The 2021 Cuyama XP results are now on our results page.

Mt Carmel AERC Sanction Situation

The AERC website still requires the county to allow IN WRITING the event to take place.  I recently reached out to the SW Utah Health Department and requested written approval for holding an AERC event.  They do not give written approval. We remain at an impasse. We will consider hosting an AERC event when and if the AERC changes their requirements.   WE WILL HOLD THE MT CARMEL RIDE AS A WDRA EVENT.  We will be following the common sense guidelines of the state and county as we have been doing for the past year. 


An Open Letter to Whom it May Concern regarding XP and AERC

To Whom It May Concern:

         Apparently there is some misunderstanding about why XP Rides is not hosting AERC rides during the pandemic. Let me clear this up. The AERC requirements posted on the AERC web page are copied here in blue:

New for 2021: If your state or county has restrictions on gatherings over 50, recreational events, or travel restrictions, you will need approval in writing from your health department or county commissioner, or other county official.

  • 1. I can confirm that my state and/or county will allow 50 or more people to gather. (Please note that you should consider everyone in your count if there are limitations—riders, management, control judges, veterinarians, volunteers, crews, family members, etc.)

Please provide a link to your state and/or county’s website that has this information and upload a scan/photo/document of such.

  • 2. I can confirm that my state allows recreational events.

Please provide a link to your state and/or county’s website that has this information and upload a scan/photo/document of such.

  • 3. I can confirm that my state and/or county has no travel restrictions.

Please provide a link to your state and/or county’s website that has this information and upload a scan/photo/document of such.

            I cut and pasted these exact requirements in an email to the county health departments in every county where we host rides. Every single one of them has responded that such an event would be against both state and local guidelines. Not one of them agreed to approve the event. This has been pointed out to several of AERC board members, as well as the office. The AERC BOD has created a situation that puts a ride manager for events in areas I am familiar with in a very bad position.   Should a lawsuit arise out of a Covid case at a ride the first thing the plaintiff’s attorney would look at would be those AERC requirements. The AERC would be able to step back and claim innocence, citing their requirements. 

            On the other hand when I talk to the counties about hosting an event that limits gatherings to no more than 25 participants, it’s a different story. We can even host events with as few as 10 participants if the need arises. We have been able to legally host rides during the pandemic last fall within county and state guidelines due to our flexibility to tailor the rides to meet local requirements

One of two things has to happen for XP Rides to host an AERC event in the future. Either AERC needs to change their requirements to allow ride managers to work with existing county and state regulations, or the government agencies need to relax their mandates to meet the AERC’ requirements. We are as anxious as everyone else to get back to business as normal but it will require action from others that is beyond our control. We have every intention to resume hosting AERC rides at the earliest possible time.

The most recent update is that I spoke with the Southwest Utah Health Department.  There are still some restrictions, but I can meet them to get verbal approval for a WDRA event but they will not give approval in writing for an AERC event, which AERC requires.  The impasse remains.  I assume things will get better sometime in the summer but for now nothing has changed.


David Nicholson D.V.M.

XP Rides




Mt Carmel Junction, Utah

April 25 through May 1, 2021





mt-carmel-photo MtCarmel2013 (84)  




 The AERC requires approval from the county health department stating gatherings over 50 people are allowed.  I am unable to get such a statement out of any counties in any states.  Until those restrictions are lifted we will continue to host the smaller WDRA events where we can practice safe guidelines for our family and yours.

Ride Rules: WDRA rules apply.  If you are into endurance riding you will probably enjoy this ride. If you are a real competitor and are looking for a race you are likely to find the lack of structure here to be an abomination. This is an old time endurance ride where we operate under a set of rules that fit on one page. 



