The Best Horseback Riding in Missoula, Montana

Kurt Norris
Last Updated: February 24th, 2023

The seat of Missoula County, Missoula is surrounded by pristine natural environments, lush forests, and towering mountain chains making it the destination of unparalleled outdoor wonders and adventures.

With hundreds of miles of hiking trails weaving through the county and the Clark Fork River cutting its way directly through the heart of the town, Missoula offers visitors several methods to explore the outdoors and reconnect with the region’s surrounding nature.

Still, while these adventurous options are seemingly limitless, one of the most authentic methods of exploring the Montanan countryside is through a traditional horseback ride.

No matter your experience level, these are the five best outfitters that offer unforgettable horseback riding in Missoula experiences.

5 Best Outfitters Providing Horseback Riding in Missoula, MT

  1. Adventure Missoula
  2. Big Sky Safaris
  3. Dunrovin Ranch
  4. Hidalgo Trail Rides
  5. JM Bar Outfitters

adventure missoula

1. Adventure Missoula

Offering a massive selection of outdoor activities in Missoula County, Adventure Missoula specialize in white water rafting, but their guided horseback riding services remain some of the best in the region.

Operating 35 miles east of the city, Missoula Adventures offers unique horseback riding tours through two distinct tour packages. The first is an 85-minute guided trail ride that touches on the immediate beauty of the region, while the second takes a slightly deeper dive into its natural wonders for a 2-hour tour.

Both guided trips lead visitors along trails that cut their way through the surrounding ponderosa pines forest, where they will see a variety of Montana’s local flora and fauna species.

Adventure Missoula offers horseback riding services from the beginning of Spring through October. Tours must be planned in advance, so book your trip before visiting.

2. Big Sky Safaris

big sky safaris

Based in the heart of Missoula, Big Sky Safari is the premier horseback riding service in the county for exploring the region’s natural environment and the many species that habitat in the area.

Owned and operated by a wildlife biologist, ornithologist, and nature guide, Big Sky Safaris offers an array of trips, including hiking trails, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding.

The outfitter offers its horseback riding services both as a day trip and as multi-day pack trips for those who prefer to delve deeper into the region’s surrounding wilderness.

For the ultimate sense of adventure, Big Sky Safari offers multi-day pack trips into the Bob Marshall Wilderness, one of Montana’s most remote protected areas.

Accompanying each group is an informative guide with expertise and knowledge of all the region’s native flora and fauna.

3. Dunrovin Ranch

dunrovin ranch

Dunrovin Ranch is an idyllic abode on the shores of the Bitterroot River in Lolo, just south of Missoula. While guests are invited to stay the night on the ranch, on-site accommodation is not required to take advantage of the ranch’s fantastic horseback riding services and activities.

Welcoming riders of all levels, Dunrovin Ranch provides several horseback opportunities for guests. For visitors that require brushing up on their skills, the facility offers corral sessions with various horseback game options and lessons.

Once the basics are mastered, guests can sign up for one of the guided trails rides the ranch offers. The first trail visitors can ride along follows the scenic Bitterroot River, which cuts through the property.

Other trail riding options include a path through Lolo National Forest and a historical ride along the Lewis and Clark Trail.

4. Hidalgo Trail Rides

hidalgo trail rides
Image: Hidalgo Trail Rides

Located 36 miles from Missoula at the Historic Lolo Hot Springs in Bitterroot Valley near the Montana-Idaho border, Hidalgo Trail Rides specializes in guided horseback trail rides along the monumental Lewis & Clark Trail.

The outfitter’s well-trained horses are beginner friendly, making the Hidalgo Trail Rides a fantastic experience for families exploring the countryside. In addition, Hidalgo Trail Rides offers various services, including lessons for children and 1-to-4-hour trail rides.

An informative guide leads all tours with knowledgeable insight into the historic trail and the Indian burial ground it passes through.

Hidalgo Trail Rides welcomes impromptu visitors throughout the summer but does require a minimum of two riders per trip. The outfitter also offers winter trips, but these trail rides must be scheduled in advance.

5. JM Bar Outfitters

jm bar outfitters
Image: JM Bar Outfitters

Nestled along Rock Creek in the Lolo National Forest’s John Long Mountain Range, JM Bar Outfitters offers some of the most spectacular trail rides in Missoula County for visitors that want to explore the state’s abundant wildlife and foliage.

JM Bar Outfitters offers three unique horseback riding packages. The base package is the Ranch Trail Ride, perfect for new and inexperienced riders to practice Montana’s traditional form of transportation safely. These trails follow Rock Creek along the property’s pristinely maintained routes.

Alternatively, riders can venture deeper into the John Long Mountains on one of the outfitters half day or full-day trail rides. These treks reward visitors with some of the most idyllic views of the surrounding mountain range and the Rock Creek Valley below.

Along each of JM Bar Outfitters’ fantastic riding trails, visitors can spot native species, including elk, whitetail deer, moose, bear, mountain lion, and even a large bighorn sheep population.

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About The Author

Kurt Norris

A Canada-based freelance writer, Kurt acquired his bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Windsor. Upon graduating, Kurt left the courtside media desk behind and began venturing the globe. Throughout his journeys, Kurt enjoys partaking in slow travel and loves to explore the histories and cultures of each destination, which he shares with others through his writing.

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