I’ve seen a growing trend in the past year: Hikers and backcountry campers using llamas to help carry supplies and to add some four-legged company to a trip through the southwestern Colorado wilderness or the high elevations of Rocky Mountain National Park.
I always turned into a conversation starter. People would tell me how they’ve done difficult hikes in the past, and the llamas made it much easier. Others talked about the enjoyment of having the animals with them on their adventure.
I started to do some research on the idea. Turns out, there are many places across Colorado where hikers can rent a llama. Others offer day trips, giving people a chance to experience llama life before they venture out into the backcountry.
Llama Llama Ding Dong offers their half day courses and hikes right in Greenwood Village. Many of the animals, those that have been doing this for years, are very calm, gentle and docile. Others can be a bit more stubborn.
The training included placing halters on a llama and guiding the llamas through an obstacle course. Some of the animals don’t like water crossings and learn to handle the unsure footing by walking through tires and over other obstacles.
The course also involves loading a llama into the back of a truck. Trailers can be used to transport the animals, but many enjoy the ride in the back of a pickup.
Most jump into and out of the truck bed with ease. Some take a little gentle nudging. They also make a variety of strange sounds: purring (like a cat) to Wookie noises. (For those of you who haven't seen Star Wars, Wookiees are fictional characters covered in fur that communicate via a loud "yell.")
Llamas are also good protectors. They can often sense trouble when out in the wilderness. They are good guardians and their noises can keep other animals away.
Horses can be terrified of llamas. I saw a large horse come across our pack of llamas on a trail. They came to a complete stop. No matter how far off to the side the llamas went, the horse didn’t want to move and would not take its eyes off the llamas.
Prices for taking a llama out in the backcountry depend on the outfitter. They are also pack animals, so taking more than one as part of a group adventure will make for both a happier group and happier llamas.
Whether it’s for a day or for a couple weeks, there are many businesses across Colorado willing to set you up with a llama to help with your summer adventures.
Here’s a few to check out in different parts of the state: