Wrangler roping cattle at a US working ranch

Chico Basin Cattle Ranch Colorado

A riding holiday with a purpose for tough riders looking for "the real deal". Experience a week on an authentic Colorado working ranch. With a strong focus on environmental conservation your days are spent riding in the company of cowboys, moving cattle and sorting calves. Immerse yourself totally in the practices of a modern cattle ranch and spend a week as a real Colorado cowboy . This working ranch holiday is suitable for intermediate to advanced riders who enjoy working hard a part of a team, and who want to learn about ranching traditions from the inside.
Book now Print the details for this ride
Ranches and Cattle Drives
8 Days/5 riding days
From £1,995
Open to non-riders

From the horse’s mouth

  • Chico Basin Cattle Ranch Colorado
    October 2022 Danielle aged 43
    Honestly faultless service from initial enquiry through to travel. Always accessible, friendly and helpful. All horses very steady, and certainly quieter horses on the ranch for guests which is needed. Excellent throughout.
  • Wrangler amongst a small herd of cows on a ranch in Colorado
    This is a really authentic working ranch holiday in Colorado
  • Rider on a US ranch vacation in Chico Basin ranch, Colorado
    Working cattle at Chico Basin ranch, Colorado
  • Bulls butting heads at Chico Basin Ranch in Colorado
    Ride alongside the cowboys, moving cattle, sorting and monitoring the various herds.
  • Kate Matheson working cattle at Chico Basin ranch in Colorado
    Guests are able to learn by becoming actively involved in the day’s work
  • Wranglers branding a young calf at Chico Basin ranch, Colorado
    Branding day at Chico Basin Ranch, Colorado
  • Cowboys roping a young calf during a branding day
    Activities are varied and in the spring, you may attend a branding day
  • Cowboys getting the firepit ready for a branding day at Chico Basin ranch, Colorado
    Getting ready for a branding day - a big event at the ranch
  • Cowboy working cattle in the early morning light in Colorado
    Get up early and join the cowboys in their work on this US ranch holiday
  • Group of cattle at Chico Basin Ranch in Colorado
    Cattle waiting at Chico Basin Ranch in Colorado



- A family run working cattle ranch 30 miles from Colorado Springs.
- Ride alongside the cowboys, moving cattle, sorting and monitoring the various herds.
- Farming 87,000 acres the ranchers pay particular attention to conservation, wildlife and the environment.
- A very intimate ranch experience, with normally no more than 4 guests at a time (up to 8 for private groups).
- Enjoy the freedom of riding in vast open spaces.
  • Day 1 1 : EUROPE -COLORADO SPRINGS-RANCH (Saturday) - No riding

    Quality Inns & Suites Garden of the Gods
    Flight to Colorado Springs - flights not included.

    On your arrival into Colorado Springs, we suggest a night at a hotel in this charming city. Make the most of the opportunity to rest up and get over your jetlag before the great week ahead of you at the ranch! Please note that this night is not included in the advertised price, as you are free to make your own plans and book your preferred hotel. We are happy to provide you with a detailed quotation.

    This night in the hotel will allow you to rest up before you head out to the ranch the following day and help you recharge before a busy week working with the cowboys. In the evening, you will be free to try one of the local restaurants and explore the town a little.

    Flights and hotel night are not included in the price.
  • Day 2 2 : RANCH (Sunday) - No riding

    Chico basin ranch
    After breakfast, a wrangler will pick you up at the hotel around 1:00pm to drive you to the ranch.

    (If you prefer to arrive on Sunday to stay in this eight days instead of nine, a wrangler can pick you up at the airport before 20h. Please note: for arrivals at the ranch late Sunday evening, dinner is not provided)

    Sunday is a rest day. You can arrive early in the afternoon and use the free time to settle in, explore the area and meet the team.
  • Day 3 3 : RANCH - 4-8 hours riding

    Chico basin ranch
    Your first day at the ranch!

    The team provides all the equipment and supplies necessary for you to cook yourself your own breakfast and picnic. You will meet the team at the HQ, make sure to bring your packed lunch with you!

    Then it's time to go to the stables with the Cowboys, where you will be allocated your horse and equipment (if you are not familiar with Western riding, the wranglers will take the time to train you).

    All horses are extremely well trained and are the ideal companions for your adventure. You get to know each other with a ride across grassland. It's also your first opportunity to get close to the cattle and learn the ropes of cattle driving.

    Ride back to the Ranch and get ready for a hearty dinner, prepared by the team and taken family-style, all together. Every night, you will be welcome into the home of one of the staff or dinner (rotating between each staff member).

