There are many relaxing ways to explore the beaches of the North Coast. A leisurely stroll through the sand is a good way to admire the view while you let the cares of the world pass you by. But if you are looking for more wind in your hair when you hit the beach, try horseback riding. With several area outfitters to choose from, riders of all experience levels are finding an adventurous way to channel their inner buckaroo.
For the last three years, Judy Winters and her extended family have run Oregon Beach Rides out of Nehalem Bay State Park near Manzanita. Winters, along with her son and business partner Mike Hughes, enjoy making each horse ride on the beach unique. “Horseback riding on the beach is something that everyone has thought about at least once,” Hughes said. “We keep that in mind and try to make each ride special, whether it’s their first time or one hundredth.”
It’s not uncommon for riders to see eagles, elk, and seals as they wind their way along the beach. “People see something new every trip out, and that includes the guides,” Hughes said. “Recently, we saw killer whales for the first time. It’s hard not to get excited along with the guests.”
Many experienced riders prefer the peaceful, natural setting that Oregon beaches provide over some of the more traditional rides. “We’ve had guests who have ridden Yosemite and Yellowstone and say that riding on this beach is the best ride they’ve had,” Hughes said.
Beyond the wildlife and the beautiful ocean and mountain views, taking a horseback ride on the beach has a certain romantic appeal. “Romance plays a big part in people wanting to ride on the beach,” Winters said.”We’ve had a lot of marriage proposals on our rides, especially the sunset rides,” Hughes said. “So far, we haven’t had one ‘no.'”