The Colorado Way

A Mountain Living Vision Fulfilled in Caribou Ridge

Article by Lisa Van Horne

Photography by Kylie Fitts Unless Otherwise Noted

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

The story of Caribou Ranch is a much-loved and lauded tale ingrained in local Front Range lore. A scenic 4,000-acre ranch perched just outside of Nederland and 20 minutes from Boulder, it’s a site that has played host to spectacular views, outdoor recreation opportunities and idyllic cattle grazing throughout its long history. It was also home to the Caribou Ranch Recording Studio—an escape for countless famous musicians seeking a peaceful retreat where their creativity could thrive—until its closure in 1985.

But these weren’t the only elements of Caribou Ranch dreamt up by owner James Guercio, better known as Jim. He also originally envisioned the area as a home—a site that could echo his reverence for nature through abodes that residents could enjoy for generations. Enter the Caribou Ridge housing development.

“An appreciation of the beauty of the local land is one that Jim wanted to share with families,” says Monika Dinges, co-owner and managing partner at Caribou Ridge. “We are walking in his footsteps to fulfill this vision.”

Situated on 40 acres of tree-filled mountain bliss, Caribou Ridge is bordered by more than 800,000 acres of private land, protected Boulder County Open Space, national forest and mountain wilderness. It’s a locale that feels secluded, serene and a world away from the everyday bustle, but still retains proximity to modern amenities through eclectic Nederland and exciting Boulder. Skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, mountain biking and fly fishing are just some of the world-class outdoor activities that Caribou Ridge serves as the portal to, and it is enveloped by the buzz of wildlife and mountain living potential.

Residents live what the Caribou Ridge team calls “the Colorado Way”—a lifestyle that is centered on nature and its inspiring beauty. This inimitable connection to nature is reflected in the form that the community takes as well. The development consists of custom-designed, custom-built homes visualized and created by Cornerstone Homes, a third-generation custom home builder in Boulder County. A boutique design-build firm with over 20 years of experience creating mountain escapes, the Cornerstone Homes team works tirelessly to cultivate relationships with buyers to ensure that their homes facilitate their specific living needs while expressing the unique spirit and beauty of the mountains through both site and context.

Evolving the vision for the development by incorporating mountain modern architecture into its structures was sparked by the initial on-site musings of Keenan Tompkins, owner of Caribou Ridge and Cornerstone Homes. One method in particular pays homage to the development’s symbiosis with nature—timber framing—which Keenan envisioned using both in a traditional mountain style vernacular and a mountain modern design aesthetic. An ancient method of construction, it’s a style in which the structure itself is left exposed on the inside, imbuing a natural beauty that integrates with the surrounding landscape and serving as an architectural focal point.

Caribou Ridge homes incorporate a plethora of natural, organic and locally sourced materials—including timber and stone—with modern design forms and contemporary finishes. The structures draw inspiration from their surroundings inside and out with features including vaulted ceilings, expansive windows to maximize views of the Indian Peaks mountain range and integrated, environmentally-friendly technologies to keep the homes operating at peak sustainable efficiency. It’s this desire to be immersed in nature in both form and function that unites the Caribou Ridge community, which has seen a surge of interest and growth over the past year and a half in particular.

“The pandemic has been an inflection point for prioritizing family values, lifestyles and housing,” Monika says. “The impacts of the pandemic have sparked a renewed idealizing of the mountain lifestyle. We have seen a dramatic increase in families choosing to make Caribou Ridge their primary location.”

Monika notes that the pandemic has changed the way that many people view their homes. They are not just a simple safe haven to retreat to after a long day of work, but are filling myriad other roles and need to provide spaces for work, education, fitness, staycations and more.

“The pandemic changed the way people thought about urban environments versus more remote settings,” Keenan says. “Companies shifted their thinking in terms of flexibility in working from home. These factors have all driven interest in our community.”

It’s a shift that the Caribou Ridge community encapsulates naturally and beautifully, immersing residents in the tranquility of mountain life, the proximity to city amenities and an unmistakable connection to the character of the mountains. It’s at once a celebration of and redefined take on the potential of mountain modern living—an experience that’s wholly unique in Boulder County.

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