For Sale

Las Piletas Ranch

$15,500,000 Santa Margarita, CA 13,570± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

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.

Just 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.

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.

Broker's 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.  

Learn about the locale


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. 


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. 

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.  

Learn more about the property

Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

Deeded Acres: 13,570±
BLM Leased Acres: 2,250±
Other Leased Acres: 779±
Total Leased Acres: 3,029±
Total Acres: 16,599±

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. 


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.

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. 

Mineral Rights

 Seller will convey all rights owned by Seller. 


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

Learn about the recreational amenities

Fishery Resources

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

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.

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.

Learn about the general operations

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.

Leases and 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.

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Cash at closing

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