trail
Like all Yellowstone trails, the Beaver Ponds Loop Trail may be closed at any time due to bear activity. Yellowstone is grizzly country, so you need to always check closure information online before you travel and, once inside the park, practice the essentials of Yellowstone bear safety, including carrying bear spray.
That said, the Beaver Ponds Loop Trail is a fantastic option for a shorter ride. Expect it to take about two hours.
The Beaver Ponds Loop Trail ranks among the best horseback riding Yellowstone has to offer because of its varying landscape. You’ll get to see all kinds of different sights, as if you were traveling through a much larger area.
Plus, as in much of Yellowstone, this is a great place to spot iconic Yellowstone wildife.
2. Dunanda Falls and Silver Scarf Falls
This trail, beginning near Felt, Idaho, is one of the longer horseback riding Yellowstone routes on our list. It typically takes about five hours to complete, and offers views of two fantastic waterfalls, one of which includes a natural hot spring.
The trail itself takes you through several water crossings. You can access the top and bottom of Dunanda Falls, where you’ll find warm water flowing into Boundary Creek. You can enjoy this hot spring, but it’s best to have footwear suited for the water.
Further on, you may have to go off-trail for the best view of Silver Scarf Falls, but you can still see it from the trail.
All told, this backcountry out-and-back trip covers nearly 17 miles. It’s tougher to find, but you’ll be rewarded with virtually no traffic on this trail.
Pro Tip: If using this horseback riding Yellowstone trail during summer, don’t forget the bug spray. Mosquitoes and horse flies in this area abound.
3. Slough Creek Trail
This is a full-day ride, so be sure to pack a lunch and plenty of water. You’ll need 7-8 hours to cover the nearly 20 miles of the out-and-back Slough Creek Trail.
Spanning the distance between the Slough Creek Campground to the park’s northern boundary, this trail will take you past quite a few backcountry campsites.
Don’t feel like just because you can make this ride in a day, you should — backcountry camping in Yellowstone can make for a majestic experience, so if you’re interested, look into campsite reservations and backcountry permits as you plan your trip.
This is some of the best horseback riding Yellowstone has to offer because it begins in the Lamar Valley, which is one of the very best places to see wildlife in Yellowstone. Bison and elk are common, but you may also see bears, marmots, and even wolves.
Expect a few muddy spots, but there are several fantastic places to stop for lunch or a snack. Be sure to bring your good binoculars for wildlife viewing and keep your bear spray handy.
4. Elephant Back Mountain Trail
Located near West Yellowstone, Montana, this loop trail is just over 3.5 miles in length and quite popular among hikers and campers. Expect to see other people if you go, but don’t let that deter you.
This is an easily accessible spot, which contributes to its popularity, but also means it’s easier to get in an out with horses. As with all the trails on this list, you’ll need a backcountry permit from the National Park Service before you take advantage of this horseback riding Yellowstone opportunity.
Elephant Back offers great lake views through breaks in the trees, and you’ll see patches of snow hanging around early in the season. It can be a bit muddy and slippery in May and June.
There are also a couple of steeper spots to be aware of, so there’s nothing wrong with a slow and steady pace. Hey, that’s usually the best way to see Yellowstone, anyway!