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BackCountry - Wild at Heart

Ready, set, get wet!

by | May 18th, 2015

It’s time to test-drive your new swimsuit: BackCountry’s first pool party of the season is almost here. On Friday, May 22, the Sundial House pool officially opens for summer at 9am. Then, stop by from 3-4:30pm for the Memorial Day Weekend pre-party, complete with beer, popsicles, and a meet-and-greet with this year’s lifeguard crew and pool management company, Perfect Pools. (For residents only; please RSVP at by Monday, May 18.) And be sure to come back the next day for the big event—our Red, White, & Blue Celebration.

Held on Saturday, May 23 from 4pm-7pm, this annual event is the season’s much-anticipated kick-off. What’s on tap? High-energy, interactive games and fabulous face painting (come right at 4pm for a shorter wait for our truly talented painters). Free hot dogs sponsored by As You Wish Pet Sitters. Plus snow cones, popcorn, a DJ, and prizes. Please RSVP at by Monday, May 18.

With so much going on right in the neighborhood, why not make the Lantern House your Memorial Day weekend HQ? Hang out with your family and neighbors—a much more relaxing choice than fighting the masses headed to the mountains. Plan that trip for a non-holiday weekend!

Here are a few photos from previous summers to wet, er, whet your appetite for another season of happy memories.


It is May in Colorado after all, where a firepit is as practical as it is delightful.


And so it begins: Rhythmic Gymnastics champion, Olympics 2028?


On a hot day, even kitties love a snow cone.


The smiles say it all. Summer vacation has arrived.


True artistry happens at our face-painting booth.


Beautiful foothills views create an idyllic party backdrop


How does he do that?


Colorful, late spring decor just in time for the Red, White & Blue Celebration

BackCountry’s Kids Science Event at the Sundial House

by | May 11th, 2015

Kids enjoyed a hands-on adventure with Bryce Jackman exploring the world of weird and wacky science with everyday household items. A little bit of fun and a whole lot of crazy.

Three common homebuilding myths, debunked

by | May 11th, 2015

Never bought a brand-spanking new home before? Well, there’s no denying that you’ll notice a difference between buying new and resale homes. But before you decide what’s right for you, make sure you’re not falling prey to misinformation. To give you a clearer understanding, we asked a few Shea Homes associates to share the most common myths they encounter among first-time buyers.


Myth #1: “Buying a new home takes too long.”

If you’re comparing an existing home to one that’s just a twinkle in your eye then, yes, buying a resale home can be a speedier proposition. But keep in mind that new homes are available in all stages of construction, from idea-on-paper to partially-built to all-wrapped-up-with-a-bow—and landscaping. Keith McCann, a Shea Homes Lead Superintendent, notes that building a typical home from digging the hole to final touches takes only about 140 days (weather permitting, of course).

If you arrive later in the construction process, there can be little to no time difference between moving into a new or a resale home. A new home doesn’t require the previous owner to move out—which depends on their next home’s availability. The good news about entering the process a littler earlier is that you’ll have lots of possibilities for tailoring the home to your tastes. Not an option with a resale home. (Hello, stressful and expensive home renovation.) Which brings us to Myth #2.

Myth #2: “Choosing all your finishes is overwhelming.”

“One of the main reasons why people purchase a new home is they can pick everything that goes in it. Then the home is a reflection of them, of their personal taste,” says Scott Beaumont, a Senior Community Representative at Colliers Hill in Erie. Buy someone else’s home and spin the wheel. More often than not, their tastes won’t mesh altogether with yours. Which means that adapting the home to your preferences and lifestyle will happen after move-in. (If you don’t think that’s overwhelming, talk to anyone who’s just navigated the minefield of a kitchen renovation.)

With the right builder, selecting your finishes shouldn’t be overwhelming, but exciting, rewarding…and nicely assisted.

Shea Colorado New Homes Design Color Scheme

“At Shea, we all have design backgrounds,” says Senior Interior Designer Melanie Best. So when people come to the Design Studio, “they don’t have to go through every single tile—unless they want to. Once we nail down the buyer’s style, we can just bring out things we think they will like.” In fact, it can all happen in one or two 2-hour sessions—or as many as you want.

As Amy Baumert, a Senior Community Representative at BackCountry in Highlands Ranch has seen with her customers, “It means the world to people to visit our design studio and become part of the process in capturing and implementing what they’ll be calling home.” For a further breakdown of the design process, read this past interview with Melanie.

Myth #3: “Home builders are all alike.”

Jeff Palumbo, Shea’s Safety and Environment Manager, believes that “one common myth is that all builders are ‘Big Bad Builders’ who cut corners to save a buck. Really, that’s what separates Shea Homes from the rest. Being a Shea homeowner myself, I can reflect back on our process and it couldn’t have been a better one.”

Sadly, as in every industry, there are vendors who cut corners and those who are committed to creating quality products. Scott Beaumont encourages people to ask each builder, “What differentiates you as a home builder? Is it price? Features? Building process and construction?” While adhering to your budget is critical, make sure that a builder’s low price doesn’t translate to low quality. After all, this isn’t choosing between a generic and brand-name box of cereal. A home is an extremely complex project that uses constantly evolving materials and techniques, plus the expertise of more than 60-70 individuals.

Shea homes construction and development

Which raises a couple of other questions to ask: How long have you been in business? What kind of turnover do you have on your construction crew? Shea Homes, for example, has been in business since 1881. And its workers stay on longer than average, which leads to greater expertise and efficiency, says Keith McCann, who points out that his framing contractor has been on the job for 15 years and his foundation crew for six.

A home is likely your largest financial investment ever—usually at least 10 times the price of a car. So protect yourself by checking out reputations online and with real human beings. Get details on the warranty program. And find out the truth behind any other myths that could keep you from buying the home that’s right for you.

More Ways to Enjoy Springtime

by | May 4th, 2015

It’s May, that blessed month when our nature-deprived senses get a wake-up call. The feel of cool, damp earth while planting a garden. The sweet fragrance of fresh-cut grass. Or the way-better-than-an-alarm sound of robins singing in the morning. Life is such a feast for the senses, this time of year. Below are five suggestions for savoring the season even more, from gathering tasty, just-picked cilantro at the farmers’ market to tapping your toes to the music of an outdoor concert.

Highlands Ranch Farmers’ and Street Market-Sundays, starting May 3, 10am-2pm
Goodbye, tasteless tomatoes. Well maybe not just yet, but even now you can pick up early season delights such as rhubarb and asparagus, along with a cornucopia of artisanal sauces, pastas, bread, and flowers. Plus, adjacent to the farmers’ market, the Highlands Ranch Community Association Street Market features more than 20 vendors selling handbags, accessories, cooking utensils, garden adornments, and more. Stay apprised of what’s coming in from the fields with this handy Colorado produce calendar. Held at Town Center South. (map) Learn more.


Music Arts Festival-May 16-17
Dig out your picnic basket and blanket—it’s outdoor concert season again. Presented by the Highlands Ranch Concert Band, the annual Music Arts Festival features two days of performances by music ensembles from around the metro area. Bring the whole family to enjoy music, plus arts and crafts by local vendors. Food and drinks also available for purchase. Held at Civic Green Park. Free. Learn more.

Photo courtesy of Highlands Ranch Music Arts Festival Facebook page

Photo courtesy of Highlands Ranch Music Arts Festival Facebook page

Opening Day at the BackCountry Pool-May 22
Just in time for Memorial Day (and your children’s out-of-school, over-the-top energy level), the BackCountry pool is open for business. Located next to the Sundial House, the space offers something for everyone with a big pool, splash pad, water feature, lap pool, and plenty of lounge chairs for dozing with a book and a nice cool beverage.

Jump into warm weather fun at BackCountry!

Jump into warm weather fun at BackCountry!

ArtStir Denver & Downtown Denver Arts Festivals-May 23-24
Not one, but two visual arts festivals are yours to explore over Memorial Day weekend. And conveniently, they’re within blocks of each other. ArtStir Denver, voted Best New Festival in 2014 by Westword Magazine, happens at the Denver Pavilions downtown and features more than 225 Colorado-only artists specializing in painting, photography, textiles, furnishings, handcrafted goods, and more. Beyond moseying through the booths, enjoy art and style demonstrations and performances, a flea market and food, craft beers and local wine. Drop by the Day of Rock concert at the nearby 16th Street Mall. Free. Learn more.

Denver Day of Rock 2014

Photo courtesy of Denver Day of Rock Facebook page

Then, be sure to catch the 17th year of the Downtown Arts Festival at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Ranked the #1 art show in Colorado by the Art Fair SourceBook, this juried fine art exhibition features some of Colorado and the nation’s best artists representing 15 artistic media, including painting, photography, glass, leather, sculpture, wood, and clay. Free. Learn more.

Downtown denver art festival

BackCountry Featured Home – Auburn Homes Custom Collection

by | April 24th, 2015

Custom Collection – Auburn Homes

4,854 Sq. Ft.
5-bedrooms| 6 -baths| 4-car garage
Available December 2015

Discover this European-style stone and stucco home that greets guests through a romantic courtyard. A grand foyer leads to a breathtaking two-story great room that connects kitchen, nook, and a generous deck and invites gatherings, entertaining and family togetherness. But owners will also appreciate the home’s intimate spaces like a rich study with wood beam ceilings as well as a formal dining room. A secluded main-floor guest suite is complemented by its own private deck creating an ideal retreat.

View Home>>

What Goes Into a Custom Home?

by | April 20th, 2015

You’ll find scenic views and gorgeous amenities at the Custom Collection at BackCountry.

Have you ever thought about going beyond selecting features and finishes in a new house to creating the home of your dreams from the ground, up? Many neighborhoods in BackCountry offer models that can be personalized to individual tastes. But if being more immersed in the process sounds inspiring, then custom is the way to go. Custom homes are one-of-a-kind. These homes are designed for specific homeowners, with their input and their needs in mind. Building a custom home is a once-in-a-lifetime experience—the home you’ve always dreamed of is created especially for you!

At BackCountry, we believe the perfect home requires more than impressive design and exquisite craftsmanship. Chemistry is an essential element in the process, so we put a strong emphasis on matching prospective new homeowners with the right builder. And we work with seven of the finest custom home builders in Colorado.

BackCountry’s Custom Collection features 94 homesites on seven streets. Lots range in size from 1/3 acre up to a full acre. Panoramic mountain vistas draw discriminating buyers to the Custom Collection, as these homesites are located at the southern edge of BackCountry and border our private open space, The South Rim. All homesites are within easy walking distance to our award-winning Sundial House and the other wonderful community amenities.

This recently completed home was built by Ades Design Builders Inc. Since construction of its first house 27 years ago, Ades Design has completed more than 300 custom homes in Front Range neighborhoods, with an emphasis in recent years on home-building in Douglas County. Ades Design is known for using newer technologies, including Built Green and Energy Star construction practices, and incorporating sustainable and recycled products.

Ades Design homes in BackCountry Colorado

Ades Design homes in BackCountry Colorado

Is the idea of too many choices a bit overwhelming? If you’re looking for some guidance and the best of the best in home building, be sure to check out our current inventory of available custom homes. These homes are built with the buyer in mind and all the custom features you’d expect, but with more input and direction from the builder. (So, more personalization, but fewer decisions!)

Take this new estate currently under construction by Terracina Custom Homes on Homesite No. 80, for example. Priced at $1.649 million, the five-bedroom, six-bath, two-story home will have 5,010 finished square feet and an additional 2,400 square feet of unfinished space in the basement, not to mention an oversized four-car garage.

Terracina Custom Homes in BackCountry Colorado

Terracina Custom Homes in BackCountry Colorado

Terracina’s President John Russo began driving nails on construction sites when he was just 10 years old. After studying Architectural Design, he started his own construction company, United Masonry, which he ran for 28 years. In 1993, John began building custom homes. Twenty years later, Terracina Custom Homes continues to thrive.

You can visit the Custom Collection in person during our office hours: Monday and Tuesday by appointment, or Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm. All homes in the Custom Collection are priced from $1.5 Million.

For more information on BackCountry’s custom lots and sales, or to see the current inventory of available custom homes, visit You can also call the Custom Collection Sales Director, Anne Shirer at (720) 344-4303 or email her at BackCountry’s Custom Collection is exclusively marketed by Keller Williams Executives Realty, LLC/Luxury Division.

