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Banff is one of the most popular summer vacation spots in Alberta and there’s no doubt why! It is full of incredible scenery, whether you’re taking a hike or wandering through the cute downtown. With so many outdoor activities available, you’ll never be bored!
One of the most unique ways to explore Banff is by going horseback riding! Obviously, few people have their own horses to do this with (including us), so booking a tour is a great way to horseback ride in Banff. We especially like these tours as a fantastic way to see the scenery, without having to do the work of a big hike.
Horseback riding is a great family-friendly activity, and it’s super fun! We have been horseback riding throughout Alberta, and I can honestly say it’s just a little bit more magical exploring the backcountry areas on a horse! These beautiful creatures offer a truly unique way to get outside and enjoy the outdoors.
There are a few different horseback riding tours available from 1-hour introductory rides to an overnight multi-day trip. To make picking the right experience easier, we’ve compiled a list of the 4 BEST horseback riding tours in Banff for you to choose from.
So saddle up and let’s get to it!
- Our TOP Horseback Riding Tour in Banff
- What are the horseback riding tours in Banff?
- What to expect on these horseback riding tours in Banff
- What does it cost to go horseback riding in Banff?
- Which horseback riding tour in Banff is best for families?
- Which horseback riding tour in Banff is best in winter?
- Which horseback riding tour in Banff is best for thrill-seekers?
- Which horseback riding tour is best for couples?
- Do you need to book a horseback riding tour in Banff in advance?
- What should you wear for horseback riding in Banff?
- Is horseback riding in Banff worth it?
- Other Things to do While You're in Banff
- Where to Stay in Banff
- Thanks for reading!
- Why We Book Tours with Viator
- Renting a Car in Alberta
Our TOP Horseback Riding Tour in Banff
This 3-hour covered wagon ride with western cookout is, in my eyes, the perfect combination of an authentic cowboy experience that’s ideal for families as well as solo travelers! Plus, the food is sooo good, so it’s a no-brainer that this sits at the top of the list for me. You can purchase tickets online here starting from $135 CAD per person.
What are the horseback riding tours in Banff?
When you’re choosing your horseback riding tour through Banff, there are a few things to consider. We have found tours suitable for people (and kids!) who have never been on a horse before along with some pretty epic adventures.
Regardless of which tour you end up on, it’s sure to be a memorable experience. Here is an overview of the best horseback riding tours in Banff!
Spray River Ride
This 1-hour Spray River Ride is a great introduction to horseback riding. You will explore the beautiful Canadian wilderness by seeing Bow Falls, surrounding mountains, and even cross the Spray River on your horse! This small group tour with up to 12 riders allows children ages 8 and up to join. If you’ve never been on a horse, this is an excellent way to get a taste of it throughout your hour of exploring. This tour can be booked online for $101 CAD.
2-Day Sundance Overnight Backcountry Trip by Horseback
For an immersive horseback riding experience, the 2-Day Overnight Backcountry Trip is the perfect tour to explore the rugged backcountry of Banff. You’ll take a 16-km (10-mile) trail ride along glacier-fed creeks up to the Sundance Lodge and stay the night. This lodge isn’t just roughing it in the woods, it’s actually very cozy! The trail guides will ensure your safety, cook for you, and make this a memorable two days! You can book this tour for $860 CAD.
Covered Wagon or Horseback Ride in Banff with Western Cookout
This Covered Wagon or Horseback Ride with Western Cookout is a true cowboy experience! You’ll spend 3 hours riding along the Bow River, seeing wildlife, and taking in the beautiful scenery. Midway through the ride, you’ll stop at 3 Mile Cabin for a true western cookout and cowboy games such as lassoing and horseshoes! This is a super authentic tour that you can’t really get anywhere else – kids especially love it! This tour is available online for $135 CAD for adults and $101 CAD for children ages 4-12 and free for kids under 3 who can catch a ride in the covered wagon.
Bow River Ride
This 1-hour Bow River Ride gives you the option of exploring the Spray River or the Bow River. Both are incredibly scenic, but if you select the Bow River ride you’ll get to see natural sulfur hot springs! You’ll also see views of Mt. Norquay and the Cascade Mountains in the distance. This laid-back afternoon gives you a chance to be out in nature and have a great day of exploring! You can book this tour for $92 CAD.
