There is nothing around for miles except desert wilderness. You hear the call of hawks and other birds. Your view is the breathtaking San Bernardino mountains. The air is fresh. Civilization seems far away. Your horse sighs. You sigh.
Trail guide Sue Lund points to a distant peak. “Trail riders are stunned when I point out the top of the Palm Springs Tram,” she says. “Palm Springs is so close, yet it seems so far away when we’re out on horses in the desert wilderness.”
From pioneers who first looked upon the vast expanse to celebrities like Clark Gable and Henry Fonda, horseback riding is as old school as it gets when it comes to exploring the desert terrain.
VIDEO: Take a horseback ride with Coyote Ridge Stables near Morongo Valley.
Coyote Ridge Stables in nearby Morongo Valley has been in business for 20 years and it’s easy to see why. Owned and operated by Sue Lund and Sally Ellis, who also volunteer their time with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Mounted Search and Rescue, Coyote Ridge provides safe and scenic trail rides for riders of all levels.
Trail guide, Sue Lund and one of the trail riders overlook the San Bernardino mountains.
Choose from Hank, Sonny, Gus, Sister, and Bridger. Several mules are also part of the crew, including the sweet Sierra and Homer, and a 40-year-old mini mule named Millie. Most are search-and-rescue certified. Some are featured performers in movies and television. And they are all calm, fun, sure-footed mounts on the trail.
For beginners, there is a 75-minute canyon excursion with an introduction to desert scenery and horseback riding. For the more experienced trail riders, the adventure can last up to four hours as new trails are blazed over hillsides and across washes, exploring rugged terrain and the famed Coyote Ridge itself. Mountain views are always breathtaking.
Lund, a biology major, narrates about Mojave landscape, flora, and fauna throughout the trail ride. She and Ellis have a wicked sense of humor so make sure you ask about the “Outhouse Shuffle” and the horses’ “yearly vacation to Disneyland.” The duo know every rock and crevice of the surrounding desert, but the rides are far from scripted.
Probably the most civilized and well designed outhouse you’ll ever encounter.
Like the time “…Sue was out here and a golden eagle swooped down and took off with a snake in its talons. We never know what we’ll see,” says Ellis, as she points out a new coyote den, which she will monitor with her desert videocam.
After the ride, sidle up to the Coyote Cantina, aka the tack room, where you can share quality time with Lund and Ellis and discuss the various animal bones and skulls they have collected in the desert through the years.
Unique among trail riding stables, Coyote Ridge offers the option to stay overnight after your ride at Casa Cheyenne, a comfortable one-bedroom home with an indoor spa room, bar, and two full bathrooms. Comfortably fits four people, and offers spectacular views of the surrounding Morongo Valley.
Coyote Ridge Stables, 50639 Panorama Drive, Morongo Valley. 760-799-5182;
Rest in the shade with a bottled water after the trail ride at the Coyote Cantina. Make sure to appease Millie, the proud, 40-year-old mini mule, who hangs out front.