Posts Tagged With: horseback riding

North To Alaska Part 2

Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge sign
The second leg of our Alaska cruise-tour didn’t start off all that well, but it ended up being great. We were told that the bus would pick us up to take us to the Mount McKinley Princess Lodge at 10am. Well, were waiting in the room and got a call at 9am asking where we were! We were told the wrong time. Luckily, we were ready to go and ran down to get the bus.

It was a three hour drive from Anchorage to Mount McKinley. Of all the sites and experiences I had in Alaska, seeing Mount McKinley is one of the best. We were very fortunate to have had a crystal clear sky, no fog, no clouds obstructing the view of the very top of the highest peak in North America.

Teddy at Mt McKinley          Mt. McKinley

Here are some facts about Mount McKinley:

Mount McKinley is also called “Denali,” which means “The High One” in the native Koyukon Athabaskan tongue. It is the centerpiece of Denali National Park and Preserve.

The summit is 20,320 feet above sea level.

The first recorded attempt to climb the mountain was by James Wickersham in 1903. He climbed the Peters Glacier and the North Face which is now known as Wickersham Wall.

The first ascent of the main summit was on June 7, 1913. And the first man to reach the summit was an Alaska native, Walter Harper.

In 1947, Barbara Washburn became the first woman to reach the summit. And her husband, Bradford, became the first to reach the summit twice.

The first solo ascent was by Naomi Uemura in 1970. Sadly, she died upon returning in 1984 to make the first winter solo ascent.

Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge


The Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge, though affiliated with Princess Cruise Lines, is not exclusive to the cruise line. You can stay there even if you’re not booked on one of their cruises. (But I’ve read that you get a better room with a better view if you are.) The rooms were nicely appointed and large, but the property is so big you have to take a shuttle from the main building to many of the outer buildings where the rooms are.

When we arrived we had a nice lunch at the Grizzly Bar which had a great view of the mountain. Then we walked around a nature trail on the property.

Teddy-McKinley window          McKinley Room

We had booked a horseback riding excursion at 5pm. We were picked up at the hotel and taken to the horseback riding place. Our guide was Laramie – what a character! We were the only two on the trail ride and he told us some colorful stories about his life as a rodeo performer. He was only 26 and already had an artificial hip. The trail ride lasted about an hour and we got even closer to Mt. McKinley. The view was like something from a John Wayne movie.

Horseback Riding          Horseback Riding

For dinner, we ate at the 20,320 Alaska Grill, named after the height of McKinley.

The next day we would be exploring Denali National Park.

Dates of Visit:  June 2011

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Horseback Riding in North Carolina


I hadn’t really been horseback riding for a while, maybe 15 years or more, but I had been wanting to try it again. What better place than in the rolling hills of North Carolina, outside of Asheville, at Sandy Bottom Trail Rides.

This family owned business is just north of Asheville, North Carolina, near Marshall. They offer 1 hour, 2 hour, 3 hour and 4 hour scenic trail rides, the longest ones stopping at their 200 year old Little Pine Garnet Gem Mine where you can explore the mine and keep any gems you may find.

We took the one hour ride, since we hadn’t been on horses in a long time. I wasn’t sure how much we could endure. Horseback riding can be very tiring and sometimes painful if you haven’t done it a lot.

Based on your horsemanship, or lack of it, they pair you with a horse that matches your abilities. Our horses were Lady and Ginger, both very calm. Our guide was named Hank and there were 5 people in our group.

Some online reviews of Sandy Bottom complained that on the longer rides you rode for the same amount of time as the shorter rides and spent more time at the Gem Mine, not really riding for 3 or 4 hours. So, if you’re looking for more “horse time” then maybe Sandy Bottom isn’t right for you.

One hour was plenty of time for me. I was happy with the peaceful ride through the countryside. The landscape was beautiful and we had wonderful weather that day, just perfect.

I also like the fact that Sandy Bottom is very flexible and accommodating for all skill levels and age ranges. You don’t have to feel intimidated or afraid of the animals.

If you prefer not to ride on horseback, but would still like to enjoy the panoramic views, you can take a horse-drawn buggy or wagon ride.

2012 per person pricing is as follows:

Horseback rides:
1 hour: $40
2 hour: $70
3 hour: $90
However, Sandy Bottom is running a special for this spring/summer with $5 off the above rates.

Buggy/wagon rides:
1 hour: $40
2 hour: $70
3 hour: $90

Dates of Visit:  May 2008

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