Horseback camping can be an incredible way to experience the great outdoors, and the United States has many campgrounds specifically designed to accommodate equestrians.
Here are 10 best horseback camping campgrounds across the U.S., listed in no particular order:
1. Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Tennessee/Kentucky
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area straddles the border of Tennessee and Kentucky and is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, especially those on horseback. With its breathtaking scenic overlooks and deep, winding gorges, the area offers a variety of terrains to explore. The trails snake through lush forests, rocky outcrops, and along rivers, providing both novice and experienced riders with a memorable experience.
One of the standout features of Big South Fork is its horse-friendly campgrounds. Bear Creek Horse Camp and Charit Creek Lodge are two popular options that cater specifically to equestrian adventurers. Both of these campgrounds offer amenities that make life easier for you and your four-legged companion, such as horse stalls, hitching posts, and easy access to trails.
The area itself offers miles upon miles of horse-friendly trails that are well-maintained and marked. Whether you’re looking for a challenging, hilly ride or a leisurely trek along the river, you’ll find something that suits your taste. And with the natural beauty surrounding you, don’t be surprised if you find yourself stopping just to take in the views.
Whether you’re an avid horseback rider or someone looking to try it out, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area provides an exceptional backdrop for your adventure. It’s not just about the ride; it’s about immersing yourself in an awe-inspiring environment that makes you appreciate the bond between human and horse, set against the backdrop of America’s natural beauty.
|Terrain||Scenic overlooks, deep gorges, lush forests, and rivers|
|Popular Campgrounds||Bear Creek Horse Camp, Charit Creek Lodge|
|Amenities||Horse stalls, hitching posts, easy access to trails|
|Trail Quality||Well-maintained, marked trails for both novice and experienced riders|
|Trail Variety||Options for challenging, hilly rides or leisurely treks|
|Scenic Features||Natural beauty, with plenty of spots to stop and admire the views|
|Ideal For||Avid horseback riders and novices looking to explore the outdoors on horseback|
2. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is not just famous for its intricate cave systems; it’s also a fantastic destination for horseback riders. The park offers over 60 miles of horse-friendly trails that take you through a variety of terrains, including wooded areas and open fields. It’s an excellent way to see a different side of this unique geological marvel, above ground rather than below.
If you’re planning an equestrian adventure, Mammoth Cave Horse Camp is the go-to base. This specialized campground is tailored to meet the needs of horseback riders. Amenities such as horse stalls, water sources, and direct trail access make it a convenient spot for those who want to explore the park on four legs.
The trails are well-marked and cater to a variety of skill levels. Whether you’re an experienced rider looking for a challenging route or a beginner seeking an easier path, you’ll find something that suits you. And even though the park is famous for its subterranean wonders, don’t underestimate the beauty you’ll find on the surface—lush forests, rolling hills, and possibly some wildlife sightings await you.
Exploring Mammoth Cave National Park on horseback offers a unique perspective of this famous location. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned equestrian, the park provides a mix of natural beauty and specialized facilities that make for a memorable horseback riding experience.
|Terrain||Wooded areas, open fields, rolling hills|
|Campground||Mammoth Cave Horse Camp|
|Amenities||Horse stalls, water sources, direct trail access|
|Trail Quality||Well-marked, maintained trails|
|Trail Variety||Options for both novice and experienced riders|
|Additional Attractions||Cave systems, wildlife sightings|
|Ideal For||Anyone looking to explore the park’s natural beauty on horseback|
3. Fort Robinson State Park, Nebraska
Fort Robinson State Park in Nebraska is a sprawling equestrian paradise, boasting more than 22,000 acres of land to explore on horseback. With that much space, you can imagine the diversity of trails available, ranging from flat open prairies to hilly woodlands. The park’s history as a former U.S. Army fort adds an extra layer of interest, as some trails will lead you past historical landmarks.
If you’re planning an equestrian getaway, the park’s full-service campground is specifically tailored to meet the needs of horseback riders. With facilities like horse stalls, corrals, and hitching posts, it’s a comfortable and convenient base for your horseback adventures. Plus, the direct trail access means you can saddle up and hit the trails right from your campsite.
The trails themselves are well-maintained and suited for riders of all levels. Whether you’re an experienced equestrian looking for a challenging day out or a beginner wanting a leisurely ride, Fort Robinson has something for everyone. The variety of natural landscapes you’ll encounter—from pine-covered ridges to wide-open grasslands—makes each ride a unique experience.
So, if you’re keen on combining your love for horseback riding with a bit of history and a lot of natural beauty, Fort Robinson State Park in Nebraska is the place to be. It offers a fantastic blend of tailored amenities, diverse trails, and a large area to explore, making it a dream destination for any equestrian.
|Terrain||Open prairies, hilly woodlands, historical landmarks|
|Campground||Full-service equestrian campground|
|Amenities||Horse stalls, corrals, hitching posts, direct trail access|
|Trail Quality||Well-maintained and suitable for all levels|
|Trail Variety||Diverse landscapes including pine-covered ridges and open grasslands|
|Additional Attractions||Historical landmarks from its time as a U.S. Army fort|
|Ideal For||Equestrians looking for a diverse and expansive area to explore on horseback|
4. Bandera, Texas
If you’re looking to experience the essence of the American West on horseback, Bandera, Texas, is the place to go. Known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” Bandera takes its cowboy culture seriously, and that includes offering plenty of options for horse-friendly camping and trail riding. One standout location is the Hill Country State Natural Area, where you can ride through authentic Texan landscapes, complete with rugged hills, wide-open spaces, and even some creek crossings.
Hill Country State Natural Area is particularly welcoming to equestrians. The park offers several horse-friendly campgrounds that provide amenities such as hitching posts, water sources, and easy access to a variety of trails. You can take your pick from shorter loops for a quick ride or longer trails if you’re looking for a more extended adventure. The terrain can be quite diverse, from rocky paths to softer ground, offering a fun challenge for riders.
The trails in Bandera are well-marked, and they offer something for riders of all skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a gentle ride or an experienced cowboy or cowgirl seeking a challenging trek, Bandera has got you covered. Plus, the chances are good you’ll encounter some local wildlife along the way, adding an extra layer of excitement to your trip.
In summary, Bandera offers an authentic Texan horseback riding experience you won’t want to miss. The combination of a cowboy-rich atmosphere, specialized camping amenities, and a wide range of trails makes it a must-visit for any equestrian enthusiast.
|Terrain||Rugged hills, open spaces, creek crossings|
|Popular Campgrounds||Hill Country State Natural Area|
|Amenities||Hitching posts, water sources, easy trail access|
|Trail Quality||Well-marked, suited for all skill levels|
|Trail Variety||Ranges from short loops to extended trails|
|Additional Attractions||Local wildlife, cowboy culture|
|Ideal For||Anyone looking to experience authentic Texan terrain on horseback|
5. Kanab, Utah
If red rock formations and striking desert landscapes are your thing, then Kanab, Utah, is a must-visit destination for horseback camping. Located near iconic attractions like Zion National Park, this area is known for its natural beauty, making it an ideal backdrop for equestrian adventures. Some of the top spots for horseback camping include Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, both offering unique landscapes to explore.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is famous for its shifting sand dunes and reddish-pink sand. Horseback riding here is a unique experience, offering a change from traditional wooded or mountainous trails. Then there’s Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which not only provides horse-friendly trails but also gives you a chance to learn about animal rescue and rehabilitation efforts, adding an educational layer to your adventure.
Both Coral Pink Sand Dunes and Best Friends offer campgrounds equipped for horseback riders. Think hitching posts, water sources, and direct access to trails. While the amenities might vary between the two, they both provide a solid base from which to explore the stunning landscapes that Kanab has to offer.
In summary, Kanab is a haven for those looking to combine stunning desert landscapes with horseback riding. Whether you’re maneuvering through the unique sand dunes of Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park or trekking the trails of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, you’re sure to have a memorable riding experience framed by Utah’s dramatic scenery.
|Terrain||Red rock formations, sand dunes|
|Popular Campgrounds||Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary|
|Amenities||Hitching posts, water sources, direct trail access|
|Trail Quality||Varies, but generally well-marked and maintained|
|Trail Variety||Desert landscapes, unique sand dune terrains|
|Additional Attractions||Proximity to Zion National Park, educational opportunities at Best Friends|
|Ideal For||Those looking for a unique desert equestrian experience|
6. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho
When it comes to iconic American landscapes, Yellowstone National Park is often at the top of the list. Stretching across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, this national treasure isn’t just for hikers and photographers; it’s also a dream destination for equestrians. However, it’s important to note that the park has strict regulations for camping with horses, so you’ll need to be well-prepared and adhere to the rules. But once you’re set, the backcountry offers an unparalleled equestrian experience with its geysers, hot springs, and abundant wildlife.
