Owned by The Nature Conservancy and managed by third-generation Colorado ranchers, Zapata Ranch is an authentic, 103,000-acre immersion into the West’s sustainable ranching heritage and classic rustic elegance. Fulfilling its mission to sustain Colorado’s unique biodiversity, Zapata Ranch promises one-of-a-kind, fully customizable ranch vacations marked by gourmet good, high-end amenities, and front row seats to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Crestone Peak, one of the most spectacular “14ers” in the entire Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range.

Property Details

Zapata Ranch exists in a magical setting where thousands of acres of meadows, wetlands, sand dunes, and cottonwood groves meet the towering 14,000-foot peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Sharing its home with the region’s resident elk, deer, eagles, and black bears, Zapata Ranch is a late 19th-century lodge turned sophisticated guesthouse, promoting authentic ranching vacations amid Colorado’s epic grandeur. The romance of the West is certainly alive here, with the elegant southwest décor, peaceful fresh mountain air, and secluded coziness of the lodge’s 15 guest rooms creating a sense of home within the historic setting. All of the rooms are spread across the original main lodge, chinked-log cabin bunkhouse, and the more exclusive Stewart House, ideal for large groups or families looking for more private experience during their stay.

Days at Zapata Ranch begin with a hot, satisfying breakfast before heading out for morning horseback and nature activities, homemade lunches packed in the saddle bag for the journey. Zapata Ranch boasts a full slate of ranching and horseback activities, allowing guests to work and move cattle, explore the surrounding San Luis Valley, venture to the adjacent 700-foot dunes of Great Sand Dunes National Park, or participate in special overnight packing trips into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, all the while marveling at one of the most scenic and ecologically diverse landscapes in the United States. Guests of Zapata Ranch are also welcome to work alongside the ranch’s wranglers and staff back at the ranch, rambling through the pastures and moving cattle on the Zapata side or visiting the Medano side’s 2,000-strong bison herd to learn about their essential role in preserving this biologically significant landscape. In addition to ranching and horseback activities, guests of Zapata Ranch have access to a plethora of “on the ground” pursuits, including guided nature hikes, gold medal fly-fishing, birding, wildlife watching, yoga sessions, geology tours, and whitewater rafting.

After a full day of activities in paradise, top it all off with a down home gourmet dinner in the cozy, lodge-style dining room. Chef Julia Corlett creates unforgettable gourmet family-style feasts utilizing the ranch’s own grass-fed beef and bison alongside San Luis Valley produce, always finished with a to-die-for homemade dessert. Finally, for the ultimate saddle leg cure, retire to the hot tub for an evening soak amid the stunning sand dune and mountainside scenery, the cherry on top to an unforgettable stay at Zapata Ranch.

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