BackCountry Blog

Welcome New Neighbors to Our Amazing Neighborhood

It’s deep into August, which is the busiest time of the year for relocating. Whether moving across town, across the country, or even moving from abroad, the act of picking up your entire life and readjusting to a new location can be very stressful. That’s why it’s always thoughtful to help out new neighbors who move into our BackCountry community. A simple, kind gesture can help reduce their stress!

So, besides waving at them from your driveway, here are ways to help welcome new neighbors to the community:

Put together a neighborhood cheat sheet.

Make a list of important, “good to know” information about our BackCountry neighborhood, like what day trash pickup is, fun things to do at the Sundial House, the best biking trails nearby, etc.

Create a welcome basket!

Get creative here. Pack up fresh vegetables, fruits, snacks, and sodas, though avoid baked goods, since you never know what allergies people have. Another idea is a basket of assorted cleaning supplies, since many people pack those up and may not have them handy when they first move in. And flowers are always a classy touch to help them spruce up their new digs.

Wrap up a bundle of takeout and delivery menus.

After an exhausting day of moving and unpacking, most people would rather order a pizza or quick takeout for dinner than cook. Make it easier for them to find what they can get delivered locally.

Put together a list of fun local recommendations.

Make a list of your favorite places to dine, shop, or go out for entertainment. If they have kids, make a list of places that are kid or family friendly.

Bring a bottle of vino.

Most people are very receptive to a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer (make sure it’s Colorado craft beer!). Even if they don’t drink, they can always have it on hand for guests who do.

Organize a brunch or dinner.

At BackCountry, our houses are built to entertain! Invite the new neighbors (and old ones!) over to mingle. Have a cookout, make spaghetti, or even just enjoy cocktails. This allows you and your new neighbors to get to know each other better and find any common ground.

Remember, a friendly “hello!” is always a good ice breaker, too. Help the new neighbors feel welcome and they may repay your kindness with being a good neighbor back.

Your Back-to-School Survival Guide

Wait, school’s starting up? Yes, it’s that time of year! If living in Colorado has taught us anything, it’s that preparation is key to survival, and that includes preparing for the back-to-school madness.

So whether you’re getting the kiddos ready for elementary school or preparing a young adult for college, we have a few suggestions to help with the organization (and controlled-chaos) involved.

Dorm Room Décor

College isn’t just education, Mom! It’s a lifestyle. Duh. That’s why your incoming freshman or returning upperclassman needs to have the dorm décor du jour. We found the 12 “must have” items for every dorm room, as well as 20 ridiculously awesome dorm room essentials you can find on Amazon. To help preserve your sanity and your ongoing parent-child relationship, we’ve included 20 hacks and tips to help facilitate the big college move-in day.

Back-to-School Clothes Shopping

That walk down the locker-lined hallway isn’t just a reasonable route to get to class. It’s a bonafide fashion runway, making or breaking a student’s social standing (in every teenager’s mind). Make sure your angst-ridden fashionista is wearing the latest and greatest trends with this handy guide. And try not to be shocked that denim overalls are making a comeback. Every generation of teens has that one outfit or style they regret seeing in photos when they’re older.


Homework Assistance

There truly is an app for everything – even for helping kids with their homework. If sitting down and helping your teen figure out their complicated algebra problems makes your head hurt, direct them to PhotoMath, where they can scan a math problem and get assistance on how to solve it. If your kid has trouble staying on top of various assignments and deadlines, have them download the My Homework app, which helps them track assignments and sends them due date reminders.


Lunch Solutions

Remember when you were a kid? Homemade lunches were so easy. Two pieces of Wonder Bread, a salty slice of lunch meat, cheese, and mustard or mayo. Throw in a bag of chips and a Hostess treat – done!

Well, no longer. Lunches have evolved, just like everything else, and today’s school meals and snacks are about food allergies, preferences, and presentation. So we’ve done the research and found these sandwich-free (and peanut-free) lunch ideas. And don’t get us started on these banana sushi snack ideas – this treat isn’t just for students! For busy parents, here are 30 quick and easy school lunches to pack for your kids.

We hope these suggestions help de-stress your back-to-school prep this August. And as always, check out the Pinterest board we put together for BackCountry residents for organization ideas and suggestions to help the kids get in the back-to-school rhythm.


Most people think of Colorado as a snow sports destination, but one of our best-kept secrets is how amazing our summertime is. (Shhh!) As a BackCountry resident, you’ve probably enjoyed plenty of pool time at the Sundial House. You may have taken a short drive over to Chatfield Reservoir to go paddle boarding or take the kids out boating. And, most likely, you’ve been hiking, biking, or camping in the Rocky Mountains.

We know you’re already packing a lot of fun and interesting activities into your calendar this summer. But if you need suggestions for more, we have you covered:



Thursday, August 3, 5-8pm, Windmill Park

Enjoy another park party, this time with a peachy twist! Taylor Farm & Ranch from Palisade, CO are offering specials on fresh peaches. Get your 18 lb. box of Contender peaches for just $35! Order by July 15 to pick up your peaches at the party. Enjoy peach-themed fun for the family and live music by Pete Vrazsity, as well as Tacos Hernandez and Flex-Able Food trucks.


Saturday, August 5, 8am-noon, Sloan’s Lake Park

Walk, rally, and take a stand – all while celebrating the powerful work being done to end drunk driving. Events include Memory Mile, Health and Safety Fair, Victim Tribute Area, and more. To register, visit the website.



Sunday, August 20, 1:10pm, Coors Field

Join your neighbors and watch the Colorado Rockies take on the Milwaukee Brewers! This BackCountry outing includes your game ticket and access to a group picnic area, which includes hot dogs, brats, pasta salad, chips, and fountain drinks. Choose between Club Level ($80) or Right Field Lower Level ($50) seats and soak up the summer with baseball and quality time with family and neighbors! Register through ActiveNet by Friday, August 11th.



Saturday, August 26, 2-4pm, pool parking lot

BackCountry residents are invited to show off their sweet rides. Got one? Let’s see it! All makes and models are welcome. Please register through

Live the Difference® in a Shea Home

At Shea Homes, we build our houses for smart, discerning buyers who appreciate the thoughtful design, people, and processes that set us apart. We obsess over the integration of form and function, as well as the small details. And we constantly strive toward ingenious innovations that make space more usable, adaptable, and livable.

When we design our homes and communities, we think about real life—and how we can make it even better. That’s why we are proud to invite you to “live the difference” at any Shea Homes community.

Our collections below are located in BackCountry, a breathtaking gated community in part of the last available land in Highlands Ranch.



At BackCountry

This collection features six floor plans, including a ranch and two-story home plans. Homes in this collection feature gourmet kitchens with large islands, flexible living spaces, project rooms, and three-bay garages.


  • 3 to 6 bedrooms
  • 2.5 to 4.5 bathrooms
  • 2,604 – 3,594 square feet
  • Finished basement options
  • Priced from upper $500s to $600s



At BackCountry

This collection inspires beautiful living with a ranch and two-story plans, gourmet kitchens with eat-in bars, spectacular outdoor areas, room for three or four cars, and a variety of finish options. Six plans are available.


  • 2 to 6 bedrooms
  • 2.5 to 4.5  bathrooms
  • 2,830 to  3,908 square feet
  • Finished basement options
  • Priced from upper $600s to $700s



At BackCountry

Three exceptional ranch plans with character-rich exterior elevations contribute to stellar curb appeal. Plans in this collection offer well-designed kitchens with eating bars, open-concept living, two-bay garages, patios, and basement finish options.


  • 2 to 5 bedrooms
  • 2.5 to 3.5 bathrooms
  • 2,221 – 3,540 square feet
  • Finished basement options
  • Priced from upper $500s to upper $600s

Living Your Dream in Your Dream House

A few years ago, Eric and Lisa renovated their Parker home, which was built in 1993. They put in $50,000 worth of new floors, fresh paint, and a few other personal touches to try to make it their own. However, as much as they changed it aesthetically, it was still an older home that wasn’t energy efficient, and many large items needed to be replaced. After looking at the costs involved for a new furnace, air conditioning unit, and energy-efficient windows, it made sense to let it go.

“We got to the point where we felt like that home was someone else’s dream and we were living in it,” said Eric. “We attempted to alter it to our own style, but it never really got there.”


The couple decided to shop for a new home – their dream home. They were living across the street from the Stepping Stone community and toured the homes around that neighborhood, which is how they were introduced to the amenities and lifestyle of a Shea Homes master-planned community. And while they loved the layout of Stepping Stone, Lisa decided they should be closer to the mountains for the views, and because she loves to hike. That led them to BackCountry, a Shea Homes community in Highlands Ranch.

“BackCountry just made more sense for us,” said Eric. “It turned out to be the right decision in every way.”


BackCountry is a luxury, gated community located near the popular Chatfield State Park. It’s also situated next to the Backcountry Wilderness Area, featuring 8,200 acres of open space for outdoor adventure. A system of trails and parks throughout the community connects to BackCountry’s crown jewel – the Sundial House, a private, award-winning retreat for residents.


After deciding to move to BackCountry, Eric and Lisa wanted their next home to be one they could live in for a long time. For their new house, they chose the Daybreak Plan. They were drawn to the mid-century modern look, the tall ceilings, the open floor plan utilizing natural light, and the fact that it doesn’t look like other “cookie cutter” homes in Colorado.  