    IMPORTANT: The following program is provided as an indication, it is by no means exhaustive but reflects all the activities in which you are asked to paticipate.
    The weeks are dictated by the life on the farm, your desires and your experience. Every evening, you will discuss the following day's programme with the wranglers.
  • Day 4 4 : RANCH - 4-8 hours riding

    Chico basin ranch
    Today marks your first experience at driving cattle.

    Gather the cattle and drive them in the right direction. Depending on your abilities and your experience, you will be asked either to push them from the back or to catch the runaways.

    Chico Basin is an eco ranch - in order to preserve the pastures, the cattle have to be moved ofter from one pasture to another. The cowboys will be delighted to tell you more about their techniques and traditions - no need to push them!

    Breeding is done in the most natural possible way - no hormones, no antibiotics, which only means one thing: a mean steak dinner in the evening!
  • Day 5 5 : RANCH - 4-8 hours riding

    Chico basin ranch
    After a hearty breakfast (of your own making),a long ride will take you through the vast grassland of the Ranch.

    Checking and mending the fence might be on the menu today. You will cover long distances to check the entirety of the estate, with some good gallops to keep up the pace. You will also make the best of this ride and check the herd - it is important to check for signs of illness or wounds. In the springtime, you might also spot a newly born calf!

    You will be back at the Ranch in the middle of the afternoon, with some time to relax before dinner.
  • Day 6 6 : RANCH - 4-8 hours riding

    Chico basin ranch
    If you are lucky and going to the ranch in the spring time, you may be able to participate in a big branding day.

    This traditional event is an absolute necessity at the Ranch. It allows wranglers and ranchers to identify their animals as they sometimes get mixed up with other herds. Branding is traditionally done around springtime.

    After going through the cattle to identify the individuals that need to be branded, fires are lit and it's time to get down and roll up your sleeves. Learn how to use a lasso to catch the calves, before branding and vaccinating them.

    You will be assigned a task suiting your experience fitness levels. Some guests stay on horseback and control the herd, while others work with the calves. Make sure to tell the wranglers what you are comfortable with.
  • Day 7 7 : RANCH - 4-8 hours riding

    Chico basin ranch
    Several cows and their calves must be moved to another pasture. You ride slowly to make sure you don't loose any calves, still weak and definitely not too quick! By now, you should be able to drive cattle and overcome any obstacles you might encounter. Gates no longer stop you!

    You might also have a chance to get close to some birds and deers.

    After breakfast, you say your goodbyes to the team - or rather, your "see you next year". If your flight is late enough, you might go for one last morning ride.

    Transfer to Colorado Springs (payable locally) or extend your trip with a Colorado road trip. Please contact us for extensions.

    Flight to Europe.

Dates & prices

Price details

- Flights or transportation to your destination (international/domestic) are not included, but can be booked on request - please contact us for rates.     

- Rates are per person, calculated on the basis of a 6-night's stay and are based on a shared bedroom and bathroom. The groups are composed of 2 to 4 riders maximum. Private groups can be of 6 riders.

- Longer stays are possible, but all arrivals at the ranch are on Sundays. There is no horseback riding on the day of arrival and there are no guided activities on Sundays at the Chico Basin Ranch. If you spend 2 weeks at the ranch some non riding activities will be proposed like fishing, hiking or others activities outside the ranch (to be paid additionally and locally). Please contact us.

- Your first night at the hotel is not included but we would be happy to add to your quotation.

- Children aged 6-11 years get a discount of around $399/€350/£315 in 2022, or $440/€450/£395 in 2023 (please contact us for the exact rate). The minimum age to ride at the ranch is 8 yo.

- Transfers to or from Colorado springs are not included. Count about $75 per car each way, payable locally.

- Tips to the local team are compulsory in the USA and represent around 15-20% of the cost of your stay. These are payable locally.

- An electronic travel authorisation (ESTA) is required to enter the USA. It is your responsibility to organise this. Please visit https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/ and contact us if you need help.
Please Note
The itinerary may be modified at anytime for security reasons, meteorological or events beyond our control such as blocked roads, rivers in flood, drought, strikes and local holidays. Equus Journeys, our local partners and their local guides will always strive to find the best solution and will alter the itinerary as needed.
The names of the hotels and accommodation are given for information only and depending on availability, they may be modified without notice and replaced by another of a similar standard.

Price includes

Support Team

1 English speaking ranch team
1 English speaking horse guide


2-3 horses equipped with western saddle and bridle per rider


On the ranch : 6 nights in a double room in a lodge with a sitting room and shared bathroom


Full board from dinner on arrival day at the ranch to breakfast on the check-out day

Additional equipment

Saddle bags

Price doesn't include


Beverages and personal extras


International flights that we can book for you upon request
Transfers by car from Colorado Springs to the ranch
Visa fee (ESTA) - this must be arranged in advance


Tips to the local team are compulsory in USA and represent around 15-20% of the cost of your stay


Cancellation and travel insurance are not included. Please note that insurance is mandatory. We recommend taking out an insurance policy as soon as your trip is booked in case of cancellation.



One night at a hotel in Colorado Springs
  • Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    01/04/2023 08/04/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Guaranteed departure Book now
    08/04/2023 15/04/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    15/04/2023 22/04/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    22/04/2023 29/04/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Guaranteed departure Book now
    29/04/2023 06/05/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Guaranteed departure Book now
  • Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    06/05/2023 13/05/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Guaranteed departure Book now
    13/05/2023 20/05/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    20/05/2023 27/05/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    27/05/2023 03/06/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    03/06/2023 10/06/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    10/06/2023 17/06/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Guaranteed departure Book now
    17/06/2023 24/06/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    24/06/2023 01/07/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
  • Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    01/07/2023 08/07/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    08/07/2023 15/07/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    15/07/2023 22/07/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    22/07/2023 29/07/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    29/07/2023 05/08/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Guaranteed departure Book now
    05/08/2023 12/08/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Guaranteed departure Book now
    12/08/2023 19/08/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    19/08/2023 26/08/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Guaranteed departure Book now
    26/08/2023 02/09/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
  • Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    02/09/2023 09/09/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Guaranteed departure Book now
    09/09/2023 16/09/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Guaranteed departure Book now
    16/09/2023 23/09/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Guaranteed departure Book now
    23/09/2023 30/09/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Guaranteed departure Book now
    30/09/2023 07/10/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    07/10/2023 14/10/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    14/10/2023 21/10/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    21/10/2023 28/10/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full
    28/10/2023 04/11/2023 £1,995 €2,254 $2,474 Full

Equestrian info


The ranch has more than twenty quarter horses, all of which have been born and bred at Chico. They are all broken in on the ranch and are excellent ranch horses that know their jobs. They are trained throughout the year by the wranglers and are between 14.2hh and 15hh.

All horses are ridden western style.

Minimum riding ability

Minimum riding ability

This trip is for experienced riders not afraid of hard work. You have to be comfortable at all paces in some open fields.
Children under 8 years old can ride inside the ranch. Over 8 years old and if matching the riding level children can join the outside activities accompanied of their parents.

Rider weight limit: 105 kg / 16st4 / 230 lbs.


You will 4-8 hours riding depending on the ranch activities.
Long canters and trot or jog (sitting in the saddle) depending on what needs to be done - working directly with the cattle will be, on the other hand, slow.

Tacking ability and participation

You will be asked to groom, tack and untack your horse.
You may wish to take part in the daily tasks of the ranch like watching the cattle, mending fences...

Trip conditions and Requested experience

An experience of Western riding style and cattle work are not compulsory for this stay, but is recommended. Days in the saddle can be very long and this is a real working ranch experience - very far from the romantic idea of a guest ranch.

Although the Chico is a serious working ranch, the team will not expect you to do more than you want.

Equestrian equipment

Western tack
Front saddle bags
A rope to attach your jacket at the back of the saddle

We recommend our riders to wear a helmet to the correct standard and you should bring your own to ensure a proper fit.

Travel info


Accommodation is in a bunkhouse with only two rooms available to guests. Each room is spacious and comfortable and has a double and two single beds. Guests who don't know each other are not expected to share a room. All bedding and towels are provided.

Both rooms share a bathroom and open plan kitchen sitting area. A washing machine and tumble dryer are available.

WiFi is available although signal in the rooms can be very weak.


The fridge will be packed with ingredients for you to prepare your own breakfast (cereal, toast, yoghurt) and lunch (bread, cheese, cold cuts, chocolate bars, fruit...).

Dinners are prepared by the staff and taken all together in their personal homes.

If you wish to drink alcohol you have to bring some as the ranch doesn't have a license to and is a BYOB type. (Bring Your Own Bottle).


Plains of Colorado

- Dry winters with an occasional wind-blown snow. Some very cold temperatures alternating with some surprisingly warm days.
- Windy springs with highly changeable weather, an occasional blizzard, large temperature changes and an occasional gentle soaking rain or wet snow to help nurture the grasslands.
- Low-humidity summers with hot days and comfortable nights -- The Threat of big thunderstorms is always there, and the Plains see some of the most ferocious hail storms of the entire continent.
- Pleasant falls -- often dry.

Overall it is a semi-arid with precipitations gradually increasing as you go eastward into Kansas and Nebraska. Dry winters, wetter springs and summer, highly changeable weather, often windy, and some occasional monstrous thunderstorms with damaging hail.

Guide and local team

English speaking staff.
The ranch is supervised by an environment protection association. The terrains and fields of the ranch are managed in an ecological and holistic way. The wranglers and the staff are either employed or volunteers. They are very friendly and do their best to make the most of your stay. Some of them are sometimes a little talkative because of their shyness. Go first and talk with them!


Tips are compulsory in USA. Local team expects to get 15-20% of the cost of your stay.

Packing list

- Equus Journeys strongly recommend that you wear a riding helmet and that you take your own to ensure a correct fit.
- Sunhat for when not riding
- Sunglasses - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Buff or bandana

Upper body
- Thermals (long or short sleeved)
- Long sleeved shirts provide protection from the sun and are an extra layer
- T-shirts
- Lightweight fleece or jumper
- Warm fleece or jumper (and a spare in case one gets wet)
- Warm and waterproof jacket - it can rain at any time of year and the evenings can be particularly cold

- Lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs - we recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- Shorts
- Casual clothes for the evening

Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend western boots or short boots with half chaps but you may wish to take long chaps. We don't recommend taking your favourite long leather boots in case they get damaged
- Sandals, flip-flops or trainers
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun whilst riding

- Pyjamas

Other useful items
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
- Bumbag for carrying your camera and small items whilst riding
- Headtorch or small torch
- Water bottle (2 litres or 2 x 1 litre) - 1 bottle will be provided by the ranch
- Swiss army knife
- Small plastic bags for rubbish
- Ear plugs (for light sleepers)

Medical kit
- Any medication you regularly take
- Sunscreen and lip balm - should be high factor
- Insect repellent, preferably containing deet
- Blister plasters in case of any rubs
- Antiseptic cream, plasters, aspirin, anti-histamine, insect-bite salve etc...
- Spare prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Eye drops
- Imodium or similar anti-diarrhoea medication
- Re-hydration sachets
- Antiseptic wipes
- Handwash gel

Our Recommendations
- Backpacks cannot be worn whilst riding. We recommend a small bumbag or a coat with pockets so that you can carry small items with you during the day (passport, camera, sunscreen, lipbalm etc)
- We recommend travelling in your riding boots and carrying your hat and some riding clothes in your hand luggage - then if your luggage goes astray you are still able to ride!
- We recommend taking a copy of your passport and insurance documents with you in case you lose your originals

Visa & Health


It is your responsibility to ensure you have the valid visa requirements for entry. We will endeavour to keep this section up to date, but please visit https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors for further information.

You’ll need prior authorisation to enter the United States using a British passport, either through a visa, a Permanent Resident Card, or the Visa Waiver Programme. To enter the United States of America, a passport valid for the duration of stay is required by Australian, British, Canadian and other EU nationals.

Most passport holders can get an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) through the Visa Waiver Programme, which allows travel to the US for up to 90 days. Visit the official US website to apply for your ESTA: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/
All travellers entering the USA under the Visa Waiver Program require individual machine-readable passports. Children included on a parent's passport also require their own machine-readable passport. Travellers not in possession of machine-readable passports require a valid USA entry visa.

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) aren’t valid for entry into the United States or transit through the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme; if you’re planning to enter or transit through the US using an ETD you must apply for a visa from the nearest US embassy or consulate before you travel, or hold a valid lawful permanent resident card (often referred to as a ‘green card’), which you must have with you on arrival; you can leave the US using an ETD that has been issued in the United States

Visitors to the USA travelling under the Visa Waiver Program must obtain authorisation from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), a fully automated, electronic system for screening passengers before they begin travel to the USA, if arriving by air or sea. It is recommended that applications are made at least 72 hours prior to travel but you may apply at any time prior to travel. Airlines must now deny check-in to passengers without a valid ESTA. There is a US$14 fee. An ESTA is valid for two years, so if you've applied for one previously, ensure it's still valid.

When applying for ESTA-authorisation and entering the passport number, the number 0 must not be replaced by letter O as this can lead to problems upon entering the USA. The granting of an ESTA does not guarantee entry to the USA. Canadian citizens do not require an ESTA, but permanent residents of Canada who are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program must obtain one.

If you don’t qualify for entry under the VWP, and don’t have a US Permanent Resident Card, you should apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate before travelling.

