Trail ride through the old Wild West America
North America > United States

American ranch holidays and trail rides in the USA

The land of the cow-boy! Most horse-riding holidays in the USA revolve around ranches and cattle drives - try your hand at roping or follow a herd of cattle through dramatic landscapes. Most ranches can cope with all abilities and families - some specialise in natural horsemanship whilst others offer the chance to interact with native buffalo as well as cattle. Trail rides in the USA are generally for experienced riders - wide open spaces, empty beaches and spectacular scenery.
See all our trips

From the horse’s mouth

  • Kara Creek ranch
    June 2024 Josephine aged 57
    I rode a beautiful little mare called Jazz. She was really sweet and very comfortable. I was sorry to say goodbye to her.
    More about this trip
  • Kara Creek ranch
    June 2024 Rebecca aged 52
    If you want an amazing, truly authentic ranch and cowboy experience, Kara Creek Ranch is it! I rode Ginger and Rabbit, both were responsive, fun to ride and knew their job
    More about this trip
  • Kara Creek ranch
    June 2024 Catherine Louise aged 54
    It was absolutely amazing! Every member of staff was so helpful and accommodating. There is nothing I would of changed other than staying longer! I definitely left a bit of my heart at Kara Creek, guess I will just have to go back to get it! I rode Betty. That horse was amazing, such a gentle lady, she looked after me... Read all
    More about this trip
  • Kara Creek ranch
    June 2024 Jacqueline Erica aged 51
    The ranch was amazing. I had Lisa then Rabbit. Lisa knew her job- was an absolute sweetheart who did it at her own speed.. Rabbit was the best horse I have ever had the pleasure of riding-responsive and brilliant with the cattle. Worth his weight in gold and more
    More about this trip
  • Kara Creek ranch
    May 2024 Emily aged 28
    Amazing experience, everyone so welcoming and made lots of new friends! I rode a horse called Pistol. She was so lovely, all the horses are great and with the support of the other guests and staff you truly feel part of the team.
    More about this trip
  • Cowboy boots and ranch holiday
    Ranch holidays in the USA
  • Wrangler amongst a small herd of cows on a ranch in Colorado
    This is a really authentic working ranch holiday in Colorado
  • Rounding up cattle in the Pryor Mountains at TX ranch
    This is a trip for travel savvy, fit and experienced riders (strictly no beginners).
  • TX cattle drive in the USA
    TX cattle drive in the USA
  • Rider on horseback close to bison in Colorado
    Zapata Ranch is very involved in conservation programmes, and have their own bison herd
  • Rocking Z Ranch, Montana
    Bringing in the horses, western style
  • Driving cattle back to the ranch
    Working with cattle is a rewarding, but demanding experience
  • Riders becoming true cowboys in Idaho on a horse moving holiday
    Looking the part!
  • Horseback trail in the United States
    Ride through the semi-desert lands of the West
  • Trail ride through canyons in the United States
    Discover the beauty of Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Two wranglers rounding up cattle in the dust
    Rounding-up cattle on a hot day in Montana
  • Wranglers branding a young calf at Chico Basin ranch, Colorado
    Branding day at Chico Basin Ranch, Colorado

Visa & Health


It is your responsibility to ensure you have the valid visa requirements for entry. We will endeavour to keep this section up to date, but please visit for further information.

You’ll need prior authorisation to enter the United States using a British passport, either through a visa, a Permanent Resident Card, or the Visa Waiver Programme. To enter the United States of America, a passport valid for the duration of stay is required by Australian, British, Canadian and other EU nationals.

Most passport holders can get an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) through the Visa Waiver Programme, which allows travel to the US for up to 90 days. Visit the official US website to apply for your ESTA:
All travellers entering the USA under the Visa Waiver Program require individual machine-readable passports. Children included on a parent's passport also require their own machine-readable passport. Travellers not in possession of machine-readable passports require a valid USA entry visa.

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) aren’t valid for entry into the United States or transit through the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme; if you’re planning to enter or transit through the US using an ETD you must apply for a visa from the nearest US embassy or consulate before you travel, or hold a valid lawful permanent resident card (often referred to as a ‘green card’), which you must have with you on arrival; you can leave the US using an ETD that has been issued in the United States

Visitors to the USA travelling under the Visa Waiver Program must obtain authorisation from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), a fully automated, electronic system for screening passengers before they begin travel to the USA, if arriving by air or sea. It is recommended that applications are made at least 72 hours prior to travel but you may apply at any time prior to travel. Airlines must now deny check-in to passengers without a valid ESTA. There is a US$14 fee. An ESTA is valid for two years, so if you've applied for one previously, ensure it's still valid.

