Horseback riding takes visitors to Kaibab

TUSAYAN, Ariz.— Standing tall in the sunlight, his alluring dark eyes shone brilliantly. His smooth brown and white hair complimented his confident nature and his overall rugged exterior. Given the name Cisco, this valiant steed is one of the many that gallops its riders through the Kaibab National Forest in Northern Arizona.

As the dust picks up under the horses’ feet, thus begins the exhilarating trail ride through one of nature’s wondrous creations. Bold, green pine trees tower over the riders like city skyscrapers over its inhabitants. These magnificent never-ending rows of trees are housed under the clear, blue sky, and grounded in desert-like terrain.

Tourists begin their visit at the wood-colored ranch-like cabin, behind the stables. Here, visitors’ check in, weigh in, and buy their bottled water for the riding adventure.

Silver, metal fences surround the grounds, marking the boundaries of the various stable areas. Awaiting their riders, the horses congregate near the shared, Jacuzzi-sized bucket filled with water, in an attempt to get one last gulp.

Horses wait for their riders at the Apache Stables near Tusayan (Photo by Blanca Plazas).

Visitors breathe in the fresh air, lightly scented with horse manure. They gather around the stables, admiring the horses, picking their favorite ones.

Enjoying the cool, crisp air of the outdoors just south of the Grand Canyon National Park for the first time was a family of five of Iranian decent from California. For the parents and grandfather— Nahid Talei, Behnam Zave, and Hedayat Talei— this was another opportunity to practice their horseback riding abilities.

“In Iran, we used to ride all the time,” stated Behnam Zave, as he reminisced about the past.

“Let me have the big horse,” he boasted proudly as the horses were brought out into the open stable area.

But for Negin Zave, 18, and her brother Bobby Zave, 14, the ride would be their first.

“I’m just worried about sitting on the horse,” Negin stated.

The thought occupying Bobby’s mind surrounded the rough smells near the ranch.

“I’m excited, but it smells really bad,” he said, wrinkling his nose.

Bobby and Negin successfully mounted their horses. And off they were into the forest with an elated joy glowing in their eyes, like kids in a candy store.

The trail winds through the Kaibab National Forest just south of the Grand Canyon park entrance (Photo by Blanca Plazas).

The horses slowly walked through the forest leading riders on an incredible journey through the infinite rows of pine trees and desert.

Throughout the scenic ride, Bobby and Negin never stopped smiling. At times struggling with her stubborn horse Tom’s desire to graze, Negin maintained her happy disposition.

In the background, she could be heard stating to herself, “I’m so excited. How fun.”

Leading the pack was Bill, one of the many wranglers at the stables. Fitting the role well, Bill was dressed elegantly with blue jeans, a suede tan and cream cowboy jacket, boots with spurs, and topped with a white cowboy hat.

Throughout the bumpy ride, Bill weaved through the group making conversation with each rider and calming those who were riding for the first time.

The Apache Stables offers tourists the chance to make a visit to the park even more memorable. They are located next to the Moqui Lodge, on State Route 64, right outside the south entrance into the national park. All visitors are greeted with a “Whoa” sign at the front wooden gate and with extremely friendly service.

Nancy Carpenter, the customer service representative who handles reservations and an experienced rider of 15 years, has been working there for eight years. Despite the small-town atmosphere, after every winter, she keeps coming back. Carpenter is still impassioned about her work and hobby.

“I ride everyday,” she stated. “I love the horses.”

However, Carpenter warns tourists that peak times are during spring break season and the summer months, so she recommends that visitors make reservations early.

Apache Stables provides visitors with a variety of affordable riding experiences open to the general public. Men in cowboy hats and spurs, like Bill, are prepared to take tourists on a one- to two-hour scenic ride through the forest.

For the more adventurous and experienced riders, a four-hour ride to the Canyon’s East trail of the South Rim is also available. However, for those who wish to spare themselves the pains and rigors a horse can cause, wagon rides are a comfortable alternative.

With so many different activities available at the Grand Canyon National Park, it may be easy to miss the opportunity to visit the Apache Stables. However, the time spent is truly worthwhile and will definitely enhance any vacation. Galloping through the Kaibab National Forest is a breath-taking and enjoyable experience that everyone should have.

For Negin Zave, her ride was unforgettable.

“It was such a wonderful ride. The scenery is so pretty and there are just no words to express my excitement.”

Apache Stables stands true to its promise of offering great trail rides and even better memories.

Writer Blanca Plazas enjoys her trail ride on Cisco.


If You Go

Contact Information: call 928-638-2891 or 928-638-3105; or go to the Web site:

Prices: One-hour ride: $30.50, two-hour ride: $55.50, four-hour ride: $95.50; trail-ride (one-hour through forest, then wagon ride back: $40.50, wagon ride: $12.50.

Payment Options: Major credit card accepted, cash, or checks.

Days / Times: May vary due to weather; call for specific details.

Location: Highway 64, behind the Moqui Lodge, just outside of the South entrance station to the Grand Canyon National Park; Two miles from the Grand Canyon airport; One mile north of Tusayan, Ariz.

What to wear/bring: Long pants and closed-toed shoes; can bring cameras and fanny packs, but no video cameras or backpacks.

Comments are Closed