The Ultimate Way To Explore The Canadian Rockies Is With A Horse Pack Journey

Saddle up and ride out: here’s how to explore the Canadian Rockies on horseback.

Bow Lake near Icefields Parkway, Banff, Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada

The Canadian Rockies boast some of the most stunning landscapes in the world and are home to some of the most famous national parks in Canada (including Banff, Yoho, and Jasper). There are many great ways to explore the Canadian Rockies — one of the most iconic ways is by riding on the luxurious Canadian Rocky Mountaineer train. But one of the most immersive ways to explore the Canadian Rockies is with a multi-day horse pack trip.

Elsewhere, horseback (or more accurately muleback) riding trips are arguably the best way to explore the Grand Canyon. Perhaps one of the most epic places in the world to enjoy truly epic horseback riding adventures is Mongolia (this is where a large proportion of the population remains nomadic with their horses on the steppe). To see the Canadian Rockies, however, travelers can’t beat a horse pack trip.

Why Multi-Day Horse Pack Trips Are The Best Way To Explore The Canadian Rockies

Bow Lake near Icefields Parkway, Banff, Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada

Bow Lake near Icefields Parkway, Banff, Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada

There is a range of multi-day pack trips to select from that cater to a range of interests and preferences. One of the great outfitters is Home On The Range Adventure Tours. Trips range from as short as two days to as long as two weeks. These trips really get into the Canadian backcountry in a way that’s just not possible on normal 1-2 hour horseback riding tours.

Tours with Home On The Range Adventure Tours explore the backcountry and the wilderness on tours where the guest participate. Guests are expected to help in the care of the horses and with some duties around the camp. Along the way, people see rugged and remote trails that few ever get to see.

Related: Museum of the Plains Indian & How Horses Transformed Society

Soak in the atmosphere around a campfire with camp-fire cooked food while bonding with one’s horses.

The costs of the expeditions vary by time of year, amenities, location, duration, and accommodation options. Each of the trips includes accommodation, a guide, all meals, equipment, and other supplies, and (naturally) a horse. They are a great way to really get outdoors and relax in the mountainous wilderness of Canada.

Multi-Day Horse Packing Trips From Banff

Horses Roaming In The Mountains

Horses Roaming In The Mountains

There are trips that depart from Banff and spend the night in mountain lodges (specifically the Sundance and Halfway Lodges). The Sundance Lodge is built out of fir logs and has 10 sleeping rooms, a cozy living room, and a large country kitchen. Having at least some comforts of home it has hot showers.

The Halfway Lodge is also a charming backcountry cabin tucked away in the Rockies.

  • Season: Early May to Mid-October

Example 6-Day Horse Pack Tour From Banff

One example of a tour from Banff staying in mountain lodges lasts for 6 days.

  • Departs: Sundays & Thursdays – June 19 to September 8
  • Cost: CAD$2,399 Per Person (Based on Double Occupancy)
  • Includes: 5 Nights Accommodation, A Horse, All Meals

Bridge over Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park, Canada

Bridge over Emerald Lake, camping and coniferous forest. Yoho National Park, Canada

The trip starts with a ten-mile ridge to Banff Sundance Lodge along the Bow River, Healy, and Brewster Creeks. On the second day, ride up to Halfway Lodge along the historic Strom pack trail. The third day is spent riding up to the top of Allenby Pass (up to 8,100 feet).

The fourth day is a rest day and the tour departs Halfway Lodge on the fifth day back to Sundance Lodge. Finish the tour on the sixth day with the 10-mile ride back to the Warner Stables.

Related: What You Need to Know About The Pony Express

Afterward and while in Banff, take the time to soak in the Banff Hot Springs — the highest hot springs open to the public in Canada.

Both Sides Of The Great Divide Horse-Pack Ride

Explore both sides of the continental divide on the Great Divide Ride. On this tour, visitors get to explore the wilderness of both Alberta and British Columbia in the gorgeous Kananaskis Country of Alberta and the Nipika Mountain Resort in British Columbia.

The exact itinerary is variable depending on the weather and other factors. On an eight-day tour, one can expect to be picked up in Calgary and dropped off at M&M Ranch.

Then on the next day set out for a full-day ride in Kananaskis Country with days three and four also exploring the mountains on horseback.

  • Duration: 8 Days
  • Includes: Accommodation, Meals, Horses, etc.
  • Level of Experience: Intermediate to Experienced

Horses Roaming Free

Horses Roaming Free

On the fifth day, load the horses into the horse trailer and drive to Nipika Mountain Resort in BC (a 3-hour scenic drive through the Banff and Kootenay National Parks). Finish the day off with a late afternoon ride along the Kootenay River Valley.

The sixth day rides up the Cross River followed by another morning ride on the seventh day before loading up and heading back. Arrive back at the ranch for supper and spend the night there.

These are just two examples of the many different multi-day horse riding options one can choose from in the Canadian Rockies. Some tours can also be customized on request to create the ultimate trip of a lifetime.