While visiting Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, you will notice that while the elevations of approximately 6,000-8,000 feet above sea level tend to be a "Juniper-Pinyon Woodland," the areas from 8,000 feet and above tend to be a "Coniferous Forest," with such vegetation as Ponderosa, Douglas Fir, White Pine, Quaking Aspen, Scrub Oak, Maple and Manzanita. Living their peaceful lives within these densely grown forests are Mule Deer, Wild Turkey, Elk, Porcupine, Squirrels (including Flying Squirrels), Snowshoe Hares, Black Bears, Golden and Bald Eagles, Grouse, Owls, Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs and many other small birds and rodents.
It seems around here that, for the most part, the fir trees will grow more heavily in the malpais (lava rock) areas and it is this type of country that is very difficult to ride a horse through due to the usual steepness of the terrain, the abundance of boulders and lava rocks, and the very density of the timber and fallen logs and brush in such areas. The quaking aspen and ponderosa, on the other hand, seem to favour a more pleasant and grassy terrain which is my favorite type of country to ride through. In the “Coniferous Forest” areas of Utah’s Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, you will find several beautiful meadows, which the herds of deer and elk love to frequent in the early morning and evenings.
Here near Zion and Bryce Canyon, the red cliffs stand out in amazing contrast to the green pine and aspen, making this some of the most beautiful country in the entire world, especially when the sunset lighting blazes across the already red cliffs, or in late September-early October when the Maple and Scrub Oak turn a blazing red and the Quaking Aspen a Molten Gold.
If you are the type of person who feels up to spending about 5 hours in the saddle, and another hour or two learning about horses, I hope you will join us on our “Mountain Ride” and see some of this beautiful “Coniferous Forest” for yourself from horseback!