Located on the eastern slopes of Banff National Park, in full view of Saddle Peak, lies a quaint little ranch and outfitting operation: Saddle Peak Trail Rides. Just about 20 minutes northwest of Cochrane, Alberta (which is itself about 30 minutes northwest of downtown Calgary), close to the beautiful Ghost River.

Whether you live in the Calgary area, or are planning a visit to Alberta any time soon, there are several reasons you really want to visit Saddle Peak Trail Rides:

Horseback riding, of course!

After all, that is their reason for being! You don’t have to be an expert, they will introduce you to the basics and take you out on a nice ride. The scenery is out of this world, the trails are beautiful, and the horses gentle. And if you’re a more experienced rider, they can accommodate that as well.

There’s nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse.

How true! It’s what attracted me so much to horseback riding back in 2010: the utter and complete feeling of “getting away from it all”. The peace, the tranquility, the slow rhythm of the horse as he walks along, and the exhilaration of a good trot or canter.

A Photographer’s Heaven!

If you enjoy photography, then you will feel like a kid in a candy store at Saddle Peak ranch! Old cabins, wagon wheels, fences, tack, etc. – there is an incredible array of objects and scenery to photograph.

The Old Homestead

I recently spent an afternoon there with some local photographers and we had a blast, walking around the whole afternoon, snapping pictures, discussing techniques, ideas, getting to know one another; we shared a good meal and then waited for the golden hour to finish the day with some spectacular lighting.

You can see some of the pictures I took that day in this gallery.

Of course, there’s nothing preventing you from combining it all in the same day: horseback riding AND photography!

The Real Deal!

Whether you spend time at the ranch for horseback riding or photography (or both!), the most important reasons to visit are Jacquie & Dave Richards, the owners. They are the real deal, true Albertans who have a long family history of outfitting and working with horses. There’s no pretending, here; no one is “putting on a show” for tourists. Their hospitality is genuine.

For more information about Saddle Peak Trail Rides, or to book a ride, visit their web site at http://www.saddlepeak.ca/.

I’ll certainly be heading back there soon; after a week of working at the computer, visiting clients, making sales calls…nothing relaxes me like a good ride! Winston Churchill was spot on:

No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle.