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Northern California: Where wild horses still roam -- and flourish

April 03, 2013|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • A horse and a foal roam the 5,000-acre Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, Calif.
A horse and a foal roam the 5,000-acre Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown,… (Katey Barrett )

Wild horses are a powerful symbol of the Old West, but you won't see them unless you know where to go. Thirty-five years ago Dianne Nelson started the Wild Horse Sanctuary on 5,000 acres in Shingletown, Calif., east of Redding.

At the time, she had rescued 80 horses that had been rounded up and were about to be destroyed. Today, about 300 wild horses and burros call the sanctuary home.

How wild are they? Some are descendants of the original herd; others have been rescued from Bureau of Land Management property and other areas, according to a spokesman.

Starting in May, visitors can take two- and three-day trips to the sanctuary with a stay at Wild Horse Camp. Nelson and other volunteers lead riders on horseback along trails flanked by stands of manzanita, oak and pine to see the animals up close. Spring is a good time to go, when wildflowers and grasses are up and young foals stay can be seen among the mares.

Beginners are welcome on the rustic rides too. "We have saddle horses to accommodate all skill levels," spokesman Fred Stater said in an email. "Most of our riders are beginners." Campfires and meals round out the package.

When: Rides are available May 4 through Oct. 12.

Price: Two-day trips cost $435 per person; three-day trips, $535 per person. It includes a stay in cabins that sleep two to four people, meals, guided rides and the campfire. Transportation to and from Shingletown is extra.

Contact: Wild Horse Sanctuary, (530) 474-5770
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