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Fun for All Seasons in Castle Rock, CO

Excellent events, recreation and amenities keep residents entertained year round

By Laura Hill on May 15, 2016

Castle Rock Starlighting, presented by the Castle Rock Chamber
Courtesy of Castle Rock Chamber

If there’s one word you’re unlikely ever to hear around Castle Rock, it would be the B word: Boredom.

With state-of-the-art recreational amenities and a full calendar of community events, there is always something fun on the horizon.

“My kids are 15 and 10, and we have absolutely enjoyed everything the town has to offer, from parks and rec to events and programs,†says Realtor Steve Thayer, a Castle Rock resident for 18 years. “We especially love the downtown Castle Rock events – movies in the summer, and chamber events like WineFest, Artfest and Starlighting. We have a wonderful downtown.”

Events Year Round

Community events bring people together throughout the year. The Castle Rock WineFest is held each July, featuring the best of Colorado’s winemakers. In September, art takes the spotlight with the Colorado Artfest, a two-day, juried event that showcases 180 outstanding artists from across the country and world. Spring Up the Creek and Tri the Rock usher in the spring season, and Rink at the Rock turns out ice skaters.

Probably Castle Rock’s biggest annual event is Starlighting, a tradition since 1936, when a 45-foot lighted star was first installed on the town’s namesake rock formation to create a holiday beacon visible throughout the area. Today, the chamber-sponsored event brings residents together to kick off the holiday season.

“It’s a Norman Rockwell kind of event,†Thayer says. “Everyone gathers together; they serve hot chocolate; the fire department puts on a chili dinner; and we light the star, which is followed by fireworks. Everybody loves that event.”

During the weeks following the Starlighting in November, downtown Castle Rock embraces an entire season of events and celebrations to mark the winter holidays and keep the Starlighting spirit alive. Season of the Star highlights include the Elf House Experience, carriage and sleigh rides, a petting zoo, storytelling and s’mores, a Christmas Eve candlelight service and Winterfest.

Recreational Amenities

A plethora of recreational options is available to residents all the time, including 20 developed parks and 5,800 acres of open space, plus 75 miles of trails for hikers, bikers and runners.

“We really seek to enhance the quality of life for all citizens, providing them with interesting activities and parks throughout the community,†says Castle Rock Parks & Recreation Director Jeff Brauer. “We have a number of downtown, neighborhood and regional parks, ranging from one to 300 acres, with a lot of variety. Our parks don’t necessarily fit into standard descriptions.”

Some parks include traditional playgrounds and playing fields, while others have active space that transition into native space and trails. The Castle Rock Recreation Center has long been a well-appointed go-to for city residents. And a more diminutive site, downtown Festival Park, is undergoing redevelopment.

â€It’s only one acre, but we want to recreate it as an event and community gathering space for movies, farmers markets, special events and activities,†Brauer says. “It will be great for Season of the Star, when we really need another gathering area downtown.”

Undoubtedly the jewel in the city’s recreational crown is Philip S. Miller Regional Park, which opened its first phase in 2014 and will open a second phase by summer 2016.

With an emphasis on “outdoor-adventure-based recreation,†the park offers an Outdoor Adventure Playground, a Challenge Staircase – 200 steps that climb to the top of the bluff – a lighted synthetic turf field, a privately operated zipline course and Epic Adventure Tower, which combines a climbing wall, zipline and free-fall.

The Miller Activity Complex, the MAC, includes an indoor synthetic turf field, 3,000-square-foot indoor playground, 5,000-square-foot trampoline zone, an 18-hole golf simulator, batting cages and an indoor aquatic center. The second phase included a center plaza with a splash pad, restrooms that are open year-round, a 3,000-seat amphitheater and a rental facility, the Mill House, which seats up to 150 people.

The community has embraced Miller Park, Brauer says. Some 20,000-25,000 people run, walk or otherwise make their way up the 175-foot-long incline each month, and more than 1 million visits were made to the park in 2015.

“The response from residents has been overwhelming. The response from visitors has been tremendous,†Brauer says. “There really isn’t any place like this anywhere. When people come into the park, they stand there and look at it, and they are just amazed.”

[Starlighting] is a Norman Rockwell kind of event. Everyone gathers together; they serve hot chocolate; the fire department puts on a chili dinner; there’s a pie sale. Everybody loves that event.

Steve Thayer
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