Zapata Ranch

If leisurely days of riding amongst two thousand bison or in Great Sand Dunes National Park sounds like you, then Zapata’s your place. Hike the wild Sangre de Cristo Mountains, join in with the daily ranch work, and in the evening, relax in the Lodge, have a massage, and enjoy a gourmet dinner. All riding levels welcome.

About the Ranch





Upcoming Events


Trees explode in a vibrant shade of yellow during fall season at the Zapata Ranch

About The Ranch

The Medano-Zapata Ranch is owned by The Nature Conservancy and managed by Ranchlands in a partnership model that emphasizes environmental conservation practices. Located on the eastern edge of the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado, the ranch borders the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, the newest national park in the United States. Home to a conservation herd of bison that run in a single 50,000 acre pasture, the ranch also runs a herd of Angus mother cows. Additionally, the ranch has a 17-bedroom Lodge that welcomes guests from around the world who are interested in exploring the ranch’s scenic and ecologically diverse meadows, wetlands, sand dunes, and cottonwood groves and learning about ranching’s role in preserving and protecting these natural landscapes.

Two horseback riders appear as small specks on a vast sandy, mountain landscape.

Activities & Programs

Zapata Ranch offers extensive programs based around horseback riding and nature programs, and also the opportunity to experience life on a working cattle and bison ranch while enjoying high-end amenities and gourmet food. Guests who desire a working ranch experience are welcome alongside our wranglers and ranch staff on various ranch projects. For those seeking to just experience the ranch and its surroundings, horseback rides through the herd of 2,000 wild bison or the neighboring Great Sand Dunes National Park are favorites.

Other possible activities during your stay include whitewater rafting, rock climbing, hiking in the nearby mountains, ecological tours of the ranch, fly fishing, massages, and more.

A plate of tenderloin is smothered with a chimichurri sauce.


The dining experience at the Zapata is second-to-none. Breakfasts of eggs made to order, biscuits and gravy, warm pancakes, cereal, and fresh fruit are followed up by homemade lunches eaten on the trail or in our dining room. Dinners are expertly prepared each evening and presented with a flair for our guests to enjoy in our lodge-style dining room.

Ranch-raised bison meat is a common feature, along with other fresh—often local—meats and produce.

A king bed within a quaint wood cabin


Accommodations are in the ranch’s historic 17-bedroom Lodge, the original ranch homestead built in the 1800’s. Rooms are beautifully furnished with elegant southwestern decor, include individual tiled bathrooms and views that are private, peaceful, and beautiful in any season.

A herd of bison on the Medano with the dunes and mountains in the background
A group of riders trotting out of the corrals at Zapata.
A photographer aims her camera and tripod at sunrise coming over the Sangre de Cristos.
A small group of Sandhill Cranes take flight on the Medano.
Two horseback riders move a group of cows and calfs with mountains in the distance.
An icy landscape on the Medano.
A drone photo of bison crossing a creek on the Medano.
A woman on horseback chases a small runaway calf.
The bathroom of guest accommodations at the Zapata Ranch.
A woman holds a plate of dip with vegetables and toast.

What Our Guests Have to Say

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

As Seen In


Our all-inclusive pricing and packages include all meals (beginning with dinner the night of arrival and extending through lunch the day of departure), lodging, taxes, and activities on the ranch.

There is a 3-night minimum for vacations, apart from March-May, when we offer two-night stays for $510 per person per night.


Eight+ nights: $375/night

Seven nights: $395/night

Six nights: $445/night

Five nights: $480/night

Four nights: $500/night

Three nights: $510/night

Rates for children aged 4-8 years old are 20% off the rates listed above.

Current Specials

October 25 – November 1 : 15% off , 20% off for groups of eight or more

10% off 2021 stays when booked before September 18th

Overnight stays (no meals or activities) available through the end of October. Rates begin at $275/night/room.

Experience Ranch Life

Stay with us at one of our ranches or tent camps.

Choose Your Adventure
A horseback rider in Great Sand Dunes National Park

Redefine Ranch Management

Try our conservation-focused, turnkey management services.

Join The Revolution
Three cows standing in green grass

Shop The Mercantile

Check out our leather goods, handmade right on the ranch.

Shop Leather Goods
The crossbody bag modeled by one of our horses.