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BackCountry - Wild at Heart

Why BackCountry smells so good

by | November 23rd, 2015

It could be all that fresh air, free of city traffic. The thousands of acres of open space rippling with sweet prairie grasses and wildflowers.

Or it could just be all the bath bombs residents are snapping up at Salus Bath & Body.

salus Highlands Ranch facial products

Salus, a Colorado maker of natural bath and body care products, is located in Highland Ranch’s Town Center, just a short drive from BackCountry. Opened this year, it’s the company’s third location; the other two are in Manitou Springs and Old Town Fort Collins. At the Highlands Ranch location, you can pick up customized, well, everything for your personal care: lotions, soaps, bath bombs, bubble bath, body washes, shampoos, conditioners, spa treatments, salt therapies, massage and body care, facial care, baby care, home fragrance, sport products, essential oils, and fragrances. Whew.

In a Denver Post article, co-owner Elissa Klaver (husband Jerell is her business partner) describes the shop as “Build-A-Bear meets Bath & Body Works meets Lush.” The Build-a-Bear reference speaks to how the products are handcrafted on the spot, per your taste. Customers choose among the many unscented products, then select from among 200+ fragrances and essential oils. Next, they watch the “Suds Team” mix up a freshly made batch just for them.   

salus bath products bath cupcakes

In the other half of the store, you can sniff your way through 200 types of bath and shower bombs and bath cupcakes, which have a bubble bath frosting and moisturizing “cake.” As fun as they are functional, these cupcakes are a clear winner in the stocking stuffer category.

Customers with sensitive skin can relax, knowing that all ingredients are labeled, and products are natural, organic, and paraben-free. Many are also gluten-free. If you’re allergic to fragrance, then simply forgo the scent.

salus shower bombs

Salus also has an active online business, so shopping from your living room (or bathtub) is always an option. Start shopping at

Interested in supporting other locally owned Highlands Ranch businesses? Read our previous posts about businesses, like Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs, BackCountry’s own CrossFit gym, and the artful floral arrangements at Abloom

A little help around the house

by | November 18th, 2015

Buying a high-quality new home can be a smart move for those with busy lives. Or really, anyone with more imaginative plans for the weekend than, say, updating electrical wiring or replacing old rain gutters. When you buy a new home at BackCountryyou’re free to focus on the fun parts of homeownership—such as personalizing a brand new home to your taste and lifestyle.

Basically, you get to be the boss of your home instead of it being the boss of you.

If you’re a homeowner—prospective, new, or experienced—you’ll find lots of inspiring ideas on Shea’s Home Hints Pinterest board. It’s chock-full of tips for home and yard maintenance, cleaning, décor, and home improvement projects to get everything just so. Below are some highlights.

There’s no better time to get good organizational systems in place than when you first move into a home. Setting up your new kitchen can be the most time-intensive project, so check out this pin’s 20 ways to organize your kitchen. One example: use your dusty old CD storage rack to line up your Tupperware lids. Smart, right? Or, turn the side of a kitchen cabinet into a command center for paying bills and scheduling activities.

kitchen command center

Garages are another place to start off orderly, as they can quickly become an anxiety-producing catch-all. Try this easy-on-the-eyes system with “four steps to storage”: shelving, drawers, labeling, and containers.

These Three Organizing Tips You Haven’t Tried offer a why-didn’t-I-think-of-that system of folding clothes and an even larger lesson from decluttering and organizational sensation Marie Kondo. Author of the worldwide best-seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Kondo advocates asking of every item in your home, “does this item bring me joy?” If the answer is no, then express gratitude for the purpose the object once served and let it go.

Maintenance and cleaning
Built with state-of-the-art materials and processes, a new BackCountry home requires much less maintenance than an older home. But just like cars, all homes need regular maintenance for a long life. This handy list for monthly and seasonal “honey-dos” will keep your home in shape.

With the passing of time and repeated exposure to water, bathtub caulking will inevitably need a touch-upRunning a strip of blue painter’s tape on both sides of the caulking line beforehand ensures a straight line and minimizes the mess.


When it comes to keeping your nice new home clean, these 31 cleaning tips offer many unexpected suggestions. For example, cruddy showerheads get a makeover with white vinegar and a plastic baggy. If you’ve ever had a mildew odor emanating from your washing machine, you’ll want to read this. And while we’re on the topic of expert cleaning practices, note this list of 32 things you should be cleaning but aren’t (think sink stoppers and dust-coated bathroom exhaust fans).

Lawn and landscaping
If your new home has a lawn, you’ll want to know the best ways to get your yard ready for the snow and cold of winter. Fall is the time to fill in bare patches, get a handle on weeds, and fertilize. While it’s okay to prune out a few dead tree branches year-round, save your serious pruning until February or March. Get detailed instructions here. And this winter, start sketching out your plan for spring landscaping—if you’d like to add to your initial plan. This pin lists the five best low-maintenance plants.


