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 geological 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, hikers and mountain bikers from around the world love traveling to Shell Valley and The Hideout? One reason is the rarely seen diversity of scenery this area offers due to the elevations ranging from 4,200 feet in the valley to 13,200 feet in The Cloud Peak Wilderness. Wyoming is also one of the least populated areas in the United State (I think some Canadian provinces are less densely populated) (only Alaska is less densely populated), enjoying a population of 2 people 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 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 in the Shell Valley: Ranging in elevation from 4,200 – 5,400 feet, these rides are mostly in the valley riding through the wide-open prairies, juniper trees, and rocky hidden canyons. In the hidden canyons, refreshing creeks flow with century old cottonwood trees offering you and your horse well-deserved shade.
Mountain Pastures, Alpine Meadows: You will see a variety of terrain 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: Elevations in these high-altitude 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 8,000 feet are usually snow covered from the end of September to mid-June depending on weather conditions
Devil’s Leap: This ride features 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, which drops 800 feet beneath you. Dare to take a look over the edge…
White Creek & Trapper Creek Canyon: Step back in time 100 years. Your ride winds through 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 White and Trapper Creek.
Willet Lake: A breathtaking high-altitude full-day day ride in The Big Horn National Forest which takes you through open alpine meadows and pine forests to a picturesque mountain lake surrounded by a gorgeous alpine meadow. This is a ride you will not want to miss.
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 across the Big Horn Basin to other ranges of the Rockies and Yellowstone National Park.
The Painted Hills: This half-day ride wanders among mounds the Indians called The Painted Hills, which are hills wwith beautiful colors due to the vibrant, ancient 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 Creek Ranch, offers a ride which feels like you are in the red desert of Arizona due to the red, exposed Chugwater formations and half-desert prairies – cactus, coyotes and rattle snakes included.
The Five Fingers Ride: This popular and thrilling valley ride takes you through rocky canyons with juniper trees and high desert while traveling along the slopes of the 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 fall, 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. When riding through this country, you will probably be able to see wild horses grazing alongside antelope.
Special Customized Rides
We sometimes have 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 and require appropriate riding skill to meet the challenge.
Endless riding opportunities…
The above trails are 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 visit. Even our year-round staff and family members who have been living here for many years 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 on the time of the year, weather and season. Your wrangler will be more than happy to accommodate your requests. If it is safe, feasible and there are 3 or 4 people interested in the ride, we can usually make it happen.
Spring and Fall
Many experienced riders visit early spring or late fall, often with friends or members of their riding clubs. For beginning riders this also a good time of the year because we can give personal, almost customized, attention. Solo guests also enjoy these early and late seasons to afford the opportunity to meet other adults.
When organizing rides, 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 and other factors.
If you are an advanced rider and some members of your family, friends or partners are novice riders, 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. The Hideout does not have a children’s program and requires parents do all rides and activities with their children.
Advanced and intermediate riders can sign up 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.
Due to the wide variety of terrain in which we ride, it is not uncommon to encounter large temperature variations. Your riding opportunities will change depending on weather, location and difficulty of terrain.
Helmets are Required for Children 14 Years of Age and Under
The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch offers a fun and safe riding experience. Our safety program requires all children 14 years of age and under to wear riding helmets without exception. Helmets are also encouraged for our adult riders, but not required.
Your Riding Guides & Wranglers
To enhance your time spent in the saddle, you may experience a rotation of experienced, knowledgeable wranglers. Each of our wranglers knows this country and offers unique perspectives with a wide diversity of information about the trails and areas you will encounter. We have a multi-generational group of wranglers to accommodate and relate to the different ages of our guests.
– Year-Round Wranglers: These wranglers/guides/cowboys work for The Hideout year-round and are of course more knowledgeable about the area, terrain, cattle work, ranch and guest ranch.
– Full Season Wranglers: Full season wranglers typically arrive in March or April and stay with us throughout the season. Most of our full-season wranglers have been with The Hideout for multiple years and are very experienced and highly trained. All our riding staff are at least 21 years of age and come to The Hideout with diverse and interesting backgrounds.
– Early/Mid/Late Season Wranglers: Every season we hire wranglers to work for a portion of our season. Most of these wranglers also work multiple seasons and are very experienced. We select these individuals based on our 3 C’s Principles and their extensive equestrian background. As we get more families with older children and young adults during the summer season, we make sure we have younger wranglers on staff.
– Family Members: We are a family operation, which means that family members participate actively in 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.
Equestrian, Riding & Cowboy background of our wranglers
The Hideout is a riding, horsemanship and working cattle guest ranch which means that our guests come to The Hideout for a wide variety of equestrian related experiences.
We employ wranglers with cowboy experience who know about the West and are experienced working cattle. Some wranglers come with a formal English riding background and others with a Western riding background. All of the barn team has extensive riding, training and equestrian backgrounds.
We do lope during the intermediate and advanced rides. Riders can choose to participate or not. It is important to remember you are not riding at the beach or in flat country with predictable terrain, 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 watch 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 gait is a fast trot to cover long distances in a safe manner.
It is also important to bear in mind that the lowest elevation we ride is 4,200 feet in the valley. During the full day rides in summer and fall, we operate at elevations between 6,800 and 11,000 feet. Even the best horse will not lope very long at these elevations. Please 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. Our wranglers 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 if a rider has their 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 in, our orientation is more comprehensive than most other places in order to set you up for success. In the end, you are responsible and need to assume responsibility.