One of the unique aspects of horseback camping in Yellowstone is the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in the wilderness. The park’s backcountry is expansive, giving you plenty of room to explore, but this also means you should be experienced in backcountry camping and navigation. You won’t find the same amenities here as you would in more developed horse-friendly campgrounds, but for many, that’s part of the allure.
Before heading out, make sure to secure the necessary permits and familiarize yourself with the park’s regulations regarding grazing, campsite selection, and waste management. The park places a strong emphasis on preserving its natural habitat, so following the rules is crucial for minimizing your impact and ensuring that horseback camping continues to be allowed in this beautiful space.
In conclusion, Yellowstone National Park offers a horseback camping experience like no other. While the strict regulations might require a bit more planning and effort, the reward is a chance to explore some of America’s most stunning natural landscapes from the unique vantage point of a horse’s back. If you’re an experienced equestrian looking for a truly immersive wilderness adventure, Yellowstone should be high on your list.
|Location||Wyoming, Montana, Idaho|
|Terrain||Geysers, hot springs, forests, mountainous areas|
|Camping Regulations||Strict regulations for grazing, waste management, and campsite selection|
|Amenities||Limited; backcountry camping primarily|
|Trail Quality||Well-maintained but suited for experienced riders|
|Trail Variety||Expansive backcountry offering diverse natural landscapes|
|Additional Attractions||Abundant wildlife, unique geological features|
|Ideal For||Experienced equestrians looking for a backcountry adventure|
7. Elk Mountain Ranch, Colorado
If you’re looking for a horseback riding experience that blends outdoor adventure with a touch of luxury, Elk Mountain Ranch in Colorado might be just the ticket. Situated near the charming town of Buena Vista, this dude ranch offers an all-inclusive equestrian vacation package that takes the hassle out of planning. From the moment you arrive, everything is taken care of, allowing you to focus solely on enjoying your time in the saddle.
What sets Elk Mountain Ranch apart are the guided horseback trips that come as part of the package. You’re not just aimlessly wandering trails; you’re embarking on curated adventures that showcase the best of Colorado’s natural beauty. Whether it’s a leisurely ride through the meadows or a more challenging journey into the mountains, the guides tailor the experience to suit riders of all skill levels.
The accommodations are another highlight. You can expect comfortable camping amenities that provide a cozy setting for resting after a day of riding. Imagine sitting around a campfire with your fellow riders, sharing stories of the day’s adventures, all while enjoying the crisp Colorado air. It’s an excellent way to combine the raw appeal of horseback riding with the creature comforts we all appreciate.
In summary, Elk Mountain Ranch provides a well-rounded, stress-free horseback riding experience. With guided trips, comfortable amenities, and an all-inclusive approach, it’s a top choice for anyone looking to enjoy the Colorado wilderness without giving up modern comforts.
|Location||Near Buena Vista, Colorado|
|Type of Experience||All-inclusive dude ranch|
|Guided Trips||Curated adventures suitable for all skill levels|
|Amenities||Comfortable camping facilities, campfires|
|Trail Quality||Well-maintained, guided tours|
|Trail Variety||Meadows to mountainous terrain|
|Additional Attractions||Social atmosphere, all-inclusive convenience|
|Ideal For||Those looking for a curated, comfortable horseback riding experience|
8. Ocala National Forest, Florida
If you’re in the Southeast U.S. and have a passion for horseback riding, Ocala National Forest in Florida is a destination you don’t want to miss. Known as the Southeast’s largest forest, it’s a playground for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, and that certainly includes equestrians. The forest offers several horse-friendly campgrounds, with Farles Prairie Recreation Area being one of the most popular choices among riders.
What sets Ocala apart are its lush landscapes and unique trail ecosystems. Unlike the rocky terrains and desert scenes you may find in the Western U.S., here you’ll be trotting through thick forests, sandy trails, and maybe even the occasional splash through a shallow stream. It’s a refreshing change of pace and an opportunity to ride in a different kind of natural beauty.