Want more handy homeowner information? Dig into an archive of BackCountry’s Home & Garden blog posts here

Fall Photo Contest

by | November 12th, 2015

BackCountryCO photo contest

To all talented BackCountry photographers and their photogenic families and pets: We want your pictures. Take a photo of your crew enjoying this beautiful season at BackCountry and you could win a $100, $50, or $25 gift card, courtesy of Shea Homes and the builders of BackCountry! Winning photos will also be featured on the community website and Facebook page. Submit your favorite pics electronically to Courtney Folkedahl at by November 20.

Set the stage (and table) for Thanksgiving

by | November 11th, 2015

For many, Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. Free from the pressure of gift-giving, it is simply a joyful gathering of friends and family. Great food and conversation, and maybe a college football game to aid the digestion. Priceless.

rustic fall tablescape

Because Thanksgiving is such a lovely, all-day indoor affair, why not add to the ambiance with fall-inspired home décor? We invite you to peruse the BackCountry Autumn Pinterest board  to get ideas for a festive table and beyond. To kickstart your creativity, we’re sharing some of our favorite ways to prep for the big day.

First stop is a pin that’s all about gratitude. After all, nothing sets a more positive tone for a Thanksgiving dinner than guests expressing gratitude. Clever ways to inspire sharing include kraft paper placemats with an “I am thankful for…” writing prompt that your guests can complete. Another idea is a big pumpkin spray-painted white on which all can write their messages of gratitude. Or, have your guests jot down what they are grateful for on small slips of paper, which you then roll up and bake in crescent rolls. Like a fortune cookie, everyone can open one up and guess who wrote it.

Thankful for

Maybe you love the idea of creating a showstopper centerpiece, but the only time you venture into a craft store is to buy poster board for your kid’s science project. Find help with this pinwhere you’ll see several beautiful arrangements using only small pumpkins, leaves, and succulents you may already have around the house. Natural, pretty, and no crafty gene required.

If you do know your way around a can of spray paint, try this all-gold tablescape. Just spray paint real and/or fake pumpkins, pinecones, and Christmas garland. Add gold votive candles and you’re done. Or nestle candles in a glass container  filled with popcorn kernels or other seasonal goodies.

all gold tablescape

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, try turning pumpkins and gourds into elegant serving dishes. Topped with silver serving pieces, pale gray and green pumpkins add interesting height and color to your buffet. And why limit the charming conversation pieces to your table? On your porch, you could welcome guests with pumpkins etched with your house numbersOr floating mini-pumpkin votives on a table in your foyer. Just insert tea lights into small pumpkins and float them in a charming rustic container with leaves and sprigs of herbs.

Enjoy exploring our Pinterest boards. With thousands of acres of open space as its backdrop, BackCountry can be a wonderful place to host a Thanksgiving dinner—and then walk it off on miles and miles of trails

Do you heart art?

by | November 4th, 2015

November is National Gratitude Month, and if you’re a BackCountry arts aficionado, you have plenty to be grateful for. Why are there so many artsy events in and around Denver this time of year? Maybe because we’ve finally come inside after our long, lovely late summer, but haven’t yet surrendered to the upcoming holiday madness. This really is an ideal time to catch a bit of culture—and yes, perhaps bring home artful holiday gifts, too.

Denver Film Festival-Nov. 4-15
Blockbusters, documentaries, shorts, and indies. Whatever your cinematic taste, you’ll find something to love among 250+ screenings at the largest premier film celebration in the Rocky Mountain region. (After all, last year’s 55,000 guests can’t all be wrong.) Be the first among your friends to see cutting-edge films, since the DFF is widely recognized for presenting movies such as The Artist, Black Swan, and Brokeback Mountain well before earning accolades. Screenings are held at the Sie FilmCenter and Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Special packages including dinner and parking are also available. Learn more and purchase tickets here

Denver Arts Week-Nov. 6-14
Craft an experience all your own during this entire week devoted to artistry of every kind: visual arts, theater, music, film, museums, dance, opera, comedy, history, and heritage. On Know Your Arts First Friday (Nov. 6) you can stroll up and down seven of Denver’s creativity-rich neighborhoods, checking out the galleries—some of which will offer local art for as little as $52.80. Explore an exhibit devoted to Sherlock Holmes at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Or view 100 works by Andrew and Jamie Wyeth at the Denver Art Museum. Just the tip of a very artful iceberg. Learn more