When applying for ESTA-authorisation and entering the passport number, the number 0 must not be replaced by letter O as this can lead to problems upon entering the USA. The granting of an ESTA does not guarantee entry to the USA. Canadian citizens do not require an ESTA, but permanent residents of Canada who are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program must obtain one.

If you don’t qualify for entry under the VWP, and don’t have a US Permanent Resident Card, you should apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate before travelling.

Holders of UK passports with the endorsement British Subject, British Dependent Territories Citizen, British Protected Person, British Overseas Citizen or British National (Overseas) Citizen do not qualify for the Visa Waiver Program and need to obtain a visa.

Travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):

- Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
- Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.

If you are travelling to the USA visa Canada, please remember you also need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), mandatory for anyone transiting through Canada. Completing ESTA formalities do not replace your eTA.

Addresses of consulates

  • Paris | Ambassade des Etats-Unis
    2, avenue Gabriel
    75008 paris
    Tél. :
    Fax :
  • Ambassade de France aux Etats-Unis
    4101 Reservoir Road, N.W.
    20007 Washington D.C.
    Tél. : +1 (202) 944 60 00
    Fax :
  • US Embassy
    24 Grosvenor Square
    W1A 2LQ London
    Tél. : 020 7499-9000
    Fax :


There are no vaccinations required for entering the United States. If you are entering from a yellow fever endemic area (or you have been to one within 7 days of entering the country), you may be required to show proof of immunization. Recommended vaccinations include Tetanus(Lockjaw), Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Rabies vaccinations are sometimes recommended for wilderness travel and/or wildlife volunteer projects. Lyme disease is endemic in the northeastern, Mid-Atlantic and upper Midwest areas and transmitted via blacklegged ticks.

Travel insurance that provides medical coverage is a requirement for visitors to the US. Only emergency cases are treated without prior payment and treatment may be refused without evidence of insurance or a deposit. All receipts for services rendered must be kept in order to make a claim. Medical care in the United States tends to be quite expensive, especially for emergency treatment provided in hospital settings, paid for out of pocket.


It is a condition of your booking with Equus Journeys that you have travel insurance which covers you for the riding activities to be undertaken. Your travel insurance should cover you for medical expenses and repatriation. Your guides will require your travel insurance details before they allow you to ride and may refuse to let you ride if you cannot provide them. You should take your insurance documents with you.


120 volts AC, 60Hz. Plugs have two flat pins with or without a third round grounding pin

Budget and money

The US Dollar, is the national currency of the United States. One dollar consists of 100 cents. Frequently used coins are the penny (1¢), nickel (5¢), dime (10¢) and quarter (25¢). 50¢ and $1 coins also exist, but are rarely used. Frequently used banknotes are the $1, $5, $10 and $20 notes. $2, $50 and $100 notes can also be found, but are rarely used.
Most major credit cards are accepted throughout the USA, including American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. Visitors are advised to carry at least one major credit card, as it is common to request pre-payment or a credit card imprint for hotel rooms and car hire, even when final payment is not by credit card. Be sure to check with your card issuer for current surcharge rates imposed for use of the card outside your home country. You should also inform your issuer that you are travelling for a specified period so your card is not flagged or temporarily suspended.

Bank-issued debit cards are accepted at many businesses in the US; however, using them to pay for many travel-related expenses, such as car hire and hotel rooms, often incurs a surcharge, deposit, or a hold on your account.

Telephone and jetlag

The dialling code for the USA is +1

The country stradles a number of different time zones. Eastern Daylight time (eg. New York) is GMT -4. Mountain Daylight time (eg. Montana) is GMT -6. Pacific Daylight time (eg. California) is GMT -7.

