Horses are a traditional means of transportation in the Canadian West; many of the roads began as horse trails. Through the foothills of Alberta, ranches still dominate the landscape, and at places like Griffin Valley Ranch (near Calgary), unguided riding is permitted. Within the national parks of the Canadian Rockies, horse travel is restricted to certain areas, but trail riding is a popular way to enjoy the scenery. Overnight pack-trips present another option in these mountains. On these, expect to ride for up to six hours per day, with nights spent at a remote mountain lodge or a tent camp, usually in a scenic location where you can hike, fish, or ride farther. Rates range $150–240 per person per day, which includes the riding, accommodations, and food.
Guest ranches, where accommodations and meals are included in nightly packages, include ultra-luxurious Echo Valley Ranch & Spa (250/459-2386 or 800/253-8831, www.evranch.com) in the Cariboo (Central British Columbia), Boundary Ranch, in Kananaskis Country (403/591-7171 or 877/591-7177, www.boundaryranch.com), and Black Cat Guest Ranch, near Hinton in Northern Alberta (780/865-3084 or 800/859-6840, www.blackcatguestranch.ca). Expect to pay from $140 per person per day for accommodations, meals, and trail riding.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition