Overnight Horse Camping
Taking your horse on an overnight camping trip can be the time of your life when your prepared. When your preparing, don't rush yourself! If you forget one thing it could mean the difference between a fun trip or turning around and heading home.
I was twenty years old, married and horseless when I first dreamed of an equestrian overnight camping trip. For the next twenty years I kept that dream alive in the back of my mind. I prepared by collecting the essentials that I would need on an equine overnight. Twenty-four years later, three kids and divorced, I lived my dream. I loaded up my horses, packed my kids and went camping at Del Valle Regional Park, Lil Chaparral Horse Camp.
What You're Going to Need
By the time we were packed and ready to go it looked like we were moving! I don't want to be caught without something I may want or need. For this trip, since there was so much responsiblity on me with three kids and a huge truck & trailer with two horses in it, I really didn't care if I overpacked!
Following is a simplified copy of my list. Yours may vary, of course, but the basics are the same:
The Basic Essential for a Success for Equine Camping Trip
Clothing (shirts, shorts, pants, etc)
Grooming Supplies (brush, comb, etc)
Driving Entertainment (DVD or books)
Cold weather clothes (parka, sweater, etc)
Hay for 2x day feeding
Warm clothes (refer to Moms list)
Food (mayo, must, ketchup, etc)
Several changes of clothes
Sleeping bags w/pillows
Carrots (my horses favs!)
Drinking Water (2+ gallons)
Drinking Water (10gals on board)
Favorite Sleeping Pal
Soap, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner
Saddles, Bridles & Halters
Riding Vests & Helmets
Personal Care Items (hair brush, deodorant, etc)
Lounge line and/or long rope
Spare shoes & socks
First Aid Kit!!
Horse First Aid!!
You'll Find All Your Gear at Amazon
I called two months before our desired camping dates just to be sure we got a spot. Fortunately we chose a time of year when there wasn't much demand on the campsites.
Del Valle has a camping area for people and another area designated just for equine camping! There are box stalls, a huge lounging/gathering area that all the camp sites surround, fresh running water,a horse washing area, large shade trees and the trail head.
Each site has plenty of room to pull in your truck and trailer. My truck and trailer measure about 35 to 40 ft all together and I fit perfectly into our spot with room to spare.
The ranger was really nice and showed us where the camping area was and that was the last time we talked to any ranger's. We picked up after ourselves, kept our horses under control at all times and picked up the manure so we didn't give they any reason to talk with us. We saw them patroling once or twice but they didn't bother us or keep checking on us.
The box stalls are first come first served and they prefer one horse per stall (pretty good size stalls) but if your horses get along two in one is ok.
The tree's provide shade for one stall really good but the other stalls don't get a lot of the shade. You may want to move your horse when the full sun is on it in the afternoon.
The area in the middle of the campsites is great for a bon fire or gathering area for large groups. We used it to lounge our horses. All the smells of nature made them alert and lively, so a few minutes lounging them was needed before heading out for our rides.
The trail head signs are clearly marked so you don't need to get a map unless you really want one. We didn't have to go through anybody's camp site or walk a long ways to get to it, it started out right at our camping area. One of the trail heads (pictured) is the starting point for the ride to Sunol Ohlone Wilderness. That is an overnight trip up in the hills. There are stalls and fresh water around the halfway point of the trip so you can sleep and your horse is secure.
The campsite had a built-in barbeque and a picnic table. There is a hose at the Lil Chaparral entrance, maybe 50 ft from farthest camp site, with a washing area.
When we went it was early August and we had the whole equine camping area to ourselves! The regular camping area was down the road about a quarter mile, so it was like we were the only people in the whole park. I like the people we meet when we go camping, but for my first equine camping trip it was nice that there wasn't anyone else around to make me nervous that I'm doing everything right.
We took the horses to a nearby creek which they played in happily. To get to the creek the road passes the regular camping area, so plan on an extra ten minutes for the kids that come running at the sight of horses. We had to stop three times for kids to pet the horses and ask questions, but it was fun, they stayed clear when we started moving on.
Del Valle Regional Park, Livermore, CA
Del Valle Regional Park is located in the hills of Livermore.