By Nicole Munoz
The beauty of Colorado is quite inviting to nature lovers everywhere and the miles and miles of scenic trails winding through the state make Colorado even more appealing. There are thousands of miles of trails in Colorado, ranging from easy to quite challenging and strenuous. Some trails are designated for hiking and bicycling, while some are used for all terrain vehicles and off-roading. There are also hundreds of miles of bridle trails winding through the gorgeous landscapes of Colorado.
There are 54 national recreation areas in Colorado that offer several miles of trails for horseback riding, including 6 national parks, as well as 20 Colorado state parks with equestrian trails. Three US Forest Service campgrounds provide horse camping sites and 2 of Colorado’s state parks offer campgrounds with nearby horse corrals. There are also horses for rent at several of the recreation areas and state parks.
San Isabel National Forest in central Colorado has four designated trails for horseback riding and 2 campgrounds that offer horse sites. Alvarado Reservation Campground has 3 horse camping sites that allow 8 people each. Toilets and drinking water from a hand pump are provided and the campground is near the breathtaking and challenging Sangre de Cristo wilderness trails. Don’t forget to carry a Coleman emergency poncho in case you’re caught in one of the common afternoon thunderstorms.
The Purgatoire Reservation Campground also accommodates 8 campers with horses and provides a selection of 8 horse camping sites. Jacks Gulch campground in northern Colorado just west of Fort Collins offers 5 horse camping sites with corrals and several nearby trails for riding. Visitors to Jacks Gulch can also enjoy bicycling, hiking, fishing, riding ATVs, and observing a variety of wildlife, especially an abundance of birds.
Vega State Park in central Collbran, Colorado has convenient parking for horse trailers with access to hundreds of miles of trails for horseback riding in the Grand Mesa National Forest. Horse camping is not available in this Colorado state park, but corrals are located next to the rustic cabins and not far from the family campgrounds. Corrals can be reserved ahead of time.
One of the four developed campgrounds in Colorado State Forest State Park, Brockman Campground, has recently added corral facilities for horse camping. State Forest State Park offers over 50 miles of trails and roadways that can be used for horseback riding, as well as hiking, bicycling, boating, and fishing opportunities. This park also has cabin and yurt rentals year round.
If you’re interested in camping and horseback riding in Colorado but don’t own a horse, both Cherry Creek State Park and Chatfield State Park have stables conveniently located within the facilities that offer guided tours and horse rentals. Just south of Denver, Cherry Creek State Park is quite popular year round because of its extensive and scenic trails and wide array of amenities, including a marina and a model airplane field.
If you are horse camping in Colorado, it is important to remember that all the horse feed used on state or national grounds must be certified as weed free. This includes hay and pellets. Check with the campground or park you plan to camp at ahead of time for other regulations regarding your horse. Some corrals do not have water so it may be necessary to bring buckets or a hose.
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