The historic Provancher Ranch, also known as the Murray Homestead or Murray Ranch, is a historic site in the San Juan Mountains of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. This early 1900s ranch is accessible by a family-friendly, 1-mile hike along a road closed to vehicular traffic.

The ranch is situated about 15 miles south of Pagosa Springs along the Blanco River, about a mile from the Blanco River Group Campground.

Surrounded by pines and aspens, the ranch rests in meadows at the confluence of Benson Creek and the Blanco River.

Historic Murray ranch in pagosa springs
Historic Murray Ranch homestead in Pagosa Springs, Colorado

We hiked to the ranch in the summer and in the winter when the road in from Hwy 84 is open to cars. It makes for a beautiful summer or winter hike.

Murray ranch in winter
Murray Ranch in the winter

It is very quiet, so you are unlikely to see many other (if any) hikers.

History of the Murray Ranch

In 1906, David Provancher acquired the ranch acreage and began raising cattle along the river.

He also built a mill and cabin, but these were destroyed in a flood in 1911. In that same year, Provancher and his neighbor, Marcellino Archuleta, built the log ranch house still standing today.

Old cattle chute
Cattle chute

Provancher established a self-sustaining homestead, building a barn, sheds, corrals, garden, and a stock pond. He and his family raised cattle, sheep, and garden produce.

The family maintained the ranch until 1939, when the widowed and elderly Provancher sold the property to Ray and Blanche Murray.

Old corrals in the snow
Old corrals at the homestead

After the Murrays, the ranch experienced a series of brief ownerships until it was acquired by the Forest Service in 1970.

Murray Ranch Today

Today, the Murray Ranch site features the log homestead cabin, the remains of a collapsed barn, a loading chute, a loafing shed, a partial root cellar, and a stock corral.

murray homestead cabin
Murray Ranch cabin

Sensitive Species of Bats

You do not want to enter the cabin as it is now inhabited by bats.

In 1977, it was discovered that the cabin serves as a large seasonal maternity roost for the “Fringed Myotis,” a sensitive species of bats in southwest Colorado.

Fringed myotis bat
Fringed Myotis bat

These bats raise their young in the attic of the cabin before migrating south around October 1st and returning in June the following year.

In ecological terms, a “sensitive species” refers to animal species that are recognized for needing special management attention due to their vulnerability to habitat modification, environmental alteration, human disturbance, or decline in numbers.

Hike Options

There are two hike options around the Murray Ranch.

The first is the easy 1-mile hike to the ranch and the second is a longer trail that goes around the ranch property for an additional 7 miles.

Easy Hike to Murray Ranch

The easy hike follows the original road to the Murray Ranch, which is now closed to vehicles.

The map below shows the easy hike to the Murray Homestead in blue. It starts at the Blanco River Group Campground and ends at the Murray Ranch. You return the same way.

easy hike to murray ranch  map
Easy hike route to Murray Homestead

It’s about 1.1 miles to the ranch from the parking area. In total, the round-trip is about 2.2 miles.

The easy hike to the Murray Homestead is a family-friendly hike along a road closed to vehicular traffic. The scenery along the road changes with the seasons.

old road to murray ranch in the forest
Original road to the homestead in the summer

It’s the original road to the ranch and is now used for hikers, horseback riders, and bike riders.

mountain road in the fall
Original road in the fall

The road parallels the Blanco River, but is at a higher elevation, so you’re not directly on the water during this hike.

Blanco River from above
Blanco River parallels the hike

You’re able to reach the water again once you go to the Murray Ranch homestead.

Along the way, you’ll pass bushes with flowers, as well as many wildflowers in the area.

yellow mountain flowers
Yellow flowers on bushes along the hike
white mountain flowers
White flowers on bushes along the hike

We have done the easy hike in the summer and in the winter, when snow was on the ground.

dog hiking along a road in the snow
Hiking to the Murray Ranch in the winter

The way to the ranch is slightly uphill, but nothing difficult. The return trip is all slightly downhill.