Denver Arts Week 2015

BackCountry’s First Chili Cook-Off-Nov. 8, 2pm-4pm
A delicious, belly-warming pot of chili can be a work of art! Share your talents with your fellow BackCountry neighbors, and possibly score a prize for “Best Tasting” or “Most Unique.” Bring a crockpot of your favorite recipe to the Sundial House, but don’t tip off others as to which pot is yours. We’ll number each entry and guests will vote for their favorites. The BackCountry HOA will provide a toppings bar and refreshments, and will be showing the Broncos vs. Colts game. Those who don’t bring chili can pay $5 to participate. Please RSVP at

Denver Botanic Gardens Free Days and Winter Gift Market-Nov. 13-14
A world of handcrafted artistry (and holiday gift ideas) awaits you, including bath and body products, pottery, jewelry, specialty foods, clothing, antiques, and more. Plus you can stroll through our city’s lovely Botanic Gardens without an entrance fee. Denver Botanic Gardens’ Guild will also sell its popular assortment of homemade gourmet herbal vinegars and seasoning mixes made from herbs grown on site. Come to the Sneak Peek on the 12th for best selection, appetizers, wine, and beer along with live entertainment. The Sneak Peek is $15 for members and $20 for non-members. The events on Nov. 13-14 are free. Learn more

Denver botanic gardens winter gift market

Fall Photo Contest-Deadline Nov. 20
To all talented BackCountry photographers and their photogenic families and pets: We want your pictures. Take a photo of your crew enjoying this beautiful season at BackCountry and you could win a $100, $50, or $25 gift card, courtesy of Shea Homes and the builders of BackCountry! Winning photos will also be featured on the community website and Facebook page. Submit your favorite pics electronically to Courtney Folkedahl at by November 20.

Backcountry’s Haunted House

by | October 29th, 2015

The Sundial House was transformed into a haunted house full of ghosts, witches, werewolves and monsters. Residents had one spooktacular time!

Good stuff for guys at BackCountry

by | October 29th, 2015

Ok, let’s get the disclaimers out of the way. BackCountry is wonderful for both genders. And of course, men and women like plenty of the same things. But are there aspects to BackCountry that men seem particularly to like? Definitely.

Hop onto one of BackCountry’s trails and you’ll probably run into several of the community’s very active bikers. The in-neighborhood trails connect to trails within the South Rim, the community’s private wilderness of 467 acres, and then to 26 miles of challenging trails within the greater acres of the Backcountry Wilderness Area. Bikers never get bored here. As resident Craig Wilmes says, the trail systems “are very well-maintained and offer various degrees of difficulty from ‘not-too-bad’ to ‘that was really hard.’” An avid biker, Craig hosted a community bike clinic in August and encourages fellow bikers to join him and a group of fellow riders each Saturday during seasonable months.

BackCountry Colorado south rim

And while we’re on the topic of the Backcountry, some residents have enjoyed taking advantage of the Highlands Ranch-organized activities there, such as archery, camping, and hunting deer, elk, and wild turkey. Best of all, these activities, like the Backcountry Wilderness Area itself, are limited to Highlands Ranch residents to prevent overuse.

Six years ago, BackCountry resident David Angard organized the very first BackCountry Golf Tournament as a way for residents to get to know each other. This annual charity fundraiser, held at the Highlands Ranch Golf Course, is still going strong. Prizes, lunch, and game rehashing are always part of the fun.

Another resident, Doug Teague, put together a basketball team, the BackCountry Coyotes, that plays in the Highlands Ranch Men’s Sunday Night 35+ League. Doug says he’s met a “ton of great people from BackCountry” and is “always looking for good players and beer drinkers to join the team.” If you’re interested, contact Doug at

BackCountry biking Colorado

Two other man-friendly options are monthly Cigar Nights and Poker Nights. Cigar Nights typically rotate between host homes, and include cigars, drinks, food, and conversation (women and non-smokers attend too, by the way). For more information, contact Tommy Yionoulis at Poker Nights are just getting off the ground, so contact Howard Wolsky at if you’re interested.

Gents, here’s the bottom line: between the abundant, outdoor activities and active, highly social residents, BackCountry is an excellent place to be—dude or not.  

Is BackCountry right for you? Three questions to ask yourself.

by | October 21st, 2015

No man is an island, they say, and neither is a home. It’s critical that your “perfect home” be in a community that’s equally in sync with your tastes and lifestyle. Because, after all, you do have to go outside sometime.

If you’re considering BackCountry for your future home, ask yourself these three questions. They’ll help clarify what’s unique about the community and if it’s right for you.  

