Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Take a ride back in time.....

Today most people get around by planes, trains and automobiles - as well as bicycles, skates, skateboards, scooters and other wheeled accessories. For hundreds of years, horses were the fastest mode of local travel. It's rare that people get to ride horses anymore, with the exception of those who have horse properties and their own animals.
Today, if one wants to ride - one often has to rent them. And then, one's choices are sway-backed, non-spirited horses that follow one another nose-to-tail on a trail that they've been on dozens of times.
That's not the case on Antelope Island, where horseback riders have a completely different experience. At R&G, the outfitter will ask you where you want to go - and you take-off in search of mountain sheep, the herd of giant undisturbed mule deer, pronghorn and the ever-present bison - which you can get as close as a hundred yards. All of this without trails, riding side by side with your riding companions. In most cases, the group is exclusively yours. You're not teamed up with people that you don't know. It's a great way to get out and experience a different place and time.

If you look closely, you'll notice that all of the development (camping areas, marina, Visitors Center, Island Buffalo Grill, Buffalo Point overlook, swimming beach with fresh water showers, ranger's home and the bison pens) are on the northern end of the island. With the exception of the road to Fielding Garr Ranch that goes down 2/3rds of the eastern side - the rest of the island is just as nature made it. And all that is by design. As a state park, the goal was to keep it as "primitive" as possible, to allow the "user" to experience the beauty, solitude and menagerie of animals - as it might have looked for thousands, and even millions of years. In fact, at the Visitors Center, you'll learn that the island has exposed rocks that are some of the oldest on earth.
R&G Horse and Wagon is the outfitter at the Ranch. (By the way, the ranch is the oldest Anglo structure on its orginal foundation in the state). Costs to ride are $50 per hour, or $75 for 1.5 hours, and $100 for two hours (etc). Children as young as 6 years old may ride their own horse. All of the horses are docile, well-trained and many are movie stars. When Hollywood makes a western, often the producers will call R&G to provide the horses - so ask to see which movies your horse has been in!
If you'd like more information, or to make a reservation please call the DACVB at 801-774-8200

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