Hop in the saddle and explore the deep, wild forests of Banff.
Our experienced guides make this tent trip easy and comfortable, so you can relax and focus on the jaw-dropping scenery around you.
When night falls you’ll be warm and cosy as you curl up in your A-frame canvas tent, set on a raised wooden platform. Listen to the gentle hush of the forest as you fall asleep. In the morning you’ll have a wash stand with hot water for freshening up and a hearty, homemade meal prepared for you in the kitchen tent – the perfect fuel to give you energy for a day on the trail.
Plus, as you ride down the spectacular trails your guide will weave entertaining tales of the history of Canada’s rugged backcountry and what it was like to live and work in the great Canadian west. You’ll also learn about the diverse wild creatures that call this unspoiled mountain paradise home.
Backcountry ride to Stoney Creek Campsite
The adventure begins at Warner Stables at 8:30am. (There’s free parking at the stables and it’s fine to leave your vehicle for the duration of the tour.) We’ll hand out the slickers and saddle bags and you will leave all of your gear with our guides. Your sleeping bag and pillow should be packed in a soft sided bag (the traditional “duffel” style of cowboy packing.)
A separate team of horses will safely deliver your belongings to the camp for you so that you can ride unencumbered. When you arrive, your “duffel” will be waiting for you so that you can grab it and settle into your tent. Be sure to check the “What to Bring” section of our website when packing your bag.
Once you’ve met your friendly guide and the trusty horse we’ve specially chosen for you, then you’ll mount up for the 13 mile ride through the stunning scenery of Elk Lake Summit. We will take you by van to the very fringe of the front country, the trailhead corral at Mount Norquay. This is the launching point to heading completely off the beaten track into Banff’s wildest places that most tourists will not get to see. The climb to Elk Lake Summit is jaw-dropping, you’ll be wide-eyed with awe at the larger-than-life mountains with their jagged edges piercing the sky.
One of the aspects of these tours that guests often rave about is the connection they forge with their hooved companions. At the end of the trip, you’ll have a new four legged best friend. You’ll learn to “trust your horse” (a Banff Trail Riders catchphrase) as these sure-footed beasts carry you safely down even the most difficult backcountry trails.
You’ll pass through the cool, craggy peaks of Brewster Mountain and Cascade Mountain, then head down into Stoney Creek Camp (stopping for lunch at Elk Pass Summit along the way). This historic camp was named by the First Nations people and is deeply historically and culturally significant. It’s only day one and you’re already more deeply immersed in the backcountry than most Banff visitors will ever get.
Life at camp is simple, yet comfortable. It is a rustic, yet well-equipped camp that is shadowed by the jagged peaks of the Palliser Mountain Range and you’ll always be able to hear the gentle murmuring of the nearby creek.
We will cook up a feast of hearty, homemade cowboy cuisine and gather around in the main kitchen tent, which acts as the communal hub of the camp. In the evening, we will gather around a crackling fire to watch the stars and share stories. Then, it’s time to curl up in your sleeping bag in your canvas tent with cot, heater and thermarest and get some sleep – the adventure has only just begun.
Follow the Dormer Pass Trail
Today we will make our way along the winding Dormer Pass Trail, which is one of the most visually stunning trails we tackle on our horseback riding adventures.
There’s no feeling quite like being deep in the Canadian wilderness like this. No matter which direction you headed in, you could wander for miles in pristine, unspoiled wilderness without seeing another building, person or trace of human civilisation. It gives you a sense of the immense scale and power of nature in the Rocky Mountains.
You will be traveling along the trails that were once used by the wardens to patrol the boundaries of Banff National Park, the true outskirts of the Canadian wilderness. On this day of adventure, you’ll climb higher into the mountains, traversing technical trails along mountain ridges with spectacular views all along. (You may encounter the odd hiker, but it’s likely that we will have these stunning mountain vistas all to ourselves – there no crowds of tourists with selfie sticks here.)
A cowboy trail lunch will be served along the waterways, so you can sit and enjoy while admiring the mountain views. After a full day of exploring, you’ll arrive back at Stoney Creek Camp to settle back into your comfortable, familiar heated tent for the night – after another tasty camp dinner.
Ride to Flint's Park Campsite
Mount up in the fresh morning air and ride the 10 miles to Flint’s Park Camp, with a stop for lunch on the banks of Cascade River. This stunning camp is one of the highlights of the trip, located in the fertile valley bottom with an open, grassy ridge providing sweeping views of the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains.
