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Old 12-02-2011, 12:57 PM
 
5 posts, read 19,125 times
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Hello! My wife and I are in search of some acreage right now. There are a few lots on the Sangre De Cristo mountain range next to Fort Garland between 3 and 6 thousand feet. I was wondering if anyone was familiar with that area.

If so, how are the winters on those foothills? We're prepared to do anything even if it includes a snowmobile. It's pretty southern though.

Also, does anyone have any info on building codes on that mountain range? We want to throw up a cabin and work for a few years on the "perfect house" that we want to settle into.

Does Pueblo or surrounding areas have decent work? I have a construction background and an IT background. I'm not picky about work. Homesteading is more important than a 100k career.

And.... last thing I can think of is I guess the community. We love farmers markets and want to grow most of our own food. From what I've read so far the small towns are somewhat "farmesh". We're from Kansas.

Thanks in advance for any info!
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:47 PM
 
2,253 posts, read 5,834,746 times
Reputation: 2615
Wink Begin with 7,936

To allow a littler perspective, the elevation of Fort Garland is 7,936 feet. It is fairly flat around the town, but if edging up the slope of nearby Mt. Blanca you'll of course only be gaining height.

There isn't usually much snow accumulation on the valley floor, either, so if snowmobiling plan on doing it through the sagebrush.

At a guess, Pueblo does not offer as good a market or job prospects as Colorado Springs and other front range communities farther north. But better than Alamosa, being the largest town and market in the San Luis Valley. Pueblo would be a long and inadvisable commute from the valley.

Not sure about farmer's markets, although a lot of that grown in the valley is industrial large scale. Compared to a place like Portland, OR, surely not at all comparable, but you might find something.

If doing a search on the Colorado forum you'll find several relevant threads on the San Luis Valley with a lot of relevant information.
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:06 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,091,437 times
Reputation: 9065
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rasilun View Post
Hello! My wife and I are in search of some acreage right now. There are a few lots on the Sangre De Cristo mountain range next to Fort Garland between 3 and 6 thousand feet. I was wondering if anyone was familiar with that area.

If so, how are the winters on those foothills? We're prepared to do anything even if it includes a snowmobile. It's pretty southern though.

Also, does anyone have any info on building codes on that mountain range? We want to throw up a cabin and work for a few years on the "perfect house" that we want to settle into.

Does Pueblo or surrounding areas have decent work? I have a construction background and an IT background. I'm not picky about work. Homesteading is more important than a 100k career.

And.... last thing I can think of is I guess the community. We love farmers markets and want to grow most of our own food. From what I've read so far the small towns are somewhat "farmesh". We're from Kansas.

Thanks in advance for any info!
There is nothing in the San Luis Valley "between 3 and 6 thousand feet." The valley floor is about 7,500 feet elevation and it goes up in elevation quickly once one leaves the valley. A lot of Forbes ranch is over 9,000 feet. Winters are cold--with nighttime low temperatures below zero nearly constantly in the winter months. Don't let the "southern" locale fool you--it is one of the more climatically rigorous places in the US in winter. Snowfall can be very light in the valley itself, but the surrounding mountains can and do get very heavy snowfalls. You'd better research the climate--plenty. You will be growing very little of your own food--the growing season is short and without decreed water rights or an agricultural well--both hard to get--you won't be growing much of anything except sagebrush. The subdivisions around Fort Garland are mostly occupied by seasonal residents--most of them from Oklahoma and Texas. For the most part, they interact relatively little with the local communities. The "old-line" residents around Fort Garland and San Luis are Hispanic, with roots in the area going back numerous generations. For Midwest "Anglos", it can be quite a culture shock. South of Alamosa to Antonito, there is a mixture of Hispanic and Anglo locals. Many of the Anglos are Mormon. That part of the SLV, as well as west toward Monte Vista, is more hospitable to agriculture, but it is mostly big scale center pivot or side-roll irrigated hay, potato, or barley growing operations--all capital-intensive.

Pueblo is pretty irrelevant for work. It's nearly 100 miles from Fort Garland, over La Veta Pass, which has its quite nasty moments in winter. It's really not practical for any kind of daily commute.

