Las Piletas Ranch

Property Map

Las Piletas Ranch

Santa Margarita, California

Las Piletas Ranch is a 13,570± deeded acre working cattle ranch in the hills that rise on the west side of the Carrizo Plain. The landscape is a diverse topography with flat lands, unique and curious rock formations, oak woodlands, canyons, and rangelands rising into the La Panza Mountain Range. One of the most extraordinary features of this ranch is the presence of a large waterfall on one of the creeks flowing through the property. The ranch is comprised of two large units connected by a BLM lease. Current operations involve leasing 1,250± acres to a local barley farmer while the owner maintains a herd of cattle. Historically, the ranch has run 350 cows on a year-round basis. Wildlife populations are strong including deer, bear, turkey, quail, wild boar and antelope. The area surrounding the ranch is home to a resident herd of tule elk as well. Located in San Luis Obispo County, the property is easy to access and is about one hour east of the 101 between Santa Margarita and McKittrick. The I-5 is one hour to the east. Drive time to Los Angeles is approximately two-and-one-half hours and the city of San Luis Obispo is one hour away.

Click here to view interactive map. 


Las Piletas Ranch is located only about 30 air miles from the Pacific Ocean at Pismo Beach. By road, the ranch can be reached off Branch Mountain Road a little over an hour east of San Luis Obispo. The closest commercial airline services can be found in Bakersfield, approximately 1.5 hours to the east, and in the city of San Luis Obispo. 


In a word, this sparsely populated locale is, above all else, quiet. Private land ownership in the area is almost exclusively comprised of large ranch holdings. Large blocks of public lands include a mix of Los Padres National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, and state lands. The headquarters of the Carrizo Plain National Monument is located less than 15 miles southeast of the ranch with Soda Lake in between. Despite the remoteness of the ranch, it is still possible to get to services within a reasonable drive. 

General Description: 

Las Piletas Ranch is comprised of two large deeded units connected by a large holding of Bureau of Land Management lands, which is under lease by the ranch. The northern unit includes more than 4,775 acres while the south covers the balance of the deeded lands. The northern unit is primarily flat topography including rangelands and farm ground presently cultivated in barley under a lease agreement. The main entrance (gated and secure) to the ranch is on the east side of this unit. It is from here that a lengthy driveway leads for over 2 miles to a compound where all structural improvements are located. This compound is set in an aesthetic location backed up to the oak-laden foothills of the Caliente Range with a view across the vast Carrizo Plain. The rock formations along this northern front are particularly mystical and alluring. The driveway continues past the compound and eventually leads down into Anderson Canyon, crossing the BLM lands towards the larger southern unit. The road travels through the BLM lands for approximately one-half mile before re-entering the deeded lands.  After approximately one mile, the road leads to the banks of San Juan Creek which traverses the ranch from east to west. The terrain gradually steepens as one moves south across the property and there are a number of canyons descending from the La Panza Range into the ranch. The most predominate canyon for which the ranch is named is Piletas Canyon, which is roughly in the middle of the south unit. Upper Piletas Canyon and Lower Piletas Canyon are segregated by a picturesque waterfall which plunges into a deep pool. Other canyons include Martinez east of Piletas, and Buckhorn which is located near the southeastern most region of the ranch. The five-acre lake is located at the base of Buckhorn Canyon. With the exception of the open rangelands and farmland in the north, the entire landscape of Las Piletas is graced with the presence of California’s iconic oak trees. The entire western boundary and virtually all of the southern boundary meets the Los Padres National Forest.

  • 13,570± deeded acres
  • 2,250±   BLM leased acres
Acreage Breakdown: 
  • 13,570± deeded acres
  • 1,250± acres of cropland
  • 2,250+ acres of BLM Lease
  • 779± acres of USFS grazing permits
Leases & Permits: 

The Bureau of Land Management lease (“Anderson Canyon” allotment #CA00058) covers roughly 2,250+ acres and includes grazing rights for 312 AUMs with a period of use that is year-round. 

Piletas Allotment #782342010602 in the Los Padres National Forest allows for the grazing of 45 yearlings (225 AUMs) for a period of use from January 1st to May 31st annually.


