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“An Incredible Place to Remember & Return to!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Zapata Ranch - A Nature Conservancy Preserve

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Zapata Ranch - A Nature Conservancy Preserve
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3.0 of 5 Ranch   |   5305 State Hwy. 150, Mosca, CO 81146   |  
Hotel amenities
New York City, New York
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“An Incredible Place to Remember & Return to!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 5, 2012

We just returned from an amazing trip to Colorado. The part we all agreed was the best was our 3 day stay at Zapata. We were 2 families with 5 kids between us, with extremely varied riding experiences (ages 6-12). All the kids had a fantastic time. The staff was incredibly knowledgeable & wonderful w/the kids and some of us timid adults too. They tailored everything to our needs. We rode the happiest horses up close to cattle, fed a baby buffalo, drove up close to buffalo, climbed sand dunes. Being with staff who really 'knew' the animals and loved being with them made all the difference to us. Riding horses out on the range was so much better than nose to tail trails we'd ridden before. We rode over streams and trotted over grasslands. Our oldest daughter who wanted to take off was allowed to with one of the guides. We were in love w/our horses and wanted to take them home by end of the first ride. To be this close to life on the range and for the kids to experience this firsthand was priceless. We want to go back and do an overnight pack trip (we saw the excited faces of those who had just returned from one while we were there). Thank you, Zapata! (PS We accidently left swimsuits behind and they mailed them to us the next day!)

Room Tip: All rooms were great!
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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62 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (25)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Cincinnati
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2012

My wife and I stayed recently at the Zapata Ranch and one of the most enjoyable aspects of our visit was the flexible riding program. We've stayed at several other guest ranches and we found a couple of aspects of Zapata's program to be unique in our experience. For one thing, we got a sack lunch every day. The first day we said, "really, you are going to give us a sack lunch?". But having a sack lunch meant that we could extend our ride as long or as short as we wished and not have to be back at the ranch at a set time for lunch. A couple of days we stopped and ate lunch while out riding, one day we choose to just keep riding and eat later - way different from having to be back at 11:30! Another aspect that we enjoyed was riding up with different people instead of nose-to-tail all the time. We amicably visited with other guests and staff during the rides which hasn't always happened at other guest ranches that we've been to. We were also asked every night at dinner what type of ride we'd like to take the next day - usually we responded by describing terrain. We found this to be a nice change from "slow/scenic, trot or canter" rides available at other guest ranches. We were able to choose the gait we wanted while out on the trail rather than preselecting ourselves into a ride constrained by gait. Lastly, while all guest ranches claim that they will swap horses for you if you aren't happy with your mount, that has not always been our experience. Zapata was happy to accommodate my wife's request to switch to another horse after the first day, and follow up to make sure she liked the second horse. All in all, an unusual and enjoyable horse riding program!

Room Tip: Ask for room with good cross ventilation.
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Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
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Columbia, South Carolina
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 20, 2012

In mid May, 2012 I traveled from Columbia, S.C. across this great nation to visit the 100,000 acre bison preserve and nature conservancy called Zapata Ranch. Within moments of arriving I felt privileged. It was as though my eyes gazing upon this sacred place gave me an insight that few others will have the chance to see. If you go anywhere in your life, go to Zapata. See what I saw. Feel what I felt. Know you are privileged to see this untouched world.

I flew into Denver and chose to drive nearly 5 hours through scenic highways 285 and 17 in northwestern Colorado. Do yourself a favor and make this journey. The land twists and turns around you; Mountain sides scrape your left while vast prairies and canyons nip at your toes from the right. The land here feels magnificent, untouched, unspoiled and vast as the imagination of a child. It is unending in its size and its beauty.

When I arrived at Zapata I’m not ashamed to admit that I was a bit intimidated by some of the other guests. They were experienced riders and when asked “Western or English?” I stared at them blankly as though I were an alien. I was a novice to say the least. The staff greeted me with such warmth and comfort though that I found myself excited at the prospect of mounting a horse the next morning for a ride through the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Carla, my guide, was superb. Not for a single moment did I feel like the novice that I was. We walked carefully and slowly, stopping often for pictures of the great dunes as they cascade down the hills and rise sharply up the banks of the mountains they rest upon. This would be the first of several occasions wherein Carla, Asta, Kate, Mike and other staff members made a profound impression upon me.

Zapata’s beauty lies in two places: The earthly things that are within its gates and the unearthly things which exude from their staff member’s hearts. Each came to Zapata under different circumstances yet each profoundly made an impact on my stay.

