Exploring Lake Tahoe on horseback is a whole different experience
These days, there are any number of ways to take in Lake Tahoe, but there’s nothing quite like exploring the area in the same fashion as the 19th century settlers. I’m talking about horseback riding.
Although their numbers have declined over the years, which some attribute to rising costs and increased hurdles with various permitting agencies, there are several outfitters around the lake that specialize in commercial rides.
Camp Richardson Corral
One of these outfitters is Camp Richardson Corral off the lake’s South Shore. Founded in 1934, the Corral is owned and operated by the same family who established the outfit 83 years ago — the Ross family.
“I’ve been here 24 years at the Corral, and every time I ride there, it never gets old,” Kelly Ross says before adding with a chuckle that she married into the family and the Corral life.
Camp Richardson Corral offers several different options aimed at accommodating riders of different ages. Depending on the choice of ride and weather conditions, riding at Camp Rich can land you an incredible view of Lake Tahoe while traveling through lush meadows and scenic forests.
You also have the opportunity to ride along Fallen Leaf Lake — a popular destination located about a mile from Lake Tahoe. Reservations are strongly encouraged and must be made over the phones. More information on Camp Richardson Corral can be found at camprichardsoncorral.com.
Zephyr Cove Stables
On the east side of Lake Tahoe, Zephyr Cove Stables offers guided horseback rides daily during the summer, as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner rides. The meal rides require a minimum of 10 books.
Located about 4 miles from Stateline in Nevada, Zephyr Cove Stables has several different options as it relates to length of ride and cost. Reservations are encouraged. Visit zephyrcovestable.com for information on making a reservation, prices and other details.
Alpine Meadows Stables
On the opposite end of the lake, the Courtney family has been operating Alpine Meadows Stables, located near Squaw Valley, since 1967.
Alpine Meadows specializes in guided horseback rides through the Tahoe National Forest.
Like the other outfitters, Alpine Meadows offers several different options for rides. Reservations can be made over the phone, and more information can be found at alpinemeadowsstables.com.
Safety measures and more
As is the case with most outdoor activities, weather is a big factor. A winter with heavy snowfall, such as this past one, can delay opening dates in some cases. In general, it’s best to call ahead before heading out, if for no other reason than to ensure the outfitter is open.
While each one has its own guidelines, there are some general requirements for riding.
Camp Richardson and Zephyr Cove both have weight limits of 225 pounds, while Alpine Meadows asks to be notified of any riders exceeding that same weight. Riders must be physically able to mount a horse.
Camp Richardson offers a hay wagon ride through the Valhalla Tahoe historic site and along Lake Tahoe, for those not meeting the eligibility requirement.
Most also have an age requirement, with Zephyr Cove requiring riders to be at least 7 years old. Camp Richardson requires riders to be at least 6 years old.
Appropriate attire also is important — for example, Camp Richardson requires closed-toe shoes — and sunscreen is a good idea. And, depending on how dry the conditions are, a bandana is good for keeping dust and dirt out of your airways. Long pants and clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty are recommended.
Perhaps the most important tip, though, is to leave your cellphone behind. You’re paying good money for a one-of-a-kind experience in one of the most spectacular settings out there — you don’t need your smart phone.