I’ve heard Westerns state “something” is a day’s ride away. How far was a day’s ride in the Old West era?

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I’ve heard Westerns state “something” is a day’s ride away. How far was a day’s ride in the Old West era?

Mark J. Dirnbauer
Copperas Cove, Texas

The distance would depend on the terrain, but a normal day’s ride would be 30 to 40 miles. On hilly terrain, a horse could make 25 to 30 miles. If the land was mountainous, one might go 15 to 20 miles.

A well-conditioned horse could occasionally make 90 to 100 miles a day—with sufficient rest and feed—but horses did not do that often.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian, board president of the Arizona Historical Society and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen; History Press, 2015.

If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.