BackCountry Blog

Your Last-Minute Thanksgiving Essentials Guide

One of the many awesome things about living in BackCountry is that our homes are built to entertain. On the flip side, it probably means that everyone wants you to host all the events, so chances are good you got roped in to host your family’s (or friends’) Thanksgiving feast this year. No biggie — you got this!

In a perfect world, you’ll have prepped and organized the entire dinner in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Ha! Who does that? Who has the time? If you’re like most people, you’ll probably wake up the Wednesday before Thanksgiving with a panic attack. It’s okay! Take a few deep breaths, exclaim “Serenity Now!”, and then follow our tips for a few helpful last-minute Thanksgiving hacks.

Create a Timing Schedule

Make a list of all the dishes you have to make, list how much prep time each one will require, and then schedule them accordingly. Dressing can be prepped and then refrigerated overnight. Sweet potatoes need to start in a cold oven, so bake them first on Thursday morning. Give yourself at least 24 hours to brine the turkey. And don’t forget to schedule your own prep time (shower, get dressed, open a bottle of wine) on Thursday!

Keep the Right Tools Handy

You don’t need super fancy kitchen gadgets to pull off dinner, but the best tool you can have is a good instant-read thermometer to gauge when your turkey is done roasting. If you don’t have a roasting pan, borrow one from a neighbor or make one out of one of those aluminum disposable pans – you can use large carrots and celery sticks lined along the bottom of the pan as a “rack hack”. Kitchen scissors are also handy for snipping vegetables, opening bags, and trimming the fat off of raw turkey.

Simplify and Delegate

When it comes to deciding what to serve this year, keep it simple and stick to basics. This is not the time to test a new recipe or try a “spin” on a classic. Go with what you know. And when possible, outsource the easier necessities. Ask guests to bring the wine. Ask your friend who loves to bake pies to bring one of his or her masterpieces. And don’t be embarrassed to order a ham or a few side dishes from a local catering company or even your local grocery store.

Accept and Forgive

Holidays can be chaos and chances are good something will go wrong. A dish will be overcooked. A guest will bring another guest unannounced. A glass gets broken. Just let it go and roll with the punches. This is a holiday that’s more about spending time with family and friends and appreciating what you truly have. So focus on the positive, create a welcoming and accepting atmosphere, and let the memories roll off of the meaningful connections and conversations that take place this day.

What are your “holiday hacks” that you use to help take the stress out of preparing a Thanksgiving meal? We’d love to hear them. In the meantime, we hope you and yours have a Happy Thanksgiving holiday!


The Top Five Sips of the Season

The holiday season is upon us, which usually means family and friends come to visit and want to go out and celebrate! Or your local family and friends want to go out and celebrate. Either way, if you’re looking for an establishment that’s close to the BackCountry community and you’ve rounded up a designated driver, here are a few places you can belly up to a bar.

This time, our “top sips” focus is on local brewers. But we also added an option at the end for those who aren’t beer drinkers:

Grist Brewing Company

9150 Commerce Center Circle

Open since November, 2013, Grist is a 20-barrel brewhouse that aims to brew simple, approachable beers, which is perfect for those just starting to dabble in craft beer consumption. They also experiment with Belgians, spiced stouts, barrel aging, and hops/malts if you have a more sophisticated palate. On Wednesdays, pull together a team of up to six people and play Geeks Who Drink trivia.

3 Freaks Brewery

7140 E. County Line Road

This brewery focuses on small batch brewing — only 2.5 barrels at a time. This allows them to be creative while aiming towards the next “perfect beer.” The owner is a Denver born-and-bred career firefighter who finally realized his dream of opening his own brewery. The brewery maintains anywhere from 4-7 beers on tap daily, including four year-round releases.

Half Penny Brewing

5150 E. Arapahoe Road

This family-friendly neighborhood craft brewery specializes in hand-crafted beer with a focus on German and English styles. Their taproom features three distinct sections: The English Snug, the German Beerhall, and the American Tasting Room. Sandwiches and snacks are available.

