Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Seasonal Access Property

February 18, 2021

Find out what "seasonal access" really means.

Seasonal access can make or break your purchase decision. If you’re searching for remote Colorado mountain land for sale, it’s likely you’ve seen the words, “Seasonal Access Only”, in a listing description. It’s less likely that you actually understand what that means. 

Seasonal access means that the roads leading up to a property do not get plowed. This may mean that during the winter months you can only access the property by snowmobile, tracked snow machine, skis, or snowshoes. The distance necessary to travel through the snow can vary greatly, from a fraction of a mile to up to 10 miles or more.

Whether you find seasonal access daunting or alluring, here are some things you need to know. Maybe this will inspire your search for Colorado mountain land for adventure or drive you to look closer to civilization. 

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You Can Find Cabin Subdivisions Designed for Seasonal Access Property Owners

Some cabin subdivisions are designed around seasonal access and provide designated parking areas for residents to park their trucks and trailers while others are a bit more informal—requiring people to park in national forest parking lots or literally on the side of the road.

Many subdivisions that cater to the winter adventure-minded also provide snow-related activities and trails for additional winter fun. This might include access to groomed trails for Nordic skiing or snowmobile touring, social clubs for like-minded residents, restaurants or bars that people can drive their snow machines to, and more.

Mountain cabin communities that cater to snowmobile or tracked machine access typically have widely groomed and packed trails for residents to use safely. Other more remote properties may not have any type of winter maintenance, leaving it up to you to make your way safely to and from your cabin on sometimes deep and unpacked snow-covered roads.

You Can Live in a Seasonal Access Property Year-Round

Year-round living with seasonal access is not for everyone. Snowbound roads provide obstacles many times for safe long-term parking and occasional necessary trips to town. Seasonal access doesn’t mean you can only live there during a certain season; it simply means that it’s generally only accessible during non-winter months. 

However, some Colorado cabin communities provide safe long-term parking lots for just such obstacles. These communities can become bustling with activity in the winter and are conducive to the challenges associated with seasonal living. A remote cabin in the woods may not be the best choice for someone looking to spend several days or weeks at a time at their winter property.

“Can’t I just plow the road?”... 

Not necessarily. Perhaps the road to your cabin is on a Forest Service Road with a locked gate to prevent public access in the winter or maybe it is a non-maintained public road. It may be that your cabin shares a road with other cabin owners or is part of an HOA that has elected to leave the roads unplowed so they can enjoy snowmobiling to their cabins in the winter. Or you might just find that the sheer amount of annual snowfall, lack of room to move it or the distance necessary to plow is just not practical. Either way, you need to do your research before you assume you can just plow your way in and out of a seasonal property.

If you own a property with seasonal access, but the road to access it is a public road, then you need to check with the city authorities on the legalities of plowing a public road. Typically, you can plow the road, but you need to have a contract with the county which specifies the requirements, duties, liabilities, payments, and other terms to allow you to plow, even if you agree to do it for free. 

You Can Rent Out Your Seasonal Access Property

Say you purchase a property with seasonal access and decide to live there only when the roads are dry. If you live in Colorado, snow may begin to accumulate in late November or early December and could remain as long as late May or early June!  That begs the question, what are you doing with the property for those 4-6 months?

You can make extra money with your property by renting it for specific purposes during the snowy season. For example, a lot of people are looking for remote Colorado mountain land to use for hunting, skiing, or other winter activities. If you have the right property, you can get away from it in the winter while providing the perfect getaway for someone else and making money in the process.

Finding More Remote Property in Colorado

If you’re looking for remote properties in Colorado, seasonal access might be the price you have to pay. Lucky for you, there is plenty of remote land on the Western Slope just waiting for someone to scoop it off the market.

At United Country Western Land and Lifestyle Properties, we specialize in selling a lifestyle. If that’s the lifestyle you’re after, I am excited to help you achieve it.