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The Vision of Diamond Tail and the History of Diamond Tail Ranch

Updated: Oct 27, 2023



Diamond Tail is masterfully designed as a low-density, exclusive high-desert community. Known as a magical, special place to residents who live here, Diamond Tail represents a lifestyle, where people enjoy the peace and calm of the outdoors. Private hiking trails take the place of manicured parks and basketball courts and allow you to take in beautiful views in all directions. Hilltops and ridgelines sprout trees and boulders instead of brightly lit homes. Pristine open space is abundant, as is the varied wildlife.


Located on the northeast side of Placitas, where the foothills and canyons merge into the Sandia Mountains, there are no street lights, only the soft glow of starlight. So inky black are the night skies at Diamond Tail that the community’s main park is designed for stargazers. Residents hike the short pathway to the Shooting Star Corral, where they’ll find permanent pads installed with low-voltage electricity for private telescopes. This park is sometimes used for the bi-monthly socials where conversations with neighbors flow easily. Although privacy is one of desired aspects of Diamond Tail, friendly connections within the community are one of the reasons people love it here.


With elevations at Diamond Tail ranging from 5800 to 6300 feet, vistas offer 360 degree sweeping views of Jemez, Sandia, Ortiz, and Sangre de Christo mountain ranges. Nonetheless, homes are rarely perched atop hills, ridgelines, or prominent canyon outcroppings. Instead, houses follow hillside contours or are nestled into canyons. Underground utilities – natural gas, electricity, cable, and high-speed internet service – are provided to each lot.


Although buyers may choose their own builders, each home plan is subject to Diamond Tail’s covenants. An architectural design committee reviews each plan to ensure high quality design and construction. Among the covenant stipulations are a minimum home size of 2000 square feet in Phase II and 2400 square feet in Phase I; height restrictions to protect views but easily allow for RV garages and design elements; earth color tones to blend with the landscape; and garages that do not directly face the roadway. All home designs must adhere to a Southwestern style such as Pueblo – traditional, modern, and contemporary/modern, Territorial, and a northern New Mexico pitched roof design. From the beginning, the developer envisioned a mix of traditional Southwest homes and also some very contemporary styles.


Green building was also in the vision at Diamond Tail. In fact, Eric Merryman of ENM Homes completed his personal home in 2005. Constructed of Perform Wall, a concrete form system produced from recycled polystyrene with a cement binder, the 3,300 square-foot home features many passive solar elements. Thick interior adobe walls have been added for thermal mass to store the heat coming in through the south-facing windows and clerestories. Flagstone awnings assist with shading and cooling during the summer, as does a spray-foam insulated roof with R-values ranging from 44 to 51. A solar hot water system heats domestic water and powers the radiant in-floor heating system. A mechanical night flushing system can push out the warm indoor air, then pull in cooler outdoor breezes for summertime cooling.


Diamond Tail’s incredible vistas were an attraction to Merryman who had previously lived in Albuquerque and in Tijeras Canyon. “We wanted to get in a higher-end mountain community where I could build energy-efficient homes. I wanted to live and work in the community where I live.”




Diamond Tail borders the vast 18,000-acre Diamond Tail Ranch owned by the Matthews family, a canyon-studded land with an Old West pedigree. The property’s rich history encompasses Pueblo Indian sites and Spanish land grant villages, Apache raids, and mining camps. The land has been in the Matthews family since 1958, when it was purchased by Joe Matthews grandmother.


The rugged landscape of Diamond Tail Ranch, and the presence of water in nearby Las Huertas Creek, has always attracted people to this area. “This was an east-west trade route between the Pueblo and the Plains Indians,” says Martha Liebert, an archivist with the Sandoval County Historical Society. “There is a tiny access through the mountain to the prairies. The Pueblo peoples came through here to trade corn for buffalo.”


By 1767, the area was settled by Spaniards after Juan Gutierres was awarded a parcel of land designated as the San Antonio de Las Huertas Land Grant. A handful of founding families established the walled village of Las Huertas, which eventually was disbanded in the 1820’s because it could not be adequately protected from raiding Plains Indians. By 1840, the Spanish settlers were back, this time establishing three small villages in the area, of which modern-day Placitas (translated as “little plazas”) is one according to Lieber.


Other historical sites on Diamond Tail Ranch included the ruins of the coal-mining community of Hagan and the little community of Tejon, which has all but vanished.


By the 1880’s, the Spanish land grant families, with little legal documentation to prove ownership of the land, were forced to trade the bulk of the communal grazing lands and the village of Tejon as payment for legal services to protect the remainder of the land grant. Since then, the property has been in various private hands.


Many modern-day settlers at the gated Diamond Tail community are also coming from outside New Mexico. They’re attracted to the stunning views, the large lots, privacy, and the opportunity to live in a peaceful, low-density community. “Buyers who come to Diamond Tail are looking for something unique, something special, a place where they can build a custom home they’ve dreamed about. It may be their forever home or their vacation home. Buy everyone agrees, this extraordinary place is a wonderful gathering spot for their kids and grandkids.”


There are no rules for building a home right away. Many buyers may wait two or three years to design and build a home. Others may hold the lot for 10 years or more as they wait for the perfect time to retire. “Most are deeply involved in the design process -- they do their research and aren’t afraid to disregard convention. We’ve found they’re less concerned about resale values and more interested in creating a home that fits their lifestyle. Some choose to go with a smaller home that includes top-of-the-line amenities. Others may opt for a slightly larger home in order to have a soundproof music room, craft room, gym, or small meditation/yoga studio. This is their opportunity to create a home that reflects their personality and daily activities - one that they can enjoy for many years to come.


Discover Diamond Tail, an exclusive, low-density, master-planned community in Placitas, New Mexico.


Nestled in the foothills between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico, Diamond Tail offers unspoiled beauty in a rugged, natural setting. We have 196 large estate home sites on 900 acres, with almost 40% dedicated to open space. These 1 to 5-acre lots have gorgeous views of the Sandia, Sangre de Cristo, Ortiz, and Jemez Mountain ranges, with some offering spectacular evening views of the lights of Santa Fe.


Diamond Tail offers reliable wireless internet, underground utilities, paved roads, private hiking trails, parks and stunning vistas. Star Park provides low-voltage power for telescopes so residents can take in the stunning starry sky.


Diamond Tail – A Luxury Private Gated Community. A DESTINATION FOR LIFE.


For more information and to schedule your private tour, call (505) 492-2015 or email us at info@diamondtail.com today!


Original Article Written by Jane Mahoney

Revision by Holly J.

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