Get your Backcountry pass card here

BackCountry - Wild at Heart

Featured Home – Shadow Walk Collection

by | November 18th, 2014

Shadow Walk Collection

Sunshower Plan
Price $688,577
10684 Skydance Drive
Available December 2014
3-bedrooms – 2.5 Bathrooms – 3-car tandem garage

This stunning Sunshower plan is a well-designed ranch plan featuring spacious great room with fireplace, kitchen with island, morning room with access to the outdoor dining terrace, formal dining room, expanded unfinished walkout basement, and a 3-car tandem garage. Stunning design finishes include hardwood flooring, tile flooring in the bathrooms, slab handstone countertops with a tile backsplash in the kitchen and master bathroom, and montresano maple greyloft cabinetry.

For more information on this home, please contact the Shadow Walk Collection sales office at 720.344.1121 or visit

View the BackCountry Featured Home

*Price, specifications and availability are subject to change without notice. Square footage is approximate. Actual homes as constructed may not contain the features and layouts depicted and may vary from photo.

Let’s talk turkey

by | November 17th, 2014

It’s the headliner on almost every Thanksgiving menu. So why not consider your options before grabbing the first frozen monolith you find on sale? There really are some interesting alternatives.

Around 46 million turkeys are consumed each Thanksgiving, and about 99% of those are your standard white tom turkeys—also known as broad-breasted whites. These big guys are bred to grow into a mature bird with a large, white-meat breast within 18 weeks. The price is usually very competitive, but the downside is that most are given antibiotics to speed growth, may be injected with a sodium solution, and then there’s the whole controversy about factory farming, which we’ll sidestep here.

Cooking chicken in the oven at home.
But let’s take a look at the sometimes-confusing alternatives. Heritage birds date back to the 1800s, and are more like what our colonial forefathers carved into. Closer to wild turkeys, they produce darker meat and, some would say, gamier taste. Heirloom breeds are a bit newer, dating to the early 1920s or 1930s, still providing the white meat we Americans love, but with a more robust taste than the standard tom. Both of these types cost more because their life cycle is 24-30 weeks, and they aren’t raised on antibiotics.

If you’re seeking one of these specialty birds or a humanely raised broad-breasted white, try Marczyk Fine Foods (with birds sourced from Bennett, Colorado), Tony’s Markets (all birds free of antibiotics and salty solutions), and In Season Local Market (featuring prairie-grazing birds also from Bennett). And don’t overlook chain stores such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, whose turkeys range from conventional to organic to heritage—sold both fresh and frozen. Do be aware that these specialty brands can sell out quickly, so reserve yours early.

grilled - marinated turkey on the grill 2
On the other hand, if you’d rather someone else do the cooking, consider a Honeybaked turkey breast, a perennial crowd-pleasing combo of tender white meat and sweet, crunchy glaze. Or a spicy, Cajun deep-fried turkey from Bayou Bob’s or Dickey’s Barbeque Pit, which also offers a smoked turkey.

And if all else fails, 46 restaurants are currently taking Thanksgiving reservations on Open Table.
Roasted Turkey Breast - Rosemary-Basil Rub

A Highlands Ranch Veterans Day

by | November 9th, 2014

There are 23.2 million United States veterans, and many Highlands Ranch residents figure among that honorable crowd. November 11, consider attending a local event that honors our hometown veterans. Starting at 6:30 p.m. at the James H. LaRue Library, this celebration will be hosted by 850 KOA’s Steffan Tubbs and will feature a color guard from the Highlands Ranch American Legion, patriotic music by the Highlands Ranch Concert Band, local students’ participation, and guest speaker Phil Waters, a Vietnam war veteran who will talk about aircraft carrier operations during the war. The event will include a visit to the Highlands Ranch Veterans Monument just outside the library.

Dedicated on July 1, 2009, this monument grew out of a desire to honor Army Staff Sergeant Christopher Falkel, the first Highlands Ranch resident killed in action. Featuring tiles dedicated to individuals who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, the monument offers a moving reminder of the many people who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.

And just to clear up a common point of confusion, while Memorial Day focuses on those who died in active service, Veterans Day honors all who have served in the Armed Forces. Veterans Day began as Armistice Day on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. In 1926, Congress passed a resolution for an annual observance (then marked by two minutes of silence at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month—same as when the Treaty of Versailles was signed.) Armistice Day became a national holiday in 1938. In 1954, following World War II and the Korean War, Congress broadened the holiday’s meaning by changing it from Armistice to Veterans Day, thus making November 11 a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

BackCountry’s Kids Halloween Event at the Sundial House

by | November 4th, 2014

The children of BackCountry paraded their costumes, danced to music and decorated cookies at the Kids Halloween Event.