1. How important is the outdoors to you?
If you moved to Colorado for its natural beauty and endless outdoor activities, then go ahead and skip to question #2. In other words, run, do not walk, to BackCountry—you were made for each other. Otherwise, let’s explore this idea a bit. First of all, depending on how it’s situated, your home can offer magnificent sunset vistas of the mountains and foothills, which are easily accessed thanks to BackCountry’s southwest metro location near C-470. Also, within South Rimthe community’s private wilderness of 467 acres, you can walk, run, or ride bikes and spot all kinds of wildlife. Keep going and you’ll head straight into the Backcountry Wilderness Area, home to 26 miles of trails, more critters such as deer, elk, and wild turkey, as well as regular Highlands Ranch-organized activities such as archery, horseback riding, hikes, camping, and hunting. And if you just want a nice and easy after-dinner walk, stroll on one of the many winding trails within the neighborhood or visit one of the six parks.
On the other hand, if the Discovery Channel gives you all the nature you want, consider Question 2.

BackCountry map Highlands Ranch Colorado

2. Do you like to know your neighbors?
Like anyone else, hermits are welcome to live in BackCountry—but they sure will miss out on a lot of fun. BackCountry is a gated community, which helps to create an exceptional sense of friendliness. (In other words, why not talk to strangers? They’re all your neighbors.) Residents are quick to tell you how warm and welcoming people are here. Amenities such as a resort-style pool, the Sundial House community center with its pub and lounge, and the outdoor amphitheatre and network of trails, promote easy, frequent connections between residents. And an active HOA is always cooking up community-wide events, such as summer concerts, golf tournaments, art shows, and holiday parties, as well as more intimate gatherings such as book club meetings and empty nester potlucks.

3. How do you like your architecture?
Chances are, you didn’t answer that with “corner-cutting and cookie-cutter.” That’s good, because you just won’t find that in BackCountry, which was conceived of as a community with exceptionally high standards. Architecturally, the community feels cohesive with a Colorado-inspired emphasis on stone, stucco, and other natural materials that complement the area’s natural beauty. Varied neighborhoods, and within those, multiple floor plans and elevations, keep streetscapes as interesting as they are beautiful. And by being selective with builders, the community aims to keep quality (and home values) high. Our current builders include Shea Homes, whose homes range in price from the $500s to $700s, and Paragon Homes, which offers semi-custom living priced from $1 million. Additionally, seven builders offer custom homes at varying price points.


So now that you’ve mulled over the possibility of living at BackCountry, maybe it’s time for a visit. Seeing the place—with its natural beauty, strong sense of community and high-quality homes—is the best way to definitively answer these questions, and any others you still have.      

Welcome, October. Or shall we say, Crocktober.

by | October 13th, 2015

Goodbye, summer heat—and our fixation on salads, grilling, and anything that doesn’t heat up the kitchen. October kicks off the season for tasty, hearty fare that warms up your belly, soul, and sometimes, happily, your kitchen too.

Now that the Denver Broncos are back in business, why not gather with your fellow BackCountry neighbors over a football game and, perhaps, a crockpot full of barbecue? In honor of our community, so well-known for its friendly get-togethers, BackCountry has created several Pinterest boards for you to explore—to get your mouth watering with seasonally inspired recipes, and your creativity awhirl with ideas for crafty autumn party décor. Here are some highlights.

Starting with crockpots, here’s a board devoted to the art of fix-it-and-forget-it from BackCountry’s master developer Shea Homes Colorado. If you are operating under the impression that slow cooking menus are limited to soups and beans, check out the recipes for a savory and light sweet potato gratin, Chinese-style barbecue, and lasagna described as “the easiest lasagna you will ever make.” Sold.

Easiest lasagna ever BackCountry Pinterest

On BackCountry’s Fall is for Football board, you’ll find more slow cooker recipes, as well as many other kinds. You’ll never miss your summertime grill with this Peppered Corn on the Cobwrapped in bacon. Want another barbecue variation, maybe on the sweet, Southern side? Here’s Pulled Pork with Bourbon-Peach Barbecue Sauce. And should you need some festive ambiance to go with all that good food, check out this board, 39 Clever Tailgating DIYs To Get You In The SpiritThink pennant-shaped cupcake toppers, downloadable party invitations, and custom drink labels.

pulled pork BackCountryCO Pinterest fall recipes

You’ll find another board from builder Shea Homes that’s unabashedly devoted to the Broncos. Snag a recipe for a Denver Broncos cocktail made of blue Cucacao, vodka, and blood orange soda. Or some irresistible orange and blue, candy-studded Broncos cookiesOr how about a whole Broncos-inspired menufrom appetizers to dessert?

Denver Broncos cookies BackCountryCO Pinterest

And lest we forget that other October attraction, Halloween, head over to BackCountry’s Autumn boardwhere you’ll find seasonal recipes, craft ideas, and Halloween goodies galore. Pick up 21 Halloween decorating tips or learn how to roast pumpkin seeds salvaged from your jack o’ lantern. Or stack up a pile of Pumpkin Waffles with Maple-Walnut Syrup!

pumpkin waffles BackCountryCO fall recipes

Hungry yet? If not, then check in often. Pins are always being added, so be sure to take a look before your next gathering.

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.

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