 UT has relaxed some of its restrictions and our family is now fully vaccinated. We will still continue with our current Covid procedures as there are a number of people still susceptible to serious consequences if exposed. Therefore we will require a pre-ride check-in via email and will limit all social contact. There will be no hands on veterinary checks except in the rare cases where the veterinarian might feel it necessary. In most WDRA events the veterinarian never has to get out of his chair.   Living quarter trailers or campers are strongly advised, as we will only have one portable toilet available and will have no way to clean and keep it sterilized during the event.  We will have plenty of human and horse water available as usual. We will prepare packets and maps before you arrive and will be sending GPS tracks a few days before the ride. There is good cell phone service at the ride site. When you arrive you will come to a self-service table, pick up your entry cards to put in the entry box and sign the release forms. There will be ride meetings outside with social distancing and masks required. This is a WDRA event and you must be a member to participate.

            You must agree to wear a mask when coming around any of the Nicholson Family or our volunteers. We also require everyone to maintain a ten-foot social distance.   Since the ride is held under the more liberal WDRA rules we will not be doing any unnecessary unpleasant loops to satisfy the mileage Nazis. We will offer 15, 25 and 50 point WDRA rides each day. We will use the most scenic trails available and will structure the event to maximize everyone’s enjoyment. There will be MINIMAL markings but turns will be well marked if no one takes them down. A GPS is the best investment you can make to insure you have a good time and never get lost. This is a good chance to prepare yourself for the future when all rides will be marked by GPS only.

The ride will be limited to 30 riders. We will need a minimum of 20 riders a day or the ride will have to be cancelled. If you commit to the ride we consider that a firm commitment.

Entry Fees:

One Day          $140.00 check or $145.00 Paypal

Two Days       $240.00 check or $250.00 Paypal

Three Days     $320 check or $360.00 Paypal

Four Days       $440 check  or $455.00 Paypal

Five Days         $525 check or $545.00 Paypal

Six Days $600.00 check or $625.00 Paypal

Mail your checks to Ann Nicholson at 362 Fenway Drive, Kanab, UT 84741 or you can use Paypal and send to When you make the payment let us know by return email that you are coming and which days you are planning on riding. There may be people who enter at the last minute and that will be fine but if there are insufficient numbers of riders, the rides will have to be cancelled. These fees are non refundable for any reason after April 19th, as that will be the day we have to fully commit to the event. We will consider those fees a donation to make the ride happen.  We hope everyone understands we cannot afford to commit to the event unless we are assured of at least breaking even.

Destination information for health certificates: Health certificates are required for horses coming into Utah from other states. They are not required for horses coming from within the state. The requirements for health papers vary depending on conditions in other states. Your local veterinarian will be able to counsel you on current requirements. The basecamp address that you can use for health certificates:  4200 S. State St. Mt Carmel, UT 84755. 

Meals: Annie will not be doing dinners in ride camp as there are a multitude of restaurants within walking distance of camp.  Annie’s free lunches are not available at all XP Rides during the Covid pandemic.

Base Camp: We have had to move the base camp since UDOT has fenced the old camp property.  Due to the Covid virus and the ride being limited to 25 riders we ended up using our old barn just up the road from the UDOT camp.  This is the same camp we used for the 2020 ride.  It is on the west side of US Hwy 89 a quarter mile north of the junction of US 89 and UT 9 (Mt Carmel Junction).

The average daytime temperatures should be in the mid 70’s and rain showers are always a possibility. The evenings are cool, so bring warm clothes and horse blankets. There will be plenty of water on the trail and at the campsite. There are a wide variety of sales and service establishments, including motels and restaurants, within walking distance of the base camp. 

Trails:The well marked trails follow single track cattle and horse trails, two track jeep trails and a minimal amount of graded road. The trails go through a variety of grassy meadows, pinion and juniper forests. The views along the trail are breathtaking.  Most of the trails are sandy or clay, with just enough rocks to make it interesting. The trail is moderately difficult with climbs and good or varied footing. For those of you with extra time, the campsite is an excellent place to camp and see Bryce, Zion or the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  All 6 days of Mount Carmel will loop back into basecamp. 

Awards:  Individual awards are available for the fastest time and best condition each day.  An overall award will be given to the horse and rider finishing in the fastest time for all six days.  An overall best condition award for the horse that completes all six days in the best condition will also be awarded.  Completion awards will be given to all successful horse and rider teams.  Horse and rider teams that compete all 6 days will receive one of the following:  XP jacket, crewbag or specially made plaque.

