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
Lodging OverviewAccommodations 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 OverviewZapata 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 OverviewThe 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.