When it comes to amenities, Farles Prairie Recreation Area has got you covered. This campground is specially designed for horseback riders, offering hitching posts, water access, and a convenient location near some of the best trails in the forest. It’s a great basecamp for anyone looking to explore Ocala on horseback, whether you’re planning to stay for just a night or set out on a multi-day adventure.
All in all, Ocala National Forest is a gem for horseback riders in the Southeast. With its distinct landscapes, rider-friendly amenities, and a variety of trails to explore, it’s no wonder that it has become a popular destination for equestrian camping.
|Terrain||Lush forests, sandy trails, streams|
|Popular Campgrounds||Farles Prairie Recreation Area|
|Amenities||Hitching posts, water access, proximity to trails|
|Trail Quality||Well-maintained, suitable for various skill levels|
|Trail Variety||Forested trails, stream crossings|
|Additional Attractions||Variety of outdoor activities, natural springs|
|Ideal For||Equestrians looking for a unique, forested riding experience in the Southeast U.S.|
9. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
If you’re looking for a horseback camping experience that’s both historical and adventurous, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota should be on your radar. This park is steeped in the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, who was himself an avid outdoorsman. In fact, the rugged terrain of this area greatly inspired him and played a significant role in shaping his conservation views.
What makes Theodore Roosevelt National Park unique is its focus on backcountry camping for horseback riders. While there aren’t established campgrounds tailored for equestrians, the park does offer backcountry camping permits for those on horseback. This means you’ll be venturing into less trodden areas, getting an up-close look at the Badlands’ intricate formations, vast prairies, and abundant wildlife.
While the park’s backcountry nature means you won’t find high-end amenities, what you will find is a rare sense of solitude and adventure. This isn’t for everyone: you’ll need to be well-prepared, self-sufficient, and familiar with backcountry camping guidelines. But if you’re up for the challenge, the rewards are immense.
In summary, Theodore Roosevelt National Park provides a unique horseback camping experience, one that brings you close to the raw beauty of the Badlands and the legacy of one of America’s most famous conservationists. It’s a place for those who are looking for more than just a casual ride; it’s for those who are willing to venture into the wild landscapes that once inspired Teddy Roosevelt himself.
|Terrain||Badlands, prairies, rugged landscapes|
|Camping Permits||Backcountry camping permits available for horseback riders|
|Amenities||Limited; focus is on backcountry experiences|
|Trail Quality||Natural, less maintained trails|
|Trail Variety||Diverse landscapes from intricate rock formations to open prairies|
|Additional Attractions||Historical significance tied to Teddy Roosevelt, abundant wildlife|
|Ideal For||Experienced equestrians seeking a rugged, backcountry adventure|
10. Jack Creek Campground, Montana
If you’re around Bozeman, Montana, and looking for a place to set up camp with your horse, look no further than Jack Creek Campground. Conveniently located yet far enough to offer a sense of seclusion, this campground is a hidden gem for equestrian enthusiasts. One of its best features is the direct access to horse-friendly trails that wind through lush forests and expansive meadows, offering an idyllic backdrop for your adventures on horseback.
What makes Jack Creek particularly appealing is the balance it strikes between accessibility and wilderness experience. You get the amenities to make your stay comfortable without sacrificing the raw beauty of the Montana landscape. The trails are well-marked but not overly manicured, offering a true riding experience that respects the natural environment.
The trails at Jack Creek cater to various levels of riding expertise, making it a great spot for both newbies and seasoned riders. Whether you want to go for a short trot through the woods or challenge yourself with a longer journey through meadows and over streams, you’ll find what you’re looking for here. There’s something incredibly serene about riding in a location that is both secluded and easily reachable.
In short, Jack Creek Campground offers the perfect setting for horseback explorers seeking a balanced outdoor experience. With its direct trail access, suitable amenities, and diverse riding opportunities, it’s a must-visit for anyone looking to explore Montana’s scenic vistas from the saddle.
|Location||Near Bozeman, Montana|
|Terrain||Lush forests, meadows, some stream crossings|
|Accessibility||Direct trail access from the campground|
|Amenities||Basic amenities for camping, designed for a wilderness experience|
|Trail Quality||Well-marked, natural trails|
|Trail Variety||Suitable for various skill levels|
|Additional Attractions||Proximity to Bozeman for additional activities|
|Ideal For||Equestrians looking for a balanced, accessible wilderness experience|
Want more horseback camping tips and trips? See this post on horseback camping!