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

In the News

  • Conde Nast Traveler Magazine: 1 of 3 Best Ranches in America for a Real Working Ranch Vacation
  • Western Horseman Magazine: 1 of 15 Best Holidays and Riding Vacations to Book Today
  • Gourmet Live: 1 of 4 Ranch Vacations for Food Lovers
  • The Equestrian Magazine (UK & Ireland): 1 of 2 Ranches Featured in Lifestyle Ranch Riding Holidays
  • Conde Nast Traveler Magazine: The Best Ranch Lodging and Dining in Colorado
  • ABC News: Featured on The Travel Show as a Top Learning Vacation Destination
  • America’s Heartland TV Show: Featured as an Unforgettable Experience in the World of Agriculture
  • Colorado Meetings & Events Magazine: Featured in the National Treasures Venue Report
  • CBS Denver News: Top 5 Ranches in Colorado
Guest Capacity:
Meeting Capacity:
Dates Open:
Spring: Mar. 19,2020 - Jun. 20,2020
Summer: Jun. 20,2020 - Sep. 22,2020
Fall: Sep. 22,2020 - Oct. 31,2020
Winter: Mar. 01,2020 - Mar. 19,2020
Riding Dates:
Mar. 01,2018 - Oct. 31,2018
Minimum Age For Independent Riding:
Minimum Age Accepted at Ranch:

Lodging Overview

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. Enjoy breakfasts of eggs made to order, biscuits and gravy, warm pancakes, cereal, and fresh fruit, followed up by homemade lunches eaten on the trail or in our dining room. Dinners are expertly prepared each evening with local produce and ranch-raised bison meat for our guests to enjoy in our lodge-style dining room.

Recreation Overview

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.

Dining Overview

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.


Adult Rate:
$375 to $510 per day per person, based on length of stay
Child Rate:
$262 to $328 per day for children 8 & up, based on length of stay; children 7 & under are free
Service Charge/Tip Rate:
Our tip policy is strictly optional, most guests leave between 15-20%
Tax Rate:
Accepted Payment Methods:
MasterCard, Amex, Visa, Checks and Cash are accepted
Travel Agents Accepted:


Lodging Accomodations:
Cabin Accomodations:
Dedicated Arrival Day
Minimum Night Stay
Summer (Peak Season)
3 Nights
Fall (Off Peak Season)
3 Nights
Winter (Off Peak Season)
3 Nights
Spring (Off Peak Season)
3 Nights


Children's Program:
Children's Program Start/End Age:
0 - 0
Baby Sitting:
Cattle Gathering:
Team Penning:
Cattle Drives:
Additional Cattle Activities:
Branding, Sorting, Doctoring
Fishing in high mountain lakes is available free of charge, and trips to Gold Medal sections of the Rio Grande and Conejos River for an additional cost can be arranged.
River Rafting:
Guided Hiking:
Yes-No Charge
Mountain Biking:
Shooting Sports:
Hay/Wagon Ride:
Adult Only Weeks:

Other Amenities

Whirlpool Spa:
Wheelchair Accessible:
Massage Available on Ranch:
Laundry Facilities:
Yes-No Charge
Information Technology Facilities:
AV equipment. WIFI, meeting room

Special Events

Conventions, Meetings & Retreats

Our meeting facility is complete with all top-of-the-line AV, wi-fi and floor-to-ceiling windows on one whole side of the facility that looks into one of our pastures. With 15 rooms (30 person capacity), experiences are intimate and easily customizable, providing plenty of time to take part in life on a real working ranch or experiencing the outdoor activities right in our backyard.
year round
Horseback Riding, Bison Tours, Hiking,and Fly Fishing, White Water Rafting and Skiing all nearby
Minimum Nights:


Our 17-bedroom, rustic chic lodge with an unobstructed view of the Great Sand Dunes National Park offers a personal, intimate venue for special events. Should you select to have your wedding with us, our staff - from our executive chef, Chase Kelley, who will work with you to customize a menu just for your event– will work together to make your wedding perfect.
Wedding Planning:
Sales Coordinator
Wedding Officiant:

Family Reunions

Book Entire Ranch: