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BackCountry - Wild at Heart

Why BackCountry is so much fun.

by | January 28th, 2015

Kids Dancing BackCountry Highlands Ranch July 4
And who’s behind it all.

Bored while living at BackCountry? Not a chance on Britany Chambers’ watch. Britany is BackCountry’s full-time Lifestyle Director, and she’s always stocking the community calendar with special events.

“Right now I’m securing bands for summer events and bar nights,” Britany reveals. That kind of long-range planning makes for smoothly run, well-attended events, as do generous doses of creativity and community input. Once a month, Britany meets with BackCountry’s Lifestyle Committee of nine volunteer residents to share ideas and firm up details for the next few months’ events.

Fan favorites revealed

So, what are the most popular events in BackCountry? Depends on whom you ask. Families with small children favor the two events with, not surprisingly, the largest attendance: Visits with Santa (the traditional lap chat, cookies and milk) and a similar meet-up with the Easter Bunny, complete with fast-paced egg hunt. Up to 250 kids can show up for these events!

On the other hand, young couples and empty nesters favor all the date night options—happy hours, live music, and comedy nights, as well as cooking classes and special events like the upcoming Valentine’s Day Chocolate and Wine Pairing. The monthly Drive-By Dinners are a big hit, too, in which residents pre-order restaurant-prepared dinners and conveniently pick them up at the Sundial House.

Santa at BackCountry Highlands Ranch Colorado
“People work hard all week long,” says Britany. “So by the time the weekend comes, they can be really ready for down time, a date night, or just spending time with their kids.” Which is why she strikes a healthy balance between creating kid- and adult-oriented events.

Families, couples, and singles alike enjoy all-age events like the Fourth of July, with country music, dancing, food trucks, and Uncle Sam on stilts, and last summer’s Drive-In Movie Night, which featured live music, root beer floats, hand-jive lessons, and Back to the Future playing on a 20-foot blowup screen.

Perks of an active community

Compared to most other communities, BackCountry is exceptionally active. Having a full-time Lifestyle Director, outdoor amphitheater, pool, and the 12,000-square-foot Sundial House with pub, demonstration kitchen, terraces, and meeting and fitness rooms, promotes community cohesiveness.

SundialHouseExteriorFromGrounds2
“All these ways to gather creates a strong sense of connection,” explains Britany. “Which is especially helpful when you’re a new resident. In other neighborhoods, you might just meet the people on your block. But because of all the community events, here you meet people who live all around you. It’s much easier to connect with other families or empty nesters, and people who share your interests.”

All those connections make for a rewarding job for Britany. Before coming to BackCountry, she helped plan huge public events at Flatiron Crossing Mall in Broomfield. But the smaller scale at BackCountry means she gets to know “all the great people here.” And, she says, “When I see people asking for an encore or not wanting to leave an event because they’re having so much fun, it feels great knowing I’ve done my job.”

BackCountry’s Superhero and Princess Party at the Sundial House

by | January 26th, 2015

The little Superheroes and Princesses of BackCountry enjoyed an after school snack and met Rapunzel and Spiderman!

BackCountry Featured Home -Toll Brothers

by | January 26th, 2015

Toll Brothers
From the upper-$600,000s
10525 Sunshower Place
Highlands Ranch, CO 80126
3,798 – 4,448 sq. ft.
4-5 bedrooms | 4.5 baths | 3-car garage

Exceptional home site next to open space! You-ll love home site #59 – a quiet street on a cul-de-sac, next to the open space and close to the walking path! You can choose from five impressive floor plans, ranging from 3,798 to 4,448 sq. ft. with 4-5 bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths, and 3-car garages. Homes start from the upper $600,000s. For information contact Caroline Rudee at 303-791-4288 or CRudee@TollBrothersInc.com. You can view floorplans and home tours at TollBrothers.com/HOW.

View the BackCountry Featured Home

Show Winter Blahs the Door: FREE Winter Activities!

by | January 15th, 2015

If winter seems to be stretching on a bit too long for your taste, maybe it’s time to shake up your routine. And don’t worry about breaking those “spend less” resolutions just yet, as all of the boredom-busting suggestions below cost absolutely nothing.

Hudson Gardens Bird Tour
Free Day at Hudson Gardens
- Jan. 26, 9am-5pm
While this is a no-brainer destination in the growing season, Hudson Gardens is a beautiful place to explore this time of year, too, from the conifer grove, ponds, and wetlands, to the adjacent trail that runs for miles along the Platte River. Learn more.

Free Day at Four Mile Historic Park-Feb. 6, noon-4pm
Travel back to 1859 at this Denver landmark, where you’ll pan for gold, tour the city’s oldest structure, meet many farm animals, and enjoy a snapshot of frontier life. Learn more.

Denver Mint-Every Monday through Thursday, 8am-3:30pm
Take a free, 45-minute guided tour to learn about the history of the United States Mint and the craftsmanship required at all stages of the minting process, from original designs and sculptures to the actual striking of the coins. And don’t miss the gift shop for unique memorabilia. Reservations required.

NOAA Weather
National Center for Atmospheric Research
-Seven days a week
Through exhibits, self-guided tours, and guided tours (held on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at noon), learn about global warming, the 21st century’s hottest topic. See a hailstone the size of a softball, watch as a miniature tornado is whipped up in front of your eyes, and get an up-close look at how lightning is created. Learn more.

Colorado State Capitol Tour-Weekdays, 10am-3pm
Tour the just-repaired, golden-domed Colorado Capitol Building, which boasts 200 ounces of 24k gold. Stand at exactly a mile high on the 13th western-facing step. Marvel at Allen True’s beautiful murals, the rose onyx wainscoting, and the live shenanigans of Colorado General Assembly. Learn more.

Celestial Seasonings Tea Tour
Celestial Seasonings Tour
-Mon.-Sat, 10am-4pm; Sun., 11am-3pm
A 45-minute tour gives you the inside scoop on how the largest specialty tea manufacturer in North America blends, packages, and ships its teas. Prepare yourself for the sinus-opening Mint Room, then enjoy free samples of every variety and discover a gallery of original artwork from their famous tea boxes. Learn more.

Colorado Sports Hall of Fame-Thurs.-Sat. 10am-3pm
Housed on the west side of Sports Authority Field At Mile High Stadium, the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum honors the legacies of the city’s greatest sports heroes, and features the Gallery of Legends, a “Great Moments in Colorado Sports” exhibit, and a section celebrating the achievements of girls and women in Colorado sports. Guided tours are 75-90 minutes and include both the museum and stadium. Learn more.

Four Seasons at Discovery Park

by | January 7th, 2015

Unlike other Colorado neighborhoods, BackCountry offers its residents an awe-inspiring natural backdrop for enjoying the beauty of all four seasons. Panoramic mountain views let you marvel at each year’s dramatic snow buildup and melt-off, as well as the greening up and autumn vibrancy of the 467-acre South Rim area and 8,200-acre Backcountry Wilderness Area that surround BackCountry.

Even closer are BackCountry’s trails and six parks. One of them, Discovery Park, features a meandering waterway that makes its way into a pond along the Discovery Center’s edge. On BackCountry’s Facebook and Pinterest pages, a months-long series of photos taken in 2014 shows the year-round beauty of this one small area, a perfect hideaway for quiet reflection or reading. This year, BackCountry will take another yearlong series of photos, but in another neighborhood setting. Keep an eye on it here and here.

#1: Springtime in Colorado is always a back-and-forth dialog between snowing and growing.
May BackCountry Highlands Ranch Colorado

#6: Blooming lily pads in June.
June BackCountry Highlands Ranch Colorado

#12: A welcome afternoon rainstorm in July, part of Colorado’s monsoon pattern.
July Rainstorm BackCountry Highlands Ranch Colorado

#22: October means golden leaves and grasses around the pond.
October BackCountry Highlands Ranch

#28: November brought light, quickly melting snow.
November BackCountry Higlands Ranch Colorado

#33: By the final day of the year, winter had truly found us here at BackCountry.
December 31 2014 BackCountry Highlands Ranch Colorado

Best resolution ever? More fun.

by | December 30th, 2014

While there’s nothing wrong with losing weight, saving money, and writing the Great American Novel in 2015, be sure to add some entertainment to your resolution list. A little balance just might make those other goals easier to reach. Kick off the brainstorming with these ideas. Happy New Year!

Stock Show Facebook Page
National Western Stock Show
– Jan. 8-25
If you’ve never been, it’s high time to enjoy the abundant western charms of this iconic show. New events this year include a BBQ Throwdown competition and the CINCH® Super Shootout Rodeo—a battle of the world’s most elite rodeos. Perennial favorites include the lavish Mexican Rodeo, mutton bustin’ competitions (there’s nothing quite like seeing a five-year-old riding a panicked sheep), horse shows, exhibitions of award-winning chickens and steers, children’s activities, and much more. Ticket prices vary. Learn more.

john-crist-greenroom
BackCountry Comedy Night with John Crist
– Jan. 17, 7 pm
Coming to BackCountry’s own Sundial House, award-winning stand-up comedian John Crist has appeared on Live at Gotham and has opened on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers. Crist’s interactive and improvisational skills ensure that no two shows are exactly alike. His edgy-yet-clean comedy has made him popular among fans of all ages. Space is limited to the first 65 residents. $20 per person. Register online through ActiveNet or at the Sundial House by Monday, January 12.

Adult_Visitors_Lecture_FivePoints
Five Points: The Cradle of Jazz in the Rockies
– Jan. 20, 7-8:30pm
Denver’s Five Points neighborhood has deep connections to the city’s early black history and culture. Through story and song, this special event at the History Colorado Center shares tales from the “Harlem of the West,” which attracted such jazz legends as Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. Led by jazz musician and historian Purnell Steen and his group Le Jazz Machine. Tickets from $6.50-8.50 for museum members; $10-$14 for non-members. Learn more.

BackCountry Highlands Ranch Superhero Party
Superhero & Princess Party
– Jan. 21, 4pm-5pm
BackCountry kids, grab your tiaras and capes. It’s time for some after-school magic at the Sundial House. Come in your best superhero or princess outfit and enjoy a snack and special appearance by Rapunzel and Spiderman. In order to have enough snacks for all, please register via ActiveNet by Friday, January 16. Open to the first 50 kids.

glowga
Glow-in-the-Dark Yoga
– Jan. 24, 5:30pm-7:30pm
It’s like yoga in a parallel universe, where the mellow, vinyasa flow includes upbeat music, black lights, a disco ball, and best of all, cocktails. Bring your own yoga mat, wear white or neon yoga clothing, and don glow-in-the-dark accessories (if you have them) to make the room glow. Ticket price also includes a glow necklace, one glass of wine or beer, and appetizers. Cash bar available. 75-minute, all-levels class. Ages 21+ only. Recreation Center at Southridge (map). Tickets $25 in advance, $30 day of event if not sold out. Learn more.

Gilbert-and-Sullivan-Pinafore
Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore
– Jan. 24 at 7:30pm and Jan. 25 at 1pm
Subtitled The Lass Who Loved a Sailor, this classic comic opera opened in 1878 and was Gilbert and Sullivan’s first international sensation. This lighthearted story of love between the captain’s daughter and a lower-class sailor skewers the British class system, politics, and other timeless topics. Tickets $22-84. Learn more.

Zip up your parka and go!

by | December 22nd, 2014

Macaroni Kid Family Skiing
There really is more to winter than hot cocoa and movies. Yes, non-winter-sporty types, we’re talking to you. When it comes to enjoying winter instead of just enduring it, knowledge is power.

To tempt you out of your bunny slippers and into the chill, let’s start easy, with snowshoeing right here in the BackCountry neighborhood. Did you know that residents can borrow snowshoes whenever there’s 12” or more of snow on the ground? Pick them up at the Sundial House, no charge. All you need is good hiking or waterproof boots. Strap the snowshoes on and walk around the wilderness trails in the snow—and check out all the different animal tracks.

How about sledding? You can barrel down fun hills in the BackCountry neighborhood and at nearby ThunderRidge High School, but be sure to explore this exhaustive list of Douglas County sledding hills and ice rinks.

Southwest Rink Denver
Outdoor skating is (temperatures permitting) just up the road on C-470 at the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, at the Streets of SouthGlenn, and, a bit farther afield, in downtown Denver, or at Evergreen Lake, with its beautiful mountain views and free hot chocolate at the lake house.

When it comes to skiing and snowboarding, start with a visit to Colorado Ski and Get Out Skiing for an overview of your options. Many feel that Breckenridge and Copper Mountain offer the best beginner terrain, while others prefer the small size and unintimidating vibe of Granby Ranch and Loveland.

First-time skiers will be wise to take a lesson. Sure, you can save money by letting a knowledgeable friend or family member teach you, but your experience may go a lot more smoothly with an expert. Be sure to dress warmly—which may seem obvious, but there really is strategy involved in staying warm (not overheated) and dry. A cold, wet day can send any newbie running from the sport, so learn more about smart alpine dressing here, and pick up lots of other good tips for novice skiers and snowboarders here.
Skiing Colorado

BackCountry’s Cookies with Santa at the Sundial House

by | December 18th, 2014


BackCountry families joined Santa, Mrs. Claus and their daughter Candy Claus for a festive gathering.

