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BackCountry - Wild at Heart

Fall. It’s more than pumpkin spice lattes.

by | October 8th, 2015

Finally, the days are cooler, the leaves are changing, and so are the coffee flavors at Starbucks. Life is good. But if all that is not enough for you, here are other ways to enjoy the month, including Halloween fun that goes beyond answering the door with a bowl of Skittles. So get out there and revel in one of the months Colorado (and BackCountry) does best.

BackCountry Colorado Halloween pumpkins

Honey From a Hive-Oct. 13, 2-3:30pm
Ok, so the bad news is that all your tasty homegrown tomatoes are gone. But the good news is that it’s now time to harvest honey. (Fun fact: It takes two million flowers to make one pound of honey.) Join Highlands Ranch’s resident beekeeper for an engaging program about honeybees, how they make honey, and how they do their crucial job of pollinating flowers. You’ll taste honey from different areas and meet some of these hardworking bees. For all ages. Residents $10, nonresidents $12. Group rates of $6-7 for three or more. Held at Metro District Parks, Recreation & Open Space Service Center, 3280 Redstone Park Circle. Register here

Denver Zombie Crawl 2015-Oct. 17, starts at 9am
Zombies on a screen just can’t compare with those in the flesh—or perhaps, remnants of flesh. Just in time for Halloween, the “largest zombie gathering in history” will get your heart racing one way or another as zombie hordes run, walk, or crawl around downtown Denver solving clues and reaching checkpoints along the Organ (yes, Organ) Trail for cash prizes.  Part Amazing Race, Fear Factor, and haunted house, the event also includes music, games, a parade, and after parties. Free and open to all ages, but do bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the Food Bank of the Rockies. Please register so organizers can get an accurate count and set the world record. Held at Skyline Park. Learn more.

Denver Zombie Crawl Organ Trail

BackCountry Haunted House-Oct. 22, 5pm-9pm
Everyone’s favorite place to hang out will take a turn for the terrifying when the Sundial House transforms into BackCountry’s first-ever haunted house, complete with ghosts, witches, werewolves, prizes, games, fortunetelling, and more. From 5pm to 7pm, the haunted house will be designed to accommodate kids ages 3-9, but from 7pm to 9pm, it will become a scare-zone fit for tweens, teens, and adults. Please RSVP at by October 16.

Trick or Treat Train-Oct. 31, 10am-4pm
Not only is the Colorado Railroad Museum a safe place to take the kids trick-or-treating, it’s a wonderful spot to while away a morning or an afternoon. Catch a ride behind a historic locomotive in vintage passenger cars hosted by costumed conductors. At special stops you can fill your treat bags, visit a not-so-spooky haunted railcar, the Olde Railroaders “graveyard,” and a pumpkin patch for a cute photo op. Museum members and children under two are free, $5 for ages 2-15, $15 for adult, and $10 for seniors over 60. Learn more.

trick or treat train

BackCountry Halloween Hot Spot Houses-Oct. 31, dusk-7:30pm
BackCountry is known for its friendly ways, and here’s one more example: neighborhood “hot spots” for trick-or-treaters and their parents to enjoy a hot drink and/or snack, plus a little chitchat along the way. The HOA is looking for one volunteer on each block to open their garage and provide light refreshments. It’s a wonderful way to get to know your neighbors and see all the spooktacular costumes. If you’re interested in hosting, please contact John Lyon at by Friday, October 23.

BackCountry’s Blues & Brews Event

by | September 24th, 2015

BackCountry residents enjoyed the last concert of the season at the Blues & Brews festival featuring the Delta Sonics and Gustos food truck.

September is sneaky. Winterize now.

by | September 22nd, 2015

In September, weather is even more unpredictable than usual. By the end of the month, average temperatures will have dropped 12 degrees. And while temperatures typically soar into the 90s for a day or two, snow shovels can make their first appearance.

If you’re new to BackCountry or Colorado, you’ll want to check out the winterizing tips below. Your beautiful new home and yard require just a little bit of attention this month. Then you can relax, knowing that everything is shipshape for the chilly season that lies ahead.

