Guided trail riding in Phoenix for visitor?

Headed to Phoenix in mid-April. Would love some recommendations for guided trail rides of two different sorts. (I’ve checked the archives, but similar threads are 10+ years old.)

  1. Nose-to-tail rides for the whole family (me, husband, and two teen boys). Safety and reliability are key: The males in the family are beginners who can either trot OR steer. And there are certainly days when I think I should put myself in that category too…

  2. Something longer and/or slightly more adventurous for just me (re-rider with very old experience, now back W/T/C/small fences/dressage/trails for about a year, but no recent time in Western tack). I’d love to really get a taste of desert riding!

I’d especially appreciate gorgeous scenery and recs accessible from either Scottsdale or Goodyear/Luke AFB on the western side, but all suggestions are most welcome. Many thanks in advance to Phoenician COTHers for your wisdom!

I have had very good rides with people who know nothing about horses with both Arizona Horseback Adventures at Spur Cross Ranch in Cave Creek and Cave Creek Trail Rides which is at Cave Creek Regional Park. Both places had very, very, VERY safe horses and had appropriate rides for absolute beginners.

Edited to add - stunning views at both locations!


This may be slightly too far, but we sent two couples to a retreat at the Hay Creek Ranch in Oracle, AZ this week. It looks to be about 2 hours from Phoenix. I don’t have any experience with them personally, since we have a guy running the show for us out there who picked it.

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Years ago, I used this place:

It was great, just me and the guide and we were on well-trained endurance horses so it wasn’t just a nose to tail walking ride. I think we were in the Tonto National Forest just outside of Scottsdale.

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Not in the Phoenix area, but one of my barn pals has a condo down there and she takes her non-horsey visitors on trail rides out of someplace near Scottsdale. I think it’s one of these two places. She showed me pics and the horses are good looking Paints and AQHA cruisers, and the area is very scenic. I’ll double-check the precise name of the place with her.

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This is one of my neighbors Trail Rides | Wild West Horse Adventures | Scottsdale

Beautiful scenery, nice horses, usually see smiles on everyone’s face when I cross paths out in the desert on one of mine :wink:

Another one of my neighbors who supplies horses to a couple of the regional parks and has groups riding out regularly from their home base (down the road from me). Cave Creek Outfitters

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I asked my barn friend where she takes visitors when they want to go on a scenic trail ride. It is a place based out of Cave Creek called Windwalker Ranch. But she also recommended Spur Cross Ranch.

I know you probably need to make reservations, and plan ahead, but if possible try to visit the ranches a couple of days in advance and get a feel for the atmosphere. Yet there is so much competition for business that I doubt any of these places could stay in business for long if they were really sketchy.

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Was also coming to recommend Windwalker! My mom and I had a fabulous experience with them (both intermediate riders at the time).

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