California's Sierra Nevada Gold Rush RideRide back in time to the days of the Wild West – when the land was a vast pictorial landscape of rushing rivers, rocky outcroppings and wide open high altitude meadows filled with wildflowers. This fun and surprisingly luxurious ride takes you deep into the Emigrant Wilderness, a glaciated landscape of great scenic beauty. The northeastern third of the Wilderness is dominated by volcanic ridges and peaks; the remaining areas consist of many sparsely vegetated, granitic ridges interspersed with numerous lakes and meadows. Elevations range from below 5,000 feet to 11,570 feet with most of the popular areas from 7,500 to 9,000 feet. Traces of snow on the ground and covering the peaks linger into June, sometimes later following very wet winters. Summers are generally dry and mild, but afternoon thundershowers may occur periodically so you’ll want to keep your raincoat handy on the ride.

Various native peoples occupied this area for 10,000 years, spending the summer and early autumn hunting in the high country and trading with groups from the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada. The most recent groups were the Sierra Miwok and the Piute. Following the discovery of gold in 1848, large numbers of miners and settlers came to the Sierra and the native cultures quickly declined. In September-October 1852, the Clark-Skidmore party became the first emigrant group to travel the West Walker Route over Emigrant Pass – and you will understand the hardship and significance of this as you and your sure footed equine partner negotiate some of the same terrain.

Since 1853, this has been a very difficult passage with many hardships for larger groups and as such, many emigrating groups abandoned the effort. During the course of your week ride you’ll have the chance to visit Relief Valley and Relief Reservoir, so named because of the assistance some emigrants received there from residents of the Sonora area. In 1931, the U.S. Forest Service designated this area as the Emigrant Basin Primitive Area and then in 1975, the Emigrant Basin Primitive Area was designated as the Emigrant Wilderness.

Trip Includes: 6 nights cabin and/or luxury tented accommodation, 5 days of guided trail riding, all meals, horse, tack, guide and tax. *Note that airport transfers and gratuities are not included but will be arranged at a preset time. They can each be paid directly to the driver or your guide in cash.

Dates: mid June – mid September
Rate: $2,495.00 USD per person in shared accommodation

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Just a belated thank you for the great trip. It was an adventure, but after only a week back in Newport Beach, I’m ready to return to the mountains, cold and dirt notwithstanding.

– Brigid McMahon

OH MY … it was CAMPING. Real CAMPING. No structures at all. Tents and tarps. Weather- 60/70 in the day but 40 or less at night. Stars were fabulous. A bit chilly at night but once I put on my heavier clothes I slept well.

I found a special place with a little waterfall . So lovely and peaceful. Saw a bald eagle.

There were 4 men who took care of us. They mostly run hunters (read as men) into the back country, so compared to that, this is a “luxury” camping trip because we weren’t eating cold beans out of a can, sitting in a deer blind for 5 days!

They were great cooks (baked fresh muffins, lox and bagels, steak, veal stew, polenta) and along with the large quantities of liquid refreshment (starting with either Champagne or Blood Mary’s and ending with decaf cappuccinos and Bailey’s) – it was a lot of fun.

I rode everyday. The rides were arduous. The only thing more amazing than the terrain was the fact you are riding a horse over it. Honestly, I would have been hard pressed to walk a mile or two on some of the trails we rode. I had tons of fun and stepped up into the saddle for everything going.

Blew thru my 2 cameras and the cameras of my two friends capturing the incredible scenery.

Remarkably, I am no worse for wear even after the 7 hours in and then at least 3 to 4 hours everyday and then another 7 hours coming back out.

So all in all it was a great experience! Thank you!

– Patti Stone