July 23, 2018 – This summer, visitor and locals can once again visit all three National Heritage Areas by checking out the Colorado Heritage Journey landing page. Along the way, visitors will learn about the history and heritage that ties us all together from a new perspective: Jordan Williams, Assistant Program Manager for the Poudre Heritage Alliance, will be hiking the Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango from August to early September alongside his wife and their dog, Aska. During their trip, the threesome will be making stops in South Park and Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Areas and blogging about their experiences. Additionally, they will be positing about their adventures on Instagram @thehikingheeler and @poudreheritage.
In 2017, the Cache la Poudre River, South Park, and Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Areas created a first-of-its-kind marketing initiative that highlights the importance of heritage tourism—the next big evolution in the $19.7 billion Colorado tourism industry. By teaming up with the Colorado Tourism Office, this campaign by the three Colorado National Heritage Areas showcases the importance of partnerships in leveraging tourism dollars for the benefit of local economies.
A website landing page entitled “Colorado’s Heritage Journey” includes a map that connects out-of-state visitors and locals to all three areas while providing information on the unique recreational and educational opportunities available in each region. Additionally, a hard copy brochure are available at select state welcome centers and local visitor offices, thereby encouraging people to plan a driving tour of all three areas.
Colorado’s National Heritage Areas oversee a wide variety of programs and services that make economic and cultural impacts throughout their regions while receiving a large portion of their funding from the federal government. The NHAs in Colorado collaborate with local governments, county administrations, and federal agencies, including National Parks such as Rocky Mountain and the Great Sand Dunes, as they wisely utilize these federal dollars. Each Colorado Heritage Area receives approximately $300,000 in federal funding and on average they are able to leverage these dollars at a 5 to 1 return on investment. For more information about the individual Heritage Areas, see below.
Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (CALA) begins in northern Colorado, where the river flows out of the Rocky Mountains, through the town of Fort Collins and extends east to its confluence with the South Platte River, just east of Greeley. The area commemorates the river’s significant contribution to the development of water law in the western United States, the evolution of the river’s complex water delivery systems and the cultural heritage of the region. From beer tasting at 25+ breweries and bike riding along 45 miles of the Poudre River, to fly fishing and enjoying concerts and western rodeos, there’s a lot to experience here. (www.poudreheritage.org)
South Park National Heritage Area (SPNHA) is in the heart of Colorado. It is here where the past is always present, protecting and promoting its existing historic mining and ranching structures as well its natural resources. It’s less than two hours’ drive from Denver or Colorado Springs, but feels like a journey back in time – to the days of prospectors, trappers and even prehistoric man. In South Park, you can ride horseback, hike in an authentic wilderness area, or fish lakes and rivers all the while enjoying the scenic vistas that include Colorado’s snowcapped 14,000 foot peaks. (www.southparkheritage.org)
Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (SdCNHA) is the gateway to southern Colorado and preserves and protects the unique cultural heritage here. This area is rich in history, religion, culture and bio-diversity protecting and promoting the villages and lifestyles of some of America’s earliest Spanish settlements and early railroad communities. It is among the most unique and well-preserved cultural landscapes in the nation, with stunning natural resources. From scenic drives along Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway, fishing on the Conejos River, sledding down the Great Sand Dunes, or visiting the oldest Catholic parish in Colorado, there’s a lot to appreciate and enjoy here. (www.sdcnha.org)
*Photo courtesy of Kelsey Devereaux: Jordan Williams and Aska at Lory State Park