Fall is now officially here, which means that we have an abundance of fresh apples in Colorado! Whether you have a tradition of apple picking each year or you’re a novice orchardist, we have some helpful recommendations for you. Below, you’ll find orchards that are just a hop, skip, and a jump from Elizabeth, CO and the Independence Community, and other destinations that are more of a hike. Whichever one(s) you choose, you’re sure to have a fantastic time! 

YA YA Farm and Orchard

YA YA Farm and Orchard has been part of Boulder County since 1896. Located in Longmont, this U-Pick orchard is just a little over an hour’s drive from our community. It’s well worth the trek, since you’ll find much more than just delicious apples here! YA YA Farm and Orchard is also known for beautiful draft horses, apple cider donuts, and its annual event, Applefest (which is happening October 21-22 this year). 

Adam’s Apple Orchard and Country Store

Adam’s Apple Orchard and Country Store is nestled in Ault, Colorado. If you’re looking for a fun day trip, this destination could be perfect. The drive will take about two hours from Elizabeth, so it’s not too far, yet far enough for an adventure with new scenery.  Here, you’ll find a bounty of apples to pick in the U-Pick orchard. According to the site, they’re having a great early season so far! When you’re finished perusing the orchards, stop by the country store to pick up some delightful local, seasonal products. 

Big B’s

Big B’s is one of the most famous orchards in Colorado. It’s located in Hotchkiss, which is about a five-hour drive from Elizabeth. You can pick a variety of apples at your leisure, but Big B’s is best-known for its hard cider. Ciderfest is held here each year, so if you want to plan a trip that’s sure to be worth your while, mark your calendar for October 27-29.

Nelms Farm

If you’d like to stay closer to home, you’ve got to check out Nelms Farm in Golden. Founded in 2012, Nelms Farm is committed to sustainability and is a chemical-free and pesticide-free orchard. Here, you’ll find a variety of produce that extends far beyond apples. For the 2023 season, you can stock up on potatoes, pumpkins, local honey, and homemade jam. The farm isn’t having the best apple harvest this year, but there’s good news—any apples that you pick are FREE! If you decide to join the fun, be sure to make a reservation

Apple picking season is always a great time. If you’re looking forward to roaming the fields and enjoying the great outdoors, our state has plenty of excellent orchards to visit. Whether you want to stay close to home or make it a day or weekend trip, you’re sure to make some great memories out there this fall. If you love nature and want to live in a community that honors Colorado’s agricultural traditions, stop by for a tour of the Independence Community! We’re located in Elizabeth, just 15 minutes from downtown Parker! To learn more about becoming a resident, please contact us!

In a world that can sometimes prioritize profit over people, compassion and giving back can end up falling low on the to-do list. Fortunately, these community-centric organizations are actively doing things differently to better the community, making Elbert County a better place for all. 

Another Sunrise

Another Sunrise is a nonprofit organization just a short drive from the Independence community in Simla, Colorado. It offers evidence-based mental health resources and care to at-risk youth in a residential home environment. Another Sunrise recognized that minority and rural communities lacked mental health care and created an organization that bridges this gap through one-on-one interactions with behavioral professionals.

Colorado has seen an uptick in suicide rates starting in  2015. Another Sunrise seeks to prevent children from becoming a part of this statistic. There are numerous ways to get involved, including through donations and volunteering. Learn more about this group here

The Annie Project

To keep elderly horses out of the horse-to-slaughter pipeline, horse rescues have popped up all along the front range to save equines in Colorado. The Annie Project is one such group offering dude and guest ranches an alternative option for their retiring horses. This non-profit keeps horses out of the auction and provides them with a forever home. In partnership with another local non-profit Drifter’s Hearts of Hope, The Annie Project has saved numerous horses and has educated the local population on the practice of kill auctions. Still, only 15% of horses at auction are won by private buyers and rescues. Get involved here

Elbert County Coalition Outreach

The Elbert County Coalition Outreach is composed of local community service agencies, businesses, and individuals collaborating to identify and resolve needs in the community. Through interagency cooperation, emergency needs are met quickly, and individuals can resume their daily lives. 

ECCO strives to help anyone in crisis and assists low-income residents in numerous ways. Its storefront provides low-cost clothing and home goods, while individual donations can help families move out of devastating situations brought on by personal crises, natural disasters, crime, and more. Local involvement is crucial to the success of ECCO’s programs and projects. Volunteers are always needed! Contact ECCO to learn more. 

