from 8 y.o
- Ride alongside the wranglers, moving cattle, sorting and monitoring the herds
- Cattle work is always on offer when available
- Explore on foot and on horseback the largest dunes in North America
- Special weeks for branding, horsemanship, photography and more
- Many activities for non riders including walking, fly-fishing in local streams, birding, wildlife watching, geology tours, massages, rafting
- Recommended arrivals is Sunday, though the ranch can be flexible.
Day 1 1 : EUROPE - ALAMOSA/DENVER - ZAPATA RANCHZapata RanchYour best option is to fly into Denver or Colorado Springs airport. You can rent a car and drive to the Ranch (c. 4h drive from Denver Airport). Contact us for directions.
Alternatively you can fly into Alamosa from London, where you will be met at the airport and transferred to Zapata Ranch (about 30min). Please note that flights to Alamosa are widely unreliable and frequently cancelled.
Dinner on the ranch will be served at around 18:30 over which you will have some time to relax and enjoy the evening getting to know your hosts and the other riders.
If your plane arrives later in the evening, we recommend that you arrive the day before your stay and spend the night in Alamosa -we can book flights and hotels on request. Late night transfers may not be possible.
"Check-in" at the ranch is usually between 14:00 and 17:00 so if you plan to arrive after 17:00, please tell us so we can notify the ranch.
Flights or hotel nights are not included.
Day 2 2 : ZAPATA RANCH - 4-5 hours ridingZapata RanchAfter a hearty breakfast, you will head to the corral to meet your horse. You will receive an orientation on western riding and proper horsemanship. Your wrangler will offer instruction throughout your ride to ensure a great ride and relationship with your horse.
Explore the 50,000 acres of the eastern side of the ranch-- through the ranch pastures, arroyos and vast landscape. After lunch, you could choose to watch a roundpen demonstration at the corrals or enjoy a riding lesson. Riding groups are around 4 - 5 riders and will be split according to their level; levels will be noted on pre-arrival materials prior to arrival and confirmed at orientation.
Enjoy a hike to a local waterfall after your ride, or relax on the lawn. Please note: the ranch team will create an itinerary before your arrival. Any specific activities you'd like to do should be passed on to us in advance so it can be included in your itinerary (see dates and prices)
IMPORTANT: Both the above and the following programme is provided as a guide, it is by no means exhaustive but reflects all of the activities in which you are able to participate. The weeks are centred around the ranch schedule and the riding experience you want to have, each evening, a member of staff will be at your disposal to discuss your week should you need to make adjustments.
Day 3 3 : ZAPATA RANCH - 4-5 hours ridingZapata RanchWith your packed lunch in your saddlebag, ride out to see the wild bison herd. Riding up onto the plains to see these powerful animals in their pasture is truly magnificent; the ranch's bison herd is seen as a “conservation species,” the herd has free reign of 50,000 acres of pasture and they live as they were for thousands of years before being hunted to the edge extinction in the nineteenth century.
You may also see elk, pronghorn, coyotes and other species that inhabit this preserved ecosystem. You will eat your lunch in the shade of cottonwood trees, then ford rivers and enjoy some good canters when the terrain allows. You could end the day with a tour of the area where the bison are sorted and treated at the annual bison roundup.
After your ride, enjoy a roping lesson on the lawn and then freshen up for a home-cooked meal in the cozy lodge with fellow guests.
Day 4 4 : ZAPATA RANCH - 4-5 hours ridingAfter a hearty breakfast, you may be invited to join the wranglers as they move cattle to fresh pasture (this is dependent on the ranch grazing plan). As Zapata is a sustainable livestock business, it is dependent on healthy land so the land is managed in a way that mimics natural animal grazing patterns. In order to allow the soil time to regenerate, the cattle has to be moved; and for that they need to be gathered and moved by the crew and their guests. If there is not a cattle move during your stay, you will have the option to ride out to mend fences, check grass growth, herd health, doctor cattle if needed and so forth.
After a job well done, and no doubt pleasantly exhausted, you will return to the ranch in the afternoon. Enjoy a leather working class on the lawn and later, a delicious dinner in the main lodge.
Day 5 5 : ZAPATA RANCH - 4-5 hours ridingZapata RanchToday, you might head out towards the Great Sand Dunes National Park, a unique area consisting of the largest sand dunes in North America found, rather surprisingly, at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Carefully following your guide, you will be led along creeks, into massive dunes and up into forest.
Back on the ranch in the afternoon, you may choose to enjoy a massage or perhaps a cooking lesson. In the evening, you can enjoy an authentic meal made from the meat from the ranch and accompanied by fresh local produce.
Day 6 6 : ZAPATA RANCH - 4-5 hours ridingZapata RanchToday may be the day you decide to treat yourself to a ride into the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, located in The Great Sand Dunes National Park. You will ride up into the mountains and forests and be rewarded with magnificent views across the national park. Although this is not a fast ride, the stunning landscape and views are well worth seeing.
You will head back to the ranch in the late afternoon and may opt for a self-guided hot springs tour or a walk into the dunes.
Day 7 7 : ZAPATA RANCH - 4-5 hours ridingZapata RanchThis morning, you might head back to the north side of the ranch where the bison herd resides to ride out and visit historic homesteads and let your horse pick up speed along vast stretches of sand and creek bed. View wildlife and enjoy the vastness of the 50,000 acre expanse.
Enjoy a scrumptious last dinner discussing your week's adventures with fellow riders and guests.
Day 8 8 : ALAMOSA - EUROPE - No ridingAfter a final hearty breakfast, you will say your farewells to the ranch staff and check-out at 10:00. If you haven't chosen to extend you stay in the USA, you will be driven to the airport to catch your flight back to Europe.
Day 9 9 : EUROPEYou will arrive back home.
Dates & prices
- Flights to your destination (international/domestic) are not included, but can be booked on request - please contact us for rates.
- Rates are per person, based on two riders sharing a standard room, which may not be available at the time of booking, in which case you may require to pay a supplement for another type of room.
- Single rooms can be arranged at no cost depending on availability (first come, first served). There is no supplement for solo riders.
- There are usually 1-25 guests on the ranch, but each rider (or family/group of friends) will have their own wrangler, so you can ride at whatever pace you like.
- Dates are flexible and you can stay for as long as you like with discounts for longer stays - arrivals are typically on Sundays or Thursdays. We recommend a stay of 7 nights, but it is possible to stay for as little as 3 nights and as many as 10 nights. There is no horseback riding on the day of arrival or on Sundays at the Zapata Ranch and there are no guided activities on Saturday afternoons. Please contact us for a personalised quote over your preferred dates.
- Alamosa airport-Zapata ranch transfers (return) are payable locally. Expect to pay around $50 per car of a max of 4 passengers. You can also reach the ranch with a rental car if arriving from Denver or Colorado Springs (recommended!).
- Tips are customary in the United States and should be given to the team while out there; usually around 15% to 20% of the price of your trip.
- There is a 20% discount for children between 5 and 7 years old. The minimum age to ride at the ranch is 8 yo.
- Rider weight limit: 100 kg / 15stone 7 / 220 lbs.
- 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.
- Additional activities - Make sure to let us know one month in advance if you wish to participate in these activities :
ON Ranch Activities
Hike or birding tour with Zapata's naturalist - no additional cost.
Self-guiding trip to the local hot springs (for those with a rental car) - no extra cost
Massage/Wellness Services (prices starting at $90pp)
Spend a day with professional wildlife and landscape photographer, Steve Weaver: stephen-weaver.com ($175pp)
OFF Ranch Activities
Whitewater rafting in Salida, CO ($90pp/half day) (May – August)
Fly fishing on the Arkansas River ($350/half day)
Rock Climbing in Penitente Canyon($300/pp).
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.
1 English-speaking horse guide for the group composed of 3 to 10 riders depending on the activity
Price doesn't include
Visa fees (ESTA) which must be arranged in advance
Transfer to/ from Alamosa to the ranch - if flying to Denver we recommend you hire a car and drive yourself to the ranch
Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status 26/02/2023 06/03/2023 £3,165 €3,727 $3,703 Guaranteed departure Book now
Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status 12/03/2023 20/03/2023 £3,165 €3,727 $3,703 Guaranteed departure Book now 09/04/2023 17/04/2023 £3,165 €3,727 $3,703 Guaranteed departure Book now 23/04/2023 01/05/2023 £3,165 €3,727 $3,703 Guaranteed departure Book now
Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status 07/05/2023 15/05/2023 £3,165 €3,727 $3,703 Guaranteed departure Book now 18/06/2023 26/06/2023 £3,165 €3,727 $3,703 Guaranteed departure Book now
Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status 02/07/2023 10/07/2023 £3,165 €3,727 $3,703 Guaranteed departure Book now 27/08/2023 04/09/2023 £3,165 €3,727 $3,703 Guaranteed departure Book now
Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status 22/10/2023 30/10/2023 £3,165 €3,727 $3,703 Guaranteed departure Book now 29/10/2023 06/11/2023 £3,165 €3,727 $3,703 Guaranteed departure Book now
During the guest season the herd is split into two groups with one group resting and the other group in a nearby pasture ready for daily work. The groups are then frequently rotated giving the horses plenty of rest and time under saddle so they ultimately remain in peak and healthy condition.
Minimum riding ability
Minimum riding ability
Children over 8 years are welcome to ride. Children under 8 years can be led around the corral.
Rider weight limit: 105 kg / 16st4 / 230 lbs.
Tacking ability and participation
Trip conditions and Requested experience
We recommend our riders to wear a helmet to the correct standard and you should bring your own to ensure a proper fit. The ranch will not provide helmets.
Each room has a king size bed or two full beds and a private bathroom. The indoor dining area has a fireplace and a cozy seating area. There is a deck adjacent to the dining area, shaded by mature cottonwood trees with a flower beds that allows you to take in the sweeping views of the property.
A laundry room is available when not in use.
Picnics, carried in saddlebags, are prepared by the chef in the morning according to your choice of sandwich, wrap or salad.
For dinner you will have a hot and hearty meal and a friendly place to eat it every night at the ranch. You will get to taste local meats, including beef and ranch-bred bison. The on-site chef likes spicy food. Everyone eats at the same table and a staff member will always be present to answer any questions.
Wine will only be served with appetizers. If you would like any other type of alcoholic drink, then you are welcome to bring it to the ranch. The ranch staff are happy to pick up alcohol for guests prior to their arrival and add the cost to their tab. They can make a stop on the airport shuttle to pick this up.
Vegetarian and allergies can be catered for with advance notice.
From May to June, the days are sunny and pleasant. The temperature rises to around 25°C during the day, and falling back down to 10-15°C at night.
Throughout July and August there is a risk of showers. Temperatures can climb up to 30°C during the day and won't drop lower than 15°C at night.
The fall, September to October, stays mild at around 20°C during the day.
Guide and local team
The wranglers are hospitable, life-long riders, usually with biology and ecology backgrounds who are accommodating and will do their upmost to ensure that you have a truly unforgettable trip.
You are expected to tip the ranch team and they generally expect anywhere between 15-20% of the price of your stay, but please do be aware that this is totally at your discretion. It is customary to give the envelope to the main cowboy, who will then share it and redistribute it to the whole team, but you can highlight a particular member of the team if you wish.
- Equus Journeys strongly recommend that you wear a riding helmet and that you take your own to ensure a correct fit. There are many lightweight options available nowadays
- Sunhat for when not riding
- Western riders used to wear a Stetson (American hat). You have usually the possibility to buy one at locally at the beginning of your stay/expedition. Count about $50-120 for a Stetson. Pay attention that it has to stay on your head when galloping. Ask for a strap/cord to fix it strongly.
- There are some head protections to put under your hat (Ranch & Rider, Lexington Safety Products) or western helmet (Troxel).
- Sunglasses - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Buff or bandana
- Long sleeved shirts provide protection from the sun and keep you cooler
- Lightweight fleece or jumper
- Warm fleece or jumper
- Waterproof jacket - it can rain and there are frequent thunderstorms
- Lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs - we recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- Casual trousers for the evenings, such as jeans
Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend western boots or short boots with half chaps but you may wish to take long chaps as an extra layer against inclement weather. We don't recommend taking your favourite long leather boots in case they get damaged
- Trainers or equivalent light shoes for moving around the ranch in the evenings
- Several pairs of socks
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun.
-Casual clothes for the evening
- Pyjamas or nightdress
Other useful items
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
- Bumbag for carrying your camera and small items whilst riding you can put them in your saddlebag
- Ear plugs (for light sleepers)
- 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
- Rehydration sachets
- 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, lip balm 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 just in case.
Visa & Health
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.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS - VISA WAIVER PROGRAMME
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.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS - VISAS
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.
IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR TRAVELERS TRANSITING THROUGH CANADA
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
Tél. : 01.43.12.22.22
- Ambassade de France aux Etats-Unis
4101 Reservoir Road, N.W.
20007 Washington D.C.
Tél. : +1 (202) 944 60 00
- US Embassy
24 Grosvenor Square
W1A 2LQ London
Tél. : 020 7499-9000
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.
Budget and money
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 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?
More than just a ranch holiday...
Ranch also offer special themed weeks. Those include horsemanship clinics,
photography workshops, cattle branding experiences, and food-themed weeks. If
you are interested in a theme in particular, please feel free to contact us and
we will be happy to send you further information and dates for these special clinics
Conservation is an important theme at Zapata Ranch. The
staff on the ranch is very involved in sustainable ranch management practices.
On your riding holiday, you are very welcome to learn about important land
conservation management practices, cattle and bison production, and grazing
programmes established at the Ranch.
On the blog