Las Piletas Ranch has a modest and functional set of improvements well suited to a ranch operation. Improvements include the following:

Main Home - Approximately 1,500 square feet with three bedrooms and two baths

Caretaker Home - The caretaker home is exactly the same floor plan as the main home 

Four small guest cabins - Each of these cabins are approximately 400 square feet and have kitchenettes and baths 

Shop and vehicle storage - This structure measures 24 x 114 feet

Shop and office - This structure is divided into a 500± sq. ft. office, a 500± sq. ft. shop and 3,000± sq. ft. of storage on the ground floor; there is also 1,000± square feet of loft storage

Climate controlled storage - This storage facility can be used to protect environmentally sensitive property such as artwork or other valuables; there are three separate rooms, each with a private door

Horse stalls - three are under a roof and one is outside; there are a variety of corrals and paddocks

Squeeze chutes - There are two squeeze chutes on the property – one on the north unit and one on the south

Hay barn

Equipment barn (80’x120’)

Various sheds

Enclosed campground bath facility with two private baths, each with a toilet, sink and shower

There is an inventory of personal property including equipment that will be made available for purchase separately. This list includes vehicles, heavy equipment & furniture.


The climate of Las Piletas Ranch is in a transition zone between the semi-arid grasslands of the Carrizo Plain where there is nine inches of rainfall annually, to the mountain climate of the La Panza Range where annual rainfall can reach twenty inches or more. Frost days are few and far between with occasional snow flurries in the winter. Summertime temperatures will often reach into the 90s with fall and spring enjoying very comfortable temperatures in the 70s. 

General Operations: 

The current operation presently runs 275 cows and 20 bulls on a year-round basis. There is also a total of 140 pairs leased by an area rancher for summer pasture. There are approximately 1,250 acres of dryland farm ground that are currently leased to a barley farmer. A new owner may wish to consider engaging in their own cattle and/or farming operation, or engage in lease agreements and take a hands-off approach while focusing on enjoying the ranch as a recreation mecca. Historically, the ranch has run 350 cows on a year-round basis.

Water Resources: 

There are fourteen wells on the property with seven being located on each unit. There are four tanks for domestic use and six stock tanks. There is also a permit in place to develop three more stock tanks on the south unit.


Wildlife Resources: 

Wildlife is abundant and varied at Las Piletas Ranch. Populations of quail are plentiful and evident at every turn in the road. Ungulates include blacktail deer, antelope and even the tule elk passing through. Wild turkey and boar are also present here, and raptors soar overhead.

Fishery Resources: 

There is a five-acre lake on the property which has been stocked historically with bass.

Recreational Considerations: 

The ranch is full of recreational opportunities including just about anything imaginable from horseback riding, hunting, hiking, fishing, four wheeling and more. Furthermore, there are over 16 miles of boundary shared with public lands, giving the owner direct access to over 100,000 acres of additional lands for recreational use.

Aesthetic Considerations: 

The ranch has sweeping views across the Carrizo Plain to the Temblor Range, and also of the La Panza Mountain Range to the southwest. However, the most unique aesthetic of this ranch is assuredly the abundance of rock formations that interrupt the landscape with dramatic outcroppings.


There is a deep Pre-Columbian history on and in the area of the ranch. The Chumash Indian presence in the region dates back 13,000 years and there is still evidence of their early existence in the form of rock paintings on the nearby Carrizo Plain National Monument. On the ranch, one is likely to find artifacts as well as grinding rocks where seed would be ground into meal. The area surrounding the ranch has never been a densely populated area so the land retains a “wildness” that is hard to find elsewhere. 



Annual taxes are approximately $35,133 based upon previous years.

Mineral Rights: 

 Seller will convey all rights owned by Seller. 

Additional Information: 

All but less than a thousand acres of the ranch are presently in California’s Williamson Act which preserves its low tax status as an agricultural property. 

Broker Comments: 

Las Piletas Ranch is just about as private as private gets. On the night of a new moon, the stars above would seem to be your closest neighbors. It is a mammoth-sized real estate holding for California, with a uniquely diverse topography that would serve well as a family legacy ranch for a new owner.  


Cash at closing

The Facts: 
  • 13,570± deeded acres
  • 1,250± acres of cropland
  • 2,250+ acres of BLM Lease
  • 779± acres of USFS grazing permits
  • Adjacent to Los Padres National Forest
  • Excellent wildlife populations including deer, turkey, quail, bear, wild boar, antelope, and even the occasional tule elk
  • Functional set of improvements include two homes, shop/office, equipment barn, horse stalls, hay storage
  • 14 wells (10 active) and 8 stock tanks (permits for 3 more)
  • Reservoirs and ponds
  • Wide-ranging views
  • 1 hour to San Luis Obispo and 2.5 hours to Los Angeles
  • Interactive maps available here.
Additional Services: 

MANAGEMENT SERVICES – Hall and Hall’s Management Division has a very clear mission–to represent the owner and to ensure that his or her experience is a positive one. Services are customized to suit the owner’s needs. They often begin with the recruiting and hiring of a suitable ranch manager or caretaker and are followed by the development of a management or operating plan along with appropriate budgets. Ongoing services include bill paying, ranch oversight, and consulting services as needed. Even the most sophisticated and experienced ranch owners appreciate the value of a management firm representing them and providing advice on local area practices and costs. Wes Oja, Jerome Chvilicek, Dan Berstrom or Brant Marsh at (406) 656-7500 are available to describe and discuss these services in detail and welcome your call.

RESOURCE ENHANCEMENT SERVICES – Increasingly the value of a ranch is measured by the quality of each and every one of its resources. Coincidentally, the enhancement of a ranch’s resources also increases the pleasure that one derives from the ownership of a ranch. Our management services have included the assessment of everything from wildlife habitat to bird habitat to water resources and fisheries and the subsequent oversight of the process involved with the enhancement of these resources. Wes Oja, Jerome Chvilicek, Dan Bergstrom or Brant Marsh at (406) 656-7500 are available to describe and discuss these services in detail and welcome your call.

AUCTIONS - Hall and Hall Auctions offer “Another Solution” to create liquidity for the owners of Investment-Quality Rural Real Estate.  Our auction team has experience in marketing farmland, ranchland, timberland and recreational properties throughout the nation.  Extreme attention to detail and complete transparency coupled with Hall and Hall’s “Rolodex” of more than 40,000 targeted owners and buyers of rural real estate help assure that there are multiple bidders at each auction. In addition, the unique Hall and Hall partnership model creates a teamwork approach that helps to assure that we realize true market value on auction day.  For more information on our auction services contact Scott Shuman at (800) 829-8747.

APPRAISALS - Staying abreast of ancillary market influences in ever-changing economic conditions requires a broad professional network to tap into. Finding an appraiser who not only understands the numbers but also the differences in value from one area to another is a critical part of making an informed decision. The appraisal team at Hall and Hall, formed entirely of Accredited Members of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA), has that critical network of brokers and lending professionals. This professional network coupled with diverse experience across multiple regions and market segments allows our appraisal team to deliver a quality product in a reasonable timeframe.  For more information contact our appraisal team at (406) 656-7500.

SPECIALIZED LENDING - Since 1946 Hall and Hall has created a legacy by efficiently providing capital to landowners.  In addition to traditional farm and ranch loans, we specialize in understanding the unique aspects of placing loans on ranches where value may be influenced by recreational features, location and improvements and repayment may come from outside sources. Our extensive experience and efficient processing allows us to quickly tell you whether we can provide the required financing.

Competitive Pricing  |  Flexible Terms  |  Efficient Processing
Tina Hamm or Scott Moran • (406) 656-7500 
Mike Hall or Judy Chirila • (303) 861-8282
Monte Lyons • (806) 698-6882
J.T. Holt • (806) 698-6884

NOTICE: Offering is subject to errors, omissions, prior sale, change or withdrawal without notice, and approval of purchase by owner. Information regarding land classifications, acreages, carrying capacities, potential profits, etc., are intended only as general guidelines and have been provided by sources deemed reliable, but whose accuracy we cannot guarantee. Prospective buyers should verify all information to their satisfaction. Prospective buyers should also be aware that the photographs in this brochure may have been digitally enhanced.