22500 Peyton Highway S., Colorado Springs, Colo.; 719-683-7960; www.chicobasinranch.com
Zapata Ranch (Colorado)
Like Chico Basin, Zapata Ranch in Mosca, Colo., is owned by state ranch management company Ranchlands, but it's run by The Nature Conservancy, so there's a strong emphasis on sustaining one of the most ecologically diverse regions in America.
The ranch itself stretches through forests, wetlands, sand dunes and verdant pastures.
All visitors get a hands-on cowboy experience, not only moving cows, but also herding about 2,000 buffalo from pasture to pasture to help sustain the land.
Guests also fix barbed wire fencing, tend to giant center-pivot irrigation sprinklers, and learn how modern practices are being fused with classic cowboy traditions to help preserve one of America's greatest assets.
5305 State Highway 150, Mosca, Colo.; open March-October; 719-378-2356; www.zranch.org
McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch (Montana)
Since the 1980s, more and more cowboys have been adopting Natural Horsemanship practices, made famous by the film "The Horse Whisperer."
At McGinnis Meadows in Libby, Montana, horse lovers learn the practices championed by Buck Brannaman. The method works with the natural instincts of the animal, building trust and mutual respect.
After learning how to "whisper," you and your horse will track, pen and drive cattle.
6220 McGinnis Meadows Road, Libby, Mont.; 406-293-5000; www.mmgranch.net
Cowboy Level: True Grit
Doublerafter Cattle Drives (Wyoming)
Legit nomads can ditch the working ranch routine for a real deal cattle drive.
For six days, you can ride through the mountainous rangeland of Wyoming, moving cattle to greener pastures through terrain too rough and restrictive for anything with wheels.
Each night you'll set up 1800s-style canvas wall tents, eat grub cooked in a Dutch oven and entertain each other by the campfire.
The professionals warn guests to expect the unexpected -- from brush fires to stampedes to impromptu rodeos.
After nearly a week in the saddle you'll be ready for a steady seat. And you can enjoy one at the famous cowboy saloon, The Mint Bar, in Sheridan, Wyoming, where most groups spend their last night.
P.O. Box 490, Ranchester, Wyo., 82839; open June-September; 307-655-9539; www.doublerafter.com