There are likely a number of "perfect cabins" for sale in Sangre de Cristo and Forbes "Ranches" (and the term "ranch" is a euphemism, in this case)--a whole lot of people from elsewhere move in there and then find the reality to be much different than the "dream." One fellow I know who retired there is trying to sell his place--the harsh winters, isolation, and constantly having to drive 40-100 miles for even basic needs got to be more than he or his marriage could take. If he can sell, he will probably take close to a $100K loss on what it cost him to buy and build on his property.

Bluntly, it ain't Kansas.
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Old 12-03-2011, 04:19 PM
 
Location: Mountains southwest of Denver.
1 posts, read 4,535 times
Reputation: 10
As other posters have stated, you're out of luck if you want anything in the San Luis Valley "between 3 and 6000 feet." I'd also like to add, don't let the word "valley" fool you into thinking that it's some quaint, mild area. The San Luis Valley is the largest alpine valley in the world and often has the coldest temps in the contiguous 48 states. I currently live in the mountains a few hours north of the valley, at 8800 feet. While I get much more snow than the valley, temps in the valley are often colder.

There's a reason acreage and properties are so much less expensive than most of the other parts of Colorado - it's an extremely rural area with the largest town (Alamosa) having a population of only about 8700. It's also pretty far from other, larger metropolitan areas. You are kidding yourself if you think you can commute to Pueblo (or anywhere on the Front Range or Western Slope). There are a few jobs in the education and medical fields - and lots of ranching. Much of the population is Hispanic and is descended from ancestors who were part of the original Spanish Land Grants. Much of it is fairly close-knit. Many others only have seasonal homes in the area and keep to themselves. You could possibly find an IT-related job in Alamosa, Monte Vista or Del Norte - but that's pretty much it. Also, Fort Garland is 45+ minutes from Alamosa and much further to Monte Vista and Del Norte.

You need to do your homework or even a quick Google search of the area. Even if you get a job that has a IT position, you will be totally hosed if you get downsized, fired or want to quit. There aren't many jobs in that area to begin with. Unless you can work out of the house, you will need to be in the vicinity of a major metropolitan area. That isn't Pueblo and it sure as heck isn't Alamosa. Most of the people I know in Pueblo commute to Colorado Springs for their work. Many of the people I know in Colorado Springs commute to Denver, especially of they work in various tech-fields. You can try to see if the hospitals/med centers or universities in the SLV are hiring but I wouldn't hold my breath. Even then, you'd probably want to live closer to Alamosa or Monte Vista. Pueblo is a nice town (if you're in the right area) and then mostly if you're retired. It has lots of retired military but not much in the way of employment. Some young families get by while many others make that commute into Colorado Springs.

Realistically, if I had your background, I'd be looking at land east of Colorado Springs or Denver, or possibly further north such as Greeley. Even then, be certain you have a job lined up before you move.
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:54 PM
 
Location: N. Colorado
345 posts, read 757,994 times
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The reason land is so cheap down there is because there is nothing there. I have been to Fort Garland on my way to the Sand Dunes and you would not even be able to grocery shop in that town. There was a campground/gas station and maybe a bank.

Building down there would have it's own set of issues, can they get to your place ( ie a concrete truck), would you have to spend thousands extra to have electricity brought to your place? Is water available, if not you would need to buy cisterns and haul it in, which you also have to pay for each time.

It is not very farmy, it is brushy, dry and I saw lots of nothing on my trips through there. No fields, no livestock, just empty land. It was not very green down there even in the Summer, I have made a few trips down there to go to the Sand Dunes, Alligator Farm, New Mexico and etc. Alamosa is probably the closest town and it has grocery shopping and etc but it is about 30 miles away. Walsenburg is about 50 miles in the opposite direction. First time I went through it is was a cute little town, the next time it looked like is was dying

If you needed somehing quick, a doctor or a pipe to fix a frozen one or whatever it would not happen fast down there.

There are other small, cute actual towns to look at and get work not horribly far from but you will pay more for the land.
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Old 12-03-2011, 09:32 PM
 
5 posts, read 19,125 times
Reputation: 11
Thanks a lot guys for taking the time to post. I have done some research on the area and that's why I posted here to get some real local information. I don't know why I said between 3 and 6 thousand feet the info on the listings are totally different. I must of been thinking about something else at the time. I had like 30 tabs open of acreage. I was iffy before but now it really doesn't sound like our kind of area. I think we're going to continue our search in Wyoming and Montana. Thanks again you guys are great!
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