From Cave Creek to Sedona, you’ll enjoy eye-popping views of Arizona landscapes, wildlife and sunsets on horseback. Riding experiences range from all things cowboy to wine-tasting rides to family outings. Don’t forget your camera.
Sprucedale Guest Ranch
Soak up the scenery in the Alps of Arizona, including meadows, streams and wildlife at this high-country ranch. Guided morning horseback rides are available Monday-Saturday, and afternoon rides are available Monday-Friday. Rides last 1-and-half to 2-and-a-half hours. There are also extended rides down the Black River that include lunch. Guests also can take a vacation, rent a cabin daily, or plan a Scout troop trip at the ranch, which is open June-October; no rides Sundays. Horse riders must be at least 6 years old, and pony leads are available for ages 3-5.
Details: Alpine. $40-$50; extended rides begin at $75; optional lunch available for $12, dinner for $15. 928-333-4984, sprucedaleranch.com
OK Corral Horseback Riding
You don’t have to trek to Tombstone to face down the Clantons, you need only head east to Apache Junction for OK Corral Inc.’s horseback rides, which offer views of Goldfield and Superstition Mountains. Take a ride lasting an hour or two, book a half-day horseback adventure, or spend an entire day exploring the wilderness with lunch included. Overnight rides are available for groups of at least five. From November to May, steak-dinner rides are offered for groups of at least 10. Children must be 6 or older to ride. Wilderness-experience pack trips and drop trips lasting two days or more are available for those up for the challenge.
Arizona Horseback Rides and Spur Cross Stables
Take a guided trail ride through such areas as Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, Scottsdale Sonoran Preserve and Tonto National Forest. Rides last one hour to over six hours, with breathtaking views of the desert, old miner’s claims, and ancient Native American dwellings and petroglyphs. Kids must be at least 5 or older. Rides are available year-round, except for days when the temperature reaches 100 degrees.
Details: 44029 N. Spur Cross Road, Cave Creek. $43-$160. 480-488-2905, horsebackarizona.com.
Details: 5470 E. Apache Trail, Apache Junction. $30-$165; $350-$525 for overnight rides. 480-982-4040, okcorrals.com.
Trail Horse Adventures
All rides take place within the boundaries of Dead Horse Ranch State Park, which is plenty of ground to cover as riders explore mesquite groves, limestone hills, small lakes and a riparian corridor of cottonwoods and willows draping the Verde River. One-hour to two-and-a-half hour rides are offered. The Trails, Rails, Rhythm & Ribs package includes a one-hour horseback ride, a first-class train ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad to historic Perkinsville and back, and a barbecue dinner, complete with a cowboy show. Riders must be at least 6.
Details: 675 Dead Horse Ranch Road, Cottonwood. $65-$220. 928-634-5276, trailhorseadventures.com.
Cowboy Way Adventures
The name alone begs you to saddle up. The Wickenburg location offers year-round one- to three-hour rides, as well as breakfast and dinner rides. From May to November, only morning and evening rides are available due to the heat. The Sedona location offers two- to three-hour rides, including lunch rides, year-round that provide views of the famed red rocks. Sunset and moonlight rides are available as well. The Prescott location is open June-October and is the only location that offers water crossings. Riders must be at least 5.
Details: Locations in Sedona, Wickenburg and Prescott. $40-$125, children 12 and under are half-off with a paid adult. 928-277-9398, cowboywayadventures.com.
Koli Equestrian Center
Walk or trot on horseback through the Gila River Reservation on 60- to 90-minute trail rides and get breathtaking views of Arizona scenery and tribal lands while wranglers provide narration. Rides are available year-round, but start times are earlier and rides shorter during summer. Longer private rides, carriage rides for two, a margarita sunset ride, Horsemanship 101 classes and birthday parties are offered. Riders must be at least 6. Visit the specials page on their website for monthly deals.
Details: Wild Horse Pass Boulevard and Maricopa Road, Gila River Reservation, west of Chandler. $50-$85; 15-percent-off discount offered for tribal members. 602-796-3495, koliequestrian.com.
M Diamond Ranch
The working ranch offers one- to three-hour trail rides around the Sedona area. Sunrise and sunset rides are offered September-May. More experienced riders can take a two-hour backcountry adventure to a remote area of the ranch, or a three-hour canyon-trail ride over rugged terrain. Ride then dine at a cowboy cookout, like the evening Ranch Rendezvous, which starts with a one-hour ride followed by a wagon ride to Sedona Lookout, the cookout site, where guests enjoy a steak dinner and live music. A lunch ride deal and an all-inclusive vacation option are available. Riders must be at least 7 for the one-hour ride, and 12 for the 2- and 3-hour rides.
Details: 3255 Forest Road 618, Rimrock. $55-$175. 928-300-6466, mdiamondranch.com.
Take in views of the McDowell Mountains and Camelback Mountain on a one- to two-hour ride, or take a 1-hour to 90-minute moonlight ride (dates are online). Riders must be at least 5 for the shorter rides and 7 for the longer and moonlight rides. There is an all-ages family fun area with pony rides; a petting zoo with miniature ponies and donkeys, goats, ducks, sheep and more; and western games like horseshoes and ring toss. The area can be rented for birthday parties and other events. Cookouts; hayrides; and group, private and moonlight stagecoach rides are available. The ranch is open year-round, but days and times vary.
Details: 26540 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. $45-$120; $45-$85 for stagecoach ride, a discount is offered to military personnel and veterans. 480-585-0239, macdonaldsranch.com.
Arizona Horseback Experience
Take a scenic trail ride to such destinations as Bear Springs, Sawmill Canyon and an escarpment overlooking San Rafael Valley. The popular 2- or 3-hour wine-tasting ride to Sonoita Vineyards lets you amble along on horseback, tour a vineyard and winery, and enjoy wine samples and lunch. Return transportation, a bottle of wine and souvenir glass are included. A three-hour ride takes you along the range Wyatt Earp once traveled, where you’ll hear stories about the American West and about movies filmed in the area, including “Tombstone” and “A Star is Born.” Full day rides, pack trips, campouts, vacation packages and horsemanship classes also are offered. Reservations are required; most rides are private. No age restriction applies, but riders must be able to mount a full-size horse without assistance.
Details: Sonoita. $85-$175; $380 or more for vacation packages, overnight pack trips and campouts; discounts available to active military, church and scouting groups. 520-455-5696, horsebackexperience.com.
Mountain views and western wildlife are what you can expect to see on private horseback rides that begin at one of several trail-heads throughout the state, whether you’re a novice or an advanced rider. Rides lasting from two-and-a-half to over five hours are offered in the Camp Creek Canyons, in the Superstition Wilderness, and along the Agua Fria River on the Black Canyon Trail. Visit the website for videos, photos and guest-book entries.
Details: Multiple locations. Call for pricing. 888-785-3382 or 480-585-3382, windwalkerexpeditions.com.
Don Donnelly’s D-Spur Ranch & Riding Stables (Closed until fall)
Book an adventure in the legendary Superstition Mountains and Wilderness near Gold Canyon. The working cattle ranch offers one-hour to half-day rides through the Sonoran Desert. Wagon rides, cookouts, camping and boarding are provided. There are also cattle drives at the ranch. You can ride your own horse or rent one from D-Spur Ranch. Don Donnelly’s is closed for the summer.
Details: 15371 E. Ojo Road, Gold Canyon. $35-$100. 602-810-7029, dondonnellyd-spur.com.
Fort McDowell Adventures (Closed until fall)
When the weather cools down and the stables reopen in September, take a trail ride along the Verde River and 25,000 acres of desert where you may see eagles, roadrunners, coyotes, and more. Rides from one hour to a half a day can be booked from sunrise to sunset Monday-Saturday. Groups of 10 or more can try a two-hour “city slickers” cattle drive with real cowboys.
Details: 14803 N. Hiawatha Hood Road, Fort McDowell Reservation. $50-$100 trail rides. 480-816-6465, ext. 2, fortmcdowelladventures.com.
Goldfield Livery (Closed until fall)
Get a taste of the Old West at Goldfield Ghost Town, which got its start in 1892. You can take an underground-mine tour, pan for gold, and learn about women’s history in the West while you’re there. Saddle up with Superstition’s O.K. Corral Stables for horseback rides lasting one hour to an entire day. Riders must be at least 6; no double-riding. Reservations are required. Goldfield Livery is closed until fall.
Details: Town open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 4650 N. Mammoth Mine Road, Apache Junction. Call for prices. 480-983-0333, goldfieldghosttown.com.
Cave Creek Trail Rides (Closed until fall)
Enjoy views of the Sonoran Desert while your horse ambles along trails through the Cave Creek Recreation Area north of Phoenix. Rides last from one to three hours; sunset rides are available. Check out the historic clay mine ride for a hands-on history lesson away from the corrals and crosses. Riders dismount for a walking tour into the mine, which is usually closed to the public. Riders must be at least 6, and kids 6-12 must wear supplied helmets. Scout programs and birthday-party packages are available. Closed May-October.
Details: 37019 N. 32nd St., Cave Creek. $41-$98. 623-742-6700, cavecreektrailrides.com.
Corral West Horse Adventures (Closed until fall)
Check out the trails inside Estrella Regional Park. Make the experience even more memorable by putting on provided boots, hats and chaps. You’ll see and learn about the beautiful Sonoran Desert. Take a ride at sunset, book a campfire cookout, or enjoy an interpretive wagon ride. One- to two-hour rides are offered, and Corral West can help create a custom experience. Riders must be at least 6. Youth camps and specials are offered. Adventure awaits starting October 30.
Details: 14401 W. Arena Drive, Goodyear. $43-$75, $5 off kids 6-12; $20 per person (minimum of 6 people) for wagon rides; cowboy cookouts start at $69. 623-882-3808, corralwestadventures.com.