Riding the Backcountry of Banff, Alberta Canada

Holiday on Horseback in Banff, Alberta, offers many different types of riding experiences from one week to one day, including women only trips into the backcountry.

Horseback riding the backcountry of Banff, Alberta, Canada, gives riders a personal look at many types of vistas from lush forests to stark gray peaks.

Holiday on Horseback, out of the Warner Ranch in Banff, offers all types of trail rides through Banff National Park from half day to 5-day rides, and for all levels of riders. One type ride is a 5-day women only trip, complete with guide, food and lodging along the way.

The journey starts out along the marsh trail near the arctic blue Bow River. All the horses at Warner’s are geldings and are sure-footed as mountain goats. They would be needed on some of the steep and rocky trails.

The main trail turns away from the Bow and the trail guide with his pack mules leads the way to Sundance Canyon. The trail is narrow in some spots, zig-zagging between areas of lodge pole pines, deep moss and bear berries, the latter a grizzly favorite. The sounds of the distant highway fades as the string make its way to Healy Creek for lunch.

The trail guides on these trips bring red wooden boxes filled with hamburgers, cookies, fruit and the fixings for drinks. The water is so pure in the creek it’s scooped it out for the lemonade and Cowboy coffee.

Each day consists of about five hours of riding with a stop for a trailside lunch. The accommodations are somewhat rustic. The Sundance Lodge, home the first and last nights, offers solar lights, indoor plumbing and overlooks a babbling Brewster Creek.

The staff there provides a nice home-cooked dinner, and sleep is on comfy beds with thick woolen blankets. The women awake to the smell of bacon, eggs and fresh muffins. The next day’s ride begins around 10 a.m.

The second day the horses continue along Brewster Creek. Thick forests brush heads and an old loggers’ cabin sits frozen in time. Lunch is in a big meadow with Brewster Glacier towering in the foreground.

The last hour of the ride to the second stop at Halfway Lodge resembles an enchanted forest with damp, lush undergrowth. The cowgirls stay two nights at the circa 1920 lodge. It has only outdoor plumbing, propane lights and one big downstairs room with kitchen and tables. A second floor with bedrooms was added in the 1960s when a bear fell through the roof. But the view here looks into the Sundance and Og mountain ranges that changes with the differing sunlight. A Cowboy Sing-a-Long by an open fire follows another home-cooked dinner.

The third day’s ride is not for the faint hearted. Allenby Pass takes the women up 8000 feet via narrow rocky trails, steep inclines and rockslides that fall into the canyons below. The hard ride, though, offers awesome views of the Rockies, Alpine flowers and some leftover summer snow. But keep aware of the grizzly bear warnings. They have been known to attack hikers near the Pass.

The next two days riders go back the way they came, viewing the scenery from the opposite direction. But it’s no less inspiring.

The last hour or so of the ride again travels along the Bow River, where the locals – the area elk population – greets tired riders as their journey ends back at the base camp.

The Warner Ranch has rides for every taste, even if it’s just a half-day trek along the artic blue Bow River. If you’re looking for a real horse adventure, give them a call. for the women’s ony or any other type horseback riding experience.


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