Horseback Riding in The Beartooth Mountains

Red Lodge Montana

One in a Series on Traveling with our Family to the National Parks

Cowboys

Out in Big Sky country

you’ll find folks fixed

on brown and white fillies

clutching their reigns with

uncalloused palms.

Noses pink with laboring,

they endure smoke and sun

to bear their enchanted burdens

across pastures

over streams and

up hillsides

to reach the quintessential Montana

experience,

a collossal view of mist and mountain.

Cowboys for a transitory moment,

the cargo sits motionless, gazing, longing.

Then, like lightning in a treeless field,

the pageant is finished

and the fillies descend

single

file.

Horseback riding in the Beartooth Wilderness is a sumptuous, earthy experience, dazzling the senses with all that is Montana and the great out West! My daughter, # 4 son and I love to ride horses and we always attempt a ride if we travel to an outback destination. The Elk River Outfitters was a wonderful choice and a no-brainer considering they are walking distance from downtown Red Lodge. After a quick bite at The Wild Table restaurant in town, we walked the short 1/2 mile to the stables. There we met a mother – daughter duo who took a group of us out for a magnificent ride. This 2-hour experience took us through woods, across a beautiful meadow, over a deep flowing creek, up a ridge and to the top of a knoll with a panoramic vista of the great Beartooth Mountains. The creek crossing was a high interest point, with the fast moving waters hitting about mid-horse and some horses wanting to play in the stream. “Hold your feet up,” the guide told us, “or they’ll get wet.” Each horse drank a good bit before crossing and some wanted to linger in the cool currents. After everyone crossed, we slogged up a narrow path to the top where a big Montana Sky greeted us. The experience up there — atop a majestic animal, sage brush fluttering in the wind and cooling stormy breezes in our faces — literally took my breath away.

We met some folks from the northeast who had also been out for an extended trip to see the Wilderness areas of the Montana and Wyoming Rockies. Like us, they recently bought a camper and decided to just go see this beautiful country. So many that we met on our trip were of this same mind. The Covid Pandemic has made people rethink their priorities and make big life changes. We met a woman who was hiking and couch surfing from South Dakota to California and a couple who was taking their “last road trip” because she had terminal cancer. There’s a feeling of freedom out in the West that is hard to describe and people continue to seek this life and these places to experience it.


One thought on “Horseback Riding in The Beartooth Mountains

  1. I love this post – and the poem that you have at the beginning. It’s such a vivid description, both of the folks coming to gather the “quintessential Montana experience” and the experience itself. You tell it with such purposeful language and line breaks, too. Thank you for the words and pictures to bring us along!

    Liked by 1 person

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