The Top 10 National Parks for Horseback Riding

A horseback rider in Grand Teton National Park

Josh Friedman / Flickr

The U.S. National Parks have much to offer: sweeping views of beautiful landscapes, outdoor activities, and an indelible connection with nature. For an unforgettable experience that seamlessly combines all of the above, try horseback riding at a national park — to navigate nature as early settlers once did. Explore these 10 parks that offer unrivaled horseback riding experiences.

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Glacier National Park

Photo: David Kobuszewski/flickr

Glacier National Park in Montana boasts some of the most awe-inspiring views in North America with its forests, meadows, mountains and lakes. Those interested in horseback riding have a variety of options, from two-hour rides to multi-day adventures offered at each of Swan Mountain Outfitters' three corrals: Apgar, Lake McDonald and Many Glacier. (The spectacular view shown at left comes from the Apgar Lookout Trail.) You can even go all-out on a "Cowboy Cookout Ride" that rewards a three-hour ride with a steak dinner.

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Canyonlands National Park

Photo: ThatShawGuy/Wikimedia Commons

The vast Utah canyons comprise Canyonlands National Park, where you can pack up your horse, burro or mule and adventure throughout Horseshoe Canyon and the backcountry roads. Canyonlands gives riders a unique opportunity to brave the challenging roads and trails for days to finally reach the least accessible — but quite possibly the most breathtaking area of the park — the Maze (pictured).

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Kings Canyon National Park

Photo: Esther Lee/flickr

In the sunshine of summertime, Kings Canyon National Park offers a choice of guided horseback rides through the groves or along the water. One of the most beautiful trails begins at the Cedar Grove Pack Station and brings riders through the ever-popular Rae Lakes loop to observe the magnificent waterfront pictured here.

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Petrified Forest National Park

Photo: Zadranka/Shutterstock

For a unique ride that can last hours or days, the Petrified Forest National Park has it all: challenging descents lead to easy riding and gorgeous perspectives of this archaeologically-significant expanse of Arizona landscape. Beware, though: in the wilderness area, there are no maintained trails and summer downpours can cause quicksand! Park officials recommend sticking to the dry washes as much as possible.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

Photo: Nelson Sirlin/Shutterstock

The green grass and blue skies that envelop expansive mountains make for a classic horseback riding experience that visitors have enjoyed since Rocky Mountain National Park's creation in 1915. Elevations as high as 9,400 feet above sea level bring riders more than 275 miles worth of trails for commercial and private horseback riding.

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Acadia National Park

Photo: William Brawley/flickr

Acadia National Park has more than natural beauty to offer: 45 miles of rustic carriage roads guide riders on a historic path through mountains and valleys. This is also the perfect place for a carriage ride over the unobtrusive broken-stone roads of the early 1900s that offer a picturesque view of the land.

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Yellowstone National Park

Photo: Bonita R. Cheshier/Shutterstock

As the nation's first national park, Yellowstone offers traditional horseback and wagon rides with amazing views of mountains, canyons and wooded hillsides — some of which also offer a steak dinner.

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Yosemite National Park

Photo: Allie_Caulfield/flickr

Yosemite National Park provides guided mule and horseback rides that highlight all of the wonders of Yosemite, including Mirror Lake (pictured), Vernal Fall, Tuolumne Falls and more. True adventurers can choose to spend four or six days with a professional guide packer for a once-in-a-lifetime exploration of the park.

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Photo: Anh Luu/Shutterstock

To this day, when most people think of Teddy Roosevelt they picture him astride a horse, and the national park created in his honor holds to the highest standard of adventurous horseback riding. The entire park is open to horses, except for developed nature trails. Be it by trail or crosscountry, horseback riding in the very same land that Roosevelt once traveled is a must for riding enthusiasts.

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Badlands National Park

Photo: tsaiproject/flickr

Badlands National Park is the true explorer's dream, and riding horseback is perhaps the best way to navigate the 64,000 acres of rugged landscape. There are no designated maps, so park officials recommend bringing along a topographic map and a compass. Though their namesake comes from early opinions on the level of difficulty of travel through these lands, the beautiful badlands of South Dakota call to the hearts of adventurers worldwide.