Lone Tree Brewing

8200 Park Meadows Drive

Lone Tree Brewing is a European-style craft brewery that emphasizes small, handcrafted batch brews. Inside the family-friendly taproom you’ll find board games and televised events. Food trucks are parked outside Tuesday through Sunday — find out which ones are scheduled here.

Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery

1505 Park Central Drive

Although “brewery” is in the name, this restaurant offers a full-service bar with wine and cocktails, as well as a full menu featuring sandwiches, salads, entrees, and steaks. The beer is brewed on-site and served fresh, so you’re never being poured something that’s been sitting around for weeks or months in bottles or kegs. Tapping events and brewery tours can be found here.

Have you been to these locations yet? If your friends or family are not the type to drink, why not invite your neighbors, long-time and new, to explore a few of these spots? You just might form friendships for life. Cheers!

Let the Holiday Madness Begin!

It’s November already! Which means it’s now acceptable to listen to holiday music in public. It also means those colorful fall leaves you admired have now fallen and turned into piles of dirty brown leaves you have to rake. But the biggest November event of all is that one holiday that truly brings families together – Black Friday! (Or Cyber Monday for you introverts.)

We hope all your shopping dreams come true this season. In the meantime, we’ve lined up a few local events near the BackCountry neighborhood that will help you get the most out of your month.


November 19 – March 3, Denver Art Museum

Don’t miss this truly unique and exciting event! This exhibition surveys 70 years of the House of Dior’s enduring legacy and its global influence. This collection of more than 200 couture dresses, as well as accessories, costume jewelry, photographs, drawings, runway videos, etc., traces the history of the iconic haute couture fashion house, its founder, Christian Dior, and the subsequent artistic directors who carried Dior’s vision into the 21st century. Buy tickets.


Tuesday – Sunday, 6460 East Yale Avenue, Unit E60

In the past 10-15 years, cake has gone from birthday staple to extraordinary art, thanks to shows like The Great British Baking Show. My Make Studio offers two to three DIY classes a week, focusing on both holiday and recurring themed cakes. Cookie and cupcake classes are offered as well. Learn more.


Wednesday, November 14, 6-10pm, Mile High Station

The Denver Grilled Cheese Fest is the year’s most mouth-watering comfort food festival in the Rockies! Guests will enjoy festive grilled cheese tastings, tomato soups, tasty beer, and wine. More than 20 restaurants and beverage companies will be attending this year, vying for the best grilled cheese in Denver. The fundraiser benefits Imagination Library of Denver — a free book program for kids 0-5. Get tickets.


Thursday, November 15, 6:30-8pm, Highlands Ranch Mansion

The Highlands Ranch Cultural Affairs Association is proud to present a three-part series of classical music showcasing the rich history of the mansion. Each evening will include an hour open house for self-guided tours and light appetizers. November’s performance is “Violafource” — a variety of original compositions and popular arrangements for four violas.


Saturday, November 10, 4-7pm, Sundial House

Shop local for the holidays! The Bazaar is free for BackCountry residents and their guests. Light appetizers, desserts, and non-alcoholic drinks will be provided in addition to Indulge drink ticket giveaways and raffle prizes.

Take a Walk Through the Shadow Walk Collection

You’ve never seen a new home community quite like BackCountry, located in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Named Community of the Year by the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver, this amazing community offers a variety of homes, styles, and price ranges, and is surrounded by miles and miles of natural Colorado beauty. Our luxurious gated community also features truly exceptional homes from Colorado’s best builders.

The window for new construction in Highlands Ranch is closing, but BackCountry features some of the last available land in this gorgeous area. If you are looking for a new home, hurry over and check out the Shadow Walk Collection, built by one of Colorado’s most esteemed builders, Shea Homes Colorado. These homes will sell quickly, so make your appointment today!

The Shadow Walk Collection features six spacious plans, including ranch and two-story homes, ranging from 2,604 to 3,594 square feet and 3-6 bedrooms. Highlights include gourmet kitchens with large islands, flex living spaces, and 3-bay garages. And every home comes with the Shea Difference – quality construction and award-winning customer service.


