Ride horses with two thousand bison or in Great Sand Dunes National Park, hike the wild Sangre de Cristo Mountains, join in with the daily ranch work, and enjoy gourmet meals. All riding levels welcome.
Owned by The Nature Conservancy, the Zapata Ranch is managed by Ranchlands as a working agricultural property 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.
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.
Accommodations are in the ranch’s historic 17-bedroom Lodge, the original ranch homestead built in the 1800s. Rooms are beautifully furnished with elegant southwestern decor, include private tiled bathrooms, and views that are private, peaceful, and beautiful in any season.
The dining experience at the Zapata is second-to-none. Using local produce and meats, including bison from the ranch’s herd, our chefs craft an unforgettable and uncommon take on traditional comfort foods with a modern twist. With dishes like bison tenderloin, wild caught trout from the Arkansas River just a few miles away, and herb roasted carrots from local farmers cooked over wood grown on the property, our kitchen provides a more organic encounter to cuisine seldom displayed elsewhere. Enjoy made-to-order breakfasts of pancakes, fresh fruit, bacon, fig and cheese toast, and frittatas, and bagged lunches to slip into your saddlebag and enjoy on the trail.
Our rooms are held for ranch vacation guests until 30 days prior to the check-in date. Overnight stay reservations are therefore only available within 30 days of your desired check-in date.
Our ranch vacation packages include lodging, ranch activites (such as horseback riding, guided hikes, naturalist tours, etc.), and three meals per day, beginning with dinner on your arrival day and ending with lunch on your departure day.
Overnight stays include lodging, breakfast, and dinner. Ranch activities such as horseback riding are not included and cannot be added a la carte.
Ranch vacation guests may bring and board their horses at the ranch for $25/night. We provide an outdoor stall with dirt floor and water. We require proof of Coggins/health certificate, guests supply their own feed, must trailer their horse to the day’s riding locations, and must be accompanied by staff member on all rides.
Absolutely! Please make sure to note any allergies or food restrictions when making your reservation.
Children must be at least eight years of age to partake in rides on the ranch. We offer pony rides at the corrals for children under the age of eight. All minors (under the age of 18) must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for all activities.
Horseback riding is only available to guests staying with us on a ranch vacation package.
Everyone has a different favorite month at Zapata, so it depends what you’re looking for! Come in March to see the epic sandhill crane migration, or to enjoy a quiet, peaceful time in the Valley. In late spring and early summer, wildflowers begin to bloom, bison calves are born, and the ranch gets busier with brandings and related cattle work. In the heart of summer, the ranch is at its most vibrant — green grass, abundant wildlife, warm days, and full ponds, perfect for cooling off in. In the fall, the surrounding cottonwoods and aspens make a beautiful display of the classic Colorado fall colors, and you can enjoy crisp evenings gazing up at the stars.
We cannot accommodate riders heavier than 230 pounds at this time.