BackCountry, then and now.

by | April 14th, 2015

Hard to believe, but it’s already been eight years since BackCountry’s grand opening. Back in 2007, Shea’s master plan was inspired by the magnificent views and commitment to conservation of the adjacent wilderness area. The concept was to build a community that preserved thousands of acres of natural beauty, encouraged an active lifestyle, and nurtured a deep sense of community. As residents eagerly tell anyone who will listen, mission accomplished.

Enjoy these photos, which show how our community has grown over the years and promise a natural beauty that only increases over time.

Sundial House

Sundial House Bird's-eye view

Sundial House Progress


Images of the Sundial House, built in 2009. From an idea taking shape out of bare dirt to an elegant and award-winning heart of the community.

Flying kites in Reflection Park

Fun in the pool

Easter Egg Hunt 2015

A few intrepid kite flyers in Spring 2009. The Kite Festival was the predecessor to BackCountry’s highly attended events of today: pool parties, movie nights, concerts, egg hunts and so much more.

Reflection park early days

Reflection Park 2015

Reflection Park, opened in 2008. These pint-sized trees have grown into shade-giving beauties. (Come on summer!)

Discovery Park BackCountry

BackCountry Discovery Park

Discovery Park has come a long way since 2009, and it’s a beautiful barometer of the changing seasons.

BackCountry Spirit Trail home

Somerset model home BackCountry

A model home from the early Spirit Trail Collection. Good design is timeless, but compare with today’s Somerset model, sporting a cooler palette and cleaner lines.

Beautiful BackCountry Open Space

BackCountry Open Space overlook

View of the 8,200-acre Backcountry Wilderness Area just behind us. Hasn’t changed a bit. And best of all, it never will.

Where the wild things are. Locally, anyway.

by | April 8th, 2015

The obvious answer is, of course, the Denver Zoo. Or the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, both especially handy for BackCountry residents. Even if you consider yourself an ardent animal lover, you may not be aware that Colorado is home to several wildlife sanctuaries. These home-away-from-home facilities do an outstanding job of taking in wildlife in need of care. And good news for humans: visitors are welcome too.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary

Located outside of Keenesburg, 30 miles northeast of Denver, The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a haven on 720 acres of rural, rolling grasslands. Established in 1980, it’s the largest sanctuary of its kind and one of the oldest in the United States. Who lives there? More than 350 animals, including tigers, African lions, black bears, grizzly bears, mountain lions, leopards, wolves, servals, bobcats, foxes, lynx, coyote, coati mundi, raccoon, porcupine, ostrich, emu, camel, alpaca, horses, and rescued dogs and cats.
 And why? Most were exotic “pets” confiscated for being kept in illegal or abusive situations. Others were surplus animals from zoos and other wildlife facilities, where they faced euthanasia. The animals enjoy life grouped with their own kind in large, open fields, underground dens, and inside/outside enclosures depending on species. Each day, the facility welcomes between 600 and 1,200 visitors. Elevated catwalks and observational platforms give a good view of the grounds and include coin-operated binoculars. Stop by the 1,200 sq. ft. education center, too.


Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center

Out of approximately 250,000 wolf-dogs born in the US each year, 80% will likely die before they reach their third birthday. When these adorable pups grow into semi-wild adults, they’re often surrendered to a shelter, where they are typically euthanized within 24-72 hours. The Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center helps save these animals. The center is on a 35-acre property in Divide, populated by arctic, timber, and Mexican Grey wolves, along with coyotes and red and swift foxes. Take a one-hour standard tour and learn about hunting, howling, hierarchy, and even communicate with the pack in a group howl. Check out the monthly Full Moon Tour and Full Moon Feeding Fests, too.

