Saturday, June 23, 2018

Return to the wild: a week at Zapata Ranch in Colorado - Full Article & Photos

JUN 22, 2018

Vast desolate landscapes, epic cattle stampedes, notorious gunslingers and lone heroes such as Gary Cooper, John Wayne, William S Hart and Clint Eastwood. The myth of the cowboy is indelibly linked to the celluloid tropes and characters of the great American Western. Then came the denim-clad, Stetson-wearing Marlboro man of the ’70s – an enduring, if clich├ęd, archetype of cowboy culture that is etched into our collective memory: brooding, enigmatic and tough as nails.

The word ‘cowboy’ sounds like an anachronism today, especially given the wider use of terms such as ‘rancher’ and ‘wrangler’ to describe men and women who live the ranching lifestyle. But at Zapata Ranch in Southern Colorado, cowboys have proudly reinvented themselves as agricultural conservationists or ‘land stewards’ who use traditional and sustainable methods to wrangle livestock and run the ranch as their ancestors did, while supporting a landscape of stunning biodiversity, replete with high desert grasslands, alpine forests, wetlands, sand dunes and lush meadows.

Zapata Ranch isn’t easy to get to: almost four hours south of Denver and 30min from the nearest (tiny) town
 – Blanca, which has just one convenience store, stocking the obligatory Stetsons and cowboy boots – it’s isolated from civilisation...

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