What to expect on these horseback riding tours in Banff
Spray River Ride
The Spray River Ride might be the best tour for beginners. Horseback riding can seem a little daunting if you’ve never done it before! What we love about this tour is that it’s only an hour long, so you have enough time to get comfortable without having to commit your full day to the experience. It’s a great introductory ride!
You’ll meet at the Banff Springs Corral, right behind the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. This is conveniently located right outside of downtown Banff, making it highly accessible no matter where you’re staying in Banff. The trail guides will spend some time getting you acquainted with your horse, giving instructions, and fitting you with a helmet before you take off.
You’ll then have an hour to explore the beautiful area around the Spray River. You’ll get to experience more of Banff National Park than if you just took an hour-long hike, and you get to be on a horse! This tour allows up to 12 people, so you’ll have a nice small group and be able to learn about the horses and area you’re exploring.
The tour travels at a relaxed pace, so this is a great activity for families and kids. Kids 8 and up are welcome on the tour and even get their own horse!
This tour is offered from mid-May to early October. Included in your tour are the guide, the horse, riding instructions, and a helmet. This is a great afternoon activity to add to your summer Banff itinerary, so be sure to book it online for $101 CAD before spots fill up!
2-Day Sundance Overnight Backcountry Lodge Trip by Horseback
The Sundance Overnight Backcountry Lodge tour is one of my favorites because it’s such a unique experience. You’ll spend two full days with your horse and get an overnight experience out in the Banff wilderness! If you’re looking for an adventure, this might be one of the best tours in Banff for you.
Your tour meets at 9:30 am at Warner Stables (look for the Warner Stables sign on the barn), located just 5 minutes from downtown. Before you depart, we really appreciate that the guides take the time to get to know your riding abilities and match you with a horse.
The first day consists of a 16-km (10-mile) trail ride through the gorgeous Banff National Park wilderness. You’ll travel by glacier-fed creeks, through forests, and hopefully see lots of the wildlife around Banff! The guides do a great job of making you feel safe as you cross rivers and navigate the rocky trails. Midway through the day, you’ll stop for a cowboy-style hot lunch on the banks of the river.
Eventually, you’ll make your way to the Sundance Lodge. This cozy cabin will feel much more luxurious than roughing it out in the woods! The team will cook a hearty dinner for you and you can relax with the group and enjoy some wine. There are private rooms with comfy beds so you can rest up for the next day of adventuring!
After a slow morning enjoying the lodge, you’ll hit the trail in the late morning. It will be another day of scenic views and fun riding! You will arrive back at the stables around 4:30 pm.
This tour accommodates up to 12 travelers and children 9 years and older can join. You’ll be able to park your vehicle for free at the stables during the trip. Be sure to check the weather beforehand so you’re well prepared!
This tour operates only on Saturdays from mid-May to early October. This $860 CAD tour includes your guide, one night of accommodation, four meals, the horse, and helmets! These limited spots fill up fast, so if you want to get in on this incredible experience, be sure to book your trip soon!
Covered Wagon or Horseback Ride in Banff with Western Cookout
If you’ve always dreamed of being a cowboy or cowgirl, here is your chance for an authentic Western experience! You can choose between taking a horseback ride or riding in a covered wagon on this three-hour experience.
You’ll meet at Warner Stables at 11:30 am to depart for your tour. You’ll either get matched with a horse or climb into a covered wagon to begin your adventure.
This horseback riding excursion follows the Bow River, which is a beautiful area of Banff National Park. About halfway through your ride, the group will stop at 3 Mile Cabin for an afternoon of cowboy lunch and games!
This hearty lunch includes steak, potatoes, baked beans, and Caesar salad. Vegetarian options can be requested ahead of time. You can work off this big lunch by playing cowboy games like lassoing and horseshoes. We love this tour because this is a unique and authentic cowboy experience! The tour will conclude with another beautiful ride back to the stables.
This tour can accommodate up to 56 travelers, which is a pretty large tour! This tour is great for families or people of all ages because you have the option of riding in a covered wagon, not just riding on horseback. To ride on horseback, children must be at least 8 years old.
Included in this tour are 2 hours of riding, knowledgeable guides, and lunch! It can be booked online for $135 for adults, $101 CAD for children ages 4-12, and is free for those 3 and under. This tour runs from May through September and will make for a memorable family fun experience during your next Banff trip!
