June 4, 2017


Emily began her time at Ranchlands as a Zapata Ranch wrangler. She now runs programs during the Zapata guest season.

“We’ve got an hour before the sun sets, should we ride out and find some bison?”

And so kicked off our camp out on the Medano among the wild bison. A combination of laid-back spontaneity and the freedom of having 55,000 acres to yourself set the tone for the evening. With the tents set up and fire ring built, Kate, Jessie and I had our chores done and could go have some fun. We set off north in search of some bison, and find them we did, in a clearing of blooming wild iris, as well as a herd of elk making their way across the range. Heading east, we loped along Big Spring, flushing out jackrabbits along the way, and made our way back to camp before the sun slipped below the horizon.


Bison grazing amongst wild iris.

Loping along Big Sand Creek.

Loping along the creek bed.

The accommodations at the Zapata camp are luxurious yet simple: with a bed and dresser, you have the comforts of a cabin in the setting of a national park. Stepping foot outside the canvas tent, you are greeted with the most magnificent front porch view of the Great Sand Dunes backed by the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, while horses quietly graze by the stream that runs next to camp. Come mealtime, food is cooked over the fire and you gather to exchange stories of the day. As the sun gives way to the night sky, you become overwhelmed with the quiet beauty of the night, interrupted only by the yip of a distant coyote or the gentle sound of wind blowing through the grass.



Camping has always been one of my favorite things. Sleeping outside and cooking over a fire stands as a reminder that little is needed to be comfortable, and sometimes the less you have the happier you are. The Zapata tent camp offered nothing short of this profound experience, allowing one to fully embrace living in a wild place, without sacrificing comfort.


This month, Emily and the rest of the Zapata staff set up tents on the Medano as a test run for our new Ranchlands: Stay upscale camping vacations. This summer, we’re launching week-long tent camps at both the Medano-Zapata and Chico Basin Ranch. For more information and booking, contact us at stay@ranchlands.com // 719.428.5006 .

2 replies to “Zapata Tent Camps

  1. Kathi

    Yeah, that camp-out tent is nice, but show us the restroom…

    1. Ranchlands Review

      Not pictured are our brand new outhouse and outdoor shower!

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