Cost: $50 for 2 hour trail hike
Maybe this one belongs under "Warning" too....
I don't recommend this activity. I should have seen the red flag when one of the stable staff responded to my question about whether or not there were any old nags in the group, "Lady, the only nags are the riders." As IF the bulky helmets and fifteen minute safety video weren't a real hint.
In a word: hellishness.
On the surface, a nice horseback ride through Yosemite Valley seems ideal, doesn't it? A little hark back to the days of the Ol' West....
It was anything but. Long story short, I was assigned the most obnoxious horse of the group (but of course) and brought up the rear. About a quarter mile into the hike, my horse starts to nip at the hind quarters of the horse in front of him. Actually I couldn't really control him - he kept running up to the horse in front and harassing him which in turn wound that horse up and a domino effect ensued throughout the group from back to the front; one of the leaders was sent to the back to "monitor" me and my horse - but turns out my horse had a grudge against mules. And this guy was riding a mule. More running, nipping, neighing and now add bucking into the equation. It was the only point at which I was thankful to be wearing that hot and heavy helmet.
I kept praying for the hike to end. How fun was it to skid down rocky banks of rivers on a horse who couldn't stand to be near a mule but apparently couldn't keep his mouth off the mare's rump in front of him? It wasn't (fun).
That was when we decided to rent bicycles.
A wise decision.
There are tons of things to do! Hiking, biking, horseback riding, go see the falls, rock climbing, go see half dome, camp, drive through the park, swim, water raft, take a tour and get to know about the park with an interactive group....
For a day visit, I just like to drive through the park and stop when there is something I want to see or do. Swimming holes (where the water is quite still and safe) are all around, but beware-the water is very cold! There is a general store if you need snacks or water or souvenirs. It costs $20 per car adn $10 per person arriving in something other than a car (on foot, bike or horseback). I will post the web address so you can see all the details:
when to go (operating hours and seasons)
reservations (how far in advance do you need them)
accommodations (camping, lodging, backpacking)
things to do
The main stables for Yosemite are located near the base of North Dome across the valley from Camp Curry and Glacier Point. From here, 2 and 4 hour rides can be taken. Overnight pack animals can also be rented although a caretaker guide is required to go with them. When Tioga Pass and the Tuolumne Meadows facilities are opened, some animals are transferred up there by trailer from the Yosemite Valley Stables. Similarly, there are stables at Wawona for summer access to trails on the south side of Yosemite. I've taken mule and horseback rides a few times ever since I was a kid, and can recommend them for families. Prices currently begin at $55- for a 2 hr ride. I recommend the 2 hr ride that goes back to behind Mirror Lake, where the face of Half Dome can be more easily seen. The 4 hr ride to Nevada Falls is also good, but the ride spends a lot of time just passing Curry Village and Happy Isles within the narrow valley region between the backside of Half Dome and Glacier Point. For those unfamiliar with the saddle, two hours will prove to be plenty as a 4 hr ride will almost certainly provide a good number of saddle sores. I'm not a big fan of taking the mules and horses into the alpine back country overnight. The animals must share the trails with hikers and the animals dump manure where hikers must tread. The range of a good backpack hiker will be greater than the trail rides offered by even the best custom overnight mule or pack animal trip. However, for families staying more than few days in the Yosemite Valley, the horse trail rides are a good adventure. Make sure to reserve in advance or risk disappointment. This is a popular adventure.