Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are some frequently asked questions from landowners, buyers, sellers, investors, and visitors. For more detailed information and answers to property questions, please purchase our Wild Horse Mesa Market Report.
For a list of local resources and contact information, see our SLV Web Links.
1. How do I get to Wild Horse Mesa? Costilla County is in south-central Colorado, near the New Mexico border. A map and driving directions from San Luis, Colorado, are posted at contact us. Roads on the mesa are dirt and may become muddy after rain or snowmelt. Google Maps show the main roads on the mesa, but their map shows some incorrect street names. The main road through San Luis is Highway 159, which follows along the west side of the mesa to the New Mexico border. The northeast access road from San Luis to sections F and G is Wild Horse Drive. The northwest access road to sections D and E is Tower Rd. Highway 159 provides access to sections A, B, and C, K on the west side. There is also an access road with a Wild Horse Mesa sign to the top of the mesa at the Melby Ranch entrance on Highway 159, 5 miles north of the New Mexico border. There are small airports in Alamosa and Taos. Larger airports are located in Colorado Springs, Denver, and Albuquerque.
2. Where can I find food, groceries, restaurants, supplies, gas, lodging and post office? You can find food, groceries, restaurants, supplies, gas, and lodging in San Luis and Fort Garland. There is a Family Dollar store and the historic R & R Market in San Luis and a Walmart and other stores in Alamosa and Taos. Gas stations also have convenience stores. Campgrounds are in Fort Garland, Alamosa, and the Great Sand Dunes National Park. See our San Luis Valley Camping Directory for details. There is a post office on Main Street at the north end of San Luis.
3. Where are the schools, colleges, churches, social activities? There are schools, churches, public parks, a museum, library, farmers’ markets and special events in nearby San Luis. There is the Blanca/Fort Garland Community Center with a pool, gym, sports, games, arts and crafts, library, classes, banquets, and special events. Adams State University is in Alamosa. Wild Horse Mesa is sparsely populated with over 3,000 large-sized rural lots with few or no neighbors nearby. There are more social activities and a university branch in Taos, New Mexico, about one hour south.
4. Is there a visitor center, HOA, greeting or locating service to help me find my lot? No. There are few permanent residents on the mesa, it is about 99% vacant land. Plan your trip using a road map and a detailed subdivision plat map. There are over 3,000 lots, only about 40% of the owners live in Colorado. We do not provide maps, directions, property location services, business referrals, free consulting or real estate or legal advice for visitors or property owners. There is no Home Owners Association (HOA) or HOA dues, but there are recorded covenants in the Costilla County records that all property owners must follow.
5. How do I find the location of a property? If you are a buyer, ask the seller for a map and directions and GPS coordinates. Use a GPS locator. Plat maps for each section (A,B,C,D,E,F,G,K) are available for sale in various sizes from Costilla County Planning and Zoning. Plat maps show roads, block numbers, lot numbers, lot locations, and lot dimensions. Parcels located along county-maintained main roads are easier to access. Side roads are not maintained by the county and may be eroded, muddy, overgrown or more difficult to access and may require 4-wheel drive. There are street signs on corners but there are usually no visible corner markers on lots. Bring a tape measure to measure distances along a public road. Do not trespass.
6. How do I evaluate property suitability? We recommend that you visit the property before buying, or hire a field inspector to visit as an agent for you and take some photos. Buyers have different goals and may be purchasing for an investment, recreational use, privacy, quiet sunny rural getaway, off-grid homestead, mountain scenery, nature and wildlife viewing, hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, or for building a vacation home, cabin or retirement home. Check the location, lot size and shape, road access, cell phone service, electricity, slope, terrain, scenic views, solar exposure, vegetation, proximity to the lake, proximity and quality of neighboring properties, proximity to the town of San Luis, etc. to suit your needs.
7. What precautions should I take when visiting? Use caution and be alert for wildlife, strangers and safety hazards when visiting. There are deer, elk, and wild horses grazing, small game and birds, and an occasional mountain lion, bobcat, fox, coyote, dogs, bear or rattlesnake. Do not feed the wildlife. Supervise children and pets. Stay on roads and trails for visibility. Do not walk through the brush. Do not trespass on private property. There are no streetlights. Carry emergency supplies. There is no hospital in San Luis, the hospital is in Alamosa. Check cell phone signal strength so you can make an emergency call to 911 if needed. Carry an extra cell phone battery and battery charger. In case your party becomes separating, carry two-way radios to keep in contact. Listen to San Luis Valley radio news and weather broadcasts. Wear a life jacket when fishing or boating. Dirt roads may become muddy after rain or snowmelt.
8. Is there cell phone service in the area? Cell phone coverage and signal strength vary by location, elevation, terrain, and service provider. There are cell phone towers in the area. Some carriers with good coverage in the city do not have good coverage in rural areas. See our section on cell phone, Wi-Fi and Internet service.