The Sunshower is a well-designed ranch home that masterfully integrates quintessential living spaces. In addition to a spacious master bedroom, you’ll find a two-bedroom suite with full bath. Contributing to this home’s openness are soaring vaulted ceilings in the morning room, a great room with a fireplace, and the master bedroom. This home also features a formal dining room, gourmet kitchen with island, oversized laundry room off the three-bay tandem garage, and covered dining terrace where you can experience peaceful time to yourself. If additional living space is desired, consider adding a second level as a game/media room, additional bedroom with loft, or a teen suite. With these options and a fabulous finished basement option, you can make this home exactly what you desire.


The design of the Autumn Haven captures the essence of stylish, yet sensible living. This two-story home with four bedrooms and 3-1/2 bathrooms features a great room with fireplace and vaulted ceiling, a gourmet kitchen with oversized island and breakfast bar, a morning room, a main-floor office, a mudroom off the two-bay garage with one-bay side-load garage, a separate laundry room, a master bedroom with two ample walk-in closets, and a loft. The covered outdoor dining terrace is sure to be the spot where you’ll kick back and relax. For additional living space, consider a practical basement finish option.


The Somerset embodies modest grandeur with its gorgeous architectural detailing and design, including a charming front entry courtyard. This plan lends itself well to entertaining. No gathering is too big when guests can flow easily through the formal dining room, oversized morning room, great room with fireplace, fantastic gourmet kitchen with rounded island and breakfast bar, to the fabulous covered patio. This home has so much more. In addition to five bedrooms, including a main-floor bedroom, and 4-1/2 bathrooms, you’ll find a mudroom off the two-bay garage with one-bay side-load garage, and second-level laundry station and loft.


The Skydance is a distinguished home that exemplifies elegant beauty and character. This 5-bedroom, 4-1/2 bathroom home features an entry court, great room with 2-sided fireplace shared with the library, gourmet kitchen with island, morning room, formal dining room, main-floor bedroom suite with vaulted ceiling and full bath, second-level laundry room, and mudroom off the two-bay garage with one-bay side-load garage. Start the day with the morning paper and quiet reflection on the covered outdoor dining terrace.

Put a Little Fall Flavor Into Your Healthy Diet

Now that autumn is in the air, it’s time to bring it into your kitchen. And, as we all know, if you live in BackCountry, your kitchen was built for cooking and feasting!

We’re also keenly aware that our residents like to eat healthy AND eat deliciously. So, we’ve put together recipes that will help you take advantage of the flavors and aromas of this season and keep you in top form for all of your outdoor activities.

Autumn Glow Salad

If you love lentils, pair them with roasted butternut squash and peppery arugula to deliver a plant-powered salad boasting more than 50% of your daily fiber and 1/3 of your daily potassium! Not only does this salad taste good, it’s good for you. Even better, butternut squash provides an excellent source of Vitamins A and C.

Ginger-Roasted Winter Squash

If you’ve been looking for a recipe that makes squash taste amazing, this is the one. Fresh ginger and cinnamon really give this dish its kick. For winter squash that’s crispy on the outside and moist inside, cut it in half, roast it until soft, and then cut it into wedges and roast some more. 

Spaghetti Squash Pepperoni Pizza Boats

We’ve found a guilt-free way to eat a deep-dish pizza! All you need are two spaghetti squash and classic pizza ingredients. This recipe is easy and pretty quick to make. Feel free to add any other pizza toppings of your choice, like mushrooms or olives.

Butternut-Cauliflower-Coconut Curry

This cool-weather main dish brings about a range of textures – crunchy peas, tender vegetables, and silky coconut broth – and it’s incredibly satisfying. To speed up prep, look for pre-cut cauliflower florets in your grocery store’s produce section.