Country information

Country ID

Capital: Washington DC
Area: 9,826,675 sq km (3,794,100 sq miles).
Population: 323,1 million (2016).
Population density: 32.3 per sq km

Language: English, with significant Spanish-speaking minorties (10.7%).
Religion: Protestant majority (51.3%) with Roman Catholic, Mormon, Jewish and many ethnic minorities. An increasing percentage of Americans are distancing themselves from formal religious affiliations; 12.1% currently declare no affiliation.
Political regime: Federal Republic. The USA has 50 States and the District of Columbia (as in 'Washington, DC'), which lies between Maryland and Virginia
President: Donald Trump

Socio-economical data

The US economy is the world's largest, most technologically powerful and diverse. Distinct benefits arise from a unique combination of mass immigration, technological and marketing innovations, vast natural resources, expansion of international trade, historical fortune and an economic system designed to reinforce professional and personal enterprise.
The enormous influence of US-based multinational companies within the world economy affords unparalleled global influence and allows its currency unique international status.
Large areas of the USA, particularly in the Midwest, are under cultivation and produce a wide range of commodities: important are cotton, grain and tobacco, all exported on a large scale. Principal mining operations produce oil, gas, coal, copper, iron, uranium and silver. US industry leads in steel production, automotive manufacturing, aerospace technology, telecommunications, chemical engineering, electronics, computer-based commerce and manufactured goods.
The largest employment is in the service sector, finance, leisure and tourism. The unemployment rate in 2011 was 9.1%, with growth at 2.5% and inflation at 3%.


The early history of USA is very interesting and complex. It dates back to at least 10,000 BC, although some people argue earlier. Nomadic and semi nomadic people populated most of the continent while Pacific islanders populated Hawaii. Several interesting civilizations grew up on USA soil, such as the Pueblo Culture in the present day states of Colorado, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, with one of the most fascinating parts of the culture preserved at Mesa Verde National Park. Another interesting farming civilization were the Mississippian people, who lived across the present day Midwest and built amazing mounds and cities out of dirt and wood.
After Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492 as he searched for a quick route to India, exploration began of North America and South America. These areas were colonized by the English, French, Spanish, Russians and other Europeans over the next several centuries, much to the peril of Native Americans, who were fatally susceptible to the colonizers' foreign diseases.
The first European settlements on what was to become the USA were in Florida and New Mexico. The British set up many failed colonies in present day North Carolina until Jamestown was finally settled in 1607 that survived and thrived. The north was settled by the pilgrims, religious refugees from England, at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. During the time of colonization several wars broke out with the indigenous tribes, which usually ended with the colonials defeating and killing people. The plight of Native Americans was not set to improve, as the British Colonies declaring independence in 1776 translated into the colonizers' gradual, determined march west. This settlement of the west forced westward migration of indigenous Americans. The Indian Wars were fought from the foundation of American history until the 1890s. At the same time the USA government set the foundation for the future modern democracies of the world.
In the century after the War for Independence, the issue of slavery gained momentum, culminating in the Civil War between the northern states, which had outlawed slavery, and those in the south, where slavery had not been outlawed. The war was fought between 1861 to 1865 with the north winning. But policies of the 1870s reconstruction continued to limit the rights of African Americans, notably with the creation of Jim Crow laws.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the USA exploded with industrial might, slowly growing to become one of the most important countries in the world. The world wars forged its industrial might into a military powerhouse. Following World War II, the United States entered a period of cold war with the former Soviet Union and the world of communism in general with its European Allies. Controversy marked the United States' war in Vietnam in the 1970s. War is also a central and controversial theme of recent US history, as the current situation in the Middle East highlights.
In the 20th century, the United States also took the lead in many scientific fields and became a world leader in education. These included events and inventions like the space race, the personal computer, the internet and many medical discoveries.


