Everyone coming to the Rocky Mountain West searching for Mountain Land has some things they need to consider before deciding if they want to purchase land high up on a mountain. There are reasons that most people that live in mountainous territory build in the valley or lower on a mountainside than they could. I don’t want to steer people away from buying mountain land up high they just need to go in with both eyes open.
Accessibility is one key factor to consider in the search for acquiring mountain land. Many time roads that access properties that are high altitudes are not that great. They may not be maintained or even deeded for that matter. The road might be a Forest Service road that doesn’t guarantee maintenance, year-round accessibility or timeliness in fixing repairs or issues. Many times Title Companies will not be able to ensure access because of these issues. Other times, your legal access might be through someone else’s property or vice versa.
Is the road maintained year-round? Many high country roads in Montana are closed for 3-4 months. This makes these properties seasonal. Snowplowing can resolve this and many times neighbors will either plow to a certain point or pitch in to help fund a plow to keep roads open. Once spring comes and the snow starts melting most roads will need some grading and can have ruts and washouts that will affect travel.
One of the ideal things to happen in purchasing mountain land is when it is bordered by public land. It gives you direct access to thousands of other acres for your use. It does happen where the public land is landlocked by deeded acreage. If you are buying the deeded acreage you effectively are the only one with access to the public land. Sometimes the public does have access but it might take miles of hiking or going through difficult terrain to get to that public land. You can have semi-private or private access to the public land that is to your benefit only. It is like owning the land and not having to pay for it in rare circumstances. If the public has to hike in miles you will see only a few people each year.
Mountain land also can make it difficult to put in a well and/or septic. Wells will naturally be deeper and more costly due to elevation and septics ideally should be on semi-flat to gently sloping land. This does run the cost up of doing well and septic and needs to be a consideration. If your access is across public land or someone else’s property you may have to have permission that won’t always be granted to bring trucks across.
Mountain land is more expensive to do everything. I just talked about well and septic and building anything but a hunting cabin sometimes will be impossible. It is a factor of how hard it is to get trucks, labor, and materials up to the property. If you have deeded access and can build a good road many of these issues are alleviated but you need to factor in the cost of building the road.
The elevation is key to everything as I have stated above. If you are below 5000 feet the problems might be there but they are minor issues. You may have issues but they will be shorter in length of time. As you keep going up there will be more issues and the length of time in dealing with those issues will be greater.
I am not trying to deter anyone from being high up enough to have views and escape city crowds. I just want them to walk into it with both eyes open with a little understanding of the challenges involved. For instance, I live at 7200 feet. We love it but we do have snowy roads from November through April and we have roads plowed all through winter.
If you have questions about looking for mountain land please feel free to call or email to discuss. We love talking land and just want everyone to have the best information available to make their decision.
Buzz Tatom is an Advisor/REALTOR® for Engel & Voelkers in Montana. He specializes in farms and ranches. A ranch owner himself he knows the complications that a buyer or seller will go through and is able to help navigate the complicated process. Give Buzz a call or fill out his contact form and put him to work finding you the right property so you can start building memories with friends and family!