Gunbarrel – Boulder, CO

Idyllically settled 8.4 miles from Boulder proper to the southwest and 10 miles to Longmont in the northeast, Gunbarrel naturally blends urban access and Colorado country living. Defined by a close-knit community, love of outdoor recreation and progressive affluence, it's the perfect destination for those who want an athletic, healthy atmosphere. Located across from the majestic Boulder Reservoir, just on the east side of the Diagonal Highway, Gunbarrel protects its small splendor by clinging to the local environment. Wetlands, open fields and recreational areas seem barely interrupted by family dwellings and well-maintained streets. The IBM campus dominates the northern edge of the community, bringing a tech-savvy and modern population to the area. The population of nearby University of Colorado, supplemented by those visiting the reservoirs, constantly infuses a youthful spirit. The heart of Gunbarrel, however, belongs to families and the area's excellent schools.

Schools in Gunbarrel

School data provided by GreatSchools

Restaurants & Nightlife

Food in the area won't surprise those familiar with Boulder: healthy, diverse, and a little pricey. The actual neighborhood of Gunbarrel doesn't offer a ton of eateries, but that's no problem with northern Boulder just a few miles away. A favorite high-end dining scene in Niwot, Colterra prepares some of the finest Italian and French plates in the entire state. Made fresh with local and organic ingredients, Colterra's favorite dishes include choice meat cuts and multiple vegetarian options. When the weather cooperates, which it almost always will, do yourself a favor and reserve a patio table. You can walk or bike to Cafe Blue from the heart of Gunbarrel to enjoy traditional American cuisine at reasonable prices. The staff at this great lunch spot knows almost every patron, and they'll still treat you like their best friend during your first experience. Be sure to ask for the "off-menu" Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese. The night scene in Gunbarrel won't set the world on fire, but it doesn't have to with the CU Boulder campus just to the southwest. Experience the city's non-judgmental, upscale spirit in the sophisticated Bitter Bar, where you just might see a craft cocktail invented that evening, decorated and accompanied by ginger-flavored ice cubes. Make it here between 5 and 7 p.m. for one of the area's best happy hours.

History & Culture

Gunbarrel's front-range, cowboy-inspired name actually originates from a magazine article in the 1860s. Alonzo H. Allen wrote of the new trail, which was as straight as a gunbarrel, that he and his father cut with their heavily loaded wagon. Long before Diagonal Highway, the Gunbarrel Road acted as the primary stagecoach route between Longmont and Boulder. The Gunbarrel Public Improvement District was formed in 1993 by the residents of Gunbarrel. Acting as a "special district," the GPID can levy taxes and incur debt to purchase open spaces, improve roads and protect the area from excessive expansion. Owing to its proximity to both, the cultures of Boulder and Longmont hold heavy influence over the Gunbarrel lifestyle. The Boulder Country Club stretches across the eastern portion of the neighborhood, on top of Gunbarrel Hill, part of the efforts of Everett and George Williams during the 1960s to create a diverse residential community.


Gunbarrel -- and Boulder at large -- connects to an incredible network of jogging and bike paths. The Idylwild Trail cuts right through the community, but any of the roads and streets work just as well; traffic naturally yields to pedestrians everywhere in the area. With the aid of the Colorado Department of Transportation, Heatherwood Elementary School installed crosswalks, sidewalks and flashing car alerts to protect walkers and bikers. That said, find yourself a car if you live in Gunbarrel. Public transportation consists only of the 205 RTD bus that gives service from Gunbarrel to Boulder or the regional J route that connects CU Boulder and Longmont to the northeast. You might even ask a good neighbor, since carpooling appeals to many environmentally conscious locals. Don't worry about traffic congestion -- many people work from home in Gunbarrel. Boulder has a municipal airport for business, private and emergency flights to the surrounding area. To reach Boulder Municipal Airport, you can take Highway 119 south just past Independence Road.


Single-bedroom units fetch anywhere from $1,200 to $1,800 in monthly rent. Outside of housing, the uncommon beauty of the northern Boulder region doesn't carry any real premiums. Grocery products like chicken, beef, milk and potatoes all cost less than the national average, which helps to offset the above-average cost of restaurant meals. A gallon of gas will cost you around 4 percent less than the national average. And, given the influence of the college-town bar scene, you can find an after-hours beer for just $4 to $6.


For an outdoor shopping experience, look no further than the historic Pearl Street Mall. Sunshine, open brick walkways, exotic street performers, great food, and more than 100 different specialty shops and boutiques -- the best of Boulder life all packed into one strip. New imports to Gunbarrel and north Boulder should head for Bliss, a home and accent gift shop. Locally owned and featuring crafts from both area artisans and international designers, Bliss targets daughters, mothers, grandmothers and best friends all in the same modern, environmentally-minded store. Grocery shoppers should head to the Niwot Market on Niwot Road, where fresh and locally owned organic food reigns. Enjoy some homemade breads and sweets or stop by the deli for a take-home meal. Not just a grocer, Niwot Market also caters on site. You can even buy fresh flowers and beauty products in a separate department.


You can't separate the outdoor lifestyle from Gunbarrel, and that's reflected through its abundance of parks, bodies of water, trails and open ranges. The town's major attractions include the Twin Lakes Open Space that extends west along the Whiterock Ditch, operated by the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department, and the country club on Gunbarrel Hill, which includes a 27-hole golf course. Chautauqua Park, or "Flatiron Park," tucks away in the back end of Boulder at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Dogs roam free, and people bustle about in this breathtaking series of trails that have been perfectly laid out for climbers, joggers and cyclists.
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