From fun for the entire family to a creative community, the reasons to love living in Castle Rock are endless.
The Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce marks its 65th anniversary in 2020 – a milestone understandably overshadowed by the health crisis that began to unfold nationwide in March. Instead of the yearlong plans for special events, the chamber is celebrating the anniversary through total focus on serving its members and community. And while this wasn’t in anyone’s plans, that determination and responsiveness reflect the core values and purpose that have driven the group throughout its long history.
Perhaps there’s no better way to celebrate the special anniversary than to consider all that people love about living and doing business in Castle Rock. The chamber and several local business leaders weighed in with tips and insights for this compilation of “65 Reasons to Love Castle Rockâ€ – a numerical nod to the anniversary; rest assured there are many more!
Start With the Star
Favorite thing about Castle Rock? “The sense of community displayed at the chamber’s annual Starlighting event!â€ says D.J. Tedesco, market president for Independent Financial.
That’s something you’ll hear from thousands of people who’ve witnessed the annual lighting of the giant star atop Castle Rock’s namesake butte – about 25,000 people attend the event, which has been a tradition since 1964. The star has become as much a landmark as the rock itself since it was placed in 1936 as a beacon of hope during the Great Depression. The chamber initiated the lighting of the star as a community event to kick off the holiday season, and it stays lit throughout the winter through the end of January when the annual National Western Stock Show in Denver ends.
“It’s one of the best traditions in this town. All of the downtown streets are closed off, and residents get to spend two or three hours wandering around town and visiting with people they haven’t seen for a while but who they have known for years,â€ says Dave Peck, a resident of 25 years who, with his wife, Michelle, owns TMMC Property Management and Home Care Assistance of Douglas County.
‘Like Living on a Movie Set’
Starlighting occurs in and around the downtown district, another cherished aspect of life here.
“When you drive down Wilcox and Perry streets in December amid the Christmas lights, it looks like you are living on a movie set. I encourage my friends in Denver to come down with their kids just to see this,â€ Peck says. “It is magical, and every year, it makes me happy to drive down the street at the end of my workday to bring peace and closure. It is truly the makings of a happy dream.”
Another cool thing downtown during winter months is The Rink at the Rock, a community outdoor ice skating rink operated by the Castle Rock Downtown Alliance.
The district is a special place year-round, highlighted by many fantastic festivals. Every July, steers parade through downtown for the Western Heritage Welcome Steer Drive followed by the Douglas County Fair Parade that opens the annual Douglas County Fair and Rodeo, which is over 100 years old. Other much-anticipated downtown events each year include the Castle Rock Cruise-In Car Show, Oktoberfest and Colorado Artfest, which marks its 31st year in 2020.
While the Colorado Artfest absolutely is a highlight, creativity knows no bounds – just look around, and you’ll find murals, sculptures, electric box wraps and other public art, thanks to the Philip S. Miller Trust Fund, Public Art Commission and the town’s participation in the countywide Art Encounters program.
“If you’re an art lover, then you have to check out the Castle Rock Artist Cooperative, which helps bring wonderful experiences of art to the community,â€ says Bernie Greenberg, an attorney whose firm, Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C., has flourished here for over 50 years and who is a resident with his wife, Julie.
Greenberg also recommends people new to the town pop in for a coffee at Crowfoot Valley Coffee downtown, then head over to the Visitor Center, which is hosted by the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce. Plus, check out VisitCastleRock.org for relocation information and a community event calendar packed with festivals, art shows, street concerts, food truck locations and more.
When it comes to live entertainment, he points to live magic shows at Theatre of Dreams and “music at our incredible outdoor amphitheaterâ€ at Philip S. Miller Park as favorites.
Where to Eat, Drink & Shop
Castle Rock has five different breweries, including the Rockyard Brewing Company and Wild Blue Yonder Brewing Co. Castle Rock has great food trucks, and some traditional restaurants that emerged in requests for all-time favorites include Scileppi’s at The Old Stone Church, Vista Vino, Z’Abbracci and Union Bistro, where the peanut butter bites are a must, says resident Abby Tardiff, vice president of commercial and consumer lending for ANB Bank.
To get a taste of local goods that aren’t all necessarily edible, Tardiff recommends The Barn and The Emporium.
“They are staples downtown, and they have such creative, beautiful local products for sale,â€ she says.
The town is also known for finding great deals at the collection of big-name retailers at the Outlets at Castle Rock.
People here love their pets, who are welcome at many local restaurants and other businesses. To adopt, there’s the regional animal welfare nonprofit, Dumb Friends League Buddy Center, beloved for matching rescued animals with forever homes.
Open Range For Business
That mix of retail is symbolic of the economic diversity here, which is seeing growth in many new sectors, including technology. One tech company finding success here is TECOBI, which develops lead generation software for auto dealers.
“Being a startup technology company, we have found a great support system with the EDC (Castle Rock Economic Development Council). They have assisted us in our growth and have been very supportive to our needs as one of the fastest growing businesses in Castle Rock,â€ says Scarlet Mick, TECOBI vice president. “Castle Rock offers a small, hometown feel that also welcomes new and innovative companies like ours, keeping the history alive and supporting our dreams of being one of the biggest employers in town.”
Tardiff credits that sense of support Mick describes to the strong collaboration between government and the business community.
“It’s a tight-knit town,â€ Tardiff says. “Once you’re in, you’re trusted and a part of something really great, whether personally or for business.”
Greenberg points to the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce and its Leadership Douglas County program as a great place to start for finding resources, making connections and learning about the ins and outs of the community.
“Based on the model of collaborative, catalytic leadership, this program trains leaders in Douglas County and Castle Rock to solve issues and problems in ways that benefit the entire community,â€ he says.
And if you’re looking to start a business, be sure to check out the eXcelerate Business Development program (EBDP) for free business counseling and other little-to-no-cost resources.
It’s Just the Vibe
All of this comes back to a response shared by all the participants in this compilation: Castle Rock’s best asset is its people and the vibe they create. It’s made the town preferred by young people and as a retirement destination, too. People respect and honor one another – the Veterans Monument and the 9/11 memorial for first responders are two public examples of that. Youth programs like 4-H are well supported.
“People who live here, love it. It doesn’t matter if they’ve been here for decades or just moved in; they take pride in this town. The majority of our employees live in Castle Rock. Even our employees who do not reside here love the atmosphere. We have employees who moved across states to join us,â€ Mick says.
Greenberg says he too has lived elsewhere and fell under the spell of Castle Rock’s magic.
“In 66 years, Castle Rock is the best place I have lived. It is the most welcoming, the most fun and the best place to enjoy my love of the outdoors, hiking and bike riding,â€ he says. “And I have lived in some places like Kauai, Santa Barbara, Boulder and others. Castle Rock tops them all!â€
Training Tomorrow’s Leaders
Another admirable example of collaboration here rightfully includes the word in its name – the new Sturm Collaboration Campus, a joint venture of Arapahoe Community College, the town of Castle Rock, the EDC, Colorado State University and the Douglas County School District. It offers high school juniors and seniors a pathway to career exploration as well as degrees in business, health and technology.
“The investment our community has made in the campus shows its commitment to business, becoming a standalone community and educating our future business leaders and workforce,â€ says Jill Garber, director of the CSU Regional Engagement Center, Sturm Collaboration Campus.
Away from work, Garber says events and yoga at the Miller Activity Complex (the MAC) at Philip S. Miller Park are her personal favorites, adding that it’s “hard to pick a favorite park because they are all amazing.”
Health-Focused, Outdoor Lifestyles
That sentiment about parks and outdoor activities are a common theme when people talk about their love for the town, along with the weather, scenery and wildlife. Greenberg includes “the view of the stars from almost anywhere in townâ€ among his considerable list of favorite things about town.
“It is common every week to drive through any part of town and see deer, foxes, coyotes, wild turkeys and the occasional bear,â€ Peck says. “All of our residents appreciate, respect and watch out for these animals and will slow down or stop their cars to enjoy watching them, often just a few feet off the side of roads.”
Another thing residents appreciate here is natural conservation, Peck says.
“Our town leads the state on water conservation, and we are a model for other communities. Everyone here is hyperaware of being efficient with our most precious resource,â€ Peck says.
Man-made amenities are outstanding, too. Philip S. Miller Park is the town’s newest and includes Miller Activity Complex (MAC), an amphitheater, sports fields, a 200-step Challenge Hill, and a privately operated Epic Sky Trek challenge course, plus other amenities.
“There is no other place I know of that offers this much enjoyment in one location,â€ Peck says. “It lacks absolutely nothing and is taken care of as well as the other parks in town.”
There’s great golf here, with a handful of courses throughout the county; mountain biking at places like Rhyolite Bike Park; and excellent opportunities for cycling, like the Elephant Rock cycling classic, which dates back over 30 years. Residents and visitors alike enjoy hiking The Rock, and there are 88 miles of trails for hikes and walks, with another favorite being the East Plum Creek Nature Trail.
If you’d like to learn more about the Castle Rock area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Castle Rock, CO.