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From City Slicker To Cowboy On A Yukon Horseback Riding Adventure

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I have soared over mountains to walk on virgin snow 700 metres thick and rode the rapids of a glacier fed river. All of this in two adventure filled days in the Yukon. What can I possibly do to top that? How about horseback riding through the back country, up a mountain to a lookout with a view over the city of Whitehorse? Sounds epic to me and an adventure I am up for. I left my cowboy boots behind but somehow I think this city-slicker will do just fine. A man and his horse follow a very talented guide on a path only she seems to be able to see. Welcome to Sky High Wilderness Ranch and a Yukon horseback riding adventure fit for any outdoor enthusiast.

Horseback riding in the mountains around Whitehorse Yukon

This Yukon horseback riding adventure begins with a 30-minute drive from downtown Whitehorse. As we pull into the Ranch I know I’m nervous and excited. While I have been horseback riding before it is not something I am 100% at. The nervousness though just adds to my excitement. It is always exciting to do something that I am not an expert at and the chance to ride the trails through the back country is too big an adventure to pass up on.

We check in at the Office where we sign the usual paperwork and get outfitted with helmets. It may be sunny and hot outside but we are geared up in jeans, hiking boots, and the smart ones have long sleeve shirts on. During our 3-hour trail ride, we are bound to get thwacked by tree branches and attached by mosquitos so the pants and long shirt are a protection against that and nothing else.

Sky High Wilderness Ranch office and registration

The next stage is for us to mount our horses. I’m choosing a photo of Judy on her horse for the day as she looks a bit better than I do.

Judy getting fitted on her horse and ready for a Yukon horseback riding adventure

Our guide is young but she has been on a horse since she was a baby and I feel completely at ease with her leading us on the trails for the day. From the ranch, we will make our way through onto the trails leading up to a mountain look out with views of Fish Lake and the city of Whitehorse.

The adventure begins!

Experienced riders would feel comfortable with the reins in one hand and snapping pics with the other. Not I. I kept both hands firmly on the reins. Photos will have to wait until we stop.

Making our way through the back country trails near Whitehorse, Yukon

We reach the look out and it is truly spectacular. What a great day to be alive. The sky is so blue and we can see forever. Can you see Whitehorse below us?

Amazing view looking towards Whitehorse, Yukon

I stopped at the top of a mountain for a selfie and some photos

The return ride took us on a different route so we were able to see more of the beautiful scenery that is everywhere around us. As we descend from the lookout there is an outstanding view of Fish Lake. It just takes your breath away how beautiful it is here.

Making the return journey to camp with a view of Fish Lake

Thwack Thwack. The return route is pretty obvious to our guide but to me, it looks just like the forest around us. I am pretty happy with wearing jeans on this portion as we ride through some “rough to me” patches where I am sure my legs would have gotten pretty scratched up if I had worn just shorts. The branches don’t even justify a course change for the horses, they just plough ahead. They know where they are going and I am just along for the ride, literally.

We are back at Sky High Wilderness Ranch

Now that I am back on solid ground I want to go back out! What a thrill ride. To think that this is how the Yukon was crisscrossed by all those early gold hunters and settlers. For us some Yukon horseback riding is an adventure, during the Gold Rush this was how people got around and there were no “trails” to follow. Respect and quite honestly something I am very glad I did. The more I ride the more comfortable I become.

You really can’t do better than Sky High Wilderness Ranch and they are only 30 minutes from Whitehorse. When I come back in the Winter to witness the Northern Lights I may have to book myself a dogsledding adventure with them.

Horseback riding in the mountains around Whitehorse Yukon

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Disclosure: General

Thanks to Travel Yukon for their support in making this trip possible, along with Aeroplan for providing 25,000 miles that I used to redeem for flights from Toronto to Whitehorse. My views and opinions are 100% my own

About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.

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