What you need to know about owning raw land in Costilla County, Colorado
Are you thinking about moving to Costilla either full or part time? Costilla County and the San Luis Valley, Colorado are some of the most beautiful places in the U.S., and it is good to know as much as possible about the area before purchasing property.
What type of weather should I expect?
Costilla County is located in the high, arid country of the San Luis Valley. It is nestled to the west of some of the most beautiful mountains, including Culebra Peak and Trinchera Peak. The average temperatures range from a comfortable 80 degrees F during midsummer to chilly single digit averages with wind in the winter. Rain is not abundant, with an average of 10 inches per year. Winter brings around 36 inches of snow per year.
How do I cover the essentials?
Become familiar with the Costilla County zoning rules! The rules are easily accessible here. Please read the zoning website first.
Can I park my RV on the property?
Use of a recreational vehicle or other camping shelter for longer than a total of 14 days during any consecutive three months on the parcel will require a Long-Term Camping Permit.
A Long-Term R.V. Camping Permit may be obtained if all of the following conditions are met.
- The RV will be hooked to an approved On-Site Wastewater Treatment System.
- A well has been permitted or cistern installed.
- There are no violations on the property of any County Code or State Statute or Regulation.
- The placement of the RV conforms to any covenants of the property. It is the applicant’s responsibility to research subdivision covenants. The Costilla County Planning and Zoning Department will not be held responsible for any permits issued which may violate HOA or LOA rules.
- The applicant has proven ownership of the property.
In addition to these requirements, The Costilla County Planning and Zoning Department will review all applications prior to approval. Long-Term R.V. Camping Permits are valid for 60 Days and a new application must be filed before the expiration date of the permit. Long-Term camping SHALL NOT EXCEED 180 DAYS per RV, Person, or Parcel in any 12 month period. RV’s must be inspected by the Planning and Zoning office to ensure all plumbing and electrical is in working order prior to application approval. Sites will be inspected prior to approval. ONLY ONE (1) RV SHALL BE PERMITTED PER PARCEL. NO STRUCTURES SHALL BE ATTACHED TO RV’S. And, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS AN RV TO BE USED AS A PERMANENT DWELLING. (From the 2020 Costilla County zoning regulations)
In most locations in Costilla, the options are to use a cistern or drill a well.
Wells – Drilling for water can be expensive and require a permit. Contact a local driller for more information about your lot and how deep the well would need to be drilled. Another good resource on drilling can be found at http://water.state.co.us/.
Cisterns – A cistern is a cheaper alternative to drilling a well. A cistern can be filled for as little as $25 / 500 gallons of water at the San Luis water department. Purchasing a cistern can vary in cost depending on whether you store your water above or below ground, but typically the cost is much less than the upfront costs of drilling a well.
Food and Supplies:
San Luis is a central location and has a Family Dollar, but a drive over to Alamosa provides considerably more options, including groceries, WalMart, hardware, and lumber centers. Alamosa is in neighboring Alamosa county, so advanced plans should be made since Alamosa can be 50-60 miles from certain parts of Costilla county.
For those who enjoy hunting and fishing, the Sanchez Reservoir is a 1462-acre reservoir on the eastern part of the county. The reservoir offers fishing for catfish, perch, walleye, and northern pike. For the hunters, Costilla offers some of the best big game in the state. Antelope, bear, mountain lions, and elk all live in Costilla county. A 5000 acre “Greenbelt” has been set aside for hunters in the Sangre De Cristo Ranches. Also, the Trinchera Elk Herd in Game Management Unit 83 is one of the largest herds in Colorado at 16,000 elk.
Costilla County does not allow hunting on vacant lots in a residential area or areas that are zoned residential.
They have numerous natural parks nearby that you can hunt on.
For more information about fishing and hunting visit
There are a few options for electricity in the San Luis Valley.
XCel Energy serves electricity to the local Costilla County area. The cost of installing new electric lines to your property will be determined by the distance to the local feeder lines. For more information about XCel Energy call (800)895-4999.
Solar is a great option in Costilla. Since the region is dry and arid, it also has plenty of sunlight. The average amount of clear/sunny days in Costilla County is 285 days per year, which is ideal for constructing your own solar power system. Wind is also an option, since Costilla County can be windy and averages almost 18 mph. A wind turbine can also generate a significant amount of electricity, and many types of turbines can be purchased at a home improvement store.
Heating will be relatively important in Costilla, since the winters are cold and can reach subzero temperatures with strong gusts of wind. Propane tanks are popular and can also be used for cooking. There are several companies that will refill a propane tank and this option is fairly common. Wood heat is also a viable option. There are local “Woodfests” on private land where residents can go collect wood from dead trees on private land and be charged $10 a truckload to haul out the dead wood.
Phone / Internet Service:
Blanca Networks provides phone and internet to Costilla county. A lot of the available service and cost depend on where in the county your property is located and if Blanca has set up equipment to service your neighborhood. Cell phone coverage is unfortunately not quite as straight-forward. Costilla is a large expanse of mountainous terrain, so cell coverage can vary. This website provides good feedback on which services work best in SLV (San Luis Valley) and where the service is best.
What type of local services should I expect?
Expectations should be set, especially if you are visiting Costilla from a larger city. Costilla county is the 9th least populated county in Colorado and the total population is just under 4000 people, spread across 1230 square miles. Many of the amenities in medium to larger cities will be non-existent, due to the size of the population. However, you will find that the attitude in the county is to do more with less and resourcefulness is crucial to all its residents. If you can make the adjustment, you will find Costilla to be one of the most amazing places on earth.
For a more comprehensive and updated contact information for various local government and private services and resources, visit https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/costillacounty/telephone-directory.
What is there to do in Costilla?
If you are visiting Costilla for the first time, please check into many of the local events. There are so many interesting and cultural events outside of the beautiful natural wonders all over the county. This website provides a wonderful overview of many local events.