How this 13-year-old BackCountry resident is giving back.

by | December 15th, 2014

And how you can too.
social hands colored

For many, the holidays are a time for outreach to those who are struggling. You can find endless ways to volunteer—check out the ideas below—but if you need additional inspiration, look no further than BackCountry resident Lily Larsen. Last month, this Mountain Ridge Middle School student wrapped up the second phase of her aid project to the children of Syria, sending 127 pairs of much-needed socks and 162 pairs of underwear. This followed the 335 stuffed animals Lily collected and sent last May.

Her inspiration sprang from a conversation with a Syrian family friend, who explained how the 2011 uprising changed everything in her once-peaceful homeland, creating more than one million child refugees, many of whose parents were imprisoned or killed. Lily thought stuffed animals might help those grieving children.

“I wanted to give them something to hang on to,” says Lily. “I thought about how it would feel if something like that happened to me.” A school project prompted her to take action, and the BackCountry community responded generously to her flyers by dropping off toys, and more recently, clothing. Fired up by her success, Lily plans to continue her outreach projects twice each year, shipping the goods to Boston’s NuDay Syria, an organization that forwards contributions to the struggling country each month.

HabitatForHumanity
For Lily, it was kids in crisis who inspired her to act. What might it be for you? Handypersons (or those willing to learn) might want to pick up a hammer for Habitat for Humanity. This nonprofit has built simple, affordable housing for families since 1976.

A sports background is not required, but could add to your joy in working with Special Olympics Colorado. This organization provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities—a great way to develop physical fitness, courage, skills and friendships.

The Gathering Place is Denver’s only daytime 
drop-in center for women, children, and transgender individuals who are 
experiencing poverty or homelessness. Tutoring, meal prep and serving, childcare, and pro bono professional services are always needed.

FoodBankRockiesColorado
One in seven Coloradans isn’t sure where his or her next meal is coming from. And half are kids. You can help move the food along to hungry people by volunteering at Food Bank of the Rockies.

Here’s a great way to thank a vet. Visit military.com and explore the countless ways to give back, from writing letters of appreciation to donating books and groceries.

Homelessness is especially difficult during winter months. You can bring a bit of cheer by helping at a health fair for homeless children. Teach a cooking class. Or just play a game of checkers. Learn more at Colorado Coalition.

And if none of these feel quite right, check out the Volunteers of America site, which offers a huge range of opportunities in our metro area.

The holidays are here. What’s cooking?

by | December 10th, 2014

ChristmasDinnerMenus
Some of us already have it all figured out, a la Martha Stewart, right down to the darling candy cane place cards. For others, desperation is driving us to consider Papa John’s as a viable backup plan. After all, pizza can be red and green, right?

‘Tis the season for cooking, which means it’s a great time to call for reinforcements. Whether cajoling that amazing lemon shortbread recipe out of your grandma, or scouring the web for a new way to serve green beans that doesn’t involve a single can of cream of mushroom soup, let’s kick off the process with some links to good recipe sources.

SweetPotatoMapleMash
Our first stop is the BackCountry Facebook page, where we asked for a little holiday favorites help from our friends. One resident responded with a recipe for homemade noodles. (Don’t be intimidated—it’s much easier than you’re thinking.) Simply combine 1 beaten egg, 1/2 tsp salt, and 2 tbsp milk. Add 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour (for thicker noodles, add 1/2 tsp baking powder to the flour before mixing). Roll out the dough to desired thickness and let stand for 20 minutes. Cut into strips and drop into hot soup (chicken broth is best) for 10 minutes.

Besides making us hungry, this suggestion led us to collect more tasty ideas on the BackCountry Pinterest page, such as Sweet Noodle Kugel with Cherries, Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Thyme, and Maple Pecan Sweet Potato Mash. Be sure to check those out. And while you’re there, take note of the pin for 23 High-Tech Ways To Make Entertaining Easier. (A big thumbs up for the Bluetooth kitchen thermometer. Dry turkeys no more!)

HanukkahFoods
If Hanukkah is your moment to shine, consider these 29 Miraculous Foods to Make for Hanukkah, ranging from tangy brisket to sautéed cauliflower “steaks” for your veggie-loving guests.

For Christmas-themed recipes, varieties are endless. Just head over to Pinterest and search for Christmas cookies, cocktails, or what have you. But for those who prefer a pre-planned, no-brainer approach, take solace in this link from Better Homes and Gardens for best Christmas dinner menus or this article on the Huffington Post that covers the whole meal, from Persimmon Bruschetta appetizers to Tiramisu Cookies.

Bon appetit!
PersimmonBruschetta

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