BackCountry Blog

Hot diggety-dog, it’s almost July 4th!

What are your plans for the Fourth this year? BackCountry homes were built for entertaining, so it’s time to put that kitchen and patio to good use! Read on for ideas and recipes that will make your celebration the talk of the neighborhood. Be sure to pack your blankets, folding chairs, and picnic baskets and head over to Highland Heritage Regional Park for a spectacular, all-American display.


Dogs, desserts, and decorations

Most Americans believe July 4th and hot dogs go together like, well, baseball and hot dogs. In fact, Americans are projected to grill up and chow down on 150 million hot dogs over the holiday, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. That’s enough hot dogs to stretch from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles five times! No wonder July is National Hot Dog Month.

If you’re planning to serve hot dogs at your July 4th celebration, here’s a spin on the traditional dog—Firecracker Dogs. These add a festive display for any picnic table. If you’re serving a large crowd, consider creating a hot dog bar where guests can build their own hot dogs with their toppings of choice. If you have vegetarian guests, you could always whip up a colorful Watermelon Feta Blueberry Salad to serve on the side.


No cookout or picnic is complete without sweets, and one of our favorites would be these  Fourth of July Rice Krispies Treats—easy to make, fun to serve! For a fancier treat, you can construct this Red White and Blue Brownie Pizza, which is a brownie crust covered in cream cheese frosting and berries.

For the kiddies, we found these yummy-looking Patriotic Pudding Cups, which kids will also enjoy helping you put together. For snacking, get them to cut stars out of tortillas and help you make this amazing Patriotic Fruit Salsa with Sweet Star Chips. For more recipe ideas for kids, BuzzFeed has you covered.


Every Fourth of July party needs its share of red, white, and blue décor, as well as a display of the American flag. If you’re partial to stars, then check out this DIY painted lawn star display—it only takes about 30 minutes, and when you’re done, you’ll have the most patriotic lawn around! If you’re feeling crafty and want to make your own tabletop décor, check out these gorgeous Patriotic Mason Jar Lanterns or this Firecracker Centerpiece.

For more food and decorating ideas, check out the “July 4th” Pinterest page we made for BackCountry residents! You’re sure to find inspiration there.

Happy Fourth of July from your friends at BackCountry!

We hope these suggestions spark something creative for you and your Fourth of July party. Whether you’re celebrating out of town or close to home, we hope you have a safe and amazing holiday.

Your Backyard Gem


One of the best parts of living in Colorado is the accessibility to the outdoors. And as a resident of BackCountry, you have access to the Backcountry Wilderness Area, featuring 8,200 acres of serene conservation space, including 26 miles of trails, right in your own backyard.


“The primary purpose of this wilderness area is wildlife preservation,” says Lindsey McKissick, Backcountry Wilderness Area’s Communications and Programs Specialist. “We also offer educational activities for children and adults, including hayrides, horseback rides, outdoor camps, and a variety of lessons.”


Fun for the Family

“Starting this summer, we’re holding a new monthly event called ‘Night in the Backcountry,’ where families can come in and bring their own picnic dinners,” Lindsey says. “We’ll provide hayrides, pony rides, horseshoe games, crafts, and the opportunity to explore the Base Camp as a family.”


Another family event gives kids a chance to make a gift for their dads for Father’s Day.

“On Saturday, June 17, kids can come in with their moms or even their dads and paint rocks and use wire to turn them into photo holders,” says Lindsey.

Hay Isn’t Just for Horses

Hayrides provide an educational opportunity to learn about the history of the Backcountry Wilderness Area property and its winged residents.

“The Audubon Society puts on a hayride with a birding expert who will point out the different birds above and can help you identify a bird just based on its bird call,” she says.


Backcountry Wilderness Area also features an 8-station, 60-yard archery range. Archery lessons are available for the entire family, equipment provided. Indoor lessons are also offered in the winter.


“Another new program we’re offering this year is off-trail horseback rides,” says Lindsey. “Instead of just following the trails, you’ll get to go into a different part of the property for a 2-hour ride.”

Learn More

If you are interested in participating in any lessons or hayrides, or would like to learn about all of the activities and events going on at Backcountry Wilderness Area this summer, visit their website and make sure you register ahead of time, as a lot of these activities and events fill up.


