Wyoming Big Horn Mountain Riding Guest Ranch
This is BIG country and The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch is a Riding Guest Ranch with great horses for all levels of riders. We own most of our horses and take excellent care of them. Along with Quarter Horses and Paints we also have a growing number of well-trained Mustangs for our guests to ride.
We have access to approximately 650,000 acres of private and public land to ride and enjoy. This diverse land offers a seldom seen variety of scenery and terrain due to the many exposed formations some of which are over 2.5 billion years old.
A Unique Diversity of Scenery – A Trail Riding Paradise
Why do photographers, trail riders but also hikers and bikers from around the world love traveling to Shell Valley and The Hideout?
One of the reasons is the rarely seen diversity of scenery this area offers due to the many exposed formations and elevations ranging from 4,200 feet in the valley to 13,200 feet in The Cloud Peak Wilderness. This is also one of the least populated areas in North America (with the exception of Alaska) enjoying a population of 2 per square mile (compared to New York City with 27,000 per square mile) and some of the purest air in the country. Below is a small sample of some of the trail rides and terrain variety you might enjoy during your stay at The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch.
High Desert and Canyons: Ranging in elevation from 4,200 – 5,400 feet. These rides are mostly in the valley riding through the wide open prairies, juniper trees, rocky canyons as well as hidden canyons through which refreshing creeks flow with century old cottonwood trees offering you and your horse some well-deserved shade.
Mountain Pastures, High Alpine Meadows: : You will see it all from above 7,500 feet riding through sage brush and high grasses imagining you are one of the cowboys in the movie Open Range or Lonesome Dove.
High Mountain Alpine Country & Upper Country: Typically elevations inthese areas range from 8,500 to 13,200 feet. The High country offers alpine forests, mountain lakes, streams and granite rock formations. Area’s above 10,000 are usually snow covered from the end of September to mid-June depending on weather conditions.
Devil’s Leap: Undulating red clay hills capped by wild grasses, sage and cactus. This intermediate ride culminates in a breathtaking vista from atop the famed Devil’s leap dropping 800 feet beneath you. Take a look over the edge…
Mollycropsy: This mesmerizing canyon hides abundant wildlife and offers a very challenging ride to those seeking high adventure. Sharp turns, steep inclines and daring drops challenge even the most advanced rider.
Black Mountain: A breathtaking scenic route leads the rider through a wide variety of terrain starting at the high desert flats of Trapper Creek winding through fields of salt sage and ending with a dramatic view over the entire Bighorn Basin and even into parts of Yellowstone Park.
White Creek & Trapper Creek Canyon: Step back in time 100 years. Your ride winds you through down a picturesque tree canopied path, past old timber corrals, over a wooden bridge and opens into a wide open lane perfect for an easy lope. The trail during this half-day ride snakes through the canyon with several crossings of Trapper Creek.
Willet Lake: A breathtaking all day ride in The Big Horn National Forest which takes you through open alpine meadows and pine forests to a clear blue mountain lake surrounded by a gorgeous alpine meadow. This is a ride you will not want to miss.
The Mail Trail or Bench Trail: Saddle up for a full day ride over a century old mail trail leaving at 7600 feet through alpine forests and juniper trees with beautiful vistas in The Shell Canyon. The Mail Trail is part of a century old trail used to carry the mail on horseback and mules from Sheridan to Cody.
Copman’s Tomb: This spectacular rock which you can see every day from the lodge is one of the most popular rides for its million-dollar view and scenic picnic. Looking up from the valley you would never think you could make it there on horseback. On a clear day you can look from the top of Copman’s Tomb all the way to the Rockies and Yellowstone National Park.
The Painted Hills: This half-day ride takes you to what the Indians called The Painted Hills which are hills with beautiful colors due to the minerals mixed with bentonite. We reach these hills riding through the sage brush and grass prairies in the valley. Photographers LOVE this area.
The Sedona Ride: This area near Trapper offers rides which make your think you are in Arizona due to the exposed Chugwater formations and half desert prairies. Cactus, coyotes and rattle snakes included.
The Five Fingers Ride: This popular valley ride takes you through rocky canyons with juniper trees and high desert while travelling along the slopes Big Horn Mountains which rise 2,000 feet along your trail as a huge granite wall. Some of the exposed Precambrian rock is over a billion years old.
McCullough Peak Mustang Country: During winter and spring some of our cattle graze in a 100,000 acre pasture which is a high desert area shared with the McCullough Peak Mustangs. Riding this country you will probably be able to see wild horses alongside grazing antelopes.
A mix of it all climates, scenery and temperatures.
In the late fall you might start riding in the snow on one side of the mountain and ride the last two hours of your 6-8 hour ride in the red dust in temperatures above 75F. You might start your ride at 6,500 and cross 9,500 feet and put your horse in the trailer at 4,200 feet at Trapper Creek Lodge after coming down Black Mountain Road and The Beef Slide. These are century old stock and trapper trails.
Throughout the season you will enjoy riding different country most days of your stay.
Special Customized Rides
We have a number of special rides ranging from 3 to 7 hours or more in the saddle. Some will be new trails we are exploring. They might take longer than anticipated due to the terrain and because they are new to us also. These rides are a bit more adventurous.
Endless riding opportunities…
The above trails are just a fraction of what this area offers. Many of our repeat guests who have been coming to The Hideout for over 10 years see different country and trails every time they come. Even our year round staff and family members who have been living here for over a century still see new country on the ranch every year.
The average length of time spent in the saddle each day is between 2 and 6 hours although some groups may choose to increase or decrease the amount of time depending of the time of the year, weather and season. Your wrangler will be more than happy to accommodate your requests. As long as it is safe, feasible and there are 3 or 4 people interested in the ride we usually can make it happen.
Spring and Fall
Many of the more experienced riders come out early spring and late fall, often with friends or members of their riding clubs. Those times of the year we usually have fewer guests and we can be very flexible in the way we organize our days. For beginning riders this also a good time of the year because we can give you personal, almost customized attention.
When riding out we consider the different levels of riders and their expectations. We also look at such things as the character of horse and rider, light handed or heavy handed riders, athletic ability, etc.
If you are an advanced rider and some members of your family, friends or partners are beginning or novice rider, we will make sure they also have a great time.
When riding together we will always adapt the level of riding to the least experienced rider in your group or family to keep the ride safe and enjoyable. However the advanced or intermediate riders can always sign up individually for more challenging rides. Advanced, intermediate and beginning riders will sometimes ride the same trails but the riding speed and type of horses will be different. This makes it fun for all participants as they enjoy the same experience, however adapted to the different riding levels.
Bear also in mind that depending of the time of the year due the wide variety of terrain we ride it is not uncommon to encounter large temperature variations. Your riding opportunities will change depending on weather, location and difficulty of terrain.
Your Riding Guides & Wranglers
To enhance your time spent in the saddle, you may experience a rotation of experienced, knowledgeable guides. Each of our guides knows this country and offer unique perspectives with a wide diversity of information about the trails and areas you will encounter. We have a multigenerational group of wranglers to accommodate the different ages of our guests.
Our Wranglers fall into three general categories:
- Year-Around Wranglers: These wranglers/guides/cowboys work for The Hideout year around and are of course more knowledgeable about the area, terrain, cattle work, ranch, guest ranch, etc.
- Full Season Wranglers: These wranglers typically hire on in April and stay with us throughout the season. Together with equestrian and peoples skills they are trained early in the season to be ready when our summer season starts.
- Summer Season Wranglers: Every season we hire a number of wranglers for the summer season. We select these individuals based on our 3 C Principle and of course they come with an equestrian background. During their first weeks at The Hideout they get extensive training from our year around staff, management and family. As we get more families with older children and young adults during the summer season we make sure we have several younger wranglers on staff during that time of the year, including some of our own family youngsters.
- Riding Partners: We have a number of well experienced individuals who have worked for The Hideout but still come out during some of the weeks to help wrangle, cowboy or guide for us. These individuals are usually older and more mature with great knowledge of the area, ranch and guest ranch.
- Family Members: We are a family operation which means that family members participate actively taking care of our guests. Our family members have been here for many years and come with great knowledge of the area, terrain and experience.
- Translators: Each year more and more travelers from around the world come to The Hideout for a unique vacation. Although we speak 4 languages at The Hideout we do not manage all languages. During some weeks we bring in translators who have vacationed or worked at The Hideout to ride out with our guests and accommodate them in their specific language.
Equestrian, Riding & Cowboy background of our wranglers
The Hideout is a working cattle, horse and riding ranch which means that our guests come to The Hideout for a variety of equestrian related experiences.
We employ wranglers with cowboy experience who know about the West and work cattle with the guests for the ranch side of the business. Others come with English and Western riding backgrounds, horsemanship and training experience having studied at Equine Colleges.
We do lope during the intermediate and advanced rides. Riders can choose to participate or not. One thing to bear in mind is that you are not riding at the beach or in flat country and that a horse is a living creature with a mind of his own. We are riding the high country on narrow trails, in the trees, across sagebrush and through creeks and rivers. When riding the open prairies, one needs to be very careful for prairie dog holes or holes made by other burrowing animals, wire fence or hidden rocks.
The local cowboys seldom lope their horses in these areas because it is considered dangerous for both horse and rider. Their preferred gate is a fast trot to cover long distances in a safe manner.
In addition to this it is important to bear in mind that the lowest elevation we ride is 4200 feet in the valley. During the full day rides in summer and fall, we operate at elevations between 6800 and 11,000 feet. Even the best horse will not lope very long at these elevations. Consider that during some of the advanced full day rides your mount will need to last 6 to 8 hours and your horse also needs to last the entire riding season.
Having said that, our wranglers do know where there are safe areas to lope or go faster.
Control over your horse
The main thing the wranglers will be looking for is whether or not the rider has his/her horse under control. There is no fast riding without the guest knowing how to stop the horse in a controlled and safe way. The faster you go the more proactive and defensive the riding needs to be. Horseback riding is a sport that holds more risks than playing cards.
Although we have great, well trained and healthy horses that are well adapted to this terrain and environment, they do have a mind of their own. Given the terrain we ride our orientation is more comprehensive than most other places in order to set you up for success, but in the end you are responsible and need to assume responsibility.
Please also read the information on Cattle Work on this website.