Horseback Riding

Saddle up! Whether you’re an avid rider or a beginner, Smith Fork Ranch offers authentic horseback riding adventures on some of the same trails that the Ute Indians carefully traversed up and down over 100 years ago. While our mountain setting does not provide opportunities for loping or galloping, our sturdy horses will carry you safely up and down the hillsides to spectacular views and breathtaking vistas.

WC - Fall Trail Ride

Our Philosophy

We emphasize natural horsemanship and the importance of developing mutual trust and respect between horse and rider. We will match one of our strong, sure-footed horses with your ability, size and personality. You’ll receive instruction from our experienced wranglers, who can bring out the equestrian in everyone.

10-Trail Ride through Lawn
WC - Horses Tacked Up

The Setting

Smith Fork Ranch has access to 1.7 million acres of the Gunnison National Forest and West Elk Wilderness areas. We travel these reclusive mountains of the Rockies by means of game, trapper, and old Indian trails that wind along ridges, peaks and valleys, through Aspen groves, mountain streams and breathtaking vistas.

Our Herd

Our herd consists of mostly Quarter Horses, Paints, and some draft crosses. Our horses are familiar with the trails and terrain, and have safely carried riders of all abilities through some of the most beautiful, undiscovered valleys in the American West.

Signature Rides

  • Ride back in time and experience our ranch and the untouched backcountry by way of one to two and a half-hour trail rides.
  • Join us during the summer on our Wednesday morning breakfast ride to the Creekside Cafe
  • Summer evening adults only Cocktail Ride on a Friday afternoon
  • For the avid fly fisherman venture into the back country of the West Elk Wilderness only accessible by horse or foot to fish the waters
  • Take a picnic to go on a half day lunch ride.
Frequently Asked Questions

Can my kids go on the trail rides with us?

To participate in independent trail rides, children must be at least 7 years old and able to control their horse (we leave it to the discretion of our experience wranglers to determine if your child is able to control their horse). Pony rides are also available for ages 4-7 and those children not yet ready for a trail ride.

Do I need to bring my own boots and helmet?

If you have your own cowboy boots and helmet feel free to bring them! If not- no worries. Our boot barn has plenty of options and sizes available for men, women, and children. Please remember the importance of wearing the actual cowboy boot is the heel and smooth bottom for safety when your foot is in the stirrup. Hiking boots will not be permitted for horseback rides.

Which horse will I be riding?

One perk of riding at Smith Fork is that you are matched with one horse for the entire duration of your stay to allow you to build confidence and comfortability. We match you with a horse based on your experience and size.

Will I be able to ride English?

We want you to experience a western ranch adventure and therefore we only have western tack available for our trail rides. Due to our terrain the western saddle will also provide more stability and support & add to your comfort while riding in the beautiful West Elk Wilderness!

Will I be able to go off and ride alone?

For safety reasons we do not allow solo rides without being accompanied by a wrangler. Our wranglers are trained and educated on horse safety and familiar with our trails and the terrain. We want to ensure you have the best experience possible and for those reasons we send at least one wrangler out per trail ride.

Why do you ask for my height and weight?

The general rule of thumb is that a horse should carry between 15-20 percent of their weight. We require your height and weight so that we can properly assign a horse to you and vice versa the safety of both horse and rider are our main concern. Remember that this weight also includes the saddle and other riding equipment, in addition to the rider.

19-Horses from the Barn