Best Campgrounds with Horseback Riding

Camping with horses can open up new worlds of possibilities. Where on an average camping and hiking trip, you’re limited by how far your legs can take you, with equestrian camping your journeys will be comparatively limitless. Taking a horse on a camping trip allows you to hike further, and stay longer, all while getting a great workout. It’s also a fantastic way to feel even more grounded and connected to nature, as you admire the vista from your higher horseback position. There’s lots of preparation you need to do, though, for going camping with your horse. But, as we’ll see, some of the best campgrounds with horseback riding make the whole process easy for you. 

Before heading off on a camping trip with a horse, there are a few things you need to think about. The first is how experienced you are at camping. If you’re constantly out in the great outdoors, have excellent survival skills, and feel confident on long hikes, this will be an advantage. But no matter how experienced you are at hiking, camping with a horse will add another dimension. If you’re looking to plan your own horse camping trip, then there are some resources out there that could help you prepare yourself. For example, you could attend an expo or seminar that offers horse-camping clinics or demonstrations. 

By doing your research, and preparing yourself mentally for your trip, you’ll have more of an idea about how you can prepare, and what you should bring on your trip. There’s a big difference for how you might need to prepare for a trip in your RV, and entering a wilderness area with your horse, with everything you need for orientation and survival on your back! If you’ve not been camping with your horse before, it’s best to try a guided horse-camping trip to learn the ropes from someone who knows what they’re talking about. 

While considering this new style of camping, we must start with thinking of ourselves and own experience and knowledge level. However, we also need to think about the horse. What’s the temperament of the horse like? Do they have any experience of cross country riding, or going along hiking and riding trails? Do they have any experience of going camping? Are they relaxed and not too flighty, or do they have the right temperament to be able to stay at a campsite? Some horses adapt to camping easily and don’t react at all. Some become really jittery and difficult to manage. It’s worth taking your horse out many times to build up their ​trail ride experience and get them used to adapt to a new environment. 

 

A brown horse in the grass.

But sometimes finding the right campground for you and your horse, or to go horse riding in, is more difficult.

 

1. Kentucky Horse Park, KY

The Kentucky Horse Park is a mecca for equestrian camping enthusiasts. This place isn’t just a horse-friendly campsite, oh no. It’s a fully blown equine theme park and competition facility celebrating mankind’s relationship with the horse. Set on more than 1,200 acres in the heart of Kentucky’s famous Bluegrass region, this horse park offers daily programs and presentations, including things like a riding summer school.

It also has one of the most comprehensive schedules of equestrian events in the country, with competitions and shows regularly coming here. Kentucky Horse Park has a comprehensive and detailed website, that will help you ascertain which activities, shows and presentations you could travel to visit. 

This is no regular campsite. In fact, camping really is secondary here, giving you somewhere to stay to enjoy all the center has to offer. The Kentucky Horse Park is an agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet, and contains the National Horse Center which houses more than 30 national and regional equine organizations. This is a professional operation that puts horses, and education on horses, first.

There’s so much going on at this center, it should be the main drag for your trip. They have horse shows, polo, art and crafts fairs, and dog shows. You can see 24 of the park’s nearly 50 breeds of horses in the Breeds Barn if you watch the twice-daily Parade of Breeds between April and October. You can also go to see some stunning beasts, the champion horses in the park’s Hall of Champions. 

The Kentucky Horse Park isn’t just the ideal location for appreciating, viewing and riding horses, it’s also an excellent place to become fully informed about horses. So we would recommend this as a great option for those of you who are just starting out on your equestrian camping journey. Admission to the horse park also includes the International Museum of the Horse, a Smithsonian Affiliate, and the American Saddlebred Museum. These are some of the biggest and most well-respected museums in the world on horses, so what better ​camping area to start your equestrian camping journey. 

 

Pros: 

  • 260 campsites
  • Entrance to multiple world-renowned museums on horses
  • Full schedule of shows, activities, fairs, and classes
  • Electrical and water hookups
  • Fire rings and picnic tables
  • Tennis and basketball courts
  • Swimming pool

 

Cons: 

  • Quite expensive 
  • Very popular, book early 
  • Not the most scenic surroundings, better options for ​hikers

 

2. Hill Country State Natural Area

Our last recommendation was perfect for newcomers to equestrian camping, to learn all they need to know about horses, and camping with horses. However, if you’re a little more experienced, and are looking for a bit more of a rugged adventure, why not consider Hill Country State Natural Area?

