The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Uncompahgre Field Office in Montrose manages more than 900,000 acres of public land in the area, much of it considered superb equestrian terrain.
Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area
|Action Adventures Guide Outfitter
236 S 3rd Street
Only seasonally - May thru August
|Adventure HQ out of Sapinero
Open May thru November
|Coffeepot High Country Outfitters, Inc.
15328 6800 Road
Open June thru September
|Elk Ridge Trail Rides
10203 Bostwick Park Road
18907 Spring Canyon Road
Open year round
National Forest Lands
The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison national forests provide more than 3,500 miles of summer trails just a short drive from Montrose, making for wonderful day trips. Hundreds of forest trails will have horseback riders meandering through alpine meadows, crossing creeks and runoffs, and marveling at closeup views of the area’s mountain peaks. The forests also provide developed campgrounds with accommodations for horse camping. Horses are allowed on hiking trails unless designated as foot trails only. The BLM provides detailed information on campgrounds, both online and at the Montrose Public Lands Center (2505 South Townsend Avenue).
Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area
History and wilderness take intertwining paths when the trails of the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness are explored by horseback. The Dominguez Canyon Wilderness lies at the heart of the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area in red rock canyons and high-walled sandstone bluffs. Long used by American Indians, the canyon landscapes of this wilderness are stunning both for their unique natural features as well as their ancient rock art.
The Little Dominguez and Big Dominguez Creeks flow through the arid desert, dropping over waterfalls and into clear pools. Alongside the creeks are two excellent equine trails that will take riders deep into this wild land. Turnpikes and check steps accommodate horseback travel so the only thing riders will need to focus on is the adventure that lies ahead.
The Dominguez Canyon Wilderness is most easily accessed from Montrose via U.S. Highway 50 North to Bridgeport Road on the left, a 40-minute drive from Montrose. Turn onto the gravel road and follow it for another three miles to the parking area at the Gunnison River.
Black Canyon National Park
Deadhorse Trail on the North Rim of Black Canyon National Park is the only area at the park open to horses or pack animals for day use, recreational riding. No permit is required to take in the spectacular views on this easy-to-moderate trail. Keep in mind that horses must be trailered to the trailhead at Kneeling Camel Overlook. Trailers must be parked at this overlook as well.
Deadhorse Trail is located at the east end of the North Rim Road, near the Kneeling Camel Overlook, and has a round-trip distance of 5 miles. The first part of the trail follows an old service road and, after 3/4-mile, passes a stock pond that is usually dry. Continue another 1 1/2 miles to the stock fence, turn right, and ride 1/4 mile along the fence until the canyon's rim. Deadhorse Gulch is reached via the large side drainage located east of the trail's end. There are no facilities at Black Canyon National Park for horses or pack animals, so be prepared to bring everything you need for the trail. Certified weed-free feed is required for horses on federal lands.
Horseback travel in Colorado’s incomparable wilderness and vast public lands offers more than a chance to see the sights. It is a chance to see the beauty of the area in the same way as those who first forged a path to the area. It is a chance to experience the Old West.