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Boulder’s high altitude neighbors trade record-high prices for a peaceful mountain life

Nederland is picturesque and transforming into an enclave for less expensive, peaceful neighborhoods.
It doesn’t take long to see if Nederland life is for you.

There are no stoplights, highway noises, or droves of strangers on your morning coffee run. In Nederland, less is more. The simplicity, solitude and clean, fresh air can add a serenity to your life like no big city can.

If you’re willing to brave the altitude adjustment and wave goodbye to suburbia, you’ll notice the distinct lines of highways and city grids fade away.

Crest the Boulder Canyon to overlook Barker Reservoir and unexpectedly, Nederland’s streets (most of them are paved) begin to follow the path of the earth’s intentions, much like the people who live here. They, like the wildlife that’s always called this its home, listen to the heartbeat of the land and the songs of the wind.

A Quirky Enclave

It’s not all trees and beautiful scenery, up here, however. Despite its size, the Town of Nederland has a surprising variety of food – both domestic and international.

As soon as you arrive in town you’ll see Kathmandu, the Indian and Nepalese restaurant that offers a lunch buffet and lots of vegetarian choices. Shop for fun Nepalese treats and trinkets at Kathmandu Gifts & Imports. There’s also Udon Thai if you’re into some drunken noodles or a red duck curry.

Wild Mountain Smokehouse & Brewery always serves up delicious barbeque and you can take home growlers of beer to go. The lines at Crosscut Pizzeria and Taphouse are steady as it’s an easy place to get wood-fired pies, salads and craft beer. And if you’re into some healthy food to prepare at home, everyone knows that the Mountain People’s Co-Op is the place to go for specialty groceries in a hip atmosphere.

The Draw of the HillsAdventure in Nederland - Distance to surrounding recreational spots in miles.

If you crave outdoor sports, exquisite expanses of mountain views and yearn to be held by a close-knit (albeit liberal) mountain community, you’ll be handsomely rewarded here.

Nederland and the pristine mountain slopes surrounding it are beautiful beyond words – from flocks of hummingbirds hovering in cool summer breezes to endless powder on the slopes of Eldora. You’ll see right away that Mother Nature let her creativity run wild here.

The land is tough and the people are tougher. Residents of this spunky town take the punches, forge on and grow together with a remarkably vigorous spirit.

And those who travel the 17 miles up Boulder Canyon to Nederland are finding that the value of their home – both in money and personal happiness – net much more than in the valley and plains below.

Home builder Keenan Tompkins, owner of Cornerstone Contracting, has begun construction on 34 homes in a newly-annexed section of northern Nederland. He said the town has “friendlier” building requirements than the City of Boulder, so he’s able to pass his savings along to his customers.

“You can spend $1.5 million in Boulder. In Nederland, at a third of the cost, you can get the same home and you’re in Boulder in 25 minutes,” he said. Some work from home and rarely have to leave. Others take a bus down the canyon to the heart of Boulder.

Facts about Nederland - demographics and travel times

Nederland is an Outdoor Wonderland

Practically everyone who lives in and around Nederland takes to the hills in earnest, whether on foot, bike, skis, snowshoes or with a fishing pole. The town is surrounded by parks and peaks, so camping and backpacking are practically otherworldly. Horseback riders, Nordic skiers, hockey players and even skateboarders can find their niche in Nederland.

Bonus: The town is five miles from Eldora Mountain Resort, so get a few runs in before work when the conditions are right. In the summer, climb any one of the multitude of trails to get your day started.

The Spirited, Brave and the Strange

It’s obvious why Marcus Luscher lives in Ned. He services and sells bikes, skis, snowboards and skateboards at Tin Shed Sports on 2nd Street.

“I’d rather live by the elements than die in a crowded city,” said Marcus. “This place attracts a special kind of enthusiast.”

Related story: Is Nederland the answer to Boulder's housing crunch?

His is a family of entrepreneurs that make the best of each day. His son frequently shreds the epic Nathan Lazarus Skate Park next to Barker Reservoir, while Marcus’ wife Karina is busy roasting beans and running Salto Coffee Works. That’s where she hosts jazz bands three times a week and rotating local artists every first Friday.

The Hills are Alive with Music and Entertainment

The music at Salto’s Coffee Works is just a taste of the talent that makes Nederland sing nearly every night of the week. American music legends frequented a remote Nederland recording studio in the 1970s and 80s, but it’s today’s dedicated bars and restaurants, like the Caribou Room, that keep Nederland’s vibrant music scene alive.

The Caribou Room is a new, zero-waste music venue featuring space for more than 500 people, drinks and food in a converted warehouse space just north of town. They host late nights after Nedfest and both known and up and coming local bands.

NedFest is one of the most popular events held the last week of August. It’s a three-day music and arts festival featuring bluegrass, rock and roll and jazz. This year they’re featuring the Taj Mahal Trio, the Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Melvin Seals and JGB, Roosevelt Collier’s Colorado Get Down featuring Bill Nershi of String Cheese, Paper Bird and many more.

By far, the most popular event in Nederland that has received international attention is Frozen Dead Guy Days. Dubbed one of the top 10 winter parties in the world, it’s a three-day icy extravaganza with a coffin race, 30 bands, a frozen T-shirt contest and wildly ridiculous competitions all centering around Nederland’s most popular winter commodity – anything that’s frozen.

Amanda MacDonald, event coordinator for Frozen Dead Guy Days, said 2017 could bring a new event on Sunday, in addition to the frozen turkey toss and brain freeze contents. “There’s lots of room for participation. Part of what makes the festival fun is what people can walk up and participate in things,” she said. Rain, snow, wind or sunshine – this event is rarely delayed.

These folks in Nederland know how to make the best of all conditions. Check out the town’s extensive list of even more things to do in Nederland.

Ned is Self-Sustainable

It’s the town government’s vision to promote fossil fuel alternatives for transportation, non-motorized travel in town (the covered pedestrian bridge over Middle Boulder Creek is absolutely quaint). They hold their clean air, water and healthy lifestyles sacred, while promoting connections to the environment and keeping the town government open to non-traditional economic models.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you -- self-sustainability is required from everyone, as it is in any mountain abode.

Ned is Strong

#NedStrong. That’s the phrase painted, surrounded by big red hearts and accompanying “We love our brave firefighters,” on many signs posted throughout town.

Barely a week after the Cold Springs Fire tore eight buildings and more than 500 acres of forest from the community, the outpouring of gratitude and appreciation was palpable.
Darrin Harris Frisby, a Nederland resident and 8030 Realty Broker, nearly lost his home in the fire.

“Smokey, yes, but my yard was perfect, everything was fine, more or less,” he told ABC Channel 7.

Not surprisingly, he was overflowing with gratitude when he returned to find his home still standing.

Local, state and federal agencies had deployed seven helicopters and 12 fixed wing planes to drop slurry and monitor the forest, while ground crews dug away at smoldering stumps and smoking debris. Two Nederland firefighters lost their home to the flames, but continued the fight for their neighbors.

When the smoke cleared, neighbors whose homes were not affected reached out to help those who lost their homes and were left with yards covered in rust-colored slurry.

Darrin said two of his neighbors spent two days helping him wash the slurry off everything – windows, the roof, deck, patio furniture and boulders.

He was amazed at their generosity of time and hard work.

“As someone whose house was imminently burning down, it appeared, I was at ease. The incident command chiefs at the high school were doing briefings twice a day," he said. “These guys are so competent and confident and good at handling communications, I felt like whatever is going to happen is going to happen, but I could rest my head at night knowing they were doing their best.”

Above it All

Nederland is an enclave of breathtaking vistas, mountain trails for days, rugged weather and warm-hearted people. If you’re one of the lucky 1,500 people who live in the town limits, you’d join another 3,500 more who live in the surrounding hills and call themselves locals.

You can also take comfort in words by Albert Camus: “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

Interested in learning more about mountain living or making your home in Nederland? Contact an 8030 Realty broker.

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