Bow River Ride
This is another great tour for beginner riders! This one-hour horseback riding tour gets you outside to see the beautiful Banff landscape. On this tour, you have the option of choosing to ride along the Spray River or the Bow River. Both are gorgeous areas, so it’s really a win either way!
You’ll meet at Warner Stables, just a five-minute drive from downtown Banff. There are multiple trail rides that go out daily, so you can plan your tour for a time that fits your schedule best! The guides will give you a helmet and riding instructions, then you can meet your horse and get on the trail.
Choosing to ride along the Bow River makes this tour unique from the other one-hour tour option. The Bow River area leads you to the natural sulfur hot springs and loops around a deep marsh. From this trail, you’ll catch glimpses of Mt. Norquay and the Cascade Mountains. There is so much wildlife in this area, so you’ll likely spot some as well!
These tours run from mid-April to mid-October. You’re able to book this tour if you’re traveling to Banff in the spring, whereas most of the other tours only operate in the summer. This relaxed tour is great for first-time riders and children ages 8 and older are welcome to ride! This tour can be booked online with Viator for only $92 CAD.
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
What does it cost to go horseback riding in Banff?
Overall the horseback riding tours around Banff are reasonably priced for the experience you get. Obviously, the one-hour rides will be cheaper (around $100 CAD) than the overnight trip. I’ll break down all the specific costs below so you can find one that fits your budget!
Spray River Ride
The Spray River Ride is a one-hour tour that includes trail guides, detailed safety instructions, a helmet, and your horse! This tour is $100 CAD for both adults and children.
Sundance Overnight Backcountry Lodge Trip
The Sundance Overnight Backcountry Lodge Trip is a 2-day, 1-night excursion. You’ll have everything provided, so it is your chance to kick back and enjoy your ride through nature. The guides will provide four meals and the lodge is included in this price. This whole adventure is $860 CAD per rider.
Covered Wagon with a Western Cookout
This three-hour experience gives you the option to travel by covered wagon or horseback. This tour focuses on both horseback riding and an authentic cowboy cookout with games! Included are your transportation (horse or wagon), the trail guides, and a steak cookout. This tour is open to all ages and is $135 CAD for adults, $101 CAD for children ages 4-12 and free for infants and toddlers 3 and under.
Bow River Ride
This one-hour outdoor adventure takes you along the beautiful Bow River. Included in this tour are your guides, the horse, safety instructions, and a helmet. This tour is $92 CAD for both adults and children.
Related Read: Another of our favorite spots for a trail ride is going horseback riding in Pemberton, BC!
Which horseback riding tour in Banff is best for families?
Taking a horseback riding tour is a great family activity. While many are suitable for children, we think the Covered Wagon tour with a Western Cookout is the absolute best for the family!
Most horseback riding tours are limited to children 8 and older. This tour offers the option to travel by covered wagon, which can accommodate people of all ages – even babies! This really opens it up to young children or grandparents, so the whole family can enjoy this activity.
Not only does this tour include the covered wagon or horseback ride, but it also includes a delicious steak lunch and cowboy games, so it makes for a super interactive afternoon. I think this tour is ideal for kids so they can get off their horses and run around for a while!
This tour provides awesome trail guides who can ensure a fun and safe afternoon. It is a great way to get the whole family outside and experience the beautiful Banff scenery!
Which horseback riding tour in Banff is best in winter?
While horseback riding is a great way to explore Banff during the summer, all of those tours are closed during the winter. However, there are still some great tours geared specifically for winter! I personally prefer visiting Banff in the winter as there are fewer tourists and the area turns into a winter wonderland!
This Winter Lake Louise tour is a full-day experience that really immerses you in all the best wintery sights. If you’ve never seen Banff or Lake Louise during winter, I recommend booking a tour so you can take it all in!
This tour begins with two options. The first option is to head to Lake Louise Ski Resort, which offers stunning views of the Rockies. You can ride the Lake Louise Gondola or snow tube down the hill for an additional fee, or simply enjoy walking around the resort! If the ski resort isn’t open, you’ll hike through Marble Canyon, which is an iconic hike in the Lake Louise area. You can spend some time admiring the snowy wilderness that leads to a frozen waterfall, another beautiful sight!
