Feeling a little tired from all that hiking? It’s time to saddle up and get in touch with Aspen’s Western roots. Just think: All that amazing scenery while your horse does the work. You can ride up Independence Pass like the original silver miners: Independence Pass Outfitting Company. Or try something the old-timers didn’t have—a dinner ride featuring filet mignon or lobster: Maroon Bells Guide and Outfitters. Whatever trail you take, here are 3 tips for horseback riding in Aspen.

  1. Get trail ready (before you go). Mountain weather can change fast. So bring rain gear even if skies looks sunny. And don’t forget sunscreen and a hat. Cowboy boots can help protect your feet on and around horses, but make sure yours are comfortable whatever style you choose.
  2. Shoot straight (at the stable). Be honest with your guides or wrangler about your riding experience and ability. Tell them if you have any physical needs or are even a little nervous about mounting your steed. That kind of info helps them match you with a horse of the right temperament—and that can make all the difference in ensuring an enjoyable ride.
  3. Cowboy up (on the trail). While you’re in the saddle, focus on keeping your back and shoulders straight. Moving your hips instead of your back will help prevent soreness. And keeping your heels down will help you squeeze the horse with your inner thighs and give you more stability.

Once you’re back at the ranch, give your horse a hug, tip your guide and head for the Limelight’s pool and hot tub for a soothing soak and to swap trail stories. The pioneers never had it so good!

What’s your favorite horseback ride around Aspen?

Image via C.J. Peters

About Laurel Miller

Laurel is a Basalt-based food and travel writer, cheese consultant and the editor of Edible Aspen magazine. When not sitting in front of her computer in her pj's, Laurel can be found enjoying the outdoors, or backpacking around the world eating street food and acquiring new and exciting tropical diseases.