“Also,” Lindsey adds, “It’s a good idea to follow our Facebook page. I keep it updated with news and upcoming events, as well as volunteer opportunities.”


When asked what she loves best about her job at the Backcountry Wilderness Area, Lindsey replied, “I like the balance of getting to connect with the community while being outside. And hanging out with kids. I just love being around kids.”


How To Get There

The Backcountry Wilderness Area is located adjacent to the BackCountry neighborhood, but they are not affiliated. The conservation space is managed by the Highlands Ranch Community Association (HRCA). And while the Sundial House is perched on the edge of the wilderness area, you have to drive in from Santa Fe Drive and turn on Ron King Trail to access the Base Camp.

Your Handy Guide to Celebrating Father’s Day

Did you know Father’s Day is celebrated around the world? In Thailand, kids give their fathers the Canna flower, which has a masculine association in their culture. In Mexico, they hold big celebrations with food and music and a 21-kilometer race in Mexico City. And in Germany, the men themselves organize hikes and other gatherings involving lots of food and alcohol.


But if you’re in need of all-American suggestions for this year’s Father’s Day, your friends at BackCountry have a few that we think the dads and father figures in your life will really like.


No more dad-bod

Lots of dads in Colorado enjoy being active, so get him to sign up for the Father’s Day Classic Run on Sunday, June 18, in Arvada. He can choose the 5k or 10k race. Both races are chip timed, but there is an untimed one-mile fun run as well. Runners are encouraged to wear their best ties during the event and prizes will be awarded to the most creative.


Root, root, root for your home team

Is your dad a baseball fan? Then take him out to the ballgame! On Sunday, June 18, watch the Rockies vs. Giants game at Coors Field. In addition to enjoying the game, the first 15,000 fans will receive a Father’s Day BBQ spatula engraved with the Rockies logo, compliments of King Soopers.  

This idea is a hole-in-one

Take Dad and the rest of the family out for fun and competitive golf games, no matter your skill levels. Top Golf has climate-controlled playing “bays” similar to a bowling lane, an impressive food and drink menu, and HDTVs to watch the game.


Let him be the grill master

Dads love to BBQ, right? Pull together the ingredients of his grill favorites (or these suggested recipes) ahead of time, set out the spatula and tongs, crank up his favorite music, and let him get to showcasing his true talents on the grill.


It’s the thought that counts

Perhaps you want to get crafty for Father’s Day. Maybe he would like a new keychain, or a tray for all of his pocket stuff? Or you could put together a homemade survival crate for his outdoor adventures. We have a whole Pinterest board full of Father’s Day ideas, so click over and find the ultimate gift for your dad.

We hope this gives you enough inspiration to put together the best Father’s Day ever. As always, you can spend the day hiking the trails or picnicking in one of the parks around our BackCountry community or lounging around the pool at the Sundial House. We’re sure Dad won’t mind relaxing close to home!


Are you looking forward to outdoor cookouts, trips to the mountains, baseball games, and family reunions this summer? Maybe you’re looking forward to relocating to or within Colorado? Well, let the festivities begin! June’s arrival signifies that summertime is officially here. The kids are eagerly anticipating their summer break and the pool at the Sundial House is open every day. You’ll find so many wonderful things to do in BackCountry, it’s a good thing we have longer days of sunshine to take advantage of them.



Thursday, June 8, 6pm

Fellow empty nesters in the BackCountry community are invited to come together at the Sundial House for an evening of food and conversation. Bring a dish to share, as well as your favorite beverage. Please RSVP through by Thursday, June 1.



Friday, June 16, 6-8pm

Join us at the Sundial House for fun and dancing at the first ever Father-Daughter Ball at BackCountry. Refreshments and snacks will be provided. The event will also feature a fun photo booth, courtesy of Jennifer McPhearson with Touchstone Crystal by Swarovski. Register through ActiveNet.



Monday, June 26, 12-1pm

Is your kid fascinated by spiders or reptiles? Then he or she will have a blast at this interactive reptile show with the Jackman Brothers. The event will be held at the Sundial House and will include plenty of creepy crawlies, including snakes and tarantulas.

A Parent’s Guide to Surviving Summer Break

School’s out for summer, and every kid’s schedule just got wide open. If you’re looking to fill their free time with indoor and outdoor activities, read on. We can help prevent summertime blues with these fun suggestions.


