Zapata Ranch is a 103,000-acre ranch owned by The Nature Conservancy of Colorado where guests can ride through and learn about our conservation herd of 2,500 bison, integrate themselves into daily life on the ranch and participate in extensive nature programs. Managed by Ranchlands, Zapata Ranch in nestled at the base of Southern Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains and shares a border with the United States’ tallest dunes: The Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve.
Guest Ranch, Working Ranch
5305 Hwy 150,
FULL DESCRIPTION OF LISTING
Conde Nast Traveler Magazine: 1 of 3 Best Ranches in America for a Real Working Ranch Vacation
Western Horseman Magazine: 1 of 15 Best Holidays and Riding Vacation to Book Today; Described as "one of the world's most spectacular and diverse landscapes."
Conde Nast Traveler Magazine: The Best Ranch Lodging and Dining in Colorado
ABC News: Featured on the Travel Show as a Top Learning Vacation Destination
America's Heartland TV Show: Featured as an Unforgettable Experience in the World of Agriculture
Colorado Meetings & Events Magazine: Featured in the National Treasures Venue Report
Gourmet Live: 1 of 4 Ranch Vacations for Food Lovers
Real life ranching and exploring the great outdoors is at the core of the programs that are offered at the Zapata Ranch. Ranchlands manages the Zapata and Chico Basin Ranches and have hosted guests from all over the world since 1999, developing special programs that bring visitors into the middle of ranch life by working side by side with the cowboys and cowgirls on the ranch; these activities are not staged - they occur whether guests are on the ranch or not. If groups have varied interests or do not want to spend all their time with the cowboys, they can take one of our trips into the wild to study the bison herds, or explore the sand dunes and mountain meadows.
Our programs are especially designed for people who want to learn about and experience nature, whether it be conservation, hiking or riding to view the unique geology and spectacular vistas. Some guests want to just relax in the historic lodge and soak in 14,000 foot Mt. Blanca towering through the tree tops, or hike up to Zapata Falls, five minutes away. Still others come to see the 2,000 wild bison that blacken the Medano meadows when they come together as one herd. This landscape is sometimes called the Rocky Mountain Serengeti because of the amazing diversity and abundance of wildlife. Photography or wildlife viewing safaris are part of the daily events, or they can be customized to meet your special interest.
From Alamosa to the ranch it is $50 each way
Each guest room is equipped with either two double beds or a single king, and its own private bathroom. The lodge is built on the original Zapata homestead with buildings that date back to the late 1800’s and is surrounded by extensive grounds. The buildings, which include The Lodge, Bunk House and Stewart House, are all restored chinked log and boast high comfort and rustic elegance. Daily maid service and laundry facilities are included.
Utilizing our own grass-fed beef and bison, along with local San Luis Valley produce, our style is down home gourmet with meals served family-style in our dining room. We use only the best ingredients and prepare them with creativity and respect.
Award-winning chef Mike Rosenburg has run and owned several restaurants, been the personal chef for the Carnegie family and catered high profile events, most notably JFK Jr.'s wedding.
Special diets, requests and allergies are all easily accommodated.
31 to 50
Alamosa, CO, 30 minutes or Colorado Springs, CO 2 1/2 hours
AirStrip at Ranch:
On Site Medical:
First Aid Personnel Present, Hospital Nearby
Top 50 Ranches, Dude Ranchers Association, Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association
March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October
Exception to Months Open:
November through February we are only open for corporate retreats and meetings.
VISA, Master Card, American Express, Discover
Price Range per Night:
(Prices in US dollars - use currency converter below to see the price in a different currency)
Activities and Services:
Birding, Bring your own horse, Cattle Drives, Computer/Email services, Conference Services, Corporate Groups, Meetings, Cowboy Cookouts, Culinary Trained Chefs, Fly Fishing, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Horseback Riding Lessons, Hot Tub, Laundry Service, Loping permitted, Natural Horsemanship, Nature Trails, Overnight Horse Trips, Pack Trips, Photography Trips, Riding arena, Saddle Your Own Horse, White Water Rafting, Wildlife Viewing, Wireless Internet access, Working Ranch, Yoga, WILDERNESS SETTING, MOUNTAIN SETTING
Bison Tours (herd of approximately 2,000 free ranging bison)
Branding Week: May 26 - June 2
This year’s branding week will take place on the Zapata and will include outings on the ranch, in addition to participation in our spring branding. This is a serious event with important work to be accomplished that include the welfare of up to 500 head of cows and several hundred calves. Participants will have jobs to perform that are important to accomplishing the day’s work.
Fishing Pack Trip: June 30 - July 7
After spending the first night in the lodge, our pack trip starts the following morning from the Sand Dunes National Park and heads up into the mountains for 5 nights and 6 days of high-mountain riding and exploration. This is one of the most beautiful trips available in north America where abundant wildlife, alpine lakes and timberline vistas will always be at hand.
Intermediate riding ability is encouraged, but not required. Space is limited to 6 participants.
Sandhill Crane Photography March 11-15
Each year approximately 27,000 Sandhill Cranes migrate through the San Luis Valley, one of the most ecologically and geologically diverse landscapes in the world. World-renowned photographers, along with expert naturalist and birder John Rawinski provide you the opportunity for behind-the-scenes access to this natural phenomenon. Space is limited to 12 participants.
Horsemanship Clinic: August 4-11
Days are spent with personal one-on-one horsemanship instruction and educational demonstration that use cattle herds as learning situations, instead of working strictly in the arenas. Instruction is complimented by taking rides through the 103,000 acres of meadows and dunes. Where principles that are being taught are put into affect along with riding into big country and enjoying the pure pleasure of riding horseback in unlimited spaces.
Butcher Baker Ice Cream Maker July 7-14
During this special week, you will learn how to properly butcher different cuts of meat, all the way from harvesting the bison in the field to cooking gourmet dishes; bake delicious homemade breads and pastries that include herbs collected across the ranch; and create ice cream with bison sweet grass and cactus fruit, amongst other ingredients!
Jill Soukup Painting Sept 8-13
Activities will include photo opportunities, sketching and studying horses, demonstrations and critiques. Riding opportunities will also be available throughout the week for those who want to see the land and animals from a different angle!