With nearly 50,000 deeded acres, the JE Canyon Ranch represents one of Colorado’s largest private ranches and wildlife preserves on the market today. Situated in southeastern Colorado’s canyon country, the property includes unique red rock canyons that rival those in southern Utah. Nine miles of the Purgatoire River run through the ranch, as well as other streams and riparian areas, creating a vast wilderness that form a mosaic of interconnected canyons and mesas. It is a premier wildlife ranch with tags available for trophy mule deer and bighorn sheep, elk and numerous other animals. It is also a repository of fascinating geologic, archaeological and historic heritage sites including prehistoric rock art, and abandoned pioneer homesteads.
JE Canyon represents one of the largest contiguous tracts of privately owned ranch land in Colorado and is one of the premier hunting ranches in the West. Consisting of approximately 49,555 contiguous deeded acres located in southeastern Colorado, it is 50 miles northeast of Trinidad via State Highway 160. The entrance is on the south side of the property, about 14 miles north of Highway 160 along county roads.
The ranch is bordered on three sides by picturesque canyons with the largest being 9 miles of the Purgatoire River and Purgatoire Canyon to the north, Doss Canyon to the west, and 6 miles of the Chacuaco Canyon to east. The ranch has well over 55 miles of canyon within the boundaries of the property, as well as numerous springs and pools. Juniper and pinon trees are dominant species in the canyons, with aspens and cottonwood trees in places and short grass prairie on the upper mesas.
The ranch is well improved with extensive homes, guest and entertainment facilities, barns, cattle facilities, and an airplane hanger and landing strip.
JE Canyon Ranch participates in Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Ranching for Wildlife program (RFW), a unique hunting program in Colorado that entitles large ranches (minimum 12,000 deeded acres) with certain privileges and opportunities and provides access for public hunts. The ranch participates with two other adjoining ranches in the Purgatoire Ranches group. This is the only participating group in the State to receive tags for bighorn sheep, an extremely rare hunting opportunity.
Cattle ranching has been an integral part of the ranch beginning with the earliest settlers to the present. The ranch interior is fenced and cross-fenced into numerous pastures and traps with each pasture/trap having its own water supply. This allows for the year round rotation of the cowherd from summer on the upper mesas to winters along the river bottoms. The normal cowherd consists of up to 500 mother cows, replacement heifers and bulls.
The ranch is well watered for livestock, wildlife and fire protection. It includes a 70,000 gallon water storage facility on the high point of the ranch that is connected to 3 wells. In addition, there is live water in the 9 miles of the Purgatoire River, the 5 miles of Chacuaco Canyon, and other streams, making this one of the best-watered ranches in Las Animas County.
“JE Canyon is like having your own private wilderness,” said Renee Rondeau, Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP). The biological diversity of the ranch is well documented in a bio blitz conducted in June 2010 by CNHP and the Denver Botanic Gardens, where 865 species of flora & fauna were identified. These findings were published in “JE Canyon Bioblitz” and can be purchased through Blurb Books. The ranch was also featured in John Fielder’s “Ranches of Colorado” and in “Colorado: Lost Places and Forgotten Words.”
In 2000, a conservation easement was placed on about half of the eastern portion of the ranch with Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust. The easement limits the number of additional homesites to five, but retains the normal recreational, hunting and agricultural operations on this portion of the ranch. The remaining half within the Purgatoire River Canyons is free from any conservation easement.