By Jackie Bartz
June 9, 2010
COOPER LANDING, Alaska
The click of hooves, the snort of a mare: it's a snapshot of the Wild West, tucked away at the base of an Alaska mountain range.
"It's a different way of seeing the sights and scenery," said Wendy Wagner.
Throw on your cowboy hat and saddle up -- it's time to check out Alaska on horseback.
"You get to travel around a little bit faster and you know you're up higher actually too so you can see over the brush and the scenery around," Paul Wagner said.
There are several spots in Alaska to take a trail ride. One is the Alaska Horsemen Trail Adventures in Cooper Landing, 100 miles south of Anchorage.
Riders can hit the trail for two hours or two days.
"The calm, it's just calming, relaxing. It's just out from the workforce, away from the workforce," Wendy Wagner said.
It's a trek through Alaska's backcountry, but don't worry if you're not in great hiking shape: your guide is the one doing all the work.
"The horses actually take you along. You don't have to do a whole lot and you can slowly see all the scenery and you can see it coming along," Paul Wagner said.
Many hope these four-legged friends will encourage other animals to come a little closer.
"We're just looking for critters. Any kind of critter makes us happy," Nancy Kressley said.
It's a peek at the sprawling wilderness without the roar of the engine or smudges on the windshield.
|If you go:
Be sure to wear comfortable pants and boots or tennis shoes.
You can book reservations by phone, online or show up in person.
35090 Quartz Creek Road
Cooper Landing, AK 99572-9701
There are other horseback riding opportunities in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley.
"Anything. We've seen moose from the car, caribou. Not that I want to see them really close up, but it'd be nice to see them closer. The scenery alone is awesome," Wendy Wagner said.
But if you don't feel confident in your wrangling abilities, you can catch the sites using a different set of wheels.
"I love horses to begin with just an awesome experience just being out with the animals and taking a carriage ride, just experiencing the whole thing," Eileen Reinert said.
Visitors plod along the dirt roads listening to the driver share stories about the history and scenery of the state
"I know right now that I could not have lived here like 200 years ago, I would not have been good at this. Maybe 20 years ago, but this is like awesome, the way people lived. And we've been learning a lot about surviving in the wilderness," Kressley said.
At the end of the day, you might be a little sore, but it's an experience few have -- the Alaska wilderness coupled with the Wild West.
Contact Jackie Bartz at firstname.lastname@example.org
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