Mike, Zapata’s chef, brought more than a fine meal to each table. He was at the lodge in the early morning as I drank my coffee on the patio watching the moon fade away and the sun rise over the great Cottonwood trees. Our conversations about collard greens and local potatoes which are bountiful in the area gave way to conversations about the ranch and the lifestyle lived upon it.

Branding and herding were other exceptional experiences that proved hard on my hands but soft on my heart. There is something quite powerful about the sense of accomplishment one gains after holding a calf during vaccinations. It is not as hard to watch as one might imagine, but rather a vital part of ranch life that protects these precious animals. An abandoned calf was discovered en route which we later bottle fed and named “Thomas”.

There is nothing at Zapata you cannot do. In fact, you can do as much or as little as you life. I recommend the former, though, for when in your life will you have the experience again? Seize everything Zapata has to offer. Take it with both hands, hang onto it as fiercely as you grip your horses reins and Zapata will give back to you tenfold.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2012 via mobile

My daughter and I enjoyed our stay along with a riding buddy . We met numerous interesting people including international guests and a diverse group of staff . The accommodations were very comfortable. The dining was excellent. The horses were wonderful . As experienced riders, we were thrilled to have mounts that responded to you as a rider . They have a wide assortment that allows them to match skills and horse. The cattle work was so fun. We spent 6 hours out on the range moving cattle ....the time flew by. The trail ride to the Sand Dunes was one of the most beautiful sites I have experienced. Riding to see the bison herd was amazing. And camping the one night was so much fun. Thanks to everyone at Zapata Ranch for making our trip an adventure of a life time !! Chris, Jes and Alyssa

  • Stayed June 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Arlington, Virginia
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 16, 2012

Five grandparents and five grandsons had a most magical five day adventure at Zapata Ranch in June 2012. A true "old west" working ranch where you are exceedingly well cared for and an excellent introduction to the Nature Conservancy partnering with ranch management in the new age. We hiked to Zapata Falls, saw the bison herd of 2000+, toured the old Medano Ranch, rode horses, ate like cowboys, swam, flew kites, enjoyed the hot tub, marveled at the grand sunsets and scenery, visited the Great Sand Dunes National Park and climbed the dunes ... tons of fun for all. The Duke and Janet Phillips family are very special and welcoming - you are part of the family and really feel like you are a living part of working ranch. Absolutely outstanding!

Room Tip: The rooms were perfect! We stayed in "Beetle Room."
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saint Louis, Missouri
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2012

My wife and I recently spent 3 nights at Zapata and WOW...what a wonderful experience!! We had decided before arriving that we were going there just to relax and not join in on any of the workings of the ranch but once there, we joined in and could not have been more pleased. Hearding cattle was a blast! The trail rides on horseback through the sand dunes was like riding in the old west of the 1800's. Mike, the chef at the ranch, prepares the best meals so be prepared to eat. Asta and the entire crew make you feel so comfortable regardless of your ranch or riding experience. The accomodations are outstanding and we both hope to make another trip to the ranch someday very soon. Thank you Zapata for a vacation that will not soon be forgotten!!

Ted & Janice Habeck
St. Louis, Mo.

Room Tip: The bird room is the best!!!
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 17, 2012 via mobile

Zapata Ranch provides a real taste of ranch life in a magnificent setting. It is not just horseback riding in a long line for a couple of hours. It is being able to join in with the working life of the ranch and learning while you are having lots of fun. The staff gives you individual attention and responds with activities to match your wishes. All this and good food.

  • Stayed April 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Zapata Ranch - A Nature Conservancy Preserve

Address: 5305 State Hwy. 150, Mosca, CO 81146
Location: United States > Colorado > Mosca
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Specialty Lodging in Mosca
Hotel Class:3 star — Zapata Ranch - A Nature Conservancy Preserve 3*
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Spectacular setting. One of the most unique ranches in North America bordered by the Sand Dunes National Park and Sangre de Cristo Mountain range. 103,000 acres with bison and cattle. Excellent working ranch opportunities and educational, conservation and nature experiences. Be sure to ask about Branding Week, Sandhill Crane Photo Trip, Painting and Photography Workshops, Horsemanship & Roping Clinics and Corporate/Family Retreat Capacities. Gourmet Chef, 4-star rustic elegance, hot tub and walking trails on grounds. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Zapata Ranch - A Nature Conservancy Preserve Colorado/Mosca

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