Poached Apples with Vanilla Yogurt

How about a delicious and low-fat dessert? This yummy recipe calls for your favorite kind of apple mixed with citrusy and cinnamon flavors, topped off with a thick and creamy vanilla bean-filled Greek yogurt.

Hungry yet? Just reading these recipes should make your mouth water. If you have any delicious and healthy fall recipes of your own, please send them our way. And if you make any of these recipes and have lots of leftovers, call us!

Get Your Halloween Costume On

It’s mid-October – do you have your Halloween costume together yet? Did that question just make you break out in a panic-induced sweat? We get it – the pressure is on this time of year. If you’re the kind of person who struggles with coming up with good costume ideas or a full-on procrastinator, don’t worry, your friends at BackCountry have scoured the internet and found some fun ideas for you, your family, and/or your friends – and these will be a hit no matter where you end up on Halloween!  

Easy and affordable

You don’t have to spend a small fortune to dress up this year. Find simple ideas on this Pinterest Board – all you need are a few office supplies to put them together. If you’re a fan of ‘80s movies, this Risky Business costume is easy to make at home – you just need a white button down, underwear, white crew socks and sunglasses. If you’re a notorious foodie, go as Chinese food take-out. All you need is this t-shirt and a take-out box with chopsticks.

Partners in crime

If you have a spouse or a best friend you can rope in on a costume idea, start off easy with salt and pepper shakers. For Netflix fans, be everybody’s favorite weekend with these Netflix and Chill t-shirts – they pair nicely with pajama pants, tube socks, slippers, and/or ponytails. And if you can rope in additional participants, go as a group of party animals!

Kids and family

If your kids allow you to pick out their costume, here are creative ideas that are sure to catapult you to Parent of the Year. First of all, how adorable is this DIY pinata costume? If you’re still wheeling a little one around in a stroller, doll him or her up with this Cabbage Patch Kid costume. If your kid insists on being a superhero, insist on this Superman costume. And some fun #familysquad costume ideas are to dress up like your favorite Starbucks drinks or a dinosaur trainer family.

Hopefully these suggestions will help you put together something clever and fantastic for the 31st. And please send us pics of your costumes (or tag @backcountryco on Instagram) – we love seeing what our residents come up with every year!

It’s official – October is the greatest month of the year

Okay, so every month on this blog, we tout why that particular month is the “best.” But let’s get real – October is truly the greatest month of the year in Colorado. Seriously! Not only is the weather outside perfect, this is the time of year where all of your favorite scary movies are playing on TV. All of the pumpkin-flavored goodies are in the stores. You always have that one creative neighbor who goes all-out with the awesome Halloween decorations (or maybe it’s you?). And, of course, on the 31st, you get to eat ALL of the candy that you want, no judgment.

October is also an event-packed month, from corn mazes to road races to spooky festivals. We’ve managed to cull down the list and highlight a few fun activities for our BackCountry family, including events in both Denver and Highlands Ranch.


Sunday, October 7, 9am, Falcon Park

Jog off that upcoming candy binge! Run/walk a 5K through the open space trails in Falcon Park (and Cheese Ranch) to benefit the Warrior Bonfire Program. This program gives support to Purple Heart combat veterans. Sign up.


October 17, 18, 23, 24, & 25 5:30 – 9:30pm, Denver Botanic Gardens

It’s Halloween at the garden! Find pumpkin artists creating larger-than-life sculptures, dense displays of jack-o-lanterns, and ornately detailed showpiece pumpkins, all in a creepy-Halloween atmosphere. In addition, enjoy spooky storytelling, trick-or-treating, carnival games, and a scavenger hunt. Learn more.


Friday-Sunday, through October 26, 10am, Chatfield Farms

Get lost in the 7-acre corn maze at Chatfield Farms! This maze can be viewed from two 15-foot tall illuminated bridges. The maze is open during the day, but at night time you can stick around for the After Dark Corn Maze, the Dead Zone Scream Park, and Fear Flicks. Food vendors are on hand or bring your own snacks and dine at the provided picnic tables. Get tickets.


