The Ultimate Guide To Moving & Living in Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Highlands Ranch, Colorado, is an unincorporated community and the largest master-planned community in Colorado, spanning a landmass that is 22,000 acres. It's located less than 15 miles south of Denver, with a population of over 110,000 people. The average age of people living here is 36 years.
Founded in 1981, this was once known as grazing land for cattle. Over time, things settled down, and it transformed into the suburb of Highlands Ranch and has grown over the past two decades to become a thriving and safe community that many residents call home. It has still retained its pioneer spirit, but overall, this is not a rough town anymore.
It's part of Douglas County, is close to the mountains, has many parks, coffee shops, and is family-friendly with many highly-rated schools.
If you are interested in living in this quiet suburban community close to Denver, then this guide has all the essentials for moving to and living in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. It covers topics such as the history of Highlands Ranch, housing options, schooling options, neighborhoods, recreational activities, weather, and more.
History of Highlands Ranch
Initially inhabited by Native American Nomadic tribes, the Highland Ranch area became known as ranch land in 1859 with its first legal settler being Curtis H. Field in 1870.
The famous Highlands Ranch Mansion, once called Castle Isabel, was built between 1891 to 1904 by John W. Springer. The mansion still stands today and was renovated in 2010-2012.
Due to the Gold Rush, many were drawn to Denver city, north of Highland Ranch, which remained an area of farms and ranches. After 1978, when a large part of Douglas County was purchased, parcels of land were sold to private developers, and in 1981, Highlands Ranch built their first homes.
Since then, the community has seen tremendous change with the building of a new freeway, commercial development, amenities, such as stores, medical care, a library, schools, and entertainment, including recreation centers.
Real Estate in Highlands Ranch
Highlands Ranch is a relatively new community, and thus you will find mainly recent builds, with the majority of homes being constructed between 1990 and 2000. Highlands Ranch offers more affordable housing options making the neighborhood a suitable option for all types of buyers.
Property type is mainly single detached family homes with a small portion of small apartment buildings. Primarily homes offer three to four bedrooms, with some having more.
The average home value in Highlands Ranch is in the $500K compared to the national average in the low $200K. However, sale prices can range from $300K to over a million. Medium rent falls in the upper $2000 range, and 80% of residents own their homes, whereas 20% rent. There are also Luxury Homes for Sale in Highlands ranch.
Neighborhoods in Highlands Ranch
- Brownstones At Town Center
- Falcon Creek
- Falcon Hills
- Gleneagles Village
- The Hearth
- Highlands Ranch Golf Club
- Highlands Ranch Southridge
- Highlands Ranch Town Center
- Highlands Ranch Westridge
- Indigo Hills
- Kentley Hills
- Palomino Park
- Richmond Pointe
- Shadow Canyon
- Timberline Ridge
The most popular neighborhoods in Highlands Ranch are Westridge, Eastridge, Northridge, Verona, South Littleton, and BackCountry. Centennial, Littleton, Castle Pines, and Wolhurst are cities neighboring Highlands Ranch.
Things To Do in Highlands Ranch
Highlands Ranch has a small-town feel but isn't low-key. There's a lot to do. If you're active, outdoorsy, and like having fun, then read on to find out more of what this place has to offer.
The Rocky Mountain National Park is a popular destination for hiking in the summers and skiing during the winter. Spotting wildlife is always a possibility since elk, moose, and bighorn sheep are abundant here.
Highlands Ranch also has 19 parks and miles of trails for hiking, biking, and running. Westridge Pointe, Westridge Glen, and the Golf Course neighborhoods are close to the Highline Canal, Redstone Park, and Marcy Park.
The Civic Green Park has beautiful gardens, a rentable pavilion suitable for up to 100 people, and a children's playground. Other parks include Northridge Park, located at 8800 S Broadway, and Fly’n B Park, located at 2910 Plaza Drive. For golf enthusiasts, there are two 18-hole golf courses.
The Backcountry area has 8200 acres of conservation land and 26 miles of trails. Members can sign up for different activities in the Backcountry, such as camps, horse and nature programs, and archery.
Residents of Highlands Ranch are also members of the Highlands Ranch Community Association (HRCA) and have access to four state-of-the-art recreation centers, featuring 329,000 square feet of fitness, meeting room, event, and classroom space.
These developed as the community of Highlands Ranch grew and now provides a healthy and active lifestyle for its residents. They all have some common amenities but are unique in their own way.
Northridge, located at 8800 Broadway and was built in 1982, was renovated in 2018 and now has a covered tennis pavilion. Eastridge is located at 9568 University Blvd and opened in 1997. It has an administration office, houses many community events, and has a climbing wall.
Westridge is located at 9650 Foothills Canyon Blvd and opened in 2001. It has a sports court with indoor turf. Last is Southridge, located at 4800 McArthur Ranch Road and opened in 2005. It boasts a Wildcat Mountain Auditorium with high-tech sound and lighting and a pottery studio.
The Highlands Ranch Mansion, a landmark and piece of history in Highlands Ranch, located at 9950 E Gateway Drive, is an architectural work of art. You can take a guided tour that reveals 14 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, five fireplaces, two kitchens, several living spaces, and a bowling alley.
The two festivals of note in Highlands Ranch is the Taste of Highlands Ranch, where cuisine from 30 restaurants is featured, and you get to sample drinks such as wine, spirits, and beer. The other is the Highlands Ranch Beer Festival, where you can try over 250 local breweries and brewpubs.
Things to do nearby Highlands Ranch include:
- Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It has 700,000 square feet of exhibitions.
- Denver Art Museum in Capitol Hill. It has an impressive collection of works from artists.
