Zapata Ranch

To view entries by location, click on a ranch name: Zapata Ranch // Chico Basin Ranch

about ZAPATA RANCH

The Zapata Ranch is a 103,000-acre bison and guest ranch owned by The Nature Conservancy. Located on the eastern wall of the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado near the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, the Zapata consists of high desert grasslands, alpine forests, wetlands, sand dunes, creeks, and lush meadows that offer one of the most scenic and ecologically diverse landscapes in the United States.

July 23, 2010

A Good Night

Last weekend Matthias and Paula from Germany and the Reiss family from New York spent a lot of time in the high prairie with us moving cattle. They were all great guests and Matthias and I got to talking about the wonders of whiskey. He is a connoisseur and thinking of starting up his own distillery in Germany.

Everyone had fun and after a big meal we all sat around and Duke and I had our first public “concert”. We played

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July 21, 2010

Rain

Yesterday afternoon, the clouds rolled in, opened up, and dumped a full inch of rain on the Zapata side of the ranch. We have been waiting for this storm for months now so that we can have the cattle grazing on it into the fall.  Over the next couple weeks, we’ll almost be able to watch the grass grow, especially if we get another storm soon.

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July 16, 2010

The Ed Center

Yesterday we had meetings in the Ed Room, which is a big restored barn right next to the lodge.

The meetings always seem to be productive here because one side of the barn is completely made up of windows that look out over a pasture and in the room are plenty of helpful meeting tools. The room is stocked with a huge projection screen, projector, speakers, giant writing pads and easels, conference tables, 50 plus chairs and wireless internet. So if

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July 2, 2010

Artists Working Together

If you are an artist or have ever been a part of a live model session you may already know this, but I found it amazing that all of the different artists, and all truly skilled and seasoned at what they do, were able to agree on one position for the live session we had on the last afternoon.

There are countless positions the horse could have been in, the rider could have been in, where they stood and on and

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June 30, 2010

11th Annual Artist Gathering

We’ve just finished up our 11th annual artist gathering at the Zapata and are beaming with anticipation for September’s show. This year we had 29 artists from Colorado and Wyoming, the largest group yet. The weather cooperated well and blue skies and 80-degrees gave way to thunder and lightening storms on two separate occasions which will surely make for some great work!

Perhaps our favorite part of the event are the nightly shows. After dinner, each person brings out three or

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June 24, 2010

The First Ranchlands Music Series

Two weeks ago the Chico opened up the beautiful Bell Park with its first ever concert and camping and with the concert being a hit, they’ve decided to open up the park for all types of events and more concerts. Tess and I actually had our wedding at the Bell Park and even though I’m bias, it was a really, really beautiful setting. The park is in a huge cottonwood grove with a view of Pikes Peak, a lodge pole

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June 15, 2010

Big Crowd

The bison have been gathering in big, impressive herds lately, which has been fun to see. It seems like the individual characteristics and mannerisms become magnified in these big herds because of all the wallowing in the dirt, playing around etc. is being seen on such a larger scale. The whole herd kind of brings the field to life with some eating and swooshing their tails, some playing and some wallowing pushing big dust clouds into the air. So you

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June 7, 2010

Summer is around the corner…

One of the coolest thing about the living on the ranch is watching the seasons change. Spring brings color and birth for plants and animals alike and Summer enhances this color and fosters growth. Fall tints the landscape golden, closes out the peak of our guest season and gives way to Winter, which offers moisture and rest. It’s a healthy cycle. I took this picture last week while out with a tour.  The bison are shedding their winter coats, revealing

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May 28, 2010

Branding Day Oysters

We had our big branding of the year this week and several guests shared the experience with us. We branded about 150 calves in all and it took about 4 hours. The weather was beautiful, finally spring-like, and there were a lot of firsts for everyone.

In particular, The Beaufils, our guests from France, had several firsts. Most notable was Hugh, who had his first rocky mountain oyster, specially prepared on the branding iron stove.

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October 29, 2009

Blizzard

Last night after dinner, David and I stayed at the lodge and played a couple of games of cribbage with our guests, Susan and Jim, from New Jersey.  We had a great Mahi Mahi and vegetable dinner from Mike, and enjoyed it to the warmth of a huge fire in the fireplace. When we left about 9:30, we joked about how Jim and Susan were going to have a cold snowy ride today and sure enough, as we opened the

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