Saturday, October 13, various times, EXDO Event Center

Get bloody this October! Well, get your drink served bloody – and then throw in various accoutrements crafted by aficionados. The Bloody Mary Festival is a celebration of the most beloved brunch cocktail and the largest event of its kind. Sample various concoctions and then vote for the People’s Choice Award for Best Bloody Mary in Denver. Tickets on sale here.


Saturday, October 13, 10am-6pm, Arapahoe County Fairgrounds

If you prefer sweet to savory, skip the Bloody Mary’s and hit this chocolate celebration instead! Inside, you’ll find 25,000 square feet of Colorado’s most indulgent chocolate and beverage festival. Indulge here.


Friday, October 26, Sundial House

Come join your neighbors for this fun, Halloween-themed event here at BackCountry.

Where to Chase the Changing Leaves this Fall

Autumn is in the air! It’s crisper, cooler, and flannel-shirt-inducing. Not only do you “feel” fall, you can also see it in the changing leaves. This transition from green to yellow, orange, and red is incredible to witness, so make sure you take your friends or family on a fall foliage road trip this month. To help you plan, your friends at BackCountry have curated a handy list of places to see Colorado’s fall colors.

Take note: Normally, peak viewing time for Colorado trees is mid-to-late September. However, this year it’s a bit earlier in certain areas, thanks to the drought we had in Colorado this summer. So keep this in mind as you schedule your autumn color drive.

Maroon Bells

Southwest of Aspen, these peaks are an ideal spot to capture the many colors of fall, so bring your camera! If you want to make leaf-peeping an all-weekend adventure, reserve a campsite along Maroon Creek Road.

Buena Vista

Head down Cottonwood Pass Road, just west of Buena Vista, and watch as the massive Collegiate Peaks rise on all sides. Between Mt. Princeton and Mt. Yale, you’ll find one of Colorado’s most aspen-filled valleys. There’s nothing like the shimmering gold leaves of fall aspen groves.

Guanella Pass

This rambling route starts in the historic town of Georgetown and steers you through pockets of aspen. When you reach the town of Grant, turn on US 285 and head to Kenosha Pass, where the aspen trees truly thrive.

Trail Ridge Road

Cresting at 12,183 feet, Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in North America, winding through Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s also an amazing vantage point for leaf watching and is a favorite spot for photographers.


While many travelers flock to Telluride during ski season, it’s also a wonderful destination during the fall. The mountain view alone is jaw-dropping, so it only gets better when the leaves start to change. The best part – you can take a free gondola ride to view the amazing colors from up high.

Are you ready to hit the road for your autumn color fix? If you take pictures, make sure you share them with us – we love seeing the gorgeous color in the mountains. And pretty soon ,we’ll be seeing leaves changing in our own outdoor space – probably starting in October. Happy leaf peeping!

Berkeley Homes Fit Your Lifestyle. Naturally.

Surrounded by so much natural beauty, BackCountry homes deserve to be exceptional. And, if you’re a current BackCountry resident, you already know they are.

That’s why you should get to know our newest development. The Milestone Collection by Berkeley Homes is an intimate enclave of 36 contemporary homes rising on BackCountry’s last available home sites. These three innovative, two-story home plans range from 2,555 to 2,960 finished square feet, and they feature large outdoor living spaces, abundant windows to capture natural light and views, and open plans designed for unforgettable entertaining. Many of these homes offer garden level or walk-out basements for even more well-lighted living space.

Residence One (Plan 4021)

This impressive two-story home spans 2,555 square feet of living space, flanked by a two-car garage. The main floor features an owner’s entry, a study, and an open concept kitchen/living room/dining room. This home can expand from three- to five bedrooms (and three to four baths) depending on your preference. The basement offers garden level, walkout, and finished options and the upper floor offers a loft or additional bedroom option.

Residence Two (Plan 4022)

Large family? This homey residence starts at three bedrooms and four baths but allows the flexibility to add up to six bedrooms and five baths. The two-car garage leads into an owner’s entry and then opens up to the large kitchen that flows uninterrupted into the dining room and living room. A study off the front entrance can be switched out to be an additional bedroom instead and the downstairs basement can be converted to a garden level, walkout, or finished option.

Residence Three (Plan 4023)

Live large in 2,960 square feet of big rooms, big windows, and big inspiration. Add up to six bedrooms and five baths to make the most of your space. Convert the downstairs basement and then turn it into a garden level unit or a walkout space. The upper floor features a kids’ common area that can also be converted into an additional bedroom. Add a fireplace in the master bedroom for those chilly Colorado nights.

All of these homes are specially designed to enhance the one-of-a-kind lifestyle of BackCountry, named Community of the Year by the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver.

If you think like a Berkeley home at BackCountry is right for you, the best way to get a feel for the exceptional design and craftsmanship is to see it in person. Contact us today to set up a walk-through and you’ll see the Berkeley difference.

Back To School – The College Years

While many families have already sent their grade school and high school kids back to the classrooms, college students are now gearing up for campus life. And while the prospect of living away from home is oh-so-exciting, it can also be a bit daunting.

Luckily, your friends at BackCountry have some tips, ideas, and hacks to get your kid through her freshman year.

Stock the Kitchen

If your child is moving to a dorm on campus or in a nearby apartment, they may not be used to living on their own. So think about things they always use at home, starting with the kitchen: ice cube trays, a microwave, oven mitts, silverware, cookware, garbage can, can opener, etc. Write down a list of what you think will be crucial to ensure sustenance at every mealtime and then start figuring out how to acquire these necessities. Some parents will pass down used dishes, pots, pans, tools, etc.

Get Comfy

If your child’s living space is big enough to have a living room, or den, then they’ll need stuff to sit on and a place for a desk, TV and other electronics. Cheap, used couches and tables can be found on Craigslist or other online resellers, and lots of cheap accessories like lamps and pillows can be scored at discount retailers. For the bedroom, invest in a good bed frame and mattress. Your college student will need a good night’s sleep as much as possible and they’ll need a bed frame and a mattress that can last you at least 4 years. Don’t forget other necessities, like a laundry basket, a full-length mirror and shelves.

Keep it Clean

For the bathroom, they’re gonna need good towels – choose a color or two that they love and find the quick-drying kind. If they’re in a shared space or have a hallway bathroom, purchase a robe and rubber sandals or flip-flops. A shower caddy is perfect for carrying shower bottles and toothpaste. And don’t forget clean up! A Swiffer broom is perfect for cleaning hardwood or tile floors and a dust pan helps with spills that aren’t liquid. Disinfecting wipes are perfect for cleaning bathroom (and kitchen) surfaces easily and you can buy bleach tablets to place in the toilet bowl tank.

Give it Style

Your child’s dorm or your apartment will be their own personal retreat from the pressures of school, so help them make it a place they’ll feel at home. If the walls are blank or ugly, hang a tapestry for color or to cover blemishes. Use string LED lights to give the living room or bedroom a soft glow. Add photographs of family and friends to give them something to smile about when feeling homesick. Lift the bed up off the floor with risers so they can store more stuff underneath, so there’s less clutter in their living space. And use accessories like pillows, bedspreads, curtains, rugs, and lamps to reflect their tastes and inspire creativity.

Cook it Up

Now that you have everything in place, you need to meet your child’s most important need – food. And it can be a struggle with a crazy class schedule, lack of funds, and their need to eat comfort food so they “can deal.” If they were lucky enough to score a microwave, your newly-independent young adults can easily whip up breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and dessert!) with some of these simple recipes. Staples like cereal, peanut butter sandwiches, cheese and crackers, energy bars, etc. are good for a quick meal when they’re on the go. And they should always check with local restaurants for lower-priced meal opportunities such as happy hour, lunch specials, and all-you-can-eat deals.

Now that you have your college student’s living situation under control, don’t forget to enjoy the last couple of months of hiking weather in BackCountry!