Find Adventure Outside Your Door

As a resident of BackCountry, your kids have access to the parks, trails, and open space right here throughout our community. Your kids can walk, pedal, or scoot their way to a fun-filled day without going too far from home. If it’s too hot to go out on the trails, they can always splash around in the resort-style pool at the Sundial House. If you want to plan a community kid event at our Sundial House, feel free to contact the BackCountry HOA and we’ll do what we can to accommodate your group.

Fly High Over Downtown Denver

If your kids love amusement parks, take them to see the new Star Flyer thrill ride at Elitch Gardens this year. This ride stands 17 stories high and riders fly around at 50 mph in open-air swings.


Free Cultural Experiences

The Denver Art Museum is always free for kids 18 or younger, and free for everyone on the first Saturday of the month. The DAM features a designated kids’ area with games, crafts, and costumes. On weekends, children can pick up a family backpack, brimming with all sorts of artsy and educational activities.


Play Ball!

Take them out to the ballgame! A trip to see the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field can be as low as $4 for adults and $1 for kids in the Rockpile seats.

Spend a Day at the Park

Chatfield Park is full of activities for the whole family to help beat summer boredom. From biking to picnicking to horseback riding to camping to paddle boarding, there’s something fun for everyone. And it’s only a 15-minute drive from BackCountry!


Visit the Real Jurassic Park

If you have a budding paleontologist in your brood, come see (and touch!) the bones of an Allosaurus and a stegosaurus at Dinosaur Ridge, near Red Rocks. You can also see real dinosaur footprints preserved in the sandstone.

Work On Their Team-Building Skills

Need a group activity that will wear them out? Take them to the American Paintball Coliseum in Brighton. The coliseum features indoor and outdoor paintball fields. And don’t worry – the paint is water-soluble.


For a more comprehensive list of kid-friendly activities around Denver, the site has a dedicated web page with ideas for summer family fun. You’re sure to find inspiration there. But we hope to see you around the community and at the Sundial House too! We wish you and your kids a wonderful summer full of everything that makes living in Colorado so special.

Commemorate and Celebrate This Memorial Day

Memorial Day is the national holiday that honors the men and women who have died in military service for the United States. Traditional observances include visiting cemeteries and memorials, attending parades, and flying the American flag at half mast from morning to noon.

Not only is Memorial Day a day to reflect—it’s also considered the official start of summer. So many people observe the holiday by attending neighborhood pool parties, family picnics, and sporting events that usually end in some type of fireworks display. If you’re planning on hosting (or helping to host) a Memorial Day party here at BackCountry, we have handy tips and ideas for you.

Surround Your View with Red, White, and Blue

While American flags are the obvious décor choice, add your own creative touch to the ambiance. Decorate your patio, bushes, and entryways with red, white, and blue twinkling lights. Cover your tables in the traditional red and white checkered tablecloth and then for contrast, use blue plates and glasses for serving food. You can also use red and blue bandannas as placemats. For tabletop organization, use these red, white, and blue designs to cover empty tin cans, or “Ameri-Cans,” then fill them with flowers (red carnations, white lilies, etc.), utensils, snacks, and more.

Set Your Party to an All-American Soundtrack

Create a playlist of American classic and patriotic tunes. You can start off with “American Pie” by Don McLean, “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen, “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Jimi Hendrix, and “Breakfast in America” by Supertramp, then add a few of your own favorite USA songs.

Keep the Little Troopers Entertained

Keep the evening interesting for kids with simple items like glow sticks and sparklers (with adult supervision, of course). If you want a fun game for the whole family to participate in, build your own custom cornhole set and paint it red, white, and blue. If your community doesn’t allow fireworks, you can make “balloon fireworks” with confetti-filled balloons as a fun alternative. And unlike the real ones, these can be set off by kids, even indoors.

Give Your Guests a Meal to Remember

Now that you’ve created a festive setting, make sure you’re serving up a meal that’s just as festive. Surprise your guests with an alternative to a traditional dip like this Strawberry Salsa recipe. Then go for a colorful and easy pasta salad, like this Bacon, Corn, Spinach, and Ranch Pasta Salad loaded with flavor. For the main course, serve up these Honey-Glazed Baby Back Ribs with Whiskey Marinade. These meaty, tender ribs are slow-cooked in the oven and finished on the grill. For the kids, grill up these Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dogs, a delicious twist on an American classic.

