Love Horses? Then Head to Moab Utah

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If you love horseback riding, then I’d suggest heading to Moab, Utah, If you want to trail ride in Moab’s Castle Creek Canyon, near Arches National Park, read this review. What I loved about this horseback ride? The geography of the Red Rock desert is fabulous. You’ll feel like you are riding on the set of a John Wayne movie. The horses are well cared for at Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab and the scenery is breathtaking. This is a trail ride not to be missed when visiting Moab, the adventure capital of Utah.

Located on the banks of the Colorado River, horseback riding at Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab, Utah is a trail ride like no other. I’ve had the pleasure of horseback riding in Bryce Canyon, Utah, as well as Arizona. I love the the colors of the Red Rock desert. As Red Cliffs Lodge owner Colin Fryer says, “it’s like being in the bottom on the Grand Canyon.”

Surrounded by red rocks and tall cliffs at Porcupine Rim in Castle Creek Canyon while horseback riding in Moab, Utah

Surrounded by Porcupine Rim in Castle Creek Canyon

Horseback Riding Red Cliffs Lodge

As I have only visited the rim of the Grand Canyon, I can’t compare the two locations. I can tell you that visiting Red Cliffs Lodge and horseback riding in Moab, Utah reminded me of a western movie set where guests were the stars of the show. There were no gun fights here in Moab, but the Western vibe was authentic. At Red Cliffs Lodge you’ll meet your horse and wranglers upon check-in at the corral. You’ll want to wear closed toed shoes, ideally boots with a heel, long pants and perhaps a cowboy hat. Children 10 years and older will be required to wear a riding helmet. Adults may wear a riding helmet, as well for this walking-only ride.

You’ll see what I mean when I say that this is a walking ride. There is no trotting or loping on this ride. Castle Creek Canyon is a vast canyon with 2,000 foot cliffs and rocky terrain. The well-trained Quarter horses at Red Cliffs Lodge know there way around these trails for the morning ride or afternoon ride in Moab. You might see mule deer, coyotes, bobcats, rabbits and birds. On occasion a mountain lion has been spotted, but that’s very rare, as these majestic animals prefer to stay out of the spotlight.

Bon Jovi filmed Blaze of Glory music video at The Rectory in Moab, Utah

Movies and music videos at Moab, Utah

Speaking of the spotlight, after horseback riding in Moab, Utah, you’ll see why so many movie production studios used Castle Creek Canyon as their filming location. Our wrangler Devon Dixon did a wonderful job explaining the history of Castle Creek Canyon. This cowboy has strong ties to this ranch land and Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab. Dixon’s father was a rancher here in Moab. Red Cliffs Lodge, now a 110 room resort, was a working cattle ranch before it was a guest ranch. This ranch was the last place settled in 1890 by settlers according to Red Cliffs Ranch owner Colin Fryer.

Red Cliffs Lodge Wrangler Devon Dixon riding in Castle Creek Canyon

Located on milepost 14 off Highway 128, the 230 acre ranch has seen many movies filmed in Moab. Remember John Wayne’s Rio Grande, the remake of The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp, Mission Impossible II or Thelma and Louise? Guests might spot The Rectory where Bon Jovi filmed the music video Blaze of Glory in Moab, Utah.

Established in 1890, Red Cliffs Lodge is a well-known destination. You’ll be horseback riding in Moab on 97% public and about 3% private land through one of the oldest ranches in Grand County, Utah.

Riders cross Castle Creek several times while horseback riding in Moab, Utah.

Riders cross Castle Creek several times while horseback riding

Crossing Castle Creek on horseback

One of the things that surprised me most about horseback riding in Moab, Utah was the abundance of water in the area. The mighty Colorado River flows beside the Red Cliffs Lodge and Castle Creek follows riders on both morning and afternoon horseback rides. Don’t get me wrong, it can get hot out on the trail. You’ll want to bring a water bottle or two to place in your saddle bags to hydrate during your horseback ride. However, the fun continues at the end of the trail ride when guests on horseback criss cross Castle Creek several times. Your horse might even stop for a well-deserved drink in the shade of the trees beside the stream.

Equestrian travel writer Nancy D. Brown pretending she is an extra on the set of a John Wayne movie while horseback riding in Moab, Utah

The author pretending she is an extra in a John Wayne movie

Castle Creek Canyon horseback riding

While I am an experienced equestrian, we had several first-time riders on our trail ride. I was as excited about horseback riding in Moab as the newbies. The horses were great. The tack was in good shape and the length of the trail ride, 2.5 hours for our morning ride, was perfect for getting a taste of Moab. If you were staying at the lodge, I imagine the 1.5 hour afternoon ride would be ideal – especially with the chance of catching a sunset.

Horseback Riding in Moab, Utah

Horseback riding at Red Cliffs Lodge 

Milepost 14, Highway 128

Moab, Utah 84532

(435) 250-2002


Horseback riding in Moab, Utah review, photography by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. She was a guest of Red Cliffs Lodge while horseback riding in Grand County, however all opinions are her own.

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