1) Tidy up your perennials. Colorado’s extreme temperature fluctuations and dry winds can brutalize many of our commonly planted perennials. And, as any long-suffering vegetable gardener will tell you, our first hard frost can land in September—which means that the foliage of most perennials starts to wither this month. If you prefer to remove dead foliage right away, gently apply mulch to protect the plant from the winter elements. (Always remove diseased foliage to avoid the spread of leaf-spot diseases and fungal problems.) Alternatively, you can wait to remove dead foliage in the spring.

2) Keep your plants hydrated. Our winter snows can be heavy and frequent…or irregular and insufficient. Make sure your landscape has the moisture it needs with a layer of mulch that’s several inches thick. Mulch should be coarse and loose, such as shredded leaves, to permit air movement to the roots. Become a mulch expert here. Also, water at least monthly under dry winter conditions. Apply water mid-day, and only when it’s 40 degrees or warmer.

flower bed mulch winterize

3) That goes for your trees, too. If you’re a new BackCountry owner, you should know that new trees are more susceptible to winter drought. Your trees will absorb water best with a slow soak into the soil to a depth of 12 inches. Apply water to many locations under the drip line and beyond, ideally with a deep-root fork or needle. Read the how-tos of tree and shrub watering here.

4) Replace your furnace filter. Even if you’re not turning on the heat yet, you will soon. Be ready for the chill with a nice, clean furnace filter so you can breathe easier and improve energy efficiency. By the way, you should do this every month, since a clean filter minimizes wear and tear on your furnace. Buy a bundle, so you have them ready. Mark the date on each new filter as you install it.

5) Unclog your gutters and downspouts. Naturally you’ll want to do a touch-up after all the autumn leaves have fallen, but cleaning out gutters and downspouts prevents serious damage from trapped rain, snow, and ice. Do it yourself if you’re comfortable, or play it safe and leave the climbing to a pro.

Clear out rain gutters for winter

6) Flush the water heater. Over time, particles and sediment can collect in the bottom of your water heater, hindering the unit’s efficiency. Flush the water through the drain valve to clear out the material and keep your heater healthy and long-lived. Because who wants a frigid shower on a cold morning? Watch this how-to video.

7) Rotate ceiling fans clockwise. And you thought ceiling fans were just for summer. Use these smart energy-savers year-round by reversing them in a clockwise direction. That way, fans will push the hot air near the ceiling down towards the floor.

8) Inspect your chimney. New Colorado fireplaces are gas-burning, but that doesn’t mean you can forget about the chimney altogether. Critters sometimes move in—which can spell disaster. Call a chimney sweep to inspect your chimney and clean out any hazardous debris.

9) Protect your pipes. Temperatures can get ugly around here fast, so don’t leave your pipes vulnerable to the freeze, thaw, and burst cycle—which can create a world of water damage and icky mold growing.  Weatherproof your plumbing by shutting off the supply of water to outdoor spigots and sprinkler systems, and then drain them. (Depending on your irrigation system, you may also need a contractor to blow out any excess moisture with compressed air.) Read more about how to protect your pipes while you’re away from home.

Water heater maintenance

10) Just say no to CO. That is, carbon monoxide. Before winter hits, make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and replace old batteries. If you cook on a gas range, use the fan on your stove hood to vent to the outside and reduce your carbon monoxide exposure. Adjust your burners so you get a nice blue flame; a yellow-tipped flame produces more emissions.

When your home is a hard hat area: Six tips for staying safe

by | September 16th, 2015

Somehow, watching a beautiful home rise from a hole in the ground just never grows old, even for the Shea construction crew. Of course it’s even more thrilling to watch when it’s your own new, BackCountry home.  More than the typical homebuilder, Shea encourages homebuyers to visit the construction site. Not only at four major milestones (welcome meeting, pre-drywall orientation, walkthrough, and delivery), but at additional, once-a-month visits too.  Safety precautions are essential at these busy construction sites though, says Jeff Palumbo, Shea Homes Colorado’s Manager of Safety and Environment. Here are Jeff’s six tips for staying safe while charting the progress of your home-to-be.

Shea Homes Colorado construction site

1) Sign in and suit up. Before visiting your home site, be sure to stop by the Shea sales office. A quick check-in ensures that Shea is aware of every customer onsite. Then they’ll help you gear up appropriately with a hard hat, high-visibility safety vest, and protective eyewear. Be sure to wear flat, closed-toe shoes to keep your feet safe.