The tour then continues to Lake Louise. If you are visiting from January to April, you might see the famous ice sculptures at the Ice Magic Festival. Otherwise, you will be able to snowshoe around the area, and take in the views of the Fairmont Chateau Hotel, as well as the breathtaking snow-covered Rocky Mountains and the frozen Lake Louise!
This tour gives you time to reserve a sleigh ride around the lake or book afternoon high tea at the Fairmont Chateau for an additional fee.
We love this tour because it gives you lots of options to explore the Lake Louise area however you want. It’s especially magical if you’re visiting during Christmastime in Banff!
This tour also includes transportation from either Banff or Calgary, which can be helpful if you’re not used to driving in Canadian snow. This tour is scheduled to be 7-8 hours and can be booked online here for $135 CAD.
Related Read: For more hassle-free tours that includes transportation, these are our picks for the best bus tours in Banff!
Which horseback riding tour in Banff is best for thrill-seekers?
If you’re looking for an adventure in Banff, I highly recommend booking the Sundance Overnight Backcountry Lodge Trip. This is a once-in-a-lifetime excursion (unless you love it so much you book it again)!
There is something quite thrilling about packing all of your supplies for a couple of days on your horse and disconnecting from the world by getting into the wilderness. You’ll spend two days and one night in the glorious backcountry of Banff National Park, which guarantees some incredible views no matter where you’re exploring.
I think this would be especially fun for those who have never done an overnight horseback riding trip. What a unique experience in an incredibly beautiful area!
Which horseback riding tour is best for couples?
Booking a horseback riding tour is a fun activity to do as a couple. It’s not every day you can ride through the majestic Banff wilderness, so it makes for a unique date!
The best tour for couples is the 1-hour Bow River Ride. The Bow River area is simply beautiful, and this ride takes you by natural sulfur hot springs and a marsh where there’s lots of wildlife.
This tour is conveniently located just outside of downtown Banff, so it is an easy afternoon activity to add to your itinerary. This ride is also the most affordable of all the tours at $92 CAD, so it won’t break your budget while still giving you a memorable outing!
Do you need to book a horseback riding tour in Banff in advance?
It is usually a good idea to book your horseback riding tour in advance. These tours are only offered during the summer, so availability can be limited.
Some tours offer multiple time slots every day, such as the Spray River Ride or the Bow River Ride, so it is easier to book with little notice. However, for bigger excursions such as the Sundance Overnight Backcountry Lodge Trip or the Covered Wagon Western Cookout, it is best to book in advance.
What should you wear for horseback riding in Banff?
You should plan on wearing clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Your horse will be tromping through mud and streams, and they aren’t always the cleanest! Most tours require you to wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes and long pants. Sandals are not permitted on any tours.
I recommend checking the weather before your tour, as it can be cold and rainy even during the summer! To have the best horseback riding experience, it’s always helpful to be well-prepared.
Related Read: If you do run into some not great weather, make sure to check out our list of the top rainy day activities in Banff. There’s still lots to do even if the sun doesn’t cooperate!
Is horseback riding in Banff worth it?
Absolutely yes! Horseback riding in Banff is an awesome experience that you certainly won’t get every day.
Riding a horse through the incredible Banff wilderness gets you to places faster than hiking, which allows you to experience more of the great outdoors. It’s also just a fun experience!
These tours make it easy whether you’ve never been on a horse before or are a veteran rider. They provide all the instruction and gear you’d need and make it an easy way for you to get outside and experience Banff in a new way. Be sure to add a horseback riding excursion to your next Banff vacation!
Other Things to do While You’re in Banff
Going horseback riding in Banff is just one of the many awesome things you can do in Alberta! If you’re staying in Banff, there’s lots to explore. To give you an idea, here are some of the other things you can do while you’re in Banff:
- Hike Johnston Canyon – There are tons of amazing hikes in and around Banff, but I especially loved hiking Johnston Canyon and seeing its spectacular waterfalls. You can drive to the trailhead on your own or book a tour. This e-bike and hiking tour is excellent for those who want to combine both activities. Or if you just want transport, take the hop-on-hop-off bus that stops here. If you visit Johnston Canyon in winter, this Icewalk tour will show you ice formations and frozen falls!