The USA is the third largest country in the world and shares borders with Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. It is bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The Gulf of Mexico runs along parts of the southeast section of the country, from Florida to the border between Texas and Mexico. Hawaii is in the Pacific Ocean, while the state of Alaska borders the Arctic Ocean, which gives a good reflection of the country's size. This is reflected in the different landscapes to be found in the United States, from tropical marshes to Arctic tundra.
There are several mountain ranges. These include the Cascade Ranges near the Pacific coast and the Rocky Mountains in the inner west of the country. In Alaska, Mount McKinley is the highest point in the USA at 6,194 metres above sea level. This is followed by California's Mount Whitney, the highest point outside Alaska at 4,421 metres. The Cascade range also has a number of distinctive peaks, most prominent of which is Mount Rainier in Washington State at 4,392 metres. The Appalachian Mountains in the east typically have lower peaks than those found in other ranges.
In the north, along the border with Canada are the Great Lakes, with the northernmost Lake Superior being the highest inland body of water. The longest and most important river in the country is the Mississippi River which acts as a border between many states, among which are Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri, Illinois and Wisconsin. Its source is located in the state of Minnesota.
Between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains are the Great Plains. West of the Rocky Mountains lies a system of basins, salt flats, plateaus and gorges, with the Grand Canyon being one of the most visited natural wonders on earth. Here you'll find the Great Basin desert system and further west and south are the warmer deserts of the Mojave (including Death Valley and the Sonora desert).
Although the Atlantic coastal areas are a rather flat and bleak area, the Pacific coastal zone is more rugged and mountainous with mountain ranges like the Sierra Nevada, located in California.
Apart from these general geographical divisions, there are many smaller systems. From the swamp areas in the southeast of the country to the Arctic tundras in the northwestern Alaska.
But the USA has some more fragile areas as well, with areas sensitive to earthquakes (the San Andreas fault for example) and volcanic activity in the western part of mainland USA and in Alaska and Hawaii. The area from California upwards towards the southwestern islands of Alaska is also known as the Ring of Fire, with major eruptions throughout history.

People, culture and traditions

Americans are renowned for their openness and friendliness to visitors. The wide variety of national origins and the USA's relatively short history has resulted in numerous cultural and traditional customs living alongside each other. In large cities, people of the same ethnic background often live within defined communities.
Shaking hands is the usual form of greeting. A relaxed and informal atmosphere is usually the norm. As long as the fundamental rules of courtesy are observed, there need be no fear of offending anyone of any background. Gifts are appreciated if one is invited to a private home. As a rule, dress is casual. High-end restaurants, hotels and clubs may require more formal attire.
Smoking is increasingly unpopular in the US; it is essential to ask permission before lighting up. Smoking is not allowed on city transport and restricted or forbidden in public buildings in most states. There will be a posted notice where no smoking is requested. An increasing number of states (including California and New York) have banned smoking altogether in bars, restaurants and many public places.

Choosing the right riding holiday

Choosing the right riding holiday


Our ranch holidays in the US generally fall into one of these categories, although some offer a combination. If you are not sure what to expect from your horseback adventure, please contact us with your requirements and we will point you in the right direction!


Working ranches offer you the chance to enjoy the real myth of the Wild West. You will participate in the ranch activities, joining the wranglers in their daily work. Depending on the time of year you could be moving cattle to new pastures, branding, vaccinating, sorting cattle and checking fences. This will give you a real insight into cowboy life.

TX Ranch - Montana

Kara Creek Ranch - Wyoming 


These ranches will give you a western experience, but they may not have cattle to work. Riding is the main focus and most ranches cater for all types of rider, even beginners. A good riding holiday for riders looking to experience the magical landscape of the Rocky mountains but prefer long trail rides and a relaxed atmosphere! 

Rocking Z - Montana

Bitterroot Ranch - Wyoming


These ranches are a mix of a guest ranch and a working ranch. They tend to have many of the amenities of a guest ranch but they also work cattle. There is usually a chance to help with the stock whilst having the luxury of many guest ranch amenities.

Zapata Ranch - Colorado

Hide Out Ranch - Wyoming 


Cattle and horse drives provide the ultimate cowboy experience; spend all day in the saddle admiring the unspoilt scenery while doing a worthwhile job. Accommodation can be basic whilst out on the drive but back at the ranch the accommodation will be much more comfortable.

TX Ranch Cattle Drive - Montana

Silver Spur Horse Drive - Idaho 


Joining a trail ride can mean leaving the comforts of the ranch behind and staying in different accommodation along the way - sometimes camping, sometimes in local hotels. Follow a route through spectacular landscapes and cover different ground everyday.

Spectacular Three Park Trail - Arizona/Utah (17 days)

Navajo Trail  

On the blog

Not sure where to start and what is the right ranch holiday for you? We have written a comprehensive guide to help you choose the right ranch holiday in the USA and Canada. We explain the differences between a working cattle ranch and a guest ranch, and what to expect from them. Make sure to read this entry on the blog for more information.