& Wildlife Viewing
Enjoy watching birds and wildlife to your heart’s content.
Birding at Chico Basin Ranch
As one of the largest uninterrupted stretches of shortgrass prairie left in the United States, the Chico offers unparalleled native wildlife viewing. The ranch is especially well known as one of the prime birding locations in Colorado. Over 330 species of birds—some rarely seen in Colorado—have been sited on the ranch.
The ranch maintains a birding and wildlife trail, outlined on a map that lists the prime birding locations to assist self-guided birders. Upon arrival, we ask that all visitors please check in at the ranch headquarters. A birding map and other ranch information are available at a kiosk outside of our main office. The day fee is $10 per person.Read our Birding & Wildlife Blog
The Chico’s abundant springs, creeks, lakes, and other habitat provide refuge for hundreds of species of migratory birds. Each spring and fall, we maintain a bird banding station in partnership with Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, where visiting biologists net and band hundreds of these migratory birds. Visitors are welcome to visit the station and assist our expert birders with bird banding and identification.
This year’s bird banding station will be open April 27 – May 29 and August 31 – October 2, 2020.
Bison Tours at the Zapata
Take a tour and learn more about our bison herd. A knowledgeable staff member will guide you through the 50,000 acre portion of the ranch known as the Medano, with the aim of getting you up close to our herd of 2,000 North American plains bison.
The tour is designed to provide you with opportunities to view and photograph the bison, but, more uniquely, it is also designed to educate you about the ways in which we manage this “conservation herd.”
- A quintessential stop on the tour is the bison barn–our bison handling facility–an impressive series of alleys, pens, and catwalks culminating in a hydraulic squeeze chute. We run our entire herd of bison through this specially-designed facility every fall.
- The tour will also provide some history of the Medano Ranch, including a stop at the Old Medano Headquarters, a set of ranch buildings that date back to the 1870’s and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places
Tours leave the Zapata Lodge at 9 am and 12 pm on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Please call us at 719.378.2356 for reservations and directions.
A New Bird For Chico Basin Ranch
The first Canyon Wren sighted on the Chico was caught at our bird banding station in fall 2019.
Sunburns and Swifties
A wildlife biologist gets up close and personal with a family of swift foxes.
We host programs for students of all ages.