Like a true patriot, you’ll want to mix up these tasty red, white, and blue cocktails, and maybe whip up some red and blue jello shots for fun! For more wonderful food and décor ideas for your Memorial Day party, find inspiration on our Pinterest page, designed specifically for our BackCountry residents.

Join the Poolside Party at the Sundial House

If you’re not up for hosting your own party this year, head over to the BackCountry Memorial Day celebration at the Sundial House on Friday, May 26. Come mingle with your neighbors and enjoy music, drinks, and food, as well as face painting and games for the kids. The Mostly Harmless Band will lay down poolside tunes and Biker Jim’s food truck will serve  tasty gourmet hot dogs.

We hope this blog post gives you inspirational ideas on how to spend Memorial Day this year. Whether you honor a loved one who gave their life for this country, throw a star-spangled bash in your backyard, or enjoy the fellowship of your neighbors at the Sundial House Memorial Day party, we wish you a wonderful and safe holiday.

Your Mother’s Day How-To Guide

Mother’s Day is coming up this month. And no matter how much we love and appreciate the moms in our lives, we’re often at a loss at what to do for this occasion. There’s the old gift-store-greeting-card standby, but what if you really want to do something special for the number-one woman in your life? Don’t worryyour friends at BackCountry have you covered.


Give her a day off

For starters, don’t let her do ANY chores! Divide the daily tasks among the family members and make sure to clean the house, cook a large amount of food (enough to cover a few days’ worth of meals), take out the trash, take care of the pets, and do all the laundry.

Serve breakfast in bed

Start her day off with a delicious meal while she’s relaxing in bed. We found a few tasty recipe ideas that spouses and kids can concoct in the kitchen without too much fuss.

First of all, doesn’t Mom deserve a fancy cocktail on her special day? A Peach Ginger Bellini should do the trick. This beverage pairs nicely with a Crispy Breakfast Pita or, if your mom wants something a little “heartier,” maybe whip up a generous helping of Farmhouse Hash with Pot-Poached Eggs. If she has a sweet tooth, you can’t go wrong with Chocolate Waffles, which would pair nicely with a tall glass of milk.


Get crafty

Moms love handmade gifts from their children, no matter what it is. With a few easy-to-find supplies, a little adult supervision, and their boundless creativity, kids can create artistic works that their mom will unconditionally cherish.

Instead of buying a pre-made card at the store, make her a Spinning Mother’s Day Card or a handmade construction paper card with a personal message inside. You can use craft materials like toilet paper roll tubes and paint to decorate a photo frame. And if you want to do something really artsy, you can make beautiful Tin Can Lanterns.

Give her a home spa day

Every mom could use a little pampering, and you can create a special spa experience without breaking the bank. Kids feel such a sense of pride when they do something for their mom by themselves.

One easy-to-make beauty product moms like is lotion, so check out this video tutorial for a DIY Green Tea Moisturizer. Since it’s made with green tea, it’s full of antioxidants and ideal for revitalizing dry skin. If you’re an awesome spouse/kid who’s planning on pampering your mom with a home pedicure, take it up a notch with this Homemade Rosemary and Peppermint Foot Scrub. It’s easy to make and you can swap out the salt for sugar, peppermint for vanilla, and so forth. Pick her favorite scent and her favorite color toenail polish. If you have the time and want to pull out all the stops, this DIY Spa-in-a-Box makes for a sweet gift. It has a face mask, bath salts, body scrub, and little niceties like patterned candles and lavender sachets.


Give the gift of massage

If Mom has been dying for someone to soothe her achy muscles, you can always make an appointment at the Sundial House. But hurry and book before it fills up!

Plan a surprise trip

Does your mom love to shop? Take her to the best shopping plaza in town and let her roam free. Maybe go for a scenic drive in the mountains, playing her favorite music in the car. If it’s a rainy day, take her to a movie she’s been wanting to see. Or, if the sun is out, go for a family hike in the Backcountry Wilderness Area.
These suggestions should get you started with ways to celebrate your mom on her special day. For more Mother’s Day suggestions, check out our Pinterest board.