This option really is about location, location, location. Situated in Texas Hill Country, a 40-mile equestrian trail system leads from the campgrounds here around the surrounding Hill Country. So, what can you expect? If you go camping here with your horse, you’ll be surrounded by the most breathtaking scenery. Here you can adventure among rugged deep canyons and scenic plateaus on the site of a former ranch. 

On this campground, you’ll find six primitive equestrian campsites with two overnight horse pens. Or if you’re planning a trip for a large group or club, they also have the option of the horse camp called Chapas Camp which can accommodate 40 people and 20 trailers and has a barn for the horses. These camping options are evidently a lot smaller, and more primitive, taking you back to nature. Come to Hill Country State Natural Area to soak in the incredible natural landscape, adventure with primitive camping, and really to feel like you’re getting back to nature. But if you’re still learning, and want some expert advice, they also offer guide services to help your group explore this primitive area.

 

Pros: 

  • Be surrounded by the canyons and plateaus of Hill Country 
  • Primitive camping sites to get back to nature
  • 40-mile equestrian trail system
  • Horse​ stalls
  • Bird watching 

 

Cons: 

  • Not as many amenities as some of the other options, primitive camping
  • Non-potable water is provided for horses only.

 

3. Mueller State Park 

Mueller State Park is a lush, forested Colorado state park encompassing 5,112 acres of land outside Divide, Colorado, just west of Colorado Springs, Colorado. This is another fantastic option for those who have a bit more experience going blaming with their horse, and are more interested in finding ample trails and beautiful scenery to ride in. Mueller’s many acres of thick aspen and conifer forests are home to an amazing variety of wildlife including black bear, elk, deer, fox, coyotes, and bobcats. There are also hawk and many other bird species which make bird watching here a dream. 

With over 40 miles of beautiful, well-maintained trials, there’s ample space in this stunning State Park for you to explore on your horse. And that’s not just where the fun ends. If you are looking for other activities on top of trailing with your horse, this campground has you covered. In the Mueller State Park, you can also head off on some beautiful hikes by foot, go mountain biking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. If you haven’t been camping many times with your horse, it’s a great idea to give them a break for a day or two, while you explore the natural habitat in a different way. 

 

Pros: 

  • 5,112 acres 
  • Over 40 miles of trails 
  • Amazing wildlife viewing opportunities
  • Other activities nearby such as cross country skiing and snowshoeing

 

Cons: 

  • Limited winter ​horse campsites, first come first served
  • Reservation fees do not include parks pass entrance fees

 

A girl with a horse in a stable.

Some larger equestrian campgrounds have stables for different breeds of horses and daily shows.

 

4. Brown County State Park 

This is the largest equestrian camping destination we have reviewed. Nicknamed the “Little Smokies” because of the area’s resemblance to the Great Smoky Mountains, Brown County encompasses nearly 16,000 acres of stunning rugged hills, ridges, and fog-shrouded ravines. This enigmatic and dramatic landscape was created by the meltwaters from glaciers of the most recent ice age. Head here to be surrounded by mile and miles of geological wonders, and maybe to learn more about this unique landscape yourself. 

With over 70 miles of horse trails, this spot is an almost inexhaustible source of adventures to be had with your horse. It’s a great location for those of you who are more experienced equestrian campers, and are looking for a bit more of a challenge, or to locate and navigate your own routes. If you have limited experience in this area, never fear. They have guided horse rides here, so you can learn from people who know these forests like the back of their hand. The large campgrounds in Brown County State Park have a saddle barn for guided horse rides and a separate horseman campground. 

If you want to combine your equestrian camping trip with a bit of culture, this could also be a great option for you. All of the surrounding county and nearby Indiana town of Nashville are famous for their lovely cultural experiences. These include: unique shopping, dining, arts and crafts, history, entertainment, and outdoor adventure opportunities. There are historic sites, winery tours, towns, museums and galleries, all within 10 miles of this campground. If you’re looking for a location that satisfies a varied group, Brown County State Park could be right up your alley. 

