How marketers turned rugged Colorado into a 'vacationland'
This story originally aired on July 31, 2014.
It wasn't so long ago that Colorado had a much more unpolished image, a place of dauntingly high peaks and the few rough-and-ready types ready to climb them. Not for recreation, but for fur trapping, mining and expeditions of discovery. Then, in 1945, a new era rolled in and with it, a different view of Colorado -- one that was manufactured by marketers a generation or two ago.
In his book, "Vacationland: Tourism and Environment in the Colorado High Country," University of Denver history professor William Philpott says that after World War II there was a big effort to repackage Colorado as a tourist destination.
“There was often a heavy-handed manipulation of nature to make tourists feel closer to nature,” Philpott says. "This resulted in people learning to care about their favorite natural places, but their experience was tied to a consumer car-based tourist culture. It became about the consumption of natural places and packaging nature.”
He describes the "tourist way of life" as playing a huge role in the growth of the Front Range and the popular mountain resort areas. This translates into people who want to have the outdoor recreation and natural landscapes that they love about Colorado easily accessible.
While the tourist economy has brought dollars into the state’s economy, it has also had broad environmental impacts and created tension in some areas.