Photo courtesy of The Wolf and Wildlife Sanctuary Facebook

Photo courtesy of The Wolf and Wildlife Sanctuary Facebook

Serenity Springs Wildlife Center

Big cats feel right at home at Serenity Springs in Calhan (22 miles east of Colorado Springs). This safe place specializes in caring for more than 120 felines, such as lions, tigers, leopards, bobcats, cougars, and other exotic animals that have been in a situation where their well-being or life was in jeopardy. Serenity Springs also provides educational outreach. Guided tours are available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Photo courtesy of the Serenity Springs Wildlife Center Facebook page

Photo courtesy of the Serenity Springs Wildlife Center Facebook page

Mission: Wolf 

Mission: Wolf is an intentionally remote sanctuary in Westcliffe (southwest of Pueblo) geared to captive wolves and wolf-dog mixes. All residents were born in a cage—part of the more than 250,000 wolves currently living in captivity. (For perspective, fewer than 10,000 wolves still live in the wild.) This fact inspires the organization to tour the country with “ambassador wolves” to educate people not to put wolves in cages or keep wild animals as pets. Mission: Wolf has more than 200 acres of land: 150 are in conservation and provide a buffer zone, 50 acres are fenced for wolves. Everyone over the age of six is welcome. Tours are free. Their nature center and tent campsite is free of charge.

Photo courtesy of the Mission: Wolf Facebook page

Photo courtesy of the Mission: Wolf Facebook page

Rocky Mountain Wildlife Federation

Wolves and wolf-dog hybrids have a happy home at Rocky Mountain Wildlife Federation just outside of Guffy, on 35+ acres complete with sweet views of Pikes Peak, the San Juan Range, and the Collegiate Peaks. RMWF provides sanctuary, rehabilitation, and environmentally-natural housing for captive-born wolves and wolf-dogs who have suffered from injuries, neglect, or abuse, and cannot be released back into the wild. Tours at this sanctuary are free and impressively interactive, including visits with the animals inside their cages.

Photo courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Federation Facebook page

Photo courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Federation Facebook page

Colorado Rites of Spring

by | April 3rd, 2015

Buttery daffodils and greened-up lawns. Kids with their Easter baskets and, sometimes, snow boots. Elves and fairy-winged folk roaming the streets of Boulder. Yes, these are a few of the much-loved rites of spring in our part of the world. Here’s a selection of some activities to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of something magical: springtime in Colorado.

HRCA Easter Egg Hunt
Easter Egg Hunt
– Apr. 4, 10am sharp!
The Easter Bunny is on his way to Highlands Ranch! So grab your favorite egg-hunters (ages 1-11) and head over to Northridge Park behind the Northridge Recreation Center. Be sure to bring your basket to collect all the goodies, and a camera, too, since the Easter Bunny himself will make a special appearance. Come early—parking is limited and the hunt will begin at 10am sharp—rain, snow or shine. Free. Learn more.

Author Talk: Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years
– April 20, 7-8:30pm
If you’re itching for that first warm-weather trip up the hill, celebrate the centennial of Colorado’s premier national park at a talk by Mary Taylor Young, the naturalist and award-winning author of Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years. Witness the rise, fall, and rise of mountains. Meet ancient people, explorers lured by the mountains’ call, and engineers who sculpted Trail Ridge Road. Discover how a changing climate may greatly alter the park in its next 100 years. Southridge Recreation Center. Learn more.

Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens Free Day
– Apr. 22, 9am-5pm
Enjoy Earth Day by wandering through one of Denver’s most beautiful settings. Stop by the Botanic Gardens at York Street for free eye candy and to get ideas for your own spring garden. This time of year is likely to showcase nature’s more delicate masterpieces, such as columbines, bellflowers, lily of the valley, irises, honeysuckle, and crabapples. But if you’d like to know for sure what’s currently in bloom, check out their Gardens Navigator hereLearn more.

Boulder Tulip Fairy Parade
Tulip Fairy and Elf Festival
– Apr. 26, 1-5pm
Think of it as a springtime Halloween, featuring a beautifully costumed Tulip Fairy who leads hundreds of pint-sized fairies and elves around Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall as they “welcome the tulips.” A celebration of the 15,000 tulips that adorn the Pearl Street Mall, the Tulip Fairy and Elf Festival is a favorite springtime tradition that includes live stage performances, face painting, and free activities for children. Learn more.

BackCountry’s Annual Easter Egg Hunt at Solstice Park

by | April 2nd, 2015

BackCountry’s little chicks and bunnies gathered for the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Solstice Park.

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