Make November a month of memories

by | November 3rd, 2014

Did you know that November is National Family Stories Month? (It’s also National Banana Pudding Month, but we digress.)

Family Stories Month actually makes good sense, given that wonderful, gather-around-the-table holiday coming up on the 27th. But you have plenty of time to create happy family memories between now and Thanksgiving, too. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Denver Arts Week:
Nov. 7-15
Yes, Colorado residents may have intense feelings about the wild-eyed Mustang sculpture at DIA, but Denver is known as a rising star in arts and culture. Explore our city’s vast offerings during Denver Arts Week, a seven-day showcase of visual arts, theater, music, film, museums, dance, opera, comedy, and history. Take the kids on a First Friday Walk and score some local art for as low as $52.80. Kick off the season with a (free) performance of Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum by Cleo Parker Robinson Dance. Go on a VIP couples tour of murals in the RiNo Art District. Or hit the Starz Denver Film Festival, free museum nights (with shuttles), and much more. Learn more.

Senior Health and Information Fair: Nov. 8, 9am-noon
What you learn at this event could add up to extra years of shared memories. Held at the Recreation Center at Eastridge, this third annual fair offers seniors a variety of free, simple health screenings, along with educational breakout sessions. Service professionals will be on hand to answer questions and share information about activities and services in the community. Adults of all ages are welcome. Sponsored by the Metro District’s 50 & Better Together program and the Highlands Ranch Community Association. For more information, contact Jodie McCann at 720-240-4922 or email

BackCountry Wine Tasting Event: Nov. 13, 6:30pm-8:30pm
It’s social, tasty, and educational, too. BackCountry residents (21+ of course!) are invited to the community’s first Wine Time! tasting event, led by local Certified Wine Specialist, Andrea Rogers. Andrea will explain the differences between four delicious Italian wines enjoyed alongside light snacks provided by Renu Laser & Skin Care. $30 per person. Maximum of 30 residents. Register through ActiveNet or at the Sundial House now through Monday, November 3.

Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century:
Nov. 16 – Mar. 15
Ogle together (and perhaps plant the seeds of a sparkly holiday gift?) at this stunning collection of Cartier jewelry, timepieces, and precious objects created between 1900 and 1975. Hosted by the Denver Art Museum, the exhibition highlights Cartier’s rise to preeminence—and the historical events pushing the design house’s evolution—as it transformed itself into one of the world’s most prestigious names in jewelry and luxurious accessories. Learn more.

Turkey Rock Trot: Nov. 27, 8:30am Registration/9:30am Race
Make memories with your family—and room for pumpkin pie—at this 5k family fun run/walk, complete with continental breakfast and goodie bags. Wear a Thanksgiving-themed costume for contests planned for both kids and adults. Route begins and ends at the Douglas County Event Center in Castle Rock. All proceeds support The Douglas/Elbert Task Force, which provides assistance to people in crisis within Douglas and Elbert Counties. Learn more at or or email questions to

The nest is empty. But the schedule is full.

by | October 20th, 2014

Last year’s Empty Nester Christmas party had a new rule. Only the men could do the cooking. The end result was scrumptious lasagna, less-stressed ladies, and the largest turnout yet—upwards of 50 people.

BackCountry is home to a wonderfully active network of singles and couples beyond the child-raising years. Lou Casteel, the informal head of this loose social network, counts about 80 residents on her email list. Each quarter, they meet for potlucks in the comfy sitting area and kitchen at the Sundial House. “It’s perfect,” says Lou. “You can get together with lots of people and no one has to clean their home.”

Other functions include a monthly Empty Nester Coffee, Monday games of mahjong, Thursday bridge, and couples’ canasta/hand-and-foot (plus potluck) one Friday a month.

BackCountry Colorado community group
Noting that four or five new couples joined the last quarterly potluck, Lou says they’re an especially good way for new residents to meet others who share the same interests. She should know, as she and her husband Steve are relatively new residents themselves, having moved to BackCountry from Pennsylvania about three years ago after retirement. They wanted to be near their kids and grandkids, and after looking for a year, they saw BackCountry online and instantly fell in love with it. “This place was so different from everything else we saw, with the views, open space, trails, and Sundial House,” says Lou. “We didn’t want our kids to feel like they had to entertain us all the time. We wanted a cool place where the grandchildren would be excited to come.”

Indeed, visiting grandma has proven to be a pretty cool thing to do, between the pool, picnics in the amphitheater, and events that include face-painting, games, and other high-energy, kid-friendly activities.

But grandkids aside, it’s been the perfect next step for the Casteels. Their home in the Luxury Villas includes a main floor master, and the front lawn is mowed and watered and snowy sidewalks are shoveled by the HOA. Without the maintenance to handle, there’s plenty of time for things to do, between the community-wide happy hours, comedy nights, and nearby activities. “Good shopping is close by, and so are the Highlands Ranch rec centers, which are wonderful. We like to take light rail to Rockies games. And there’s a group of six of us who enjoy going downtown and trying out new restaurants once a month.”

For Lou and Steve Casteel, retirement is proving to be a very busy time. But in a very good way.

Meet the neighbors: Backcountry CrossFit

by | October 13th, 2014

On the owner’s bio page of this nearby Crossfit gym, BackCountry resident Steve Hartle has wife Ashley casually draped over his shoulders. Yep, this guy is fit. Not too surprising, since he’s a former Division I All-American college wrestler. And co-owner Ashley has competitive gymnastics, running, and cheerleading in her own resume, by the way.

Steve and Ashley Hartle Backcountry Crossfit

Photo courtesy of Backcountry Crossfit

But these days, their passion lies in a 13,500-square-foot gym just five minutes away from their BackCountry home. For their many—and growing—clients, Backcountry CrossFit is changing bodies…and lives.

“Everyone changes in some regard,” Steve tells us. “I’ve seen people’s self-confidence take off once they start completing the workouts and making progress. I’ve seen people lose 100 pounds. Once you start working out at this level of intensity, you tend to start cleaning up your diet too. It makes you want to get better in every way.”

So what is CrossFit, exactly? This extremely popular form of fitness training focuses on constantly varying the types and durations of movements to keep your body off-balance and prepared for anything. It’s a daily, changing concoction of endurance, weightlifting, gymnastics, and high-intensity cardio. “We’ll mix up heavy, light, long, short, body weight, strength, weights, and other apparatuses so the body just doesn’t adapt,” says Steve. Although it’s an intense form of exercise, it’s also modifiable to all, whether you’re a former college athlete or an out-of-shape exercise newbie.

Highlands Ranch Herald Robbie Wright

Photo by Robbie Wright, courtesy of Highlands Ranch Herald

It’s also a group activity in which you’ll be coached (by a fleet of full-time trainers—unique to this gym) and cheered on by your fellow CrossFitters. This summer, that bonding through sweat culminated in a group of seven Crossfit clients competing at the Reebok CrossFit Games in California, a worldwide competition to “find the fittest on Earth.” More than 45 athletes from the gym went to support the team, which finished 15th out of 33.

The Hartles’ path to owning a CrossFit gym traces back to Steve’s coaching at other facilities…and in their own BackCountry garage. Steve started training neighbors at their request, then moved to a warehouse and then opened the gym. BackCountry itself has proven a good place for working on his fitness as well. You can frequently spot Steve out on the trails in a 20-lb. weighted vest, stopping occasionally to fire off a round of sit-ups or burpees. “We love BackCountry,” he says. “We moved here four years ago. We have two young boys and wanted more yard, a cul-de-sac, and a gated community. The views and trails are amazing and the people are great.”

And many of them are making their way to his gym. Unlike some other, more hardcore CrossFit gyms, his “is not intimidating,” he says. “This place fits Highlands Ranch. People get nervous because they’ve heard about the intensity, but we make it as encouraging and positive as possible. The biggest obstacle is stepping through the door. Once you’re here, we’ll take good care of you.”

Know of other businesses owned by BackCountry residents? Let us know and your business could be profiled on this blog. Email to connect.

Season’s Eatings: Catch the grand finale of Colorado produce

by | October 6th, 2014

Sadly, those melt-in-your-mouth Palisade peaches are a distant memory, but all is not lost. Let the waning days of October remind you to hit the farmer’s market one last time before they close. Or, if you’re up for a little adventure, go pick your own produce at one of the farms listed below. Arguably, there’s nothing as delicious as a tree-ripened peach, but fresh apples and roasted chile peppers deserve a place of honor on any autumn menu.

At the Highlands Ranch Farmers and Street Market, it’s not too late for fall treasures like Brussels sprouts, winter squash, kale, and other greens, too. And it’s a great source for well-priced and beautiful pumpkins for your jack-o-lantern endeavors. Purveyors of other goodies, like pickles, coffee, honey, baked goods, clothing, and more are still going strong. Sundays, 10-2 at Town Center South through October 26 (weather permitting). Learn more.

Want your food even fresher? Make your first stop, a website that can help you find the source you seek, as well as give you tips on canning and freezing your stash safely.

There, you’ll find info about various nearby farms, such as YA YA Farm & Orchard, located in Boulder County. This historic century-old farm specializes in heirloom apples, organic methods, and family-friendly activities. The farm and orchard will be open to the public through a to-be-determined date in November. Reservations are required for picking, but apples, apple cider donuts, apple pies, honey and many other apple products are available for sale at their apple barn. Learn more.