- Visit Lake Louise and Moraine Lake – If you want to see stunning lakes in the area, check out these two! Parking at Lake Louise can be tricky (and impossible at Moraine Lake!), so we’d recommend this Banff National Park Tour. You’ll get to visit Lake Louise as well as Moraine Lake in one go – with enough time to walk around, learn the local history, and snap postcard-worthy photos.
- Ride on a gondola – If you want the best vantage points around, take in one of the four gondolas around Banff! You’ll climb up high above the ground with tickets for the Banff Gondola, the Banff Sunshine Gondola, Lake Louise Gondola, or the Mt Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift.
- Look for wildlife – Banff is home to some pretty incredible wildlife. You might just spot elk, bears, deer, foxes, coyotes, bighorn sheep, and more! The best chance you have of seeing the most critters is on a wildlife tour in Banff. We really liked this small group tour where the guides tailor the itinerary to recent wildlife spottings and you get to see highlights of the national park along the way.
- Explore Banff town – While many nature-based activities are nearby, you shouldn’t neglect Banff town itself! Start your morning by visiting one of the cute local cafes, or grab patio drinks along Banff Avenue in the afternoon. To avoid traffic, check out the pedestrian-only Bear Street, with even more restaurants, cafes, and shops. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a Farmers Market every Wednesday in the summertime.
Where to Stay in Banff
Along with booking a horseback riding tour in Banff, finding a place to stay is one of the most important parts of your trip. The selection can be overwhelming and expensive!
There are lots of different areas to consider when it comes to deciding where to stay in Banff National Park. There are also plenty of great hotels in Banff town to consider. Below are some amazing hotels we recommend:
Samesun Banff Hostel – Budget-backpacker Hostel
A great budget hostel with dorm rooms. The Samesun Banff Hostel is perfect for those on a tight budget who want to stay in the heart of Banff town. This is only a backpacker place though, as there are no private rooms available. Dorms can be booked on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.com.
Banff Inn – Budget-friendly Hotel
The Banff Inn is the perfect mix of comfort and affordability. It has a budget-friendly price tag but also comes with lots of luxuries. The hotel is located right on Banff Ave and all rooms are air-conditioned. In the hotel, you’ll find a hot tub, steam room, and sauna, as well as a restaurant and bar. You should book the Banff Inn well in advance as this is one of the most popular hotels in Banff.
Banff Rocky Mountain Resort – Mid-range Hotel
Pushing up into the mid-range budget, the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort has a swimming pool, hot tub, gym, and all the rooms have kitchenettes or full kitchens. It is the perfect place for families since two and three-bedroom units are also on offer. The location is peaceful on Tunnel Mountain but yet only a 5-minute drive from Banff town. You can check availability and book Banff Rocky Mountain Resort online here.
Fairmont Banff Springs – Luxury Hotel
The Fairmont Banff Springs is easily the most luxurious hotel in Banff. It’s not cheap but the place is simply incredible – it seriously looks like a castle! Inside the hotel, you’ll find 11 restaurants, 14 shops, bowling, bars, a top-rated spa, a couple of pools, and so much more. It’s a luxury resort-like stay and the only one of its kind in Banff. If you’re visiting Banff on a honeymoon then this should be the hotel you choose! You can check prices and room availability for Fairmont online here.
Important info: Because of how popular Banff is, I suggest booking a place ASAP! Using Booking.com is great too because lots of hotels offer free cancellation so just lock in a place (or two) for now and make the final decision later!
Parks Canada Pass Quick Info
If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.
Single Daily Admission:
This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.
- Adult (ages 18-64) is $10.50 CAD
- Senior (65+) is $9.00 CAD
- Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE
Group Daily Admission:
If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)
- $21.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day
Parks Canada Discovery Pass
The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.
- Adult (age 18-64) – $72.25 CAD
- Senior (64+) – $61.75 CAD
- Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $145.25 CAD
Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!
Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.
Renting a Car in Alberta
If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.
Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!
Thanks for reading!
Whether you’ve never gotten on a horse before or are a seasoned pro, a horseback riding tour is a great addition to your Banff itinerary. Not only do you get to enjoy the scenery, but it also feels like a mini adventure – with a new buddy!
I hope our blog about the best horseback riding tours in Banff helped you find the experience that’s the right fit for you. If you need more ideas for your next trip to the Rockies, make sure to visit our other Banff blogs or check out these recommendations below!