The holiday season may be over, but it’s not too late for jingle bells.
A traditional family outing in an old-fashioned, horse-drawn sleigh can still be enjoyed at many places around the Inland Northwest.
Besides the fun of the rides, bundled up under warm blankets, guests have an opportunity to visit with the driver and pet the horses before and after the ride. Be sure to bring your camera or camcorder to capture the family-fun adventure on film.
The listed prices were current at press time, but may change without notice. Rates for Canadian locations are listed in approximate U. S. dollar equivalents and include applicable taxes.
Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort, Sandpoint.
Quad-L Sleigh Rides feature Norwegian fjord horses pulling an old-fashioned sleigh. The rides are 40 minutes long and take sleighers through an old growth hemlock forest where the snow-ladened trees offer some great photo opportunities.
Group size is limited to 20 people; children under 6 ride free.
Reservations are required 24 hours in advance and must be guaranteed with a credit card. The price is $50 minimum for a ride or $10 a person. (208) 265-0257.
Mountain Springs Lodge is about 14 miles north of Leavenworth.
The sleigh rides cost $15 for adults and $10 for children (ages 5-12). Children 4 and younger ride free. Five departure times are available on weekends and holidays. (800) 858-2276 or (509) 763-2713.
Eagle Creek Ranch is located about 8 miles north of Leavenworth. Guests enjoy an old-fashioned winter experience. Daytime prices are $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 2 through 12. Children under age 2 ride free. Evening prices are $16 and $8, respectively. The ranch offers catered dinners for families and groups of 10 or more. (800) 221-7433 or (509) 548-7798.
Red-Tail Canyon Farm is about 3 miles north of Leavenworth. The jingle of sleigh bells will accompany you as Belgian draft horses pull your sleigh through beautiful Red-Tail Canyon. Rides are available daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Rates are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 12 and under. (800) 678-4512 or (509) 548-4512.
Big Mountain Ski Resort, Whitefish, Mont.
Old West Adventures are offered by Doc Hammill at the ski resort. Hammill is a veterinarian, horseman, historian and showman. His life experiences include farming 80 acres, where he skinned logs, graded roads, and moved dirt, rocks and buildings with horse power. Guests will hear stories of the real “Old West,” not the movie version.
Driving his team of Clydesdale horses, Hammill guides the sleigh through a pristine mountain setting to an old-fashioned camp, which consists of a log and canvas building with a sawdust floor, lanterns and wood heat. The roadhouse is just like the mining camps in Montana in 1860s.
Sleigh rides are offered on Tuesday through Sunday (except Thursday) at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The 90-minute rides are $12.50 for adults and $7.50 for children 12 and under. Reservations are recommended. Rates for special rides for private groups are available upon request.
The roadhouse also is the site for sleigh ride dinners on Thursday evenings. The all-you-can-eat barbecue beef and chicken dinner is preceded by an old cowboy delicacy - Rocky Mountain Oysters. The dinner parties have historic narratives, live music, games, and sing-alongs. Dinner and ride package is $39.95 for adults, $29 for children ages 6-12, and $13 for tots ages 5 and under. (406) 862-2900.
Okanagan Valley, south-central British Columbia
Eight Mile Ranch is located in the Mission Creek Canyon about 8 miles east of Kelowna. It offers family sleigh rides and terrain for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
The 30-minute sleigh rides are available daily for either day or night departures. The cost is about $73. Up to 15 persons can be accommodated in the sleigh, pulled by Belgian draft horses. Pick-up and drop-off is at a bonfire. Guests are welcome to bring whatever they would like to roast at the fire. Advanced reservations are required. (604) 765-0177.
Kananaskis Village Resort, southwestern Alberta
The resort is located in Kananaskis Country, a 1,600-square-mile region owned by the Alberta government for the purpose of providing four-season recreation opportunities.
Canmore, located on Highway 1, is the closest large town to K-Country. Kananaskis Village was built for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games held at the nearby ski hill, Nakiska. The four-season resort village offers a complete range of recreation services, dining and accommodations. One of the popular winter activities, after a day of heli-sightseeing, nordic skiing or alpine skiing, is the horse-drawn sleigh rides around the village. The towering snow-capped mountain backdrop is breathtaking, so don’t forget your camera. The 50-minute sleigh rides cost about $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 2-12. Children under age 2 ride free. Reservations can be made at the Peregrine Sport and Rentals shop in the village information center. (403) 591-7453. Or, for all Kananaskis Country hotel reservations, call (800) 441-1414.