Have you ever looked at a state’s nickname and wondered how they got it? The state of Wyoming, better known as the “Cowboy State,” is quite easy to understand once you are there. In Wyoming, the bucking bronco rider that the state university uses as its mascot isn’t just for sports fodder. It’s a way of life for Wyomingites.
In Wyoming, there is one horse for every five people, making it the most populous horse state in the country. This includes personal horses, stock horses, and wild horses! It should be no surprise that horse camping is one of the more popular ways to explore the outdoors in this amazing state.
The Cowboy State is home to 7 national parks and 12 state parks, which span over 18 million acres of parklands, and brings an average of 4 million visitors each year. Most of Wyoming’s parklands are great for dispersed and horse camping, providing a unique experience to remember. Let’s dig in to find out the best places for horse camping in Wyoming, and the rules for bringing your stock to public lands.
What Is Horse Camping in Wyoming Like?
If you enjoy equestrian riding and big skies, horse camping in Wyoming is for you! Instead of getting up from your campsite and going hiking through the many park trails in Wyoming, you will explore the Cowboy State from about 6 feet higher atop your horse. Riding along the golden trails of Grand Tetons or Yellowstone could conjure feelings of being in western movies or maybe even Ernest Hemingway writing your next novel.
What to Expect From Horse Camping in Wyoming
Horse camping will have a much different setup than traditional camping. There are additional items that you will need to have during a horse camping trip. Of course, you will need your stock and a trailer, but you will also need to have access to hobbles, pickets, or electric fences. Many horse owners bring their supplies, but some parks will have fences, posts, and grazing areas. Your campsites will look a bit different too. Instead of traditional campgrounds, horse camping areas are dispersed more to give the animals a chance to move and graze.
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What Should Families Bring to Horse Camp in Wyoming?
Other than your horse, there are several items that your family will need for horse camping in Wyoming. You will want to bring everything needed for your stock and everything for your family too. When you decide if you want to tent or RV camp, you will need to pack accordingly for your trip. Depending on the time of year you are planning to camp, be sure to bring extra water, plenty of sunscreens, and some type of signaling device.
The Wyoming backcountry can be treacherous, especially when you are horse camping in dispersed areas. It is easy to become lost or dehydrated in the desert sun. You could be faced with several dangerous animals such as bears, moose, wolves, and even unfriendly wild horses. Be sure to pack animal sprays to ward off any big game that you might come across.
Best National Park for Horse Camping in Wyoming
With seven national parks in Wyoming, it’s hard to choose the best one for horse camping. However, without a doubt, it will be the Grand Teton National Park. With more than 65 horse camping areas throughout the park, it has more areas for horse camping than any other park.
Best State Park for Horse Camping in Wyoming
Wyoming has two great parks that allow horse camping. Medicine Lodge and Keyhole State Park both offer great horse campsites that are fitted for either tents or RVs. These two parks feature corrals, troughs, pickets, and grazing areas that are completely free to use.
The only fee for horse camping in these parks is the regular camping fee which is $18 for residents and $32 for non-residents. If you are looking for a quieter trip for your stock, you’ll want to stay at Medicine Lodge. It is much smaller than Keyhole State Park and has more dispersed camping.
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Equestrian Trails in Wyoming
One of the most fun things to do while horse camping in Wyoming is to ride the equestrian trails that are scattered about the state. Many state and national parks have dedicated horseback riding trails for visitors to enjoy. If you are camping in Grand Teton, try riding the Dog Creek Trail. This trail is a 22-mile intermediate equestrian and hiking trail that takes a rider through the most scenic route in Grand Teton.
If you are looking for a more private equestrian trail, you should consider Bucking Mule Falls in Bighorn National Forest. This 4-mile loop is considered moderately challenging for hikers but fairly easy for horseback riding. The trailhead offers dispersed horse camping with plenty of hitching posts and grazing areas for stock.
Rules for Horse Camping in Wyoming
While horse camping in Wyoming, it is important to follow all of the rules and guidelines set forth by the state and national park systems. Some park entrances and horse camping grounds are not equipped to handle newer horse trailers. If you have a stock trailer that features attached living quarters, you should call ahead to your desired area to confirm your trailer can safely attend.
All horse camping sites require your stock to be fed weed-seed-free feed. You should start feeding this special feed to your horses at least two days before using any horse camping facilities in Wyoming. Both state and national parks require proof of a Coggins test before entering the park with horses.
Horses that are tied up should be moved to a new area daily. This is to ensure your stock is not overgrazing a particular area. It is also important to move your horses to keep the land intact. Stock that has been left for too long in one area will start to negatively impact the land.
Best Time to Go Horse Camping in Wyoming
Most state and national parks in Wyoming are closed to horse campers during the winter months. This is due to the unstable ground conditions across the Wyoming desert. Therefore, the best time to go horse camping in Wyoming is during the early spring and late fall. Going during this time will help to regulate the animal’s temperature and lessen the likelihood of dehydration.
Horse camping in Wyoming can be a wonderful experience, and when you join BookOutdoors.com, you can access all of the horse camping sites that Wyoming has to offer.