More apples are ready to be picked at Happy Apple Farm. The farm’s location in Penrose means that their apples ripen earlier, but Red and Golden Delicious apples are still available through mid-October (if not picked out). Nonetheless, they’re a good source for pumpkins, fresh cider, apple butter, jams, marinades, roasted chiles, brisket, pulled pork, and hayrides to the pumpkin patch. Learn more.

At Berry Patch Farms in Brighton, you may be stumped as to where to start. This full-scale farm should have all their fall crops still growing strong through the month, including apples, kale, beets, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, garlic, and onion. They also sell grass-fed beef, honey, freshly ground flour, and more. As with all of these weather-dependent, real-life sources, you’ll want to call first to make sure they’ll have what you want. Learn more.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

by | October 1st, 2014

What was that noise? Was that streak in the road a black cat? Does that mannequin look a little too…real? If you find yourself looking over your shoulder a bit more this month—and kinda liking it—then we have some appropriately spooky October activities to recommend. Not into it? That’s okay. We have some not-so-spooky ideas for you, too.

Blue Man Group
-Oct. 10-12
The ultimate in family-friendly entertainment, the Blue Man Group stops into Denver for five shows beginning Friday, October 12. This theatrical experience combines comedy, music, and technology for a truly unique event. Friday features one show; Saturday and Sunday feature both a matinee and evening performance. Purchase tickets.

Fall Craft Show-Oct. 11-12, 9am-5pm
Autumn and craft fairs were made for each other. Come ogle the creative, handcrafted wares of more than 100 exhibitors. The Fall Craft Show is the perfect place to find that one-of-a kind gift you’ll otherwise be hunting for desperately come December. Items for sale include jewelry, bath products, pottery, wooden crafts, floral arrangements, wreaths, baby and children’s articles, fused glass vases and bowls, hand-knit scarves, shawls, afghans, and more. Free admission. Held at the Recreation Center at Eastridge. Learn more.

Punkin Chunkin Colorado
-Oct. 11, 10am-5pm; Oct. 12, 11am-4pm
Just how far will that gourd go? For the past 17 years, the answer to that question has drawn crowds from far and wide. This zany event engages the energy and creativity of youth and adults as they employ ingenious/wacky launching devices to hurl orange orbs hundreds of feet through the air. Besides the competition, the event offers family activities, a pumpkin patch, fall market, food vendors and a beer garden. Held at the Arapahoe Park Horse TrackLearn more here or contact Jessica Hernandez at 303-326-8659 or

Paranormal Party at the Highlands Ranch Mansion-Oct. 16, 6-9pm
Sure to send shivers up your spine, this event features the Spirit Paranormal Investigations team, who will share a presentation of “Things That Go Bump in the Night,” including creepy photos and samples of real recorded spirit voices. Thankfully, there will be cocktails. Afterwards, the Spirit PI team will lead groups on an actual ghost hunt in the Highlands Ranch Mansion using their sophisticated equipment. 21+ only. Tickets $30 in advance and $35 day of, if not sold out. Learn more and buy tickets here.

Backcountry Wilderness Area Haunted Forest
- Oct. 24, 7-10pm; Oct. 25, 7-10pm
Taking the haunted house concept one frightening step further, the Haunted Forest has nary a wall to protect you from the horrors that lurk in the trees, and no roof to keep out the howling October winds. Brave souls are invited to explore this wilderness of fear, where darkness hides whatever awaits behind the next boulder. Concessions and DJ on site to help allay the terror. Ages 10+, parental discretion advised. Tickets $12 at any HRCA Recreation Center. Learn more.

Haunted Hayrides- Oct. 24, 6-8:30pm; Oct. 25, 6-9pm
Bring the whole family to this 30-minute adventure, where professional storytellers narrate an amusing tale as you rumble down a spooky old west trail. Rides run every half hour. 4-H concessions and petting zoo in the indoor arena. Tickets $12 for adults, $10 for children 12 and under. Payment can be made at any recreation center registration office. A portion of the proceeds benefit Douglas County 4-H. Held at Stockton’s Plum Creek StablesLearn more.

Trick or Treat Street- Oct. 25, 10am-2pm
Recreation Center at Eastridge (map)
At this truly free-of-fear event, children ages 12 and under can trick-or-treat in costume, receiving goodies from local businesses. Little ghosts and goblins should bring their own trick-or-treat bags. The line closes at 1:15pm, so plan to arrive early. $1.00 per person (adults & children), and each family may select one pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, while supplies last. Learn more.

BackCountry’s Blues and Brews Event at the Sundial Amphitheatre

by | September 23rd, 2014

Residents celebrated the last outdoor concert of the summer with a picnic dinner and local brews during the Blues & Brews event at the Amphitheatre.

Search Our Blog

Past Articles and Posts