Flint’s Park Camp was one of the original outpost areas used by the wardens as a base for patrolling in the early days of the park. Due to the wide-open terrain, it’s likely you’ll spot some wild creatures wandering around. It is located within the Bison Free Range Zone, a totally unspoiled region where herds of Bison have been reintroduced for the first time in 140 years.
There’s no cellphone reception way out here, which is a blessing. It’s so rejuvenating to escape from the constant pinging of notifications and the pressure of your to-do list and just sit quietly in nature. At night, take a moment to look up and notice how many more glittering stars you can see out here far from the city lights. Then, curl up in your warm tent and enjoy the blissful quiet of the forest.
Explore the area near Flint's Park Campsite
There are many beautiful points of interest accessible from Flint’s Park – including Block Mountain and Cuthead Viewpoint. After all, this was a warden’s post so it has access to some of the most pristine backcountry in the park.
Whether you are a hiker or photographer this area has a lot to offer. You could ride along the valley bottom amidst the wildflowers, birds and butterflies or climb high above the treeline – no matter which direction you ride in you will be surrounded by some of the most incredible scenery in Canada.
This camp is the jumping off point for many different rides into the backcountry, each more spectacular than the last. Your guide will create a customized ride for your group, tailored to your interests and experience. This ensures that your adventure is a bespoke, VIP experience that is just right for you. At the end of the day you’ll return to the familiar camp to relax and chat around the campfire once more.
Free time to enjoy the backcountry
Today is a free day at Flint’s Park Camp – it’s up to you how you want to spend your time.
You could go on one of the many great hikes in the area – but if you’d rather relax, there’s no pressure. This lodge is a lovely place to find some quiet time, far away from the pinging of notifications and the pressure of your endless to-do list.
It’s a chance to take a breather, perhaps by getting lost in the pages of a good book or playing cards with your fellow travellers around the communal table in the kitchen tent.
You may even take some time to groom your horse, who has no doubt become your best friend by this point. In the evening you’ll feast on a hearty meal cooked by the camp chef.
Return to Warner Stables
Arise early and say goodbye to your pristine backcountry surroundings – it’s time to head back into Banff and rejoin civilisation. Most of our guests are reluctant to leave the isolated, tranquil beauty of this off-the-beaten-track spot.
On the last day of your Rocky Mountain backcountry adventure, you’ll take the scenic 17 mile ride from Flint’s Park Camp to the Minnewanka Pack Station (with a lunch stop along the way where Stony Creek meets the Cascade River). This is a truly exciting and epic ride and it’s also a chance to reflect on everything you have experienced in the last 6 days.
You’ll have plenty of wild Banff backcountry stories to tell and you will have earned the bragging rights to say that you spent 6 days deep in the Canadian Rockies. The shuttle will be waiting to take you back to Warner Stables for approximately 5:30pm to 6pm, where you’ll say goodbye to the new friends with whom you shared this unforgettable adventure into the wild.
Each campsite is surrounded by an electric fence that keeps curious critters out and there are meticulously cleaned outhouses. Crystal clear water is supplied by nearby glacial streams, which is then filtered for drinking.
- Rates are based on double occupancy and a single room supplement is available for an additional fee.
- Guests participating in backcountry riding will need to be 9 years or over and a maximum of 250lbs. Banff Trail Riders is committed to the health of our horses and the safety of our guests, which means that the minimum age and maximum weight requirements are strictly enforced. As part of the check-in process, guests may be required to confirm their current weight on a scale and provide proof of the child’s age. In the event that these requirements are not met, the booking will be forfeited without a refund.
- Please note that children will not be paired with an adult – they must ride their own horse.
- For our foreign visitors we require an understanding of basic English for our horseback rides, so that you can understand simple instructions from our guides.
- Children aged 15 years and under must have someone 18 years and older with them.
- For safety purposes helmets are mandatory to be worn by all backcountry riders under 18 years of age. Helmets are optional but recommended for backcountry riders aged 18 years and over.
- Riders must wear closed toed shoes – no open toe shoes or shoes with big heels.
- All adult riders must sign a waiver prior to the tour. A waiver must also be completed by the parent or guardian of any rider under the age of 18.