Directions from Points South: Current directions to the Nicholson Barn. Coming from CA and Southern NV you  turn off at MP 16 on Interstate 15 and head east towards Zion National Park. When you come into Hurricane, Utah turn R at the sign towards the Grand Canyon. Follow the signs towards Fredonia, Az and the Grand Canyon. A few miles past Colorado City, which is on the UT AZ border you make a left turn on the back road that goes through the Cane Beds. The turn is just past the Mojave Country Justice Court. This road is now paved but it is slow in places. Annie and I routinely take this route as it is a beautiful drive.    Continue past Coral Pink Sand Dunes and it will dead end at a T. Turn L at the T on US Hwy 89 and go past the golf course and the Hwy 9 junction. The camp will be on your left about a quarter mile past the Hwy 9 Junction. An alternate route is to continue to Kanab and then take Hwy 89 north through Kanab to Mt Carmel Junction. The camp is on your left a quarter of a mile north of the Hwy 9 junction. 

From Points North and East:  Come south on Interstate 15 to Utah Hwy 20 near MP 99. Go east on Hwy 20 to US Hwy 89. Turn south on Hwy 89. A quarter mile before the Hwy 9 junction there is an old barn on the right.  Turn just past that old barn on the old highway.

If you find something confusing or in error in this message please contact me personally and I will clear it up. 

Phone 907 209 8881 or e-mail

You may notice we have made some big changes in our traditional scheduling.  We have eliminated ending our events on Sundays.  This is especially important for those in California so they can travel home late Saturday or very early on Sunday to avoid the traffic.  In addition we have moved the dates of Coso Junction and Death Valley so Annie and our XP families can now spend their holidays at home.  Might not hurt to spend those Sundays and Holidays meditating with the congregations of your choice to pray for healing this troubled world.

I keep getting emails and calls about our plans for the foreseeable future.  It is our intention to continue doing the XP Rides on the same weekends as we have been doing.  However, I have no idea what the conditions will be at the time of the rides.  I do not agree with the restrictions set down by some of the government agencies nor do I agree with the AERC’s requirements.  I do accept that everyone is entitled to their opinion but Ann and I are part of the high risk population and therefore feel we must be more careful than some of our younger and healthier friends.

We are unable to meet the AERC Covid restrictions.  In addition, we are unable to make some of our most scenic mountain region rides meet the AERC mileage requirements without endangering horses. We can address the mileage issue by adding insane little loops at the end of an otherwise great ride but we cannot mitigate the dangers associated with the AERC Covid policy.  Therefore we will not be sanctioning the upcoming rides with AERC until their Covid restrictions are lifted or modified.  In the meantime we will continue with our rides but will be doing them as XP only events.  We will continue with our current XP Covid restrictions, which coincide or exceed the CDC and state regulations.  We will be limiting the rides to 25 with a possible expansion to 30 or more.  We will take things as they come and will make modifications based on current situations. 

THE ENTRY DEAL FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE: During the Covid crisis, which will undoubtedly remain into much of this year, we will not be doing AERC events until it is prudent and legal to meet governmental as well as AERC requirements.  Many endurance riders fall into the “most vulnerable” category due to age and existing conditions. We are not able to conduct an AERC event under these conditions but the WDRA does recognize XP club rides.

XP Rides and the Nicholson Family

Ann and I are doing well, although we are still suffering from cabin fever. We are fortunate to be in southern Utah as life is going on much more normally than in other parts of the country. Kane County has now moved to code green and people are free to travel as long as social distancing is practiced. However, Utah has recently seen a spike in cases, mainly across the I 15 corridor. 

