Because of Utah's drastic change of elevation, there are several types of countryside- from the "Sagebrush Desert" as found near St. George, to the "Pinyon-Juniper Woodland" common throughout much of Utah, to the "Coniferous Forests" similar to the Rocky Mountains as you head into the Utah mountain ranges like the Dixie National Forest between Cedar City and Bryce Canyon, to the high "Alpine Meadow and Tundra" of the High Uintas Wilderness Area in Northern Utah.
Rising K Ranch itself lies within the "Pinyon-Juniper Woodland" country a few miles south of Cedar City, Utah and our "Mountain Ride" takes you high up into the "Rocky Mountain Coniferous Forest" countryside. The change of countryside is due to the elevation change from 6,000 feet above sea level at Rising K Ranch to the 9,000-10,000 feet elevation on the mountain.
The junipers and pinyon pine grow well here at the Rising K Ranch because of paucity of water and abundace of volcanic rock and soil. Most of the mammals and larger birds migrate so that they are here at the ranch from around December- May and higher up on the mountain from June-November, depending upon the weather of the particular year. As the weather grows colder, the deer descend to the lower elevations with less snow and more vegetation upon which to browse. Since deer are the primary food supply of most of Utah's carnivores, the mountain lions follow right along with the deer. Not only do mammals such as mule deer migrate to Rising K Ranch for the winter, but also several birds such as Bald Eagles, which feast upon the carcasses of mule deer killed by mountain lions, Clark's Nutcrackers, which eat the nuts from pinyon pine and Robins, which feed off the junipers and off the early spring's supply of seeds from wild vegetation.
Since most mammals such as mule deer or elk are higher on the mountain during the summer, you will have to take our "Mountain Ride" for a real chance to see them. As for our "Cedar Trail Ride" or our "Half Day Ride" the animals you are most likely to see on a summer-time horseback ride are mule deer, coyotes, foxes, squirrels, wild turkey, jackrabbits and cottontail rabbits and red-tailed hawks along with many other smaller birds, lizards and possible snakes. To have a good chance of seeing any of the larger mammals, it would be necessary to begin your ride right at sunrise or right at sunset, as most mammals, during the summer at least, are rather noctournal. During the winter, especially if there is a fair bit of snow on the ground, these mammals will be much more active during the daylight hours than they ever are during summer afternoons.
If you are ever out here visiting Zion or Bryce Canyon National Parks, or just in the Southern Utah area, I hope you will drop in and take an unforgettable horseback ride with us!