Part of what makes the Independence community remarkable is its philanthropic organizations. These locally-owned groups provide valuable resources to us, our neighbors, and our friends. Our small town of Elizabeth is highly invested in its residents – both human and wild. Do you want to put roots down in Elbert County, Colorado? Contact us to learn more. 

The Centennial State is known for many things, from stunning mountain ranges to our state’s rich history and culture. Food is an important part of Colorado history, and you can pay homage to our culinary traditions in your own kitchen. If you’d like to try your hand at creating a few Colorado-inspired dishes, here are our favorite options: 

Green Chile Ribs

Although New Mexico is famous for green chiles, this spicy pepper is a staple here, too–and Pueblo produces some of the best chiles in the world. If you want to add some kick to your dinner table, you must try these green chile ribs. They’ll need to cook for about five hours, but prep time is a cinch–they’re ready to go into the slow cooker after just 20 minutes of prep. This recipe is perfect for the upcoming fall days, and also great for summer barbeques (and will probably be gone in minutes). 

Bison Black Bean Chili

As a staple in the Native American diet, Bison thrive here in Colorado. Whether you’re familiar with the earthy, slightly sweet flavor of bison meat or you’d like to try it, this bison black bean chili recipe is a winner. In addition to being delicious, this chili is packed with iron and fiber for a healthy and comforting meal. 

Lamb Meatballs

Colorado is one of the nation’s top producers of sheep and lamb (number four, to be exact). Like bison, lamb is more of a specialty meat. It’s known for its milder flavor, and can be a great addition to many recipes. If you want to try something different or are looking for an option to serve as an appetizer, we love these lamb meatballs. Their herby taste is perfectly complemented by a green goddess dipping sauce. 

Fresh Peach Crumb Bars

The Palisade Peach Festival is coming up on August 18th-19th. It’s a bit of a hike from Elizabeth, but this festival is one you’ll want to experience at least once. While you’re there, consider picking up some fresh peaches to make these incredible fresh peach crumb bars–they’ll be so much better with locally grown peaches! 

Colorado is one of the top places to live, work, play, and cook. Our state’s culinary history is a mile long, and there’s no shortage of ways to tie in regional flavors with your menu. If you’re interested in trying some of the recipes mentioned here, it helps to have a great kitchen. At our Independence community, we’re proud to offer exceptional new homes that are thoughtfully designed for any type of chef. To learn more about our community and available homes, please contact our team.

Volunteering is an act of selflessness that fosters positive change within communities (and beyond). Whether supporting local nonprofits, engaging in community service projects, or participating in global initiatives, volunteers play a vital role in building interactive and inclusive communities while also spreading goodwill. Here are some volunteer opportunities in Elbert County to participate in with loved ones: 

Promise Ranch Therapies and Recreation

Parker, Colorado

This therapeutic riding facility has a team of certified PATH I instructors connecting horses and humans for healing purposes. Promise Ranch is on a mission to “enrich our community through connection and inclusion” and works with veterans, families, and people with differing abilities. Learn more about the types of therapies they offer here and see where your skill sets might fit. 

Praying Hands Ranch

Parker, Colorado

As an adaptive riding center, Praying Hands Ranch works with people whose physical abilities may prevent them from traditionally riding horses. Praying Hands Ranch believes that horses have a powerful ability to help people grow mentally, physically, and emotionally, and learn so much about themselves in the process. 

Eagle’s Nest Ranch

Elizabeth, Colorado

Eagle’s Nest Ranch seeks to bring hope and trust into the lives of folks of all ages involved with this 501c3 non-profit. Various interactions with horses, such as riding, grooming, and leading Eagle’s Nest Ranch give people skills to overcome adversity in other areas of their lives – like confidence, leadership, and creative problem-solving. 

American Legion Post 82

Elizabeth, Colorado

In 1919, Congress chartered and incorporated The American Legion as a non-profit committed to connecting veterans and their communities for “mutual helpfulness.” Each Wednesday, Elizabeth’s American Legion Post 82 hosts a Coffee Club that invites residents to meet and chat with local veterans. Additionally, this group also hosts many other unique events, like an “Amateur Radio Club ” and “Burger Burn”. This is a fantastic group to get involved with so our veterans feel supported and loved. 