May is a month of fun holidays, such as May Day, Mother’s Day, and everyone’s favorite three-day weekend, Memorial Day. But in addition to these celebrations, BackCountry residents can partake in a lot of other activities during this festive month.


Run Wild 5K

Sunday, May 7, 9 am

One thing BackCountry residents can look forward to this month is our second annual Run Wild 5K, starting at our award-winning Sundial House. Grab your family and/or your neighbors and enjoy a morning run around our community. The $10 entry fee includes official timing, a commemorative T-shirt, and a pancake breakfast. Check the Wild at Heart Weekly for registration info.


Memorial Day Party

Friday, May 26, 5 pm – 8 pm

Residents, Memorial Day is the official opening day of the pool at our Sundial House! So let’s celebrate with music, drinks, food, face painting, and games for the kids. The Mostly Harmless Band will provide poolside tunes and Biker Jim’s food truck will serve up tasty gourmet hot dogs.

Fortunately, BackCountry’s central location puts us close to a lot of exciting activities in the Denver metro area. If you’re looking for fun things to do outside the neighborhood, we’ve compiled a list of cool events around town:


Bacon and Beer Classic

Saturday, May 13, 1 pm – 10 pm

Imagine the wonderful combination of sizzling bacon and your favorite Colorado craft beer. Now taste it in person at this amazing event, which takes place on the Broncos’ home turf! Indulge in unlimited samples of 80-plus craft beers and more than 30 mouth-watering bacon dishes. Attendees can also play giant Jenga, compete on the bungee run, pose with friends at the end goal, and more. Buy your ticket online now—this event always sells out.


Basquiat Before Basquiat Exhibit

Closes May 14

Class up your next date night with a fancy dinner downtown, followed by an art exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art. This exhibition at MCA Denver features the entire cache of works by Jean-Michel Basquiat during the year he lived with his friend Alexis Adler in a small apartment in the East Village. Through paintings, sculptures, sketches, and photographs, this exhibition explores how the context of life in New York informed Basquiat’s artistic career.


The Big Wonderful

May 5 – May 7

Looking for some hipster vibes? This quarterly weekend festival is Denver’s original urban fest that celebrates Colorado’s eclectic culture to the fullest. The Big Wonderful turns otherwise vacant lots into a thriving arts and small business community, incorporating a huge bazaar that features Denver’s best eats, drinks, and pop-up retail.

Hopefully this will give you a solid starting place to plan your month of fun! As a reminder to our residents, our monthly newsletter, The BackCountry Explorer, always keeps you updated on community news and upcoming events, so remember to check it out regularly.

Explore BackCountry’s Painted Sky Collection

Everyone knows that living in Colorado gives you the best of many worlds. And housing is no exception. The Painted Sky Collection at BackCountry features exceptional ranch homes with character-rich designs and gorgeous curb appeal. The plans in this collection offer open-concept living, two-bay garages, outdoor patios, and basement finish options. Whether you’re looking as a family, as retirees, or even for just yourself, you’ll find a Painted Sky home that is perfect for you.


If you’re looking for a spacious two-bedroom dwelling, the Daybreak is a beautiful home built for your lifestyle. This ranch plan offers fantastic entertainment options with an inviting gathering space in the heart of the house. The spacious kitchen features a generous island, the great room offers bright views from every vantage point, and the master bedroom provides complete privacy. You’ll appreciate the combined laundry room and entrance, with plenty of space to kick off your boots and hang your heavy coat in the winter.

Families need lots of room to move around and socialize, and that is what we focused on with our Stargazer series. This ranch plan has 4 bedrooms, including a master suite with a sizable walk-in closet, and 3.5 baths. The thoughtful design features a large kitchen with long countertops and generous cabinets, opening out to a dining room and spacious great room with large windows and a beautiful fireplace. You’ll be able to take advantage of the sunny Colorado weather year-round on the covered front porch and large back patio.

Our unique Indigo Mist ranch plan is designed for easy living and entertaining, creating a perfect balance of shared memories and quiet retreat. The open-concept kitchen is the hub of the house and features a dual pantry, long counters, ample cabinets, and a large island with eating bar. You’ll revel in both indoor and outdoor living with a back patio, courtyard, and front porch. This plan features a home office perfect for your home business. The master suite offers optimal privacy and features two walk-in closets and a spa-like bathroom. The basement can come finished as an option with two additional bedrooms and full bath, plus a media room with a bar and fireplace.

