Horseback Riding Zion National Park in Utah-La Verkin Creek
An active member of the Back Country Horsemen of Utah and blogger about great Utah trails shares horse trails in Zion National Park, encompassing Lee's Pass, LaVerkin Creek and Kolob Arch, for Equitrekking's 50 State Trail Riding Project.
by Judy Nelson
Horses traditionally have been used to explore Zion National Park.
We did this ride on the way home from St. George. (It's about an hour north). First check in at the visitor's center. This is a ride best done in Spring or Autumn. It gets extremely hot in Zion National Park in the summer. Our April ride had upper 70s for the temperature. Groups are limited to 12. Pay your entrance fee ($25) or free if you have a park pass. They will instruct you on the trails where horses are allowed and where to park, but it pays to do your research first and know exactly where you're going.
Close up of the Visitor's Center. Room enough to park your trailer while you register.
Here is a link to Stock Use in Zion NP. Click on the link to "Wilderness Map" for an excellent map of Zion NP with the designated trails. It is a PDF file and takes a minute to load.
Parking area. Photo courtesy of Jon Tanner.
Photo courtesy Janet Carver
Also check out the post on Hop Valley, which is an extension/turn off of this trail. I would not recommend doing the one way trip all the way through to Hop Valley Trailhead. It would not only require a shuttle, but there is a very steep and rocky climb to the valley. Do-able, but not recommended.
There are several pull outs where there is room enough for a horse trailer rig (or two or three). Probably best to drive to the turn around at the top of the road, so you're facing down canyon to park. There are not many places to turn around.
Once you park, there will be a short ride on the asphalt road to get to the Lee's Pass trailhead and the La Verkin Creek Trail, which follows Timber Creek, then intersects with La Verkin Creek. The La Verkin Creek Trail closes to horses after the Hop Valley turn off. (about 7 miles in). This is a moderately strenuous ride with much elevation change. Horses need to be in fairly good shape.
It doesn't get much better than this!
We didn't ride all the way to the Kolob Arch turnoff, but within a half mile of it. Then, it is another quarter mile to the arch. Horses are not allowed on that part of the trail. They can be tied at a hitching rail if you want to make the hike.
Oh, yeah....THIS is what's it's all about. Photo courtesy of Julie Heavirland
About the Author: Judy Nelson writes Dream Packer Trail Adventures, a blog with extensive information and photos on riding in Utah. She has owned horses for about the last 20 years, but has been horse crazy for most of her 68 years. She is fortunate to have a spouse who loves horses as much as she does and they are trail riding partners with their two Morgan horses (who happen to be siblings). They have "Ellie", a 15 year old chestnut mare and "Shrek", a 13 year old Dark Bay gelding. They also have a third horse, who is just being trained, a 4 year old Curly Black Tobiano Missouri Fox Trotter filly named "Kachina". Nelson is active in the Back Country Horsemen of Utah (which focuses on service projects and trail maintenance) and is the Trail Riding Advisor for the Rocky Mountain Morgan Horse Club (which covers Utah, Wyoming and Idaho.)