Our thoughtful experts are ready with ideas, inspiration and advice for your next journey.
Zapata Ranch is a beautiful 103,000-acre working cattle and bison ranch located on the eastern wall of the San Luis Valley in Colorado and bordered on one side by the new Great Sand Dunes National Park. Guests at the ranch can relax, explore the beautiful surroundings or learn about the ecosystem, the bison and the ranch way of life, helping out with activities such as cattle branding and fence repairs.
Accommodation is in the Zapata Ranch Headquarters and Lodge, dating back to the late 1800s. The log cabin-style Lodge houses five elegant rooms with tiled bathrooms and views of sand dunes and mountains from their private hot tubs. The Lodge is also home to the ranch dining room and deck area. Given that Zapata is all about experiencing life on a ranch, the meals on offer tend to the hearty end of the spectrum, designed to provide enough energy for a day in the saddle and often using fresh foodstuffs produced on the ranch (including delicious bison steaks). Opposite the Lodge is the Bunkhouse, with an additional five rooms, and for families or groups of friends looking for a private hire experience, the Stewart House has another five bedrooms, kitchen, dining room and all important pool table.
Activities on offer include nature walks in the National Park and the Medano meadows, fly fishing for trout on local rivers, wildlife walks, rafting and, of course, the full-on cowboy experience, riding out with the ranch wranglers and generally getting your hands dirty while learning about the management and philosophy behind the ranch. After a hard day's wrangling, guests can enjoy something that the original cowboys could only have dreamt of - massages and yoga sessions.
Why we love it
When not fulfilling your latent cowboy fantasies, keep an eye out for the elk, deer, eagles and black bears that inhabit the desert grasslands, forests, wetlands, dunes and meadows of what is one of the most eco-diverse landscapes in the US.
Alexandra, Original Traveller