Elizabeth, Colorado

This nonprofit helps people with adaptive needs develop positive physical, emotional, or social behavior by fostering connections with horses. StableStrides believes equine therapy is part of a holistic approach to healing and can create thriving individuals who become crucial parts of thriving communities. To date, this organization has helped almost 800 people through equine-related therapy activities, including riding. Volunteers are always needed at StableStrides regardless of horse experience or knowledge. Learn more here.  

Pikes Peak Range Riders Foundation

Elbert, Colorado

Established in 1999, this nonprofit works with Elbert County’s youth to instill solid foundations rooted in agriculture and equine experiences. By teaching the “Cowboy Way”, the nonprofit invites young people to develop leadership skills and gain confidence both in and out of the saddle. Latigo, the 45-acre equestrian center, hosts this foundation and its myriad activities. Throughout the year, the Pikes Peak Range Riders Foundation hosts golf tournaments, roping competitions, and more. For those interested in volunteering, contact this organization to learn more. 

Cartwright Foundation for Care 

Elizabeth, Colorado

This animal-oriented nonprofit helps pet owners pay for unforeseen medical expenses (necessary for their pet to stay alive). In addition to financial services, The Cartwright Foundation a.k.a. “Ginger’s Legacy”, works with pet parents to explain, teach, and manage their pet’s treatment and post-treatment care. Discover how you can get involved with this impactful organization. 

Pines & Plains Libraries

Elizabeth, Colorado

Become a “friend of the library” and use your time, skills, and knowledge to promote and support libraries in our area. Those who volunteer their time as “friends of the library” will help raise money, book sales events, community service, and general public relations activities that help expand the library’s reach. You can never have too many friends! Learn more here.

Elizabeth Area Chamber of Commerce 

Elizabeth, Colorado

Our town’s Chamber of Commerce provides valuable services to the members of our community. Businesses in Elizabeth come together to support one another and ensure that our community remains vibrant and continues to grow. The Chamber assists these businesses in many ways and relies on local volunteers to host events, conduct outreach, and more. Check out Chamber volunteer opportunities here

Part of what makes Elbert County so wonderful is its engaged residents; investing time in the community is a tangible way to better this place we call home. Our small town of Elizabeth is highly invested and cares tremendously about the health and well-being of its neighbors, businesses, and nonprofits. Do you want to put roots down in our Elizabeth, Colorado’s Independence community? Contact us to learn more. 

Spending time in Colorado’s beautiful wilderness is done best with a backpack strapped to your back. The outdoors is for everybody, and with a few simple hacks, you can spend time backpacking in jaw-dropping locations. If you are new to Colorado or looking to refresh your camping preparation skills, here are some tips to optimize your next wilderness experience, in addition to some ideal camping spots: 

Camping Tips

Plan Your Trip

Research the area in which you want to backpack, and determine the length and difficulty level of the trail. Consider factors such as elevation gain, distance, and weather conditions so you can pack and plan accordingly.

Check Permits and Regulations 

Some areas in Colorado require permits for overnight backpacking. Be sure to check whether any permits or reservations are needed for the specific trail you plan to hike. Familiarize yourself with the local regulations and Leave No Trace principles. If you can, plan some trips for the next backpacking season and apply for permits ahead of time so you can tackle bucket list trails. 

Pack Appropriate Gear

Colorado’s weather can be very unpredictable, so pack layers to accommodate temperature changes. Bring a good-quality backpack, a lightweight tent, a sleeping bag suitable for the season, a sleeping pad, cooking equipment, and essential supplies such as a first aid kit, water filter, and navigation tools.

Be prepared for varying temperatures and conditions, as Colorado’s weather can change rapidly, especially in the summertime. Bring rain gear, warm clothing, and a waterproof pack cover to protect your gear from rain or snow. Check the weather forecast before you head out and be prepared for sudden temperature drops.

Hydrate and Acclimate

Stay hydrated by carrying enough water or by using a water filter or purifier to treat water retrieved from natural sources. Research the availability of water sources along your route and plan accordingly.

Colorado’s high altitude can pose a challenge, especially if you’re not accustomed to it. Give yourself time to acclimate before starting a strenuous hike to prevent altitude sickness. Start with easier hikes and gradually increase the difficulty.

Practice Leave No Trace (LNT) Principles 

Respect the natural environment by minimizing your impact. Pack out all trash, avoid damaging vegetation, stay on designated trails, and camp in designated areas. Leave nature as you found it for others to enjoy. Additionally, LNT asks that hikers respect wildlife and natural features so the area and its critters stay healthy and vibrant. 

Camping Destinations  

Rocky Mountain National Park 

This iconic national park features awe-inspiring landscapes, alpine lakes, and abundant wildlife. It offers numerous trails for backpacking, including the popular Longs Peak and Continental Divide routes. Permits are required, so check ahead of time for available options! 

Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness

Located near Aspen, Colorado, this wilderness area is known for its picturesque Maroon Bells, towering peaks, and pristine lakes. Trails like the Four Pass Loop and Conundrum Hot Springs offer challenging and rewarding backpacking experiences.

Indian Peaks Wilderness

Situated near Boulder, the Indian Peaks Wilderness showcases breathtaking alpine scenery, wildflowers, and alpine lakes. Backpackers can explore trails like the High Lonesome Loop and Isabelle Glacier for a memorable adventure.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

This unique park features the tallest sand dunes in North America, nestled against the backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Backpackers can explore the dunes and nearby trails, such as the Mosca Pass Loop or the Sand Ramp Trail. Lay your pad out right on the sand and sleep under a blanket of stars. 

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

Located in the stunning Sawatch Range, this wilderness area is known for its rugged peaks and stunning vistas. The Colorado Trail passes through the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, offering backpackers an opportunity for a long-distance trek on this noteworthy long-distance trail.

Weminuche Wilderness

As Colorado’s largest wilderness area, Weminuche offers vast expanses of pristine wilderness. It boasts stunning peaks, alpine meadows, and numerous lakes. The Chicago Basin, Vestal Basin, and Animas River Trail are popular backpacking routes here.

The Independence community knows how important it is to cultivate a connection between humans and the environment. Our neighborhood incorporates plenty of open space, trails, and parks to do just that. Plan a trip from our convenient location and escape to the mountains for a little rest and relaxation. Contact us to learn more. 

Summertime in Colorado invites residents to get outside and explore the vast and varied landscapes that make our state so special. For Independence community residents, ideal campsites and secluded spots are less than a two-hour drive away.  Here are some off the beaten path destinations to pitch your tent, get your glamp on, or take the RV out for a warm-up lap. 

Treehouse Magic 

As its name implies, this gorgeous treehouse in Elizabeth, Colorado (roughly 10 miles from Independence) is equal parts comfortable and magical. Nestled high in a Ponderosa Pine, Treehouse Magic invites nature lovers to get some shut-eye in the comforting branches of a tree, take in sweeping views of the rolling hills, and spy snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains. 

Mount Herman Road Dispersed Camping  

Approximately 40 miles from Independence, this family-friendly dispersed camping area spans a wide area of varied terrain. Rocky outcroppings peak out of tall, thick pine forests creating plenty of great spots to set up your tent for a night or two. Recreating in the Pike and San Isabel National Forests is fun for adventurers of all ages. Bring a sturdy pair of hiking boots and set out to explore this gorgeous landscape. Keep an eye out for elk, mule deer, and more wildlife. 

Funk Road Camping 

Pitch your tent or park your van, trailer, or RV on this picturesque patch of soil about 50 miles away from Independence. Just seven miles away from the Paint Mines Interpretive Park, Funk Road Camping treats guests to unobstructed panoramic views and quiet solitude underneath a blanket of stars. Spend a weekend biking around Colorado’s rolling prairies or hanging outside in your favorite camp chair. 

Rampart Reserve

Roughly 70 miles from Independence, a host of furry friends sets this campground apart from the rest. Stay with a friendly herd of Alpacas in comfortable accommodations away from the frenzy of city life. Backing up to Pike’s National Forest, Rampart Reserve’s idyllic location offers ample opportunities for hiking enthusiasts to make the most out of their stay by exploring miles of trails. 

Lone Duck Campground 

This family-owned and operated campground has a little something for everyone. From tent sites to RV hook-ups, regardless of your rig, Lone Duck Campground (about 70 miles from Independence)  is ready to host. Nestled just outside of Colorado Springs at the base of the Rockies, this spot offers quick access for campers interested in hiking, climbing, running, or rafting. For a last-minute getaway to the mountains, check out this convenient campground. 