9. How do I determine property value? The county assessor does a crude mass appraisal every two years based on past sales history, which may be inaccurate and out of date. For more recent sales prices for each section, long-term price trends and graphs, purchase the Wild Horse Mesa Market Report, showing Fair Market Value (FMV) sales data since January 1, 2003. Prices vary greatly by location, features and parcel size. Lowest prices are in sections A, B, and C, on the west side, down below the mesa, along Highway 159. On top of the mesa, there are Sections D, E, and K on the west side, with higher prices than Sections A, B, and C. Highest prices are in sections F and G, near the lake, Sanchez Reservoir, on the east side of the mesa. Most homes and cabins are in Sections F and G with a scenic view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east. Most lots in Section G, closest to the lake, are 1.0 acre and are the most expensive lots because of the lake view. Most lots in Sections A,B,C,D,E,F and K are 2.5 acres. Section F is close to the lake and has the second-highest prices after Section G. Due to the higher elevation, there is more rain and snow on top of the mesa than in the valley below, with more evergreen shrubs and trees and more vegetation and habitat for wildlife.
10. How is the economy in the area? The San Luis Valley is a low-population, poor, rural, agricultural, farming and ranching area. City jobs are available in Alamosa and Taos. The area is rich in Colorado history and benefits from tourism. San Luis is the oldest town in Colorado, founded in 1851. Great Sand Dunes National Park is a nearby major attraction. There are ski resorts in Red River and Taos, New Mexico. Some people have skills allowing them to earn an income over the internet from any location.
11. Is there electric service? Some parcels on main roads have electricity, most do not. Power poles are visible along a few main roads. The service provider is SLV Rural Electric Cooperative in Monte Vista. Some residents have installed solar panels, wind-powered turbines or gas-powered generators.
12. Is water and sewer service available? There is no municipal water or sewer system. A few properties in the subdivision on the valley floor have water wells. At higher elevations, residents store water in storage tanks or cisterns and either haul in water or have it delivered. The mesa is composed of volcanic basalt rock which makes well drilling difficult and expensive. Bulk water is available for sale at the San Luis Water & Sanitation District and other suppliers. Note: water weighs about 8.34 lbs per gallon. Contact a contractor for an estimate on installing a septic system.
13. How do residents heat their homes and cabins? There is no municipal natural gas service. Propane heat and wood stoves are the most common heating methods. If there is electricity at your lot, you could use an electric heater. Solar panels are used for powering lighting and appliances, not for heating. Passive solar homes facing south use large windows and thick adobe walls as a solar battery to absorb heat during the day and release it at night.
14. May I camp or live in an RV or build a small cabin on my land? Short-term camping, up to 14 days per 3 consecutive months, is allowed by county ordinance. Otherwise, a long-term camping permit is required from the county Planning and Zoning Department. Property owners must follow the Costilla County Land Use Code available on the county website. Minimum size for a single-family dwelling is 600 square feet. Lot sizes from 1 to 35 acres are zoned Estate Residential. Lot sizes over 35 acres are zoned Rural Residential.
15. May I keep horses or other animals on my land? It depends on county zoning and subdivision covenants. Most land is zoned as Estate Residential (under 35 acres) and the county zoning ordinance does not allow livestock or agricultural use. Lots over 35 acres are zoned as Rural Residential and may allow horses with county zoning approval. Agricultural use lots must be 160 acres or larger. See the county land-use code for details. A domestic well permit is for indoor household water use only, not for gardening, farming or livestock use.
16. Where can I see the wild horses? Wild horses roam the area in small bands. If you’re lucky, you might see them grazing near the road while driving. You can schedule a paid tour with a guide and learn more about the wild horses from Judy Barnes, professional photographer, mesa resident, and director of the non-profit Spirit of the Wild Horse Foundation. Donations are needed and appreciated to help protect and preserve the wild horses.
17. Where can I see the Old Spanish Trail? The East Fork of the North Branch of the Old Spanish Trail runs along the east side of Wild Horse Mesa on County Road 21, east of the Sanchez Reservoir State Wildlife Area. There are currently no signs or exhibits posted. This was originally a Ute Indian trail for hundreds of years before Spanish explorers, military, fur trappers, traders, and pioneer colonial settlers arrived.
18. Where can I buy or sell my land? We have a classified ad section of land for sale at SLV Classified Ads. There are other websites and some real estate agents that specialize in rural land sales. You can also contact a neighbor to see if they are interested in buying or selling.
Do you have other questions?
If we have overlooked some frequently asked questions (FAQs), please send an email to the webmaster so we can add the information to our website to help other readers: Jerry_Lucas @ msn.com
Have a pleasant and safe visit to the mesa. Bring your camera.
Thank you for visiting our website!
Research and Consulting Services
We do not provide free research, property valuations, consulting, support or legal advice for Wild Horse Mesa. Free information is limited to the information posted on our website.
If you need help locating a property or finding information or answers to other questions not posted on our website, please purchase our Wild Horse Mesa Market Report for $20 or order our research and consulting services below for a fee of $30 for 30 minutes.
Please use the form above to place an order and pay for research and consulting services.
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We will then contact you to schedule a consultation date and time.
Contact us at Jerry_Lucas @ msn.com if you need more help.