 

Pros: 

  • 16,000 acres of stunning rugged hills, ridges, and fog-shrouded ravines
  • Over 70 miles of horse trails for ​horseback riders to explore
  • Guided horse rides
  • Geological wonders
  • Nearby cultural activities like historical landmarks and museums
  • Interpretive center
  • Electric hookup sites
  • 118 modern electrical sites with horse tie-ups and 91 primitive sites with horse tie-ups and space for ​horse trailers

 

Cons: 

  • No wifi
  • No sewer no water

 

5. Farragut State Park

If you’re looking for a more mountainous location to go equestrian camping in, then look no further than Farragut State Park. Here you’ll be nestled among the stunning mountains of northern Idaho, with over 20 miles of trails for you to explore with your horse. This public recreation area used to be a WWII era naval training station.

This 4,000-acre park now provides camping opportunities with 223 individual sites, 7 group camps, and 10 camping cabins. And the activities don’t just stop with horseback riding. Other activities include hiking, mountain biking, cycling, fishing, boating, swimming, water sports, orienteering, disc golf, flying model aircraft, and even archery!

With so many different activities available to you in Farragut State Park, this is an ideal place to head to if you’re going on a longer camping trip, or your going hiking with your family or a large group. There’s so much to do here, everyone’s needs will be satisfied. In the winter, although camping might be a bit more difficult, you can engage in winter sports or activities like cross country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding. For the ultimate thrill, why not check out the tree to tree aerial adventure course, Idaho’s premiere aerial adventure course. 

 

Pros: 

  • Over 20 miles for trail riding
  • In the beautiful mountains of northern Idaho
  • Boating, swimming, water sports
  • Tree to tree aerial adventure course
  • Cross country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding

 

Cons: 

  • Better for more experienced equestrian campers, no guided tours
  • ​Horseback riding trails not extensive enough for a really long trip

 

6. Andrews Creek Backcountry Campsite

If you’re looking for more of a hidden gem, rather than a busy equestrian campsite, Andrew’s Creek could be the option for you. Andrews Creek Backcountry Campsite is the only official backcountry site between the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and Sky Pond. The reason why people come here is not for the campsite itself, but the fact it’s the only campsite that offers you access to one of the most famous equestrian camping trails in the country: The Loch Lake Trail via Glacier Gorge Trail. The campground is located along Andrews Creek, approximately .9 miles beyond The Loch.

The Loch Lake Trail via Glacier Gorge Trail will weave you along the Rocky Mountains and offer stunning views of lakes, canyons and glaciers. The trail is only 5.4 miles long, so coming to this location might suit you as a weekend trip with your horse. Because of the breathtaking surroundings, this trail can be quite heavily trafficked, so make sure you leave early to miss the crowds.

And take note, too, that this campsite is quite exclusive! There is only one designated site and one privy at the Andrews Creek Campsite, where a maximum of two 4-person tents are allowed. But if you want to sleep in, and fully immerse yourself amongst these astounding geological wonders, then you’ll have to settle with limited primitive camping.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: 

  • Limited, primitive camping
  • Trail is highly trafficked

 

A donkey in a canyon.

Some trails, like the Loch Lake Trail via Glacier Gorge Trail even allow you to ride donkeys.

 

Final Verdict:

When it comes to equestrian campgrounds, your experience of camping with horses, and your particular interests factor into which campground will be right for you. If you’re just starting to go camping with your horse, and you’re looking for more advice, information and even guided tours and tutoring, then your best choice would be a campground with extensive expertise behind it, like Kentucky Horse Park, KY. Here is a great starting point for your equestrian camping journey, or a great place to top up your skills and knowledge. 

But if you’re a bit more experienced at equestrian camping, then you might be prioritizing location over support. In this case, an incredible location, with many miles of horse trails, like Farragut State Park, would suit your needs. Or if you’re looking for a dramatic, mountainous weekend escape, and you don’t mind sacrificing some home comforts, Andrews Creek Backcountry Campsite is the more adventurous choice. The best campgrounds with horseback riding are the ones that give you the thrill of exploring the great outdoors, but match your experience level too. 

 

Bonus tip: For some tips on what to pack to go camping with your horse, watch this useful video!

 

 

In
Riley Draper

Riley Draper

Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.