Of course, as a member of the award-winning BackCountry community, you’ll have access to the wonderful amenities that set us apart from other neighborhoods. And our location puts you close to everything you could want, including professional sporting events, the mountains, and downtown Denver. But don’t just take our word for it—come visit BackCountry today and see for yourself what makes us one of the best communities in Colorado.

It’s Time to Bring Out the “Color” in Colorado

Our Colorado skies have stayed blue and the sun has kept shining yellow, but winter’s white and beige landscapes are ready for their yearly transformation. It’s time to tap into your “green thumb” and bring bursts of reds, yellows, oranges, pinks, and purples to your home and our BackCountry community. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or sowing your first seeds, this year everyone can get involved in infusing color and cheer into your family’s outdoor spaces and our beautiful neighborhood.


Your Floral Flair, Our Community Share

While a stroll through BackCountry’s streets highlights our community parks, manicured gardens, and open green spaces, celebrate your individuality through personal touches in your home garden. As our community continues to grow, you can carve out your unique tastes and personality through your floral flair – to be enjoyed by all into the summer and fall!

Not sure where to begin when it comes to Colorado gardening? We break it down here, with tips from local nurseries on “going native,” the best flowers and plants to thrive in our Highlands Ranch climate, and how to get the whole family involved in the green thumb fun.

The approach you take for your front and backyard spaces is your opportunity to get creative. Your backyard space is a more intimate place to be enjoyed by you and your home guests, and could be best accented with gardening décor like hanging plants, wheelbarrow flower beds, a flowing fountain, or even a family vegetable garden. Check out BackCountry’s gardening ideas on Pinterest for further inspiration. And always be sure your projects fall within BackCountry’s HOA guidelines.

What Thrives When You’re a Mile High?

So, what flowers do I chose? When do I get started? And what do I actually do?

Seasoned Colorado gardeners know that the best flowers and shrubs to plant are native to the region. Focus on perennials like the purple coneflower and dianthus, and annuals like petunias and begonias. It’s always good to try a mix of perennials and annuals – some that you know will make their cheerful appearance again next year, and others that you can experiment with for new color and variety next season. For inspiration, explore the beautiful flora and fauna of the Mountain West and read more on why local plants will flourish.


Like most things in life, timing is everything! The unpredictable Colorado weather patterns heading from winter into spring can make knowing when to start planting a bit tricky. It is generally recommended that hardier flowers be planted in late April or early May, and that it’s best to wait until late May or even June for more “tender” flowers, in case of frost or snowfall (local FYI: flower “hardiness” is rated on the USDA Hardiness Scale and our location here in Highlands Ranch is considered 5b. The U.S. is rated by 13 temperature zones, and a common flower tag you’ll see at the nursery is zones 3-7, which covers you in our climate.)

When the planting time is right, we recommend tapping into the expertise of local nurseries. Nearby garden centers carry plants and flowers that thrive in Colorado’s dry climate and high altitude, and their specialists will be able to recommend specific quantities and offer planting tips. Some local nurseries in Highlands Ranch include: Highlands Garden Center, The Gardens, Silver Sage Garden Centers and more.


Top tips from locals: plenty of fantastic “how to” videos hosted by Parker’s Tagawa Gardens will help beginners and seasoned green thumbs alike to maximize gardening efforts in the Colorado climate. You can also tap into the latest edition of Colorado Gardener Magazine online for free, which provides insight on why planting native is beneficial, “Seed Sowing 101” for beginners, and a calendar of local gardening events.


Green Thumb Families: Get the Kids Involved!

Building a garden together can be a bonding experience for your entire family and serve as a creative outlet for your kids! Loads of educational ideas will help get your kids engaged in the science behind gardening, as well as awesome video tutorials on kid-friendly gardening projects. You might consider building a “Fairy Garden” with one of the local video tutorials from Tagawa Gardens, or growing a family vegetable garden with advice from Pine Lane Nursery.


We look forward to sharing a year of color and excitement ahead with our entire community. Happy gardening!