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 the Wild Horse Mesa Market Report.
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 snow melt. Google Maps show the main roads on the mesa, but their map shows some incorrect street names. The main road thru 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, supplies, gas, and lodging? You can find food, 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.
3. Is there a visitor center, greeting or locating service to help me find my lot? No. There are few permanent residents on the mesa, it is mostly vacant land. Plan your trip using a road map and a detailed subdivision plat map. There are over 3,000 lots. We do not provide maps, directions, property location services, business referrals, free consulting or real estate or legal advice for visitors or property owners.
4. How do I find the location of a property? If you are a buyer, ask the seller for a map and directions. 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, overgrown or more difficult to access and may require 4-wheel drive. There are street signs on corners but there are no visible corner markers on lots. Bring a tape measure to measure distances.
5. 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, 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, neighbors, proximity to the lake, proximity to the town of San Luis, etc. to suit your needs.
6. What precautions should I take when visiting? Use caution and be alert for wildlife and 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. Supervise children and pets. Stay on roads and trails. Do not walk thru 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. If your party will be 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.
7. Is there cell phone service in the area? Cell phone coverage and signal strength varies by location, elevation, terrain, and service provider. There are cell phone towers in the area. See our section on cell phone, Wi-Fi and Internet service.
8. 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, west of the mesa, along Highway 159. Highest prices are in sections F and G, near the lake, Sanchez Reservoir, on the east side of the mesa. Some parcels have electricity, most do not. Power poles are visible along a few main roads. Some residents have installed solar panels or wind-powered generators.
9. 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.
10. Is water available? 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 in San Luis.
11. 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.
12. May I keep horses or other animals on my land? It depends on zoning and covenants. Most land is zoned as Estate Residential (under 35 acres) and the county ordinance does not allow livestock. Lots over 35 acres are zoned as Rural Residential and may allow horses with county zoning approval. Agricultural use lots are 160 acres and larger. See the county land use code for details.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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 send mail to 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, please send an email to the webmaster: Jerry_Lucas @ msn.com
Have a safe visit to the mesa. Bring your camera.
Thank you for visiting our website!