angle-left Epic Trail Rides for 2020

Epic Trail Rides for 2020

These horse-friendly national parks are must-haves on your 2020 trail ride list.

trail ride with friends (Credit: AQHA Journal)

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We all know there’s no better way to experience this country than on horseback, and there’s no shortage of jaw-dropping trail rides to explore with your American Quarter Horse. Here are a few trail ride destinations suggestions for you and your horse. 

Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex

Located in Montana, “The Bob,” as it is commonly known, covers 10.5 million acres of federally designated wilderness areas and is managed by four national forests

  • Flathead National Forest
  • Helena National Forest
  • Lewis and Clark National Forest
  • Lolo National Forest

There are more than 1,700 miles of trail running through the Bob. One of its most popular destinations is the Chinese Wall, a limestone wall 20 miles long and 1,000 feet high that marks the Continental Divide. The trail can be completed on horseback, but you’ll need to give yourself a few days to complete the trip. 

If you’d rather explore the Bob with the help of a professional, 46 outfitters are permitted to take groups into the wilderness area.

Want more information? Visit the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation website.

Ride the Pony Express

Join the National Pony Express Association as its members recreate the 1,966-mile journey to carry mail between Missouri and California in just 10 days. 

  • Established in 1860, the Pony Express mail service bridged the gap between eastern and western telegraph lines. 
  • Young men rode horses to carry mail to company outposts stationed along the route, and a new horse and rider continued the journey at a breakneck pace.
  • The company went out of business in October 1861, two days after the completion of the transcontinental telegraph line. 

Today, more than 750 riders, assigned a 1- to 20-mile leg, participate in the annual Pony Express Re-Ride. Approximately 1,000 letters are carried on horseback over the original trail. The event continues 24 hours a day until the mail is delivered to its destination.

For more information, visit the National Pony Express Association website.

Ride the Sand Dunes of White Sands National Monument

Horses benefit from being ridden in new environments, and what could be more different than riding the white gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument?

Located just a few miles west of Alamogordo, New Mexico, approximately 90 miles north of El Paso, Texas, White Sands National Monument is the world’s largest gypsum dunefield at 275 square miles. 

“White gypsum surprises horses at first,” says Sue Murphy who is planning her third trip to the national park. “It’s lighter than sand and is different than anything they’ve ever walked on.”

  • Horses are asked to ride in the dunes and stay off established trails and roadways, to avoid conflict with other visitors. 
  • Riding is permitted year-round. However, as Sue explains, “We usually go in the fall to avoid the extreme summer heat and try to schedule our visit around a full moon so we can enjoy an evening ride.”

A visit to the park offers:

  • A convenient separate parking area for horse trailers.
  • Well-maintained roads and excellent signage.
  • Close proximity to Alamogordo for stabling, since overnight camping with stock animals is not permitted within the park.

For more information, visit

Blaze Your Own Trail

If these options don’t appeal to you, there’s plenty more to explore! The U.S. National Park Service manages 129 historical parks or sites, and the National Forest Service oversees 54 national forests and grasslands.

Your local Back Country Horsemen of America chapter can also point you to great trails close to home.