The small town of Ennis in southwestern Madison County is one of those places in Montana synonymous with horseback riding. This is evident from many of the signs around the town, which in turn is surrounded by miles and miles of what qualifies as dream cowboy terrain.
The mountainous backdrops and rolling landscapes around the town make it ideal for horseback riding, which is the best way to take it in according to locals.
The local outfitters specialize in all kinds of outdoor activities including trail riding, which is usually undertaken as either half or full-day excursions arranged by pre-booking. Longer pack rides can also be arranged according to preferences and can be tailored according to a variety of factors such as age, size, and experience.
Anyone lucky enough to be heading in the direction of Ennis with a spot of horseback riding in mind will find well-trained horses well-accustomed to all terrains.
You can also expect some fairly amazing views of the Madison River Valley during your ride too. So, lets take a look at the best horseback riding in Ennis!
Horseback Riding in Ennis
1. Diamond J Corrals
Diamond J. Corrals is an offshoot of the Diamond J Ranch which has various horses suited for all kinds of trails. The Corrals was established to help visitors to the region see some of its finest scenery from the saddle of a horse.
Riders of all levels and ages are catered to, with groups of 6-8 being a specialty. The rides take place across private land, wilderness areas, and forest service trails, and the horses tread with care.
Participants are encouraged to interact with the horses and get a real feel for them rather than just passively sitting on top of them. The intuitive horses are said to respond to both the thoughts and feelings of their riders, as the wranglers will tell you.
Ride Options and Durations:
The shorter morning rides are typically 2-3 hours long and will suit anyone with prior riding experience and children aged 6 or over. Prices are usually in the region of $125 for 1-3 people.
The longer afternoon ride takes 4-5 hours to complete and includes lunch. This option is more suited to intermediate riders 10 and older. This works out at $150/person with a 4-person minimum.
If the all-day ride of 7-8 hours duration sounds more like the thing you’ve been looking for you’ll be heading off into the Wilderness areas surrounding the ranch. Riders need to be experienced and upwards of 12 years old to qualify for this option, which typically costs in the region of $200 (minimum of four persons) and includes lunch.
If you intend to stay at the Diamond J Ranch, it is suggested that you make your reservations first and find out more information from the website. Also, check out something completely different by way of the Healing Horses classes held in June or July.
2. Wolfpack Outfitters
Wolf Pack Outfitters is a family-owned and operated business that has been providing all kinds of horseback rides in the vicinity of Ennis since 1998. The emphasis of the trail rides is always on quality and horsemanship, with limited numbers of rides in order to create a better all-around experience.
Operating just one or two groups per day is what differentiates Wolfpack from other outfitters. All of the rides undertaken by the outfitters are customized to customer requirements as well as other aspects like age and experience.
Horses and saddles will be matched according to each rider’s current riding ability and size. You don’t come to a ranch as part of this deal the horses come to you! They are typically trailered to a mountain trailhead or even where you are staying so you experience authentic backcountry riding.
Mountain trail rides typically entail 2-3 hours of time in the saddle, and you can count on a snack or lunch break. Rides start out in the mornings around 9 or 10 am, with the entire day usually reserved for single groups so any necessary adjustments for schedules or weather can be made.
As all the rides are private and custom-made a variety of skill levels include first-timers and beginners as well as intermediate and advanced riders.
The trails are set 24-72 hrs in advance of reservations to account for weather and trail conditions. The idea is to keep the rides small to ensure the maximum attention from the guides. The minimum age for young participants is 6 years old for mountain trail riding, with weight limits of 250 lbs also being in effect.
3. Adventures Outfitting
As Ennis is close to Yellowstone country some outfitters like Adventures Outfitting can provide a taste of the backcountry on one of their guided trail rides.
Owned and jointly operated by Tim Beardsley and Mike Myer, this operation specializes in providing all kinds of quality outdoor activities in the regions of Ennis and Yellowstone National Park.
Adventures Outfitting has in one form or another been providing outfitting services in Southwestern Montana since 1986, and the company and guides have close to 40 years of outfitting and guiding experience in the area.
The horseback rides are operated between June and August and allow the opportunity of spending a day in the saddle with experienced guides and horses.
The horses are easy-going and familiar with the routes and their impressive natural beauty. The outfitters use horses most suited to various age groups and all riding levels, including beginners.
As with all the best horseback riding outfitters, Adventures assesses and matches every rider with the most suitable equine companion for the trail, ensuring the best possible experience.
The trail rides set off in the morning include lunch and return mid-afternoon. Reservations should be made at least 24 hours in advance.