Harder Hike around Murray Ranch

If you want to have a longer and more difficult hike, continue along the trail past the Murray Ranch cabin.

In this case, you’ll take the first mile in the same manner as the easy hike, but you will then do a loop around the ranch. The route is shown in green in the map below.

map of harder hike around murray ranch
Murray Homestead Trail 9-mile route

This loop will add an additional 7 miles to the easy hike.

You will go around the ranch and cross the Blanco River several times.

dog in blanco river
Blanco River near Murray Ranch

In most of these places, there aren’t ways to cross the river without getting wet, so be sure you’re comfortable with that.

You’ll go through the woods and through a few mountain meadows.

mountain meadow at murray homestead
Mountain meadow on Murray Ranch

This trail is sometimes used by horseback riders, but it is unlikely that you’ll see anyone else there.

The area is also an open range for cattle, so watch out for cow patties!

See the AllTrails description of the Murray Homestead Trail for more information about the harder hike.

Hiking with Dogs

This is a nice trail to hike with dogs as there are plenty of places for river access in Blanco River and Benson Creek.

If you take the longer hike around the Murray Homestead, you will go through several open meadow areas that are perfect for playing with your dog(s). The video below was taken in one of the meadows along the longer hike.

YouTube video


There are several options in the area, including the Blanco River Group Campground, dispersed camping options, and privately run RV parks and campgrounds in the Pagosa Springs area.

Blanco River Group Campground

sign for Blanco River Group Campground in the snow
Blanco River Group Campground sign

The Blanco River Group Campground is a USFS campground that is open seasonally from May to September each year. The campground has several single campsites that form a group campsite.

Blanco river group campground in the snow
Group campsite area in the snow

Space is available for at least four large RVs and ample space for tents.

vault toilets in the snow
Vault toilets at Blanco River Group Campground
campground in the snow
Blanco River Group Campground in winter

There is a vault toilet and drinking water available.

The campground is popular and reservations fill up quickly. Make reservations here.

Dispersed Camping

There are several good dispersed campsites along FR 656 (the road to the trailhead from US Hwy 84).

Many of these are right along the Blanco River.

YouTube video

You can camp in one of these sites or any of the many dispersed camping locations available in the US National Forest.

We developed a tutorial on how to find dispersed campsites on US National Forest land. It was developed based on FR 656 dispersed camping locations as an example, so it should be very helpful if you plan to do any dispersed camping in the area.

Private RV Parks and Campgrounds

There are two privately run RV parks and campgrounds about a mile up Hwy 84 from where you turn off for Murray Ranch. They are right next to each other.

These are:

Google Map

The location of the trailhead for the short and longer hikes to Murray Ranch is in the Google map below.

The trailhead starts at the entrance to the Blanco River Group Campground, so that is a good landmark to use for finding the trail.

Directions to Murray Ranch

  • Travel south from Pagosa Springs about 11 miles on Hwy 84 to Blanco River Road (#656)
  • Turn east (left) and follow the gravel road about 2.5 miles to its end
  • Park there by the entrance to the Blanco River Group Campground
  • Hike up the road past the closed gate. This road will take you all the way to the ranch.

Road Access

The US Forest Road into the parking area for the Murray Ranch hike closes at certain times of the year, including in the spring when the road is muddy from snowmelt.

You can check the status of the FR 656 (Blanco River) road on the Pagosa Ranger District’s website. Look for the status of the “Blanco River” road.

FR 656 is sometimes open during the winter when there is snow on the ground.

forest road in the snow
FR 656 in the snow

If you have a suitable vehicle, you can drive to the trailhead and hike to Murray Ranch in the snow.

Final Thoughts on the Hike to Murray Ranch

The historic Murray ranch is an interesting look at how early homesteaders lived in the Pagosa Springs area.

The hike to the ranch is a relatively easy 1 mile hike each way. It makes for a fun day hike in the Pagosa Springs area.