Holders of UK passports with the endorsement British Subject, British Dependent Territories Citizen, British Protected Person, British Overseas Citizen or British National (Overseas) Citizen do not qualify for the Visa Waiver Program and need to obtain a visa.

Travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):

- Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
- Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.

If you are travelling to the USA visa Canada, please remember you also need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), mandatory for anyone transiting through Canada. Completing ESTA formalities do not replace your eTA.

Addresses of consulates

  • Paris | Ambassade des Etats-Unis
    2, avenue Gabriel
    75008 paris
    Tél. :
    Fax :
  • Ambassade de France aux Etats-Unis
    4101 Reservoir Road, N.W.
    20007 Washington D.C.
    Tél. : +1 (202) 944 60 00
    Fax :
  • US Embassy
    24 Grosvenor Square
    W1A 2LQ London
    Tél. : 020 7499-9000
    Fax :


There are no vaccinations required for entering the United States. If you are entering from a yellow fever endemic area (or you have been to one within 7 days of entering the country), you may be required to show proof of immunization. Recommended vaccinations include Tetanus(Lockjaw), Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Rabies vaccinations are sometimes recommended for wilderness travel and/or wildlife volunteer projects. Lyme disease is endemic in the northeastern, Mid-Atlantic and upper Midwest areas and transmitted via blacklegged ticks.

Travel insurance that provides medical coverage is a requirement for visitors to the US. Only emergency cases are treated without prior payment and treatment may be refused without evidence of insurance or a deposit. All receipts for services rendered must be kept in order to make a claim. Medical care in the United States tends to be quite expensive, especially for emergency treatment provided in hospital settings, paid for out of pocket.


It is a condition of your booking with Equus Journeys that you have travel insurance which covers you for the riding activities to be undertaken. Your travel insurance should cover you for medical expenses and repatriation. Your guides will require your travel insurance details before they allow you to ride and may refuse to let you ride if you cannot provide them. You should take your insurance documents with you.


120 volts AC, 60Hz. Plugs have two flat pins with or without a third round grounding pin

Budget and money

The US Dollar, is the national currency of the United States. One dollar consists of 100 cents. Frequently used coins are the penny (1¢), nickel (5¢), dime (10¢) and quarter (25¢). 50¢ and $1 coins also exist, but are rarely used. Frequently used banknotes are the $1, $5, $10 and $20 notes. $2, $50 and $100 notes can also be found, but are rarely used.
Most major credit cards are accepted throughout the USA, including American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. Visitors are advised to carry at least one major credit card, as it is common to request pre-payment or a credit card imprint for hotel rooms and car hire, even when final payment is not by credit card. Be sure to check with your card issuer for current surcharge rates imposed for use of the card outside your home country. You should also inform your issuer that you are travelling for a specified period so your card is not flagged or temporarily suspended.

Bank-issued debit cards are accepted at many businesses in the US; however, using them to pay for many travel-related expenses, such as car hire and hotel rooms, often incurs a surcharge, deposit, or a hold on your account.

Telephone and jetlag

The dialling code for the USA is +1

The country stradles a number of different time zones. Eastern Daylight time (eg. New York) is GMT -4. Mountain Daylight time (eg. Montana) is GMT -6. Pacific Daylight time (eg. California) is GMT -7.

Did you know?

Did you know?

Life on a working ranch

A working ranch holiday in the United States is a riding vacation where you will be asked to roll up your sleeves. Be ready to step in the shoes of the local wranglers, taking part in their daily routine. You will contribute to the operation of the ranch: tasks are varied and concrete, and you might be asked to check and mend fences, move cattle from one pasture to another, help brand and vaccinate the calves... Not for the faint of heart, a working ranch is a great place to push your limits and reconnect with nature.

Staying on a working ranch is an incredibly enriching experience and requires a positive attitude, good physical and riding abilities, and an open mind. The outdoors lifestyle and the routine of the ranch will soon come naturally to you!  

On the blog

Read about Equus team member Jo's adventures at Chico Basin on the blog: https://blog.equus-journeys.com/en/post/8/jo-visits-chico-basin

Customer reviews

Customer reviews

All of our reviews are real, honest opinions from riders who have recently travelled with us. Upon their return, our riders will receive an email inviting them to share their experiences from their trip. Good or bad, each review will be published on our website, provided that they respect our editorial guidelines.
  • Danielle aged 43 Boldmere 1 trip
    October 2022
    Honestly faultless service from initial enquiry through to travel. Always accessible, friendly and helpful. All horses very steady, and certainly quieter horses on the ranch for guests which is needed. Excellent throughout.
    • Horses
    • Programme
    • Accommodation
    • Local guide