Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies
One of the great outdoor thrills is a trip by horseback into the majestic Canadian Rockies. Few things say “Western Canada” more than heading out on horseback into these breath-taking mountains. Get away from cities, cars, cell phones, the internet, and television. Unplug and trade up to mountain peaks, green valleys, crystal clear streams, forest trails, outdoor home cooking and good companionship. You don’t have to know how to ride; just be willing to learn.
A non-profit organization, the Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies dedicated to share this authentic western experience with locals and international travellers, alike. Come ride into the remote areas of the mountains with a good degree of comfort and at a reasonable cost. They operate eight 6-day rides during July and August out of Banff, a 90 minute drive from the Calgary International Airport.
The fee includes back country user fees, horses, accommodations and meals. Bring along extra clothes as well as your own personal toiletries and sleeping gear. Individuals, families and groups are welcome on the trips but anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The Trail Riders was conceived in 1923 when a group of 14 riders who were camping and fishing along the Kootenay River got together around a campfire. Today, people from around the world join the Trail Riders each summer. Many people come back year after year to renew acquaintances and make new friends. In fact, the Trial Riders have a 60% guest return rate. Some guests having been on 30 or more rides!
The riders travel by bus to the trailhead corral where they are met by cowboys and horses. Here they are matched with a sure-footed animal, accustomed to the sometimes rocky terrain and tolerant of the greenest tenderfoot.
Base camp is a leisurely 10 – 12 mile ride from the corral. Horses travel no faster than a steady walk. At the camp the riders are assigned to teepees or tents which will be their home for the next five days. These canvas dwellings sleep from two to five people and although you’ll be in the back country, there’s plenty of hot water available, even a shower!
For the next four days, the riders follow a basic daily plan. Breakfast, from 8:00 – 9:00 am includes porridge, prunes or juice, eggs, bacon, pancakes alternating with French toast, and omelets – a good start for the day. The cowboys saddle the horses, check the cinches, and by 9:30 a.m. the riders are off on the trail. Each day you’ll explore lakes, valleys, glaciers or mountain passes. The high, uninhabited valleys of the Canadian Rockies provides you peace and contentment. They are filled with in larch, spruce and fir trees. Watch for mountain animals and birds. The meadows and parklands lead to the nearby snow capped peaks and ridges. There is majesty in this land, towering grandeur, and powerful nobility in the vast silence.
By noon, the riders have typically reached their destination with a hearty appetite. Lunch consists of sandwiches, cookies, oranges, snacks and tea and coffee served near a lake or a stream. Afterwards, riders can fish, stroll, visit or stretch out for a nap in the hot mountain sun. A camera for these trips is a must!
By late afternoon, guests have returned to camp for a beverage.
A three course dinner is prepared by our camp cooks. Chicken, steak, ham, roast turkey and barbecued.
And served beef are alternated. By 8:30 pm the cowboys light a roaring fire in the “donut tent” and an evening sing-song, square dancing, story-telling and other entertainment complete the day. On the morning of the sixth day, the riders are up early packing their duffle and riding out to the trailhead corral where they board a bus for Banff.
Each year we travel to a different area and our 2014 rides will be located near the Ya-Ha Tinda Ranch along the Red Deer River Valley in Banff National Park. Our 5-6 hour day rides from the base camp include: Tyrell Creek, Divide Pass, Elkhorn Lake, Snowpass Creek, and Red Deer River Falls. You will enjoy jawdropping vistas, wildlife sightings, and the beautiful wildflowers of the region. This is a photographers dream come true.
Objectives of the Trail Riders are to “encourage travel on horseback through the Canadian Rockies, to foster the maintenance and improvement of old trails and the building of new ones; to encourage the love of outdoor life, the study and conservation of birds, wildlife and alpine growth, to assist in every possible way to ensure the complete preservation of the National Parks of Canada for the use and enjoyment of the public.”
For more information about the Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies, go to www.trailridevacations.com
at 6:00 pm.
By Stuart R. Watkins, President, T.R.C.R.