Channel Your Inner Cowboy at Ranchlands in Mosca

Neighboring Great Sand Dunes National Park, Zapata Ranch is a gathering space for travelers and locals alike seeking to learn the ways of ranching
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Photography courtesy Zapata Ranch

Guests take a step back in time, visiting the wild, wild west at Zapata Ranch in Mosca, Colorado. Authentic cowboy hat-wearing folks saddle up on horses to ride alongside wild buffalo. Dust blows in the wind. Families come together to harvest herbs and seasonal vegetables from the property’s gardens. It’s a scene plucked right out of a western novel, but in reality, it exists a four-hour drive south of Denver.


Rooted in land conservation, Ranchlands strives to preserve ranching heritage and traditions while educating the public through interactive experiences. The company manages four ranches on top of Zapata Ranch. Uniquely, Zapata is owned by The Nature Conservancy in a one-of-a-kind partnership. All teams come together in their shared mission.


Zapata Ranch manager Kate Matheson has lived full-time on the property for 11 years. “Since the day I arrived with my family, I’ve been exploring the land. It’s constantly evolving and changing,” says Matheson. It was the multilayer ranching and progressive methods of management that peaked Matheson’s imagination. “I feel head over heels for this place and never looked back.” 


On the property sits a 17-room lodge built as a homestead in the 1800s. Fitted to house an intimate group of visitors, the experience caters to the individuals’ specific needs and interests. “Before arrival, visitors chat with a program manager to determine the best activities to enjoy during their stay,” says Matheson. The Zapata team hand-picks each guest’s itinerary with a range of options. “We pride ourselves in being accessible for beginners and experts. All of our programs adapt to skill level.” There is roughly one wrangler per four guests offering a personal experience. 


Depending on the season, visitors can expect a change in endeavors. Sandhill cranes migrate in March, creating a session around photographing their beauty. Bison and other animals’ breeding season makes for active wildlife watching, especially with their babies running around. After a day spent in the great outdoors, Zapata Ranch prepares a luxury meal using ranch-raised bison, local valley trout and garden vegetables. As the seasons change, so does the menu. It’s an authentic experience of living off the land.

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On the premises is a mercantile shop with hand-picked quality gear. Products are made authentically on the ranch and sourced from local artisans that align with the Ranchlands mission. With an array of eclectic and beautiful items, guests can get decked out in western wear or have a high-quality souvenir to remember their experience. In place of a trinket or clothing, Ranchlands has recently launched a direct-to-consumer meat business. Their grass-fed beef is enjoyed even after a guest leaves the property.

Interested travelers can book a trip to Zapata Ranch here

Categories: Colorado Destinations