Life in Elizabeth, Colorado treats residents to the best of both worlds: the gentle rolling grasslands east of Denver allow a quiet reprieve from the city, while the Rocky Mountains only a short drive to the west guarantee adventure. Independence community strives to create a harmonious balance between people and the natural environment, incorporating ample open space and trails throughout the neighborhood. Contact us today to learn more. 

Set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, Elbert County, Colorado, offers an exhilarating and enchanting experience for horseback riding enthusiasts. With its vast expanses of rugged grasslands, pine forests, and wildflower-speckled meadows, Elbert County and the surrounding area offer prime locations for getting off the beaten path with a four-legged friend. Whether you’re a seasoned rider looking for more resources or a novice seeking a memorable outdoor escapade, Elbert County’s equestrian community is vast and varied, like the breathtaking landscapes you’ll ride through.

Whispering Spirit Ranch

This 10-acre farm is home to gentle and experienced trail horses ready to take riders of all skill levels out into the woods for a great afternoon. Follow behind experienced horseback riders while learning a few new skills from the saddle. Trail rides are a great way to build confidence on a horse and a fantastic way to explore a diverse swath of land. Check out Whispering Spirit Ranch here. Located in Peyton, CO, this ranch is approximately a 40-minute drive from Independence. 

Stable Strides

This nonprofit partners with people and horses for adaptive Hippotherapy that includes working with and riding horses. Adaptive riding allows people of many different physical abilities to experience the joy of horseback riding. The experienced team behind Stable Strides is PATH certified and focuses on teaching riding skills that support individual riders’ recreational, social, and physical goals. If you’re looking for a hippotherapy program close to home, this option is located in Elbert (about 20 minutes from Elizabeth).

Old Glory Performance Horses

Ranch rides, barrel racing, and dressage all happen at Old Glory Performance Horses. The skilled instructor behind this equine outfit has decades of knowledge and skills in creating collaborative and healthy relationships between people and horses. Horseback riding lessons are available to riders of all skill levels at an affordable price for those looking to gain some equine knowledge before heading out for a ride. This farm is less than a 30-minute drive from our neighborhood, offering convenience for those interested in lessons. 

Evenstar Farms

Evenstar Farms is just 25 minutes from Elizabeth and is a facility worth learning about for those enmeshed in everything equine. This family-owned operation works as a retirement and care facility for horses as they move through various phases of life. The skilled team behind Evenstar Farms teaches clinics, boards horses, and leads riding programs year-round. Learn more about them here.

N Diamond K Ranch

This local ranch offers horseback riding experiences for people of all ages and abilities. They’ll even bring a set of horses to your private event if you really want to wow party-goers. Give N Diamond K Ranch a call to learn more about the types of horseback riding services they offer to find an experience that best fits your needs. Located in Elbert, N Diamond K Ranch is about a 40-minute drive from Independence. 

The Independence community is nestled in the heart of Elbert County, offering residents and their out-of-town guests endless opportunities to take in the adventurous spirit of America’s West. Make memories, try something new, and see Colorado like its early inhabitants did, from the saddle of a horse. Contact us to learn more about our welcoming community. 

For Elbert County residents, the week-long, free-admission County Fair at the Fairgrounds is a highlight of the summer. This year will be no different as fans of the rodeo, 4-H Club, and Colorado’s agricultural communities flock to our corner of paradise. Each day boasts a bevy of exciting activities for spectators and participants. Here are just a few of the wonderful events we’re looking forward to this year:

Saturday, July 29th

Mountain States Highland Cattle Show

When: 10 am

Where: Horse Pavilion

If you’ve never seen Highland cattle in person, you won’t want to miss this. These shaggy, long-haired cattle are known for their rich milk, protective mothering, and meat that is markedly lower in cholesterol than other cattle. They are from the rugged Scottish highlands and live very well in Colorado’s harsh conditions. Check out this cattle show to learn more and purchase high-quality products from Highland Cattle ranchers. 

Sunday, July 30th

4-H Rocketry Fly Day

When: 7 am

Where: Far East Fairgrounds Pasture

4-H Club isn’t just about raising livestock and learning modern land-management methods; students also learn how to build and fly their own rockets. After learning about rocket building and the science of propulsion, these 4-H club members build their own rockets and gather at the County Fair to send them flying. Pack a thermos of coffee and a lawn chair for front-row seats at this exciting showdown. 

4-H Ranch Horse and Horse Roping

When: 8 am

Where: Both main arenas

These events showcase the discipline and commitment that 4-H students of all ages have dedicated to their horses and the skills it takes to raise, train, and manage horses. Watch riders gallop around the arena, rope cattle, and work in perfect harmony with their animal. 

Monday – Wednesday, July 31st – August 2nd

The majority of events taking place in the middle of the week are specific to producers, 4-H club members, and vendors. Animal check-ins and weigh-ins will occur throughout the day. Swine, beef, poultry, and rabbit shows will occur in tandem and are open to the public. Check out the schedule of events here.

Thursday, August 3rd

Master Gardeners Education and Silent Auction

When: 8 – 6 pm

Where: Ag Building Meeting Room

Listen to Colorado’s Master Gardeners discuss current challenges related to climate, soil, and water access throughout the state and propose creative solutions that hobby gardeners can apply to their own patch of earth. Bid on an item during the silent auction or come with gardening-related questions you’d like professional answers to. 

Friday, August 4th

Save the Cowboys Pancake Breakfast

When: 8 – 10 am

Where: Behind the main arena grandstands

This free breakfast is a great way to meet other locals and rub elbows with rodeo cowboys and cowgirls. Load up on tasty pancakes to fuel the rest of your day at the Elbert County Fair. 

Saturday, August 5th

Master Gardener Special Presentation: Special Bees + Pollinators 

When: 9:30 am

Where: Ag Building

This free seminar teaches everything one would want to know about honey bees. Learn about bee colonies, hive health, and the crucial place honey bees hold in produce production. Be sure to snag some free local honey at the end! 

Saturday at the County Fair is the Core Energy Family Free Day. Bring everyone out for a day of delicious treats, fun shows, and exciting exhibits. Start the morning by visiting the kid-friendly “Touch a Truck” activity, grab some BBQ around 11 am, then cheer on cowboys and cowgirls during the traditional rodeo in the main arena. The afternoon continues with “Mutton Bustin”, horse-pull competitions, and a free concert by country music legend Matt Stell

Looking to bid on livestock? The Junior Market Sale kicks off at 1 pm, complete with a live auctioneer and a paddle call. There’s never a dull moment at the Elbert County Fair! 

Sunday, August 6th

Start the morning at Cowboy Church, then stop off at the Kiddie Corral for slides, a corn pit, trains, and more! A parade and an ice cream eating contest take place mid-day adjacent to the fair’s final rodeo, which concludes this annual event in true Western style. 

The Elbert County Fair reminds local residents how much we all rely on the agricultural community in Eastern Colorado. Let’s celebrate their dedication and hard work to the land, its animals, and its people this July and August. 

The Independence Community knows how important it is to cultivate a connection between one another and the environment. Our neighborhood incorporates plenty of open space, trails, and parks to do just that. Escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy living in Elizabeth, Colorado, where time moves slowly and people appreciate the stuff that makes life worth living – community, mother nature, and time spent with each other. Contact us to learn more. 

The 2023 Elbert County Fair is gearing up for a full week of exciting activities, including rodeo competitions, kids’ carnival games, pancake breakfasts, and stock shows. You won’t want to miss it!

Rodeo is a legendary sport that has been around the Western region of the United States since the 16th century. Range cowboys made a living driving cattle to markets in the East and had to develop a wide array of skills to accomplish this arduous task. These skills eventually gave way to competitive contests between range cowboys from all over the region, and thus, formal “Rodeos” were born. Now, it’s a professional sport for men and women that underscores the importance of connection between people, animals, and the land. Here are some upcoming rodeos around Elbert County you won’t want to miss. 

Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo

When: 6/1 – 4

Where: Casey Jones Park

The 36th annual Elizabeth Stampede Rodeo is set to kick off the summer at Casey Jones Park. Five events will take place over the course of the long weekend. This rodeo is fun for the whole family and has long been a treasured community-focused tradition. Also known as the “Rodeo in the Pines”, this event has a real Western vibe, complete with BBQ, dances, merchandise, and more. 

Cowboy Up in Kiowa

When: 6/23 – 24

Where: Elbert County Fairgrounds

This short rodeo festival in Elbert County is jam packed with classic events, including the saddle bronc, team roping, and barrel racing. Cowboy Up also offers some unique activities – like mutton busting – that give the little ones a taste of rodeo life. This rodeo prioritizes the welfare of its animals and athletes, and offers plenty of educational information for guests looking to learn more about all aspects of this sport. Enjoy entertainment while learning more about and celebrating the history of the west. 

