Happy Trails - Horseback riding in Saguache County

horseback-in-saguacheGiven the vastness of the land, it is no wonder many choose to access the Saguache County backcountry on horseback. With hundreds of miles for non-motorized trails in Saguache County, you could ride a new one every day for years and not see it all. Seldom will you find an area that is more horse friendly in such a beautiful setting.

The US Forest Service has set up corrals at some trailheads and rental cabins. They also have a list of regulations for stock use to protect the natural landscape.

 Minimize the Impact:

  • Only certified weed free hay can be fed – at least 24 hours before bringing livestock onto public lands.
  • Do not tie stock to trees – use a highline or portable electric fence.
  • No camping within 300 feet of lakes and 100 feet of streams.
  • No grazing within 300 feet of wetlands and marshy meadows.
  • Scatter manure away from campsites to speed decay and prevent flies.
  • Pack out all trash and naturalize campsite.
  • Hikers should yield to horseback riders – slow to a walk while passing.

Hikers, horses and pack animals may now access the Sand Dunes National Park and Forest from the northern boundary. Until further national park and national forest planning has been completed, Saguache County has granted temporary approval for horse trailer/vehicle parking at the designated parking area near the terminus of Camino Baca Grande in the Baca Grande Subdivision, locally known as the “Liberty Gate,” just outside the northern edge of the national park. Wagons or other horse-drawn equipment are not permitted to enter the park. For overnight use, please self-register at the Liberty Gate for a free backcountry permit. Call the Visitor Center at 719-378-6399 for more information. A map of road access to the Liberty Gate is available.

Horseback History

ute-on-horsebackThe Ute people, who are the oldest continuous residents of Colorado, probably arrived in the area around 1,300 AD. Imagine how their culture changed when the Spanish brought the horse to the new world! The expansion of their hunting range and ability to move their nomadic camps made life easier. When European settlers arrived in Saguache, the Utes were making annual trips over the passes of the Sangres to hunt buffalo on the eastern plains. Horses and other pack animals continue to be the easiest method to bring game out of remote areas. Even if you're just sight seeing – everything looks better from the back of a horse.