We had the pleasure of backcountry horseback riding in Yellowstone National Park with Wilderness Pack Trips. This wasn’t the nose-to-tail trail ride that you see people enduring from the road; this was an off-trail wilderness experience. In a park that sees more than four million visitors a year, we saw no one. That’s how I like my Yellowstone!
Scroll down for the video experience.
Mike and Erin Thompson met when they went to work for Wilderness Pack Trips 23 years ago. They got married, bought the business, and had some kids — some of whom now help out with the guiding business.
We originally knew Erin as Anders and Finn’s art teacher (one of two art teachers that inspired them and cultivated their love of art). Getting to know Erin and Mike, and seeing Erin’s other passion was a real treat.
Wilderness Pack Trips leads both day trips and overnight adventures in Yellowstone. Since they have a history of low impact horseback riding in Yellowstone, Wilderness Pack Trips gets to take clients into seldom seen backcountry areas. On our trip, we went into a bear management area that required special permission to enter.
We started on the south side of the road near the Blacktail Plateau and wandered up to an old wolf den. Along the way we saw a badger, stupendous views, and end of season wildflowers: fireweed, asters, sulfur buckwheat, potentilla, and others.
We stopped for lunch in a treed area (shade!), sat on glacial erratics, and watched the horses Tex and Sunshine try to eat Anders’ sandwich. Then it was on to the wolf den, which hasn’t been used for awhile.
I have spent a lot of time in Yellowstone, but this was a unique experience for me. On horses, we were able to easily walk off-trail and explore a part of the park I probably wouldn’t be in on foot.
The boys did a great job horseback riding in Yellowstone, and Mike and Erin were thoughtful and compassionate with them. Mike showed them antlers elk had shed over past winters. We even found an intact skull and antlers.
While I will never give up my hiking shoes or cross-country skis, I can’t wait to go horseback riding in Yellowstone again.
Thanks to Wilderness Pack Trips for the complimentary ride. The opinions expressed here at TravelingMel are always my own.