An exceptional natural resource, the Backcountry Wilderness Area of Highlands Ranch is a special place for community residents. Its 8200 acres of conservation space, 26 miles of trails, summer camps, school programs, nature programs, an archery range, events and wildlife offer opportunities for everyone to explore and connect with the beauty of the outdoors.

                                                                           View to the west at the start of our tour

However, it’s a rare treat to experience the Backcountry Wilderness Area, which has been set aside as wildlife habitat. The Highlands Ranch Historical Society Board of Directors got to experience this protected part of the Backcountry with our tour guide, Mark Giebel − long time Director of the Backcountry Wilderness Area.  Mark shared many of the conservation enhancements that have been made to the Backcountry over the years, and stated that he was “well pleased with the depth of the conservation”. “A new feature coming in 2024 will be a partnership with the Denver Zoo, allowing bison grazing on 200 acres.”

Here’s a chance for you to take a peek at some of the sights in the protected areas of the Backcountry.

                                                                                                 Turkey Trot

                                                             One of the watering stations set up for Backcountry wildlife.

There are 30+ wells in the Backcountry, many supplying water stations.

                                                                                        Elk prints in the mud.

                                                    View of the gazebo at Tall Bull Memorial Grounds from the Backcountry.

                                                     Some of the lush foliage, with Cherokee Castle in the background.


Farm buildings and implements at the Failing Homestead site.

The Failing Homestead and Douglas Investment Farm are off limits to the public for safety concerns.  Long-distance views of the many farm buildings, with the majestic foothills in the background, provides a glimpse into what  would have been an idyllic setting of beauty for these homesteaders.  The homestead consisted of many buildings, which are still standing, including a large barn, dairy barn, hay loft, tool shed, chicken coop, and the main house.

Failing Homestead , windmill and outbuilding.

The Windmill still stands, silent after many years of non-use.

As northern Douglas County continues to develop, wildlife habitats are shrinking. The Backcountry Conservation Area provides an invaluable sanctuary.

Check out our Photo Gallery HERE  of this June 2023 visit to the Backcountry.

Check out the wildlife on the HRCA Backcountry Facebook site, where the staff posts regular Trail Cam photo updates.

For more information, you can view videos of the Backcountry Conservation Area on the Highlands Ranch Historical Society YouTube channel:    HERE