Situated on the eastern wall of the San Luis Valley nearby to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the Zapata Ranch is a working bison and guest ranch. Owned by The Nature Conservancy and managed through collaboration with Ranchlands, a family owned company, Zapata Ranch occupies a unique location in Colorado. Sprawling over 103, 000 acres, the ranch focuses on holistic management, education and conservation. Over 2, 000 bison wander around 50, 000 acres of pasture; in May and June branding takes place.
Established in 1800, the main lodge has five en suite rooms and a large deck. The other buildings include a Bunkhouse with five private en suite rooms and The Stewart House, ideal for groups, with a living room, kitchen and five rooms. At the Zapata Ranch, enjoy home cooked meals in the dining room, made with meat from the ranch’s own cattle.
Zapata Ranch is open from 5 March until 8 October. Check-in is on a Sunday or Thursday and stays can last from 3 to 7 nights. Please note there are no activities on the day of arrival or Sundays.
All levels of riders are welcome at the ranch and a typical day begins with a hot breakfast in the dining room followed by a morning ride. Formal instruction and horsemanship demonstrations from the wranglers are available during your stay.
Sixty horses come from the Ranchlands Horse Company and have been bred specifically for riding.
Activities included in your stay are; performing activities on the ranch, moving cattle and bison into new pastures, horsemanship instruction, traditional branding, and a ride in the Great Sand Dunes National Park, a photo safari for wildlife, bird watching and a hike or fishing in the lake for the afternoon.
Children are welcome at the ranch and must be 8 years old and up to ride. Children under this age can led and ride in the corral area. Families are encouraged to do activities together and there is no set program (a nanny service can be arranged at an additional fee and on advance request).
Additional activities include massages and yoga, a night camping under the stars, a full or half day fishing trip on the Conejos River and a white water rafting trip down the Arkansas River in Salida.