Ann and I are committed to continuing with XP Rides as long as possible.  The entire sport seems to be dwindling away and our rides are no exception.  We hope to continue with our remaining 2021 ride schedule as non AERC events,  but we will have to make some significant changes to do so.  Thirty years ago we moved to Southern Utah with the specific intention of sponsoring XP Rides.  As the sport dwindles we may be forced to give up the more expensive venues further away from our winter home but we have no intention to cut back on our Utah and Arizona rides. Indeed we are still working on resurrecting the Color Country ride and are looking at other sites for new and exciting ventures.  Although Annie and I, along with the vast majority of our riders are at an age that is most vulnerable to succumbing to viral diseases, we are going to continue living with a positive outlook for the future and encourage you all to do the same. 


There is now an option to obtain what is called an EECVI. You can Google it. This is a relatively new program that allows veterinarians to issue a CVI(health certificate) for a six month period and allows you to to to multiple states and venues.  Its worth checking out. 



Breaking news can be found on the xp facebook page




have been moved to the the General Ride Info Page

Carol McLeod has volunteered to build a data base for XP and WDRA Results.  At some time in the future we will offer an option to include all your lifetime mileage in that database. Many thanks to Carol for taking on this task

Entry Fees in General: 

Ride information will be sent to those who have entered online usually within a week of the event. If you have not received a response with the information you are looking for you should call or email us. 


We usually do not require pre payment for most of our rides, so its easiest to just bring cash or check to the ride and pay when you decide how many days you have ridden.  Its the old time way of doing business based on trust.  That being said, times are different during the Covid Crisis.  We are dealing with such small numbers that we must know in advance that we have enough participants to make the ride happen. We may have to require advance payment until we get through the disease restrictions.


Entry fees are a composite of ride entry fees along with other charges that must be passed on to the riders. These hidden charges include fees to the various government entities such as the BLM, USFS and NPS as well as camping fees to state, country and private entities. They also include drug testing taxes levied upon the riders from the State of California and/or the AERC. In addition there are AERC rider fees which vary depending upon membership status. XP Rides and the XP Riders host a number of events, all of which have different financial conditions.  Not only do fees vary from ride to ride, they also vary within most rides. Our policy of not publishing fees comes from accusations of government officials going to the ride site, extrapolating information and applying it as they wish.  There will be a slight increase in fees on rides in the Peoples Republic of California due to increases in the charges for drug testing.  Cuyama is the only XP Ride that requires prepayment.  Most riders pay at the end of the ride on all the other rides.


Photos for Mt Carmel, Strawberry, Grand Canyon and Virgin Outlaw available at:
 You can learn more about each of our rides by going to XP Rides and Dates on the menu bar and scrolling down to the one you are interested in. 

XP Rides for the 2021 Ride Season

(Subject to AERC & Landowner approval)

Note that rides marked in red have changed days and weekends from their traditional times. 

Coso Junction ~ Cancelled due to Covid

Death Valley Encounter ~ January 1-2-3-4, 2021 (Ride starts after the NYE party on January 1. Three and Four day Pioneer offered)

Bar H ~ WDRA only~January 23rd

Laurel Mountain ~ February 4-5-6, 2021 (ends on Sat)

Eastern Mojave ~ March 10-11-12-13, 2021 (ends on Sat)

 Cuyama Oaks ~ March 25-26-27, 2021 (ends on Sat)

Cuyama Rain Date ~ April 1-2-3, 2021

Mt Carmel ~ April 25-26-27 Rest Day April 29-30-May 1, 2021

Lonesome Duck Distance Ride ~ June 2 – July 25, 2021

Entries are by invitation only.

Strawberry Fields ~ July 29-30-31, 2021 *Special date this year only. Ride ends on Saturday.

Grand Canyon ~ August 29-30-31 Rest Day September 2-3-4, 2021

Virgin Outlaw ~ September 19-20-21  Rest Day  23-24-25, 2021

Color Country ~ October 29-30, 2021 (ends on Sat)

Sesenta Años ~ November 12-13-14, 2021


Please don’t be offended if Ann or I  don’t add you as a friend or associate on Facebook,  LinkedIn,  or  any other type of social media.  We simply do not participate in social media.


Over the years our family has made a lot of great friends along the trail. We always look forward to the new ride year to renew those friendships and to make new ones. We hope you will be able to join us on the endurance trails this year. Come ride with us, you will be glad you did.