Elbert County Fair

When: 7/29 – 8/6

Where: Elbert County Fairgrounds

The Elbert County Fairgrounds sees a lot of action throughout the summer. This week-long fair brings more than rodeo to local residents – the Elbert County Fair features 4 H competitions, livestock sales, and mini bull riding for kiddos. Watch sport shooting and archery competitions before heading over to the Snack Shack to fuel up with delicious eats and rub elbows with rodeo cowboys and girls. 

Elbert County offers ample opportunities for children and adults to get involved in rodeo, horseback riding, or agriculture. The Independence community is close to dozens of horseback riding centers, such as Faithfield Equestrian. Additionally, there are so many nearby opportunities that encourage students to get involved with 4 H Clubs, archery clubs, and agricultural programs at Elizabeth High School. Living in theIndependence neighborhood offers people the opportunity to create a different way of life that is linked to our state’s history and natural beauty. Contact us to learn more. 

Spring has finally arrived, and summer is hot on its heels, which means we get to pack up our picnic baskets and enjoy dining with loved ones outside. Planning on spending summer weekends at a nearby reservoir or weekday evenings catching the sunset sprawled on a blanket at the park? These creative and easy recipes make dining outdoors simple, fun, and healthy. 

Grilled Veggie Skewers

Colorado’s Farmers Markets are bursting with fresh produce, making this recipe simple, fresh, and seasonal. Cut up your favorite veggies (such as bell peppers, zucchini, onions, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, etc.) and thread them onto skewers. Brush them with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs. Grill until charred and tender. For a twist on the classic veggie skewer, try this recipe, which incorporates a tangy chimichurri sauce. 

Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

An ancient grain, quinoa is a super food that goes with just about anything. Roast your favorite veggies, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and Brussels sprouts, and toss them with cooked quinoa, chopped kale, pomegranate seeds, feta cheese, and a lemon-tahini dressing. Make this recipe ahead of time for a fantastic, filling, and healthy side to go along with picnic mains. Swap out different ancient grains to try instead, like farro, amaranth, or barley, as the base of this dish.

Watermelon Feta Salad

This popular picnic fruit salad is turned on its head with the addition of arugula or spicy greens. The sweetness of the watermelon cuts the tanginess of the feta while the balsamic glaze pairs beautifully with each element. Cube watermelon and toss with crumbled feta cheese, chopped mint, and a balsamic glaze. Serve over your favorite farm-fresh salad greens. Get the recipe here

Mediterranean Wrap

This main dish makes a great go-to picnic lunch because it’s simple and easy to pack. Spread hummus on a warm whole-wheat wrap and add sliced cucumber, tomato, red onion, feta cheese, and roasted red pepper. To make this Mediterranean wrap a little more gourmet, consult Chelsea’s Messy Apron, which adds sun dried tomatoes, preserved lemon, and greek olives. If you’re craving a little more protein, add pre-made falafel and drizzle with tzatziki. Roll up and enjoy!

Orecchiette with Pesto Dressing

Scratch-make your very own orecchiette with The Pasta Project to create the freshest pasta salad you’ve ever tasted. Once cooked, toss the “little ears” with pesto, preserved lemon, sun dried tomatoes, chopped up cured meats, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. Check out the dozens of pasta salad variations and find a recipe that speaks to you, here

Berry Tartlets

Chocolate chip cookies are always a hit, but have you ever considered bringing a fresh berry tart to the picnic? Snag some mini tart shells and fresh berries next time you’re at the store and use pantry ingredients for the rest of this simple yet decadent dessert. This recipe instructs home chefs to fill mini tart shells with a mixture of cream cheese, honey, and vanilla extract. Top with fresh berries (such as raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries) and serve chilled. Whip up fresh cream to top the whole thing off. 

These fresh takes on classic picnic recipes may just compel you and your pals to schedule weekly parkside rendezvous. Make them ahead of time to enjoy an impromptu meet up, complete with a blanket, picnic basket, healthy eats, and the great outdoors. 

The Independence Community makes it easy for residents to embrace the longer days and Colorado’s picturesque landscapes because of our close proximity to nature. Numerous parks, miles of trails, and unobstructed views of the Rocky Mountains offer daily reminders of how close and how necessary nature is to our livelihoods. Contact us today to learn more about our welcoming community.