Mustangs - Living Legacy

California USA: (RTCA01)

California USA
The hills north of Boundary Peak look far too barren to support any animals larger than a chipmunk. Yet, ride deep into this high desert along the Nevada/California border, and you'll find cool springs, a few emerald meadows--and the wildest mustang herd in North America

Track wild horses and relive the old west in the seldom visited Pizona area of the lnyo National Forest. From a central meadow camp, riders will track the mustangs in their natural pinyon forest habitat. Observe and photograph present day herds and wildflowers. Enjoy spectacular sunsets of the Sierra and White Mountains while the cook prepares dinner over an open fire. Later, around the campfire, our experienced tracker guides will, share their knowledge of the wild horses and other wildlife. Learn about the social behavior of the horses and their current struggle.
This is a trip for those who would like to experience the life of a cowboy out on the range. An active, riding trip for people of all ages and riding levels. The group will operate from base camp and will ride out each day to the open range by high mountains. Don't miss four days of hospitality, home cooking and the thrill of Western life.

The scenery is spectacular and if you haven't experienced camping in this part of California, you will be pleasantly surprised. The vistas of the Sierra from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney to the west and of Boundary Peak and the White.


This is a pack trip and all nights are spent camping in one location.

We will be camping at a stationary 'tent city' and doing day trips out from this location. We have a wide variety of tents available (single, double, or family), so please let us know what type you prefer. There is a solar shower and privy with toilet seat and tent at the campsite. There is no generator on our trips -- no electrical source is available.
We do not provide ground mats or sleeping bags, so you must bring your own! 

All meals are included.
For the Pizona Springs trip, meals are included from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on the last day.
For the Photography Special, meals are included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on the last day.

Food is typically sourced from local establishments. We strive to provide a deluxe dining experience and tailor our menus to reflect the tastes of our guests. We prepare breakfast and dinner.

A hot breakfast is prepared fresh each morning. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and salads are available at lunch and dinner each day.
Lunch is a build-your-own affair, typically completed before breakfast is served. Sandwich makings, fruits, and snacks are available for you to create your own take-along meal.
Each dinner has a different entrée (beef, chicken, pork, etc). 

Alcohol is not included in this trip, but guests are free to bring their own.

Dietary Restrictions
We can cater to vegetarians with prior notice.

This trip includes and can accommodate special dietary requests.


Riding experience is considered when fitting you for a mount. There are plenty of horses and mules to choose from to fit your expertise. All trips go at a walk. Our crew will help you get comfortable before we leave the pack station. We ride as few as 2 hours or as many as 6 hours in a day.

Approximately 130 horses and mules are the backbone of the operation. Pack mules carry the provisions for trail riders, hikers, and those wishing to have their gear packed to a wilderness campsite. Mules typically carry 150-240 pounds of equipment, food and dunnage and work from June through September. During the off season, livestock graze fields in the Owens Valley.
Horses and mules come to the pack station as four to five year old green broke. After a couple of years of training they spend up to another twenty to twenty-five years working in the Sierra.

You are encouraged to bring your own saddle if you have one. However, if your tack doesn't fit our stock, or we deem is unsafe, you will not be able to use it.

Each year young men and women bring youth and enthusiasm to a crew of senior packers and cooks. Most of the crew come from ranch backgrounds and once they start packing with us, they have a hard time ever leaving. Every member of the crew carries on the traditions of the talented men and women who started the business in the 1940s. New employees learn the trails, traditions, and develop skills to serve another generation of guests. Only the most able, hard working and those with exceptional people skills succeed as staff. We typically have two guides for each 10 riders.  Sometimes we break trips up into smaller groups.


Sample Itinerary: Pizona Springs program - subject to changes

Track wild horses and relive the Old West in the seldom-visited Pizona area of the lnyo National Forest. From a central meadow camp, riders will track the mustangs in their natural pinyon forest habitat. Observe and photograph herds of horses and wildflowers. Enjoy spectacular sunsets over the Sierra and White Mountains while the cook prepares dinner over an open fire. Later, around the campfire, our experienced tracker guides will share their knowledge of the wild horses and other wildlife. Learn about the social behavior of the horses and their current struggle.

We recommend that you spend the night before the ride in Lee Vining, Bishop or Benton Hot Springs.

Day 1: Arrival
We will meet at River Springs at 8:00am. You will be greeted by your guides, paired with your horse and ride into the Pizona Springs camp. Seminars include map orientation and history of the wild horse.
Meals included: Lunch & Dinner
Camping at Pizona Springs

Day 2 & 3: Pizona
Full day in the field, riding out to track and observe horses on open range and watering sites. Periodic stops for viewing, informal discussion and rest. Seminars include social structure and behavior of wild horses, seasonal range ecology and current issues affecting maintenance of free-roaming wild horses.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camping at Pizona Springs

Day 4: Departure
Take a ride to the western range with lunch before returning to vans at River Springs Roadhead. Seminars today include obtaining, training and using wild horses. The last meal served will be lunch. Expect to arrive at your cars by 4:00pm.
Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch


Sample Itinerary: Photography Special - subject to changes

Day 1: Introduction (no riding)
Meeting at River Springs around 3pm. This beautiful desert oasis is surrounded by wild horse herds. Unpacking to already prearranged tents, getting acquainted with our camp and our stunning surroundings.
Then, it is time for our first lecture: Intro to Wildlife photography and its 3 main components, with farther orientation specific to artistic wildlife imagery.
The lecture is followed by a Photography session with wild horses (on foot). We go roam between the many herds, viewing rearing stallions at battle, mares and newborn foals, playful bachelor bands engaged in mock battles and galloping bands.
We end the day with our first dinner together, around 6:30 pm. After a safari-like dinner setting we enjoy watching the incredible display of stars and Milky Way above the towering snowy White Mountains, and at night we listen to the sounds of wild horses, who come truly alive in the dark.
Meals included: Dinner
Camping at River Springs

Day 2: River Springs to Pizona Camp
Breakfast is served at camp around 8am.
Our morning photography session with wild horses (on horseback) is a truly incredible experience! Riding atop your horse amongst the many herds of wild mustangs, while there is a curious interaction between your mount and the wild horses is an unforgettable moment. The resulting images seem very alive with a lot of interesting action, set against those amazing mountains looming above us.
We enjoy a pleasant lunch in the shade of a pinyon pines (sometimes with fresh nuts!) with a great view overlooking the mustang herds below us. Then, we start riding towards Pizona camp, going through gently rolling sagebrush hills and pinyon pine forest until we arrive in another desert oasis, our new camp, higher up. We unpack to our new tents and enjoy hot showers.
In the afternoon, we go for another Photography session with desert flora, historical 1800s stone-cabin and optional hike to wild horse skeleton (on foot). A great chance to spend more time exploring our little desert oasis, with many wild irises in bloom and a bit of history, since our camp is set upon the old stagecoach road to Bodie.
Dinner is served at camp around 6pm.
In the evening, we have our second lecture: Anticipation of action specific to wild mustangs’ social structure and its application to camera settings prior to shooting. This is a unique lecture combining the deeper understanding of the subject with photography skills, a true jewel to enhance your wild horse imagery. After dark we get a chance to watch the stunning display of stars and Milky Way, even brighter from our high camp.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camping at Pizona Camp

Day 3: Red Mountain Pass
After breakfast, we ride to high desert country. With the first sun-rays shining over our little oasis we ride through a lovely lush canyon to the truly high country. There is wild desert apricot in bloom amongst many other flowers, and the sagebrush forms tunnels over 20 feet tall. We arrive at 8,000 ft near Red Mountain Pass.
In late morning, we have a Photography session with spectacular views of snowy High Sierra and White Mountains. It is stunning to be this very high up with the entire two mountain ranges spread below us, while we track the wild mustang herds on top of our high desert. To view the wild horses set against the towering snowy peaks is truly spectacular! We enjoy our outdoor lunch here, feeling like on the roof of the world. Then, it is time to ride back to camp.
After dinner, we have our third lecture: Digital photography pre-print enhancement with Lightroom. We discuss Lightroom editing customized from any beginner level to more advanced specific tidbits related to outdoor, wildlife and equine photography, including conversion to B&W. Another night we can be falling asleep looking for shooting stars in the high desert.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Camping at Pizona Camp

Day 4: Back to River Springs
This morning, we ride back to River Springs, slowly descending back across the high desert. We stop for lunch in the pinyon pines while we enjoy our views of the Adobe valley, and pinpoint the location of the wild herds.
We enjoy one last Photography session with wild horses (on horseback). Once again we meander amongst the wild horses, observing and photographing the many stallions, mares and foals, with our deeper understanding of their intricate social structure and practicing different angles and settings
The trip ends around noon at River Springs.
Meals included: Breakfast

Note: This tour is operating under permit with the USDA Forest Service through Special Use Permit on the Inyo National Forest.

Rates and Dates for Mustangs - Living Legacy

Rates include:

Tent accommodations, All meals, 4 or 3 guided riding days, saddle bag

Packages and Options

  • SeasonYearDescription US$
    20214 day Wild Mustang Ride, AP - Benton Hot Springs$995
  • B
    20214 day Wild Mustang Ride, AP - Pizona Springs$795
  • C
    20214 day Wild Mustang Ride, AP - Photography special$1095

Tax 1: 3 % Tax 2: 8 %

Rates Note:

3% charge for USFS fee 8% charge for regulatory taxes

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy
Tax: 3 %   additional Tax: 8 %

Rates Note:

3% charge for USFS fee 8% charge for regulatory taxes

Transfer and Other Charges:

2021 Meet at River Springs for 8:00am on Day 1
This is a "Group Rate" - to be paid locally

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Sleeping bag and mat, Transfers, Alcoholic Drinks, Taxes & Gratuities


Due to COVID-19 Corona virus pandemic and certain travel restrictions we are applying some temporary policy changes to some of our tours.

For Wild Mustangs - A Living Legacy (RTCA01):

Trips are running again since June (business received a stamp to prove that it complies with state requirements for safe operations).
We won't transfer money for Covid concerns or smoke.
Our reservation policy is firm. If people sign up, they will lose their deposit if they cancel.

We are following CDC guidelines. Social distancing & food service according to California standards. Guests should bring their own masks. 

For more information please visit our COVID-19 Updates page at

Other Info
Meeting: River Springs
Airport: Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH)
Transfer: --

                                                Bishop area














Average High Temperature (°F)













Average Low Temperature (°F)













Average High Temperature (°C)













Average Low Temperature (°C)













Average Precipitation (days of rain)













Source: NOAA

Weather in the mountains can change rapidly during all seasons of the year. You should be prepared for ALL types of weather year round! And keep in mind that it can get quite cold at night, even when hot in the day time! Even in May and into the beginning of June, it can get down to 45-50° F at night, while in the daytime it can reach 70-80° F and be very beautiful and sunny!

The elevation plays a major role in temperature and precipitation. This ride ranges from about 6500 to 8500 feet (1900 to 2600m) so it tends to be colder than in Bishop.
Sierra summers are typically warm and dry. However, clouds can build up during the summer to produce spectacular thunderstorm activity!  July and August are normally the warmest months.

What To Bring:
Information on What to Pack for Mustangs Trip
Dunnage limit is 40lbs per person (this includes sleeping bags, fishing equipment, liquor, etc.). There will be a surcharge of $3 to $10 per pound on dunnage in excess of the 40 lbs. Bring personal belongings in stout canvas or nylon duffels, ideal size approximately 14" x 32". It is a good idea to use a large plastic bag INSIDE of the duffle to protect contents from external moisture. Sleeping bags can be in separate duffels. Attach name to dunnage, camera, canteen, etc. Tent provided, however, you may bring your own private tent if under 10 pounds, which is not included in 40lbs weight limit. 

You provide your own alcoholic beverages (if desired). When possible, it is a good idea to transfer alcoholic beverages to sturdy plastic bottles with well fitting caps - it will save weight and protect against breakage. Place all cosmetics, soaps, medications, etc into small plastic containers with close-fitting caps, THEN into sturdy resealable plastic storage bags. If anything breaks or bursts from altitude changes, the plastic bag will contain the spill. 

You will be given a small saddle bag that goes on your saddle horn to carry your lunch and a few personal items. (Weight limit 3 lbs - including lunch). Please do not bring your own saddlebag unless it is pocket size. We have helmets to borrow. Please let us know at time of booking.

Remember - try to minimize the weight of your dunnage by packaging only the amount of any item you will need (like soaps, lotions, and medications).

Recommended Items
- Sleeping bag with a comfort range of 20 to 60 degrees and a moisture proof ground cloth.
- Air mattress or small 1/4"-1/2" foam hip pad recommended - your night's rest will affect your next days enjoyment. Bring the best sleeping pad you can manage.
- Broad-brimmed hat is essential for protection from sun at high altitude. It must have strings to keep from blowing off.
- Sunglasses (RX glasses) - high altitude sun is BRIGHT!
- Coffee mug (plastic for camp)
- Pint water bottle for your horn bag
- Pocket knife or small multi-tool
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Camera and film (sturdy strap)-- if using digital - don't forget an extra battery and card
- Rain jackets and pants or slicker (rolled up you can tie them to the back of your saddle)
- Hat protector (to keep your hat dry)
- Light jacket (windbreaker)
- Wool or fleece pullover/sweater (layers will keep you comfortable)
- Heavy jacket
- Bandana
- Woolen cap (evenings can be cold)
- Gloves (recommend gloves for riding, you may want warm gloves for evenings)
- Socks
- Riding boots
- Shoes for camp (moccasins, athletic shoes, etc)
- Shirts and pants (long sleeved shirts offer sun, bug and branch protection)
- Underwear
- Bathing suit
- Bath towel/wash cloth/soap (try a multi-use bar or liquid for use on hair, body and laundry. Biodegradable choices are available.)
- Insect repellent such as Cutters
- Toothbrush/toothpaste
- Comb/brush clips/pins/ponytail holders
- Shaving kit (a small mirror is helpful)
- Sun Screen (lotion, cream or stick)- use liberally for sunburn and chapping prevention.
- Chapstick with sun protection SPF 15 or better
- Moisturizer (cream or lotion - altitude and sun can be dry and chap skin)
- Prescription medicine (if required - if you have any allergies, remember to bring appropriate medication)
- Band-aids, aspirin, ibuprofen, eye drops, moleskin for any blisters
- Baby powder/Talcum powder (helps to relieve any raw or irritated areas from boots, clothes or saddles)
- Kleenex
- Jogging suit (sweats are comfortable for after-swim and campfire lounging)
- Binoculars

Optional Items
- Small notepad and pencil
- Collapsible plastic wash basin
- Liquor (be sure to check in with the packers to see that your liquor is packed safely)

For the Photography Special, we recommend to bring:
- Knee-high waterproof boots for wild horse photography sessions on foot
- Light long-sleeve shirt with UV protection