Experience Chico Basin Ranch
A visit to the Chico is for those who want to experience how ranching was done one hundred years ago. These experiences are intended for intermediate to advanced riders who like working hard, being a part of the team, and who want to learn about ranching from the inside.
About Chico Basin Ranch
As Ranchlands’ Headquarter Ranch, the Chico’s principle enterprise is raising seedstock Beefmaster cattle and Beefmaster-cross commercial calves. Additionally, the Chico houses a diversified land-based business mix: guest programs, hunting and fishing, leather product manufacturing, education programs for K-12, college students and adults, ranch management training programs, arts programs, and ranch management services.
The Chico Basin Ranch, located 45 minutes southeast of Colorado Springs, encompasses nearly 90,000 acres of pristine shortgrass prairie with five spring-fed lakes and countless springs that feed two creeks – Chico and Black Squirrel. Owned by the State Land Board, the Chico has been managed by Ranchlands since 2002. As one of the largest uninterrupted stretches of shortgrass and sandsage prairie left in the country, the ranch is an important habitat for diverse populations of birds, pronghorn, deer, fish, insects, prairie dogs, coyotes, badgers, and much more.
Chico vacations are rewarding because the intimate atmosphere allows guests to fully immerse themselves in ranch life. Guests head out at sun up to work on horseback gathering a pasture or moving a herd, and in the afternoons, ride out for more horseback work or go out to check water, repair fence, or work in the shops. Every day is different. With only a handful of guests at a time – usually pairs and rarely more than six—guests are able to learn by becoming actively involved in the day’s work. And because the work that we do is essential to our operation, guests feel a strong sense of contribution at the end of their stay and become part of our community. Downtime is always an option as well, with hiking, birding, swimming, and fishing offered at your leisure throughout the week.
Guests are hosted in a newly renovated, historic structure dating to the early 20th century and featuring three-foot thick adobe walls in the May Camp division of the ranch. There are two rooms available for guests and both have one double bed and a set of bunks. There is one bathroom that is shared between the two rooms, as well as a full kitchen/sitting room. A washer and dryer are available for your use. Fresh towels are available throughout the week and maid service is provided if staying more than one week, or upon special request. Your neighbors include several members of our full-time staff who are available to assist you with any needs throughout the week.
Adjacent to your quarters is a spring-fed lake and wetland that is home to a large number of waterfowl and perfect for warm water fishing and swimming. This can also serve as a place for sketching, writing, or enjoying an afternoon siesta in the shade. Chico Creek runs below the house and provides an ideal place for a morning or evening hike with plenty of wildlife along your route. The ranch’s population of mule deer and whitetail deer find refuge in the marshy creek bottom, and a diverse range of birds call the meandering cottonwood grove home. At night, the ink-black sky illuminates with more stars than you imagined possible.
All meals are provided by the ranch. We provide food for you to prepare your own breakfast, and lunch is usually eaten with the staff either at headquarters or carried on your saddle and eaten in the pasture during a break in the day. Dinner is freshly prepared home-style each night by members of the ranch staff in our homes. Specialty items and dietary restrictions can be accommodated with advanced notice. We are not licensed to serve alcohol, but invite you to bring your own, or we can purchase it for you and have it waiting.
Our all-inclusive package includes all meals (beginning with dinner the night of arrival and extending through lunch the day of departure), lodging, and activities on the ranch.
The true western cattle ranch experience.
As a returning Ranchlands guest 2018 was the first Chico Basin Ranch visit. In May for the Horsemanship Clinic with Cam Schryver and the brilliant Tent Camp and back in September for the sorting Clinic, also with Cam Schryver. Got to live and breathe the true cattle ranch feeling. Long days in the saddle, crossing beautiful landscapes, amazing horses, and great staff and people. Learned how to rope, sort cattle, swim with horses, and got to participate in a branding, and endless cattle moves. Evening were filled with true western hospitality.
Signed up for a leather workshop and had the amazing bonus to participate in branding. As much as I loved the introduction to leather working, the cattle branding experience was the highlight! There was something magical in riding out with the sunrise - the only sound the quiet, rhythmic beat of horse hooves in the cool, early morning air. Once we arrived at the branding site, everyone jumped into action like a well-oiled machine. Everyone & everything came together with incredible organization & precision while minimizing any trauma to the calf or mother cow. Truly magnificent to experience! Highly recommend The Chico for anyone wanting a true, non-glamorous, raw, earthy ranch experience!