2) Follow the buddy system. Monday through Saturday, all site visitors need to be accompanied by a Shea Homes representative. Sunday is our “fun day” (no Shea buddy necessary), but check-in at the sales office is still required.

3) Scope out the situation. Is the site muddy? Icy? Are there rain puddles you’ll want boots for? It’s smart to assess site conditions before stepping foot onto the property.

4) Keep your eyes on the prize. Always walk in the direction you’re looking. Backing up to get a broader view is tempting but dangerous, as you just don’t know what conditions exist behind you. Avoid open-hole areas altogether, as well as any areas where you might fall.

5) Stay together. If you’re touring in a group (after all, it’s fun to share the experience with friends and family), make sure you stay together. It’s also wise to designate one person as “safety lead,” keeping an eye out for the whole group. In general, children should not be onsite, but if they are, responsible parties must keep them by their side.

6) Leave rooftops to the professionals. Sure it may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised. Never access the roof under any circumstances.

Construction safety Shea homes colorado

Here’s an extra tip, too: Take lots of pictures. Besides the joy of sharing the progress of your new BackCountry home with friends and family, photos will remind you of this potentially once-in-a-lifetime event. And besides, how often do you get to pose in a hardhat?

And don’t forget to share your photos with on Instagram or Facebook! Tag us @BackCountryCO and use the hashtag #BackCountryCO.

A flower grows in the suburbs

by | September 9th, 2015

Here’s the thing about Highlands Ranch. After more than three decades, this is no upstart, amenities-lite suburban community. Highlands Ranch has all the shops, restaurants, and services you could want. Without the headaches and traffic dealt with by our urban friends to the north.

Abloom romance floral display

Regularly, this blog profiles local businesses that add to the richness of the Highlands Ranch and BackCountry community. Abloom is one of them. Located in Highlands Ranch Town Center, just 10 minutes from BackCountry, this florist and gift shop is a favorite for its creative floral designs and quality merchandise.

abloom wedding display

It’s the kind of place where you can come in and grab ready-made, but uniquely beautiful, flower arrangements—or you can put yourself in their very capable hands and let the creativity fly. (Their floral photo gallery attests to their refreshing designs.) Abloom’s arrangements can be found at weddings and major corporate functions, as well as everyday anniversary and birthday events.

Abloom navy plum display

When it comes to gifts, the shop’s owners travel throughout the United States and Canada, searching for unique, and often exclusive, finds. Their wares include jewelry, paintings, scarves, note cards, metalwork, and blown and fused glass. Many of the artists they represent are willing to create custom work per your request. While the quality of art is high, the attitude is down-to-earth. The owners go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome. Which is only appropriate in Highlands Ranch (and BackCountry), where residents prefer a bit of small-town heart with their city perks.

BackCountry’s Labor Day Luau

by | September 8th, 2015

BackCountry families celebrated the end of summer during the Labor Day Luau with music from the Margarita Brothers.

The events are almost free. The memories are priceless.

by | September 2nd, 2015

Free? Not quite. But for free or less than half the price of a movie ticket, these special events offer delightful ways to engage with your loved ones or neighbors. Without a single moment of passive screen time. Or a budget-busting amount of cash. So, BackCountry residents and fans, grab someone you love for some quality time and enjoy one of these September activities. Your treat, of course.    

Denver Firefighter Museum Free Day (Grandparent’s Day)– Sept. 5, 10am-4pm

Denver Firefighters Museum

Grandparents, this one’s for you. And your starstruck-by-firetrucks grandchildren. Both you (if you’re 65 or older) and they will enjoy free access on Grandparent’s Day. Built in 1909, Denver’s original firehouse is always worth a repeat visit, but if it’s your first time, you can look forward to innovative, fun, hands-on experiences, and an insider view of the living quarters, all the gear (including kid-sized), tools, and transportation, from horse-drawn to modern. From September 3-October 19, a special exhibit focuses on Denver’s immigrant firefighters. Learn more.

Empty Nesters Potluck– Sept. 10, 6pm-8:30pm

There’s always something fun in the works for empty nesters in BackCountry, from mah jong games to quarterly potlucks at the Sundial House.  Residents, join this active, sociable group for this quarter’s potluck, sure to serve up plenty of delicious food and conversation. Please bring a dish to share that will serve eight, as well as your own beverages. Log into and RSVP by Friday, September 5.

