Highlands Ranch is an unincorporated community in the immediate vicinity of Denver, so close to the big city that a lot of people stay in Highlands Ranch and commute to Denver day by day to work.

The Beginnings

The first known residents in the area where Highlands Ranch is today were Native Americans. The area had various owners, including the Spanish and the French and it was sold to the United States in 1803. The first settler, Curtis H. Field came to the area in 1870. The mansion that gave the settlement its name, Highlands Ranch Mansion, also known as Castle Isabel was finished by 1904 – the building is still standing and open to the public interested in how the early settlers lived. More buildings followed when the Gold Rush attracted huge crowds to Denver and the surrounding area.

Development in the 1970’s

Though urbanization started, the area was dominated by farms and ranches for decades to come and it became a suburb of Denver only in the 1970’s. The population grew rapidly – by the settlement’s tenth anniversary, it already had 17 thousand residents. With continued, rapid development, the settlement grew further – by 2006, it had 86 thousand inhabitants. The first local businesses opened in the 1980’s and the area becomes even more prosperous after the C-470 opens, giving Highlands Ranch access the Denver Metro Area. Nowadays there are almost 360 businesses in Highlands Ranch, providing employment to over 4 thousand people.

In 1994, Highlands Ranch was distinguished with the recognition of being named the Best Selling Master-Planned Community in the US – recognition that further contributes to the popularity of the area and its economic success. In 2000 Highlands Ranch gets its own Chamber of Commerce.

Culture and Education

The growing population brought about rapid cultural development as well. The first public elementary school opened in 1982, followed by the first public secondary school in 1987. In 1996, the town gets a new elementary school built entirely from the contributions offered by local builders.

Development didn’t leave the settlement untouched when it comes to recreation either. In 1982 the Northridge Recreation Center opened – it is an athletic club for locals. Highlands Ranch also has two libraries as well, a branch of the Douglas County Libraries, opened in 1991 and a much larger facility opened in 2000.

The community of Highlands Ranch has always tried to harness the benefits of the area where it is located. In 2000, they open Redstone Park, a 55-acre park and today the town gives home to multiple recreation centers as well.

Highlands Ranch celebrated its 30th birthday in 2011 – at that time it had 92,600 residents, almost 30 thousand homes and over 3,300 apartment units. The growth and the development is surely going to continue into the future in terms of population growth, economic and cultural developments, the opening of new schools, libraries and other facilities that make the town attractive and desirable for locals just as much as for those looking for housing in the proximity of Denver.


Find out more about the Highlands Ranch community.