“I work from home so the basement bedroom was perfect for my photo editing,” said Eric. “Lisa loves to paint so the bonus room upstairs with great natural light was perfect for her studio.”


He added, “Most importantly, the huge family room in the basement with 10-foot ceilings will be ideal for my dream home theater I’ve been trying to put together for the past 10 years. It will be like a real movie theater!”


Eric, Lisa, and their son enjoy living in the BackCountry community. They love the amenities, the neighborhood, and the amazing views of the Rocky Mountains on the horizon.

“When you think of Colorado living, you think of nature, mountains, trails, sunset views, and hills,” said Eric. “BackCountry has all of that. You feel like you can capture the essence of the whole state from here.”


Eric has been the primary photographer for Shea’s model homes. When asked about what he loves best about photographing houses, Eric said he marvels at the changing architectural styles that evolve year to year.


“You can really get a feel for build quality and materials when you photograph homes for a living,” he said. “You can tell the good ones from the great ones. I feel there are a handful of builders in Colorado that have a truly great product that feels sturdy and is constructed by highly skilled artisans. In my opinion, Shea is one of the best in the business when it comes to quality.”


Eric also loves that his photography helps others find their dream home.

“It makes you feel good that you can help others make an informed decision on their future,” he said.


It’s July in Colorado, which means you’re probably looking for a respite from the glaring hot temperatures outside. And while it’s easy to hide inside your big, beautiful BackCountry home with the air conditioner blasting, you also live in one of the most gorgeous and outdoor-friendly states. So how do you and your family plan to beat the heat this summer, while enjoying the Colorado lifestyle? We have a few suggestions.

Head for the hills

Colorado natives know that temperatures in the mountains are always cooler than the front range, so whether you’re into camping, biking, or hiking, know that the higher up you go in elevation, the cooler the air around you. While you’ll find plenty of day hikes that are driving distance from Highlands Ranch, we advise taking a few vacation days to explore the mountain towns around Colorado. You’ll escape the heat for a few days and enjoy amazing views along the way!


Keep your cool in the pool

If it’s a beautiful day outside and you can’t wander too far from home, head over to the pool at the Sundial House. If you have your kids in tow, here are fun game suggestions (other than “CANNONBALL!”) to keep them entertained and in the water where it’s cool. Make sure you slather on plenty of sunscreen – nothing makes a hot day worse than nursing a sunburn!

Ice ice baby

Just as hot chocolate warms you up in the wintertime, a frozen popsicle cools you down on a hot day. And who doesn’t like popsicles? These irresistible popsicle recipes will appeal to kids and adults alike. We even found this adult-only frozen treat idea that is perfect for pool parties and neighborhood barbeques.

We all scream for ice cream!

July is National Ice Cream Month, which, in our book, means you can eat all the ice cream you want! While it would be easy to run to the grocery store and buy a pint, why not try your hand at making your own? If you’re inspired (and dying from the heat), consider throwing an ice cream social. Ask guests to bring their own homemade concoctions or go the easy route and rent an ice cream truck to cater your event.

We hope these suggestions help you keep your cool this July, as outside temperatures soar. Remember, Colorado has a very dry climate, so stay hydrated  and drink lots of water every day. And make sure you have your HVAC serviced yearly to help prevent an air conditioning breakdown in the middle of summer.


Stay chill and we’ll see you at the pool!


The sunny days of July are here and that means schedules are filling up with July 4th BBQs, pool parties, summer camps, and family vacations. If you’re a BackCountry resident, add these to your social calendar. If you’re not yet a BackCountry resident, read below to see what you’re missing in July…


Thursday, July 6, 6-8 pm

Put on your best red, white, and blue and join us at the amphitheater for a patriotic celebration. The fun evening will include music by Trip Wire, food from Biker Jim’s Gourmet Hot Dogs, a golf cart decorating contest, and kids’ activities, including a superhero games coach and a patriotic hair artist.



Wednesday July 12, 11 am – 1 pm

It’s summertime, so let’s party! Head to the pool at the Sundial House for music, games, cold treats, and a belly flop contest!


Friday, July 21, 6-8 pm

Time to rock n’ roll because, let’s be honest, summer rocks! Come down to the amphitheater where Mostly Harmless Band will keep the dance floor going with their infectious energy. Taste of Texas Food Truck will serve up delicious BBQ, and the whole family will enjoy the caricature artist and ash gold and silver tattoos.



Thursday, July 27, 6:30 pm

Grab a blanket and head to the amphitheater for another family movie night with “The Secret Life of Pets,” presented by Invisible Fence. Kiddos can get their faces painted like Chloe & Max! Activities start at 6:30pm, and film begins at sundown.


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!