- Art District and the River North Arts District.
Schools in Highlands Ranch
Schools in this suburb fall under the Douglas County School District, which is the third-largest in Colorado. Elementary schools are plenty, and many are within walking distance. Highlands Ranch has elementary and secondary schools at both the public and private levels. Here is a list of elementary, middle, high, and private schools in the area:
Highlands Ranch Elementary Schools:
- Arrowwood Elementary School
- Acres Green Elementary School
- Bear Canyon Elementary School
- Copper Mesa Elementary School
- Cougar Run Elementary School
- Coyote Creek Elementary School
- Eldorado Elementary School
- Fox Creek Elementary School
- Heritage Elementary School
- Northridge Elementary School
- North Star Academy Charter
- Platte River Academy
- Redstone Elementary School
- Saddle Ranch Elementary School
- Sand Creek Elementary School
- Summit View Elementary School
- Stone Mountain Elementary School
- Trailblazer Elementary School
- Wildcat Mountain Elementary School
- Sky Ridge Academy
- Skyview Academy (Ranked 28th best in Colorado)
Highlands Ranch Middle Schools
- Cresthill Middle School
- Mountain Ridge Middle School
- Ranch View Middle School
- Rocky Heights Middle School
- Cherry Hills Christian School
Highlands Ranch High Schools
- Highlands Ranch High School
- Mountain Vista High School
- Rock Canyon High School
- Thunderridge High School
- Valor Christian High School
- Columbine High School
- Denver Christian
- Skyview Academy
- STEM School Academy (Ranked 12th best in Colorado)
Top Private Schools in Highlands Ranch
- Valor Christian High School
- Mile High Academy
- Arma Dei Academy
- Cherry Hills Christian School
Higher education options are not available in Highlands Ranch, but there are options in Denver. These include:
- The University of Colorado Boulder/Denver
- Regis University
- Colorado School of Mines
- Johnson and Wales University
- Emily Griffith Technical College
Transportation and Getting Around
You'll find that getting around is pretty easy here. The main roads are very well maintained and having a car is a good option. However, there are bus lines that link the community, and most residences have access to a bus stop.
Highlands Ranch is viewable from many directions and has easy access to the highways leading to Denver International Airport and the mountains in the Rocky Mountains. Highlands Ranch has a walkability score of 27 and is somewhat bikeable. Brownstones at Town Center, District 102, and District 77 are the most walkable neighborhoods.
The ideal location of Highlands Ranch provides access to many major attractions in and around Denver, such as:
- Cherry Creek Shopping Center
- Chatfield Recreation Area
- Coors Field
- Denver Tech Center
- Pepsi center
- Sports Authority Field at Mile High and
- downtown Denver
Restaurants in Highlands Ranch
Communities that can quickly access nearby restaurants by foot include Westridge Knolls or the Town Center ClockTower Residence as well as Eastridge Pointe on the other side of town.
The best restaurants and breweries in Highlands Ranch include:
- John Holly's Asian Bistro
- Old Blinking Light
- Rita's of Highlands Ranch
- 3 Freaks Brewery
- Grist Brewing Co
Shopping in Highlands Ranch
There are many options to cater to your shopping needs in Highlands Ranch. Here are some of the malls and shopping centers in the area:
- Park Meadows Mall
- Aspen Grove
- The Landmark
- The Streets at Southglenn
- Highlands Ranch Shopping Center
- Tamarac Shopping Center
- Highlands Ranch Town Center
- University Park Mall
- The Plaza at Highland Ranch
- The Vistas at Park meadow
The Weather in Highlands Ranch
The climate in Highlands Ranch is semi-arid, has around 246 days of sunshine, low humidity, and sits at an elevation of 5,920 feet. The dryness does lead to uncomfortable conditions. The weather conditions in Highlands Ranch are mainly due to its proximity to the Rocky Mountains, maintaining a cool temperature throughout the year.
Adjusting and adapting to the elevation and low humidity requires some tips:
- Up your hydration by drinking plenty of water to make it easier to adjust to the higher altitudes.
- Physical activity feels more intense here compared to other places. Do less in the beginning, and then scale up as you adjust.
- Wear layers. With the elevation, it can feel warmer than it actually is.
- The sun feels stronger in dry conditions. Always use sunscreen, wear sunglasses and carry lip balm throughout the year, even in the winter months.
There are four seasons, hardly seeing any extreme temperatures in summer or winter. Summer months are June, July, August, and September, with July being the hottest month with temperatures as high as 87 degrees Fahrenheit. December is the coldest month, with temperatures as low as 18 degrees Fahrenheit.
Highlands Ranch sees 19 inches of rain, lower than the US average of 38 inches per year. It does, however, see an average of 78 inches of snow compared to the US average of 28 inches per year.
Low Taxes and Job opportunities
One advantage of moving to and living in Highlands Ranch, Colorado is low property taxes. Sales tax is 5.0% lower than the US average of 7.3%. Because of this, many businesses and companies are moving to Highlands Ranch, thus creating more job opportunities.
Residential and retail development has contributed significantly to creating jobs. But notable businesses such as Avaya Communication and Lucent Technologies have also moved and settled here.
Over the last year, there has been a 2.8% increase in the job market. And it is predicted that over the next ten years, Highlands Ranch will see future job growth at 46.4%.
Overall, Highlands Ranch is somewhere between a small town and a big city. It's family-friendly, has a great community atmosphere, and is surrounded by breath-taking nature. The majority of the population here is devoted to recreation and having open spaces.
So if you're seeking the perfect place to raise a family, start a career, or enjoy simple everyday life, Highlands Ranch checks all the boxes and more!