Gunbarrel, Boulder County, Colorado

Gunbarrel is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in Boulder County. (Photo: Laura Hobbs)

Sean McIllwain, Mod Boulder Real Estate

Sean McIllwain, Mod Boulder Real Estate

BOULDER – What was once sweeping farmland northeast of Boulder is now a bustling hub for businesses, breweries and restaurants. Gunbarrel (cheekily named by those in the know as “Funbarrel”) is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in Boulder County.

Named after a historic stagecoach route, Gunbarrel is often thought of as the little town that IBM built – however, the Boulder Country Club was first to lay claim on its rolling, grassy farmland. Nestled in the residential community of Gunbarrel Greens, the Boulder Country Club began construction of its golf course in 1962. The clubhouse, designed by Boulder’s own Hobart Wagener, was finished in 1965.

When IBM’s plant was built northeast of Boulder – also in 1965 – many executives and employees needed homes close to their new offices. After the initial development boom of the 1960s, Gunbarrel continued to quietly grow over the decades, housing businesses like Celestial Seasonings, Qualcomm, Coviden, Medtronic and ad agency behemoth Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

Deemed a Census Designated Place, Gunbarrel is technically located in unincorporated Boulder County, but shares utilities with the City of Boulder and school systems with neighbors Boulder and Niwot.

Alright, enough about its history and civic designations – let’s get down to what exactly makes Gunbarrel “Funbarrel”. For several decades, Gunbarrel’s retail options remained in the sufficient category – there was a grocery store, a few small restaurants, a gas station, a car wash and a satellite post office.

But with Boulder County’s continued housing boom, the offerings in Gunbarrel began to blossom around 2015. Avery Brewing moved its fancy, much-anticipated digs into the neighborhood, a major hotel built its “Boulder North” location (which holds the coveted Gold LEED Certified status), and infill developments began popping up around Gunbarrel’s retail center.

In addition to its growing retail and residential offerings, Gunbarrel has become ground zero for some of the area’s most innovative and award-winning microbreweries. While Avery’s flagship location sits at Gunbarrel’s brewery helm, there are plenty of other brewers who are well worth a sit-and-sip session: Finkel & Garf, New Planet, Asher, Vindication and Gunbarrel Brewing, who recently got a nod from the coveted Sunset Magazine. Nothing says “fun” like an afternoon of neighborhood brewery hopping, right?

To top off Gunbarrel’s engaging environs, the neighborhood is still considered a “bargain” for the area. A single-family home in Gunbarrel (but with a Boulder address) runs about thirty-three percent less than the same home in Boulder proper. For you number crunchers, the current Gunbarrel sold median is $635,000 versus Boulder’s $950,000.

For many, Gunbarrel’s retail offerings, trail systems, quiet neighborhoods and proximity to bustling Boulder provide the best of both worlds: living close to town without any of the associated headaches. And while some staunch Boulderites may still brush aside the neighborhood as “not Boulder,” the more Gunbarrel’s retail and residential offerings flourish and thrive, those naysayers won’t be brushing much longer.

By Sean McIllwain, Mod Boulder Real Estate. Sean McIllwain is the current president of Historic Boulder and the founding broker at Mod Boulder Real Estate. Call 720.252.6051, e-mail [email protected] or visit