Highlands Ranch Days– Sept. 10-12, 9am-2pm

Highlands Ranch days at the Mansion

Namesake and arguably the soul of the community, the 121-year-old Highlands Ranch Mansion is the perfect spot for celebrating the heritage of this special place. Highlands Ranch Days features historical reenactments, Native American dancing, raptor demonstrations, blacksmithing, weaving, a petting zoo, a real chuck wagon, and more. Hayrack rides provide views of the ranch not typically seen by the public. Tours of the mansion will be held throughout the event. Tickets sold at the gate. Adult $5, Children $3 (free for kids under age two). Learn more.

Blues and Brews– Sept. 12, 4pm-7pm

Ah, it’s been a good summer at BackCountry.

Residents, let’s bid it adieu together at one last concert and food truck event, featuring an exciting blues performance by the Delta Sonics, and gourmet, locally sourced, seasonal goodies from Gusto’s Food Truck. While you enjoy the blues, kids can don a temporary tattoo in bright silver or gold, rendered by a flash tattoo artist. Tribal patterns and other crazy designs are sure to appeal to both boys and girls. Come early for special caricatures, too! Free. RSVP at by Friday, Sept. 5.  

$5 Day at The Butterfly Pavilion– Sept. 19

Butterfly pavilion Colorado
Only three Saturdays a year come at this less-than-half price. The Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster is the 30,000-square-foot home of more than 5,000 animals, including a tropical rainforest aflutter with 1,600 butterflies, plus an underwater world of sea creatures, and an outdoor garden and natural trail designed to attract other beneficial insects at all stages of their lives. Unlike a trip to the zoo, this gives you a chance to focus on nature’s smaller, but often breathtakingly beautiful, creatures. Learn more.

A neighborhood for the ages. Every single one of them.

by | August 26th, 2015

Some neighborhoods are all about young families and kids. (You know, the ones with porches packed with strollers, bikes, and scooters.) Others cater to empty nesters, even requiring a minimum age of 55. But BackCountry is uniquely multigenerational, naturally attracting every age group—which creates an interesting and inclusive place to live.

BackCountry Parks and Trails

Why is this the case at BackCountry? Actually, a number of factors are at play. Families with children tend to choose BackCountry for its access to quality schools, the safety of a gated community, good-sized homes (with custom homes available), community center with pooland all the activities that come along with parks and trailsa wilderness areaand a very active HOA. But residents in middle and later stages of life appreciate the activity, community connections, and safety just as much—along with the Whispering Wind Collection of homes that feature main floor living and low maintenance.

Because of the diversity of homeowners, the BackCountry HOA is always brainstorming ways to reach out to all residents. For example, July’s Kids ‘N Canvas event offered a painting class for children ages 6-13, and this month’s Back-to-School Pool party spoke to youngsters’ hearts with snow cones and pool games. On the other hand, the book club, cooking classes, comedy nights, and wine tasting events appeal to the adults. And you’ll even find empty nester-focused events, including potlucks and mahjong and bridge games.

Summer concert series in BackCountry Colorado

But we have plenty of age group mingling, too. BackCountry’s year-round roster of community events brings together grandparents, parents, and children. Summer concerts truly earn an E for Everyone. Little ones love the face painting and other kid activities, while the grownups enjoy the music, food trucks, and socializing. (This summer’s first concert, Doobie Brothers tribute band, Black Water, earned especially high marks with fans from the 1970s.) The 250 or so all-age residents who attended the annual, July 4th-ish Patriotic Country Music Concert enjoyed music by Colorado legends Chris Daniel and the Kings, along with a cowboy performing rope tricks and a glitter tattoo “branding station.” Who could resist that?

Like BackCountry itself, the residents are anything but one-dimensional. And so, BackCountry amenities, events, and activities respond in kind.  

BackCountry’s Drive–In Movie at the Amphitheatre

by | August 18th, 2015

BackCountry residents enjoyed root beer floats, popcorn and fun entertainment along with a family movie during the “Drive-in” Movie Night at the amphitheater.

BackCountry Back-To-School Pool Party Sundial Pool

by | August 18th, 2015

The children of BackCountry ended summer break with splash of fun at the Back-to-School Pool Party.

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