The 200-year-old Santa Fe Trail is about to get a new digital presence

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site is a reconstructed 1840s adobe fur trading post on the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail along the Arkansas River northeast of La Junta. William and Charles Bent, and Ceran St. Vrain, led construction the original fort here in 1833 to trade with Plains Indians and trappers.

A recent state tourism grant will help visitors learn more about the 188-mile-long Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway, which follows part of the old trade route through Prowers, Bent, Otero and Las Animas counties. The Canyons & Plains non-profit organization will use $20,000 in state funds to build a multi-page online site with information about the Sante Fe Trail as part of its larger website. 

The project is one of 22 state Tourism Management Grant recipients from the Colorado Tourism Office. Others include a hotel feasibility study in Cheyenne County, enhanced wildlife viewing in Trinidad and highlighting some mountain bike trails in Fremont County.

The Colorado Tourism office announced a total of more than $350,000 in Tourism Management Grants recently and provided the following list of awardees:

Tourism grant award winners in Southeastern Colorado

  • Canyons & Plains of Southeast Colorado Regional Heritage Taskforce ($20,000) to enhance visitor trip planning through the creation of a Santa Fe Trail State Scenic and Historic Byway microsite.
  • Cheyenne County ($12,000) to conduct a hotel feasibility study to foster tourism growth in Cheyenne County.
  • City of Trinidad ($14,400) to construct wayfinding signage, wildlife educational signage and benches for wildlife viewing to increase visitor access and engagement.  
  • Colorado Springs Convention & Visitor Bureau ($20,000) to foster inclusive travel by increasing access to detailed, accurate accessibility information before visiting Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region. 
  • Fremont County Tourism Council ($20,000) to develop low-impact biking experiences by curating a series of mountain bike rides on a digital platform that includes responsible and respectful use messaging, and connects riders to local businesses. 
  • Kiowa County Economic Development Foundation ($13,875) to develop a community-based tourism strategic plan that will promote sustainable tourism practices and advance the economic well-being of Kiowa County.
  • Prairie Development Corp. ($12,400) to develop an ambassador training program for the Colorado Central Plains region that includes information on visitor experiences and local businesses unique to the region. 
  • San Luis Valley Tourism Association ($20,000) to develop a cohesive visitor guide for the San Luis Valley that further enhances campaigns around The Million Dollar Shot, Dark Skies Initiative and Do SLV Right.

Tourism grant award winners elsewhere in Colorado

  • City of Ouray ($8,670) to launch a Do Ouray Right ambassador program to encourage responsible and respectful tourism.
  • Clear Creek County Tourism Bureau ($20,000) to install an interactive visitor information kiosk at the Idaho Springs micro-information center that encourages responsible and respectful use, while providing information on local businesses and outdoor recreation opportunities. 
  • Colorado Agritourism Association ($12,000) to enhance the current Colorado Agritourism Association website to highlight agritourism businesses and implement expanded industry outreach to make these tools available broadly.  
  • Colorado Wine Industry Development Board ($20,000) to conduct advertising research to attract more visitors to Colorado wineries, expand the visitor experiences in both urban and rural areas, and connect winery visitors with other activities in proximity to wineries they visit.
  • Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce ($20,000) to install an interactive visitor information kiosk at the Crested Butte Visitor Center that increases access to visitor information and enhances the visitor experience. 
  • Gilpin County ($20,000) to enhance the visitor experience through the curation of the Gilpin County Heritage Route that includes interpretive signage and a map. 
  • Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association ($20,000) to install digital wayfinding and interactive kiosks at the Glenwood Springs Visitor Center that increases access to visitor information, enhances the visitor experience, and encourages responsible and respectful use. 
  • Grand County Colorado Tourism Board ($20,000) to launch a tourism business and workforce training program to provide tools and industry knowledge that improves their online profiles and promotes positive, cohesive visitor experiences. 
  • Hinsdale County ($14,000) to develop a strategic plan for tourism and marketing for Lake City and Hinsdale County that fosters a cohesive strategy for driving year-round tourism opportunities. 
  • Lake County ($14,775) to support the implementation of the Friends of Lake County trailhead ambassador program through volunteer program development, volunteer coordination and training, education and community outreach.
  • Morgan County Economic Development ($8,600) to install informational signage at three visitor center locations in Morgan County that increases access to visitor information and enhances the visitor experience. 
  • Town of Lyons ($18,000) to develop a wayfinding strategic plan for the Town of Lyons that better connects visitors to local businesses and experiences.  
  • Town of Nederland ($20,000) to develop a brand identity and visitor education campaign for the Town of Nederland that reflects the community's sense of place and core values. 
  • Yuma County ($10,000) to curate an experiential guide that highlights agritourism opportunities in Yuma County.

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