- celebrate the results of the Restart Destinations Program and foster collaboration between regional tourism stakeholders
- build local resident awareness of the value of tourism and its economic impact throughout the Canyons & Plains region
- increase promotion of Canyons & Plains as an undiscovered, less crowded Colorado destination
- identify opportunities to advance visitor experiences related to agritourism, outdoor recreation, visitor transportation, and guided tours
Located in Southeast Colorado, the Canyons & Plains travel region includes the counties of Baca, Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Las Animas, Otero, and Prowers. The entire region is rooted in a rich cultural history and offers unique off-the-beaten path experiences. Prominent attractions include the Santa Fe Trail, Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, Comanche National Grassland, Boggsville Historic Site, Camp Amache, the Trinidad History Museum, and the Ludlow Massacre Site.
Launched in 2003, the Canyons & Plains Regional Heritage Taskforce (Canyons & Plains) has a mission to promote visitation to, and stewardship of, the unique historical, natural, and cultural assets of southeast Colorado among resident, state, national, and international audiences. Because the organization does not have dedicated funding, it relies on a volunteer board and grants to implement its mission.
Canyons & Plains was paired with Amy Cassidy, a CRAFT Workshop Facilitator with experience in tourism and outdoor recreation development, strategic planning, and marketing and communications to develop a destination assessment, facilitate a full-day community visioning and action planning workshop, and provide 100 hours of consulting to Canyons & Plains.
Canyons & Plains also convened a core team of local tourism stakeholders to provide input throughout the design and delivery of the program. Canyons & Plains hosted four core team meetings to identify priority barriers and opportunities for advancing tourism, discuss the findings from the destination assessment, and guide workshop design.
Destination Assessment and Workshop Results
Visit Leadville-Twin Lakes supported the development of a destination assessment consisting of background research, a visitor profile study, a tourism stakeholder survey, case study research, and input from the core team. The findings from the assessment were compiled into a report that informed the design of the full-day workshop.
Canyons & Plains convened 19 tourism stakeholders on December 6, 2022 for a community visioning and action planning workshop to review the destination assessment and align on priority actions for fostering long-term industry resilience. Workshop participants represented a wide range of tourism stakeholders, including economic development organizations, education organizations, National Park Service, destination organizations from the Canyons & Plains travel region, local businesses, marketing entities, and city, county, and state government.
Workshop participants heard from three tourism-related businesses in Canyons & Plains about the inspiration for their business, the customers they receive, the challenges they face, and any additional support they’d like to see to further advance their business. Key takeaways included a desire for increased collaboration and support between businesses; a way to link the various experiences in Canyons & Plains for visitors in the form of a map, blog, or other mechanism; and a forum for local businesses to inspire others beyond the Reimagine Destinations workshop.
As a result of the workshop discussions, participants aligned on key priorities and action items to inform the development of an action plan. Key priorities include:
- develop and enhance visitor experience
- promote local businesses, experiences, and knowledge
CRAFT Mentor Results
Following the workshop, 100 hours of consulting were provided to conduct the activities listed below. The purpose of this CRAFT Mentor Project was to develop and enhance visitor experiences in Canyons & Plains, and promote local businesses and experiences.
Project objectives included:
- research and develop content for the Canyons & Plains loop
- develop content for a Canyons & Plains Destination Learning Lab to educate frontline staff that will be hosted on the Colorado Tourism Office’s Thinkific platform
- facilitate three virtual meetings with the Canyons & Plains core team to review and approve Canyons & Plains loop and Destination Learning Lab draft content and launch ideas
Canyons & Plains achieved the following results through the Reimagine Destinations Mentor project:
- website content for Canyons & Plains loop that can be used on canyonsandplains.org, visitlajunta.net, thegreathighprairie.com, and visittrinidadcolorado.com
- support to the University of Colorado Masters in Digital Media team for launching an abbreviated version of the Canyons & Plains loop on canyonsandplains.org
- recommendations for passport-type programs such as a tourism account with Ride with GPS
- recommendations for potential funding and technical support opportunities to launch the Canyons & Plains loop online and through a Ride with GPS tourism account
- resources and strategies for the Canyons & Plains Destination Learning Lab that includes content, recommended images, and a launch plan
“The Reimagine Destinations program has helped us create more important tourism resources for southeast Colorado.”
— Rick Wallner, Canyons & Plains
About Reimagine Destinations Program
The Reimagine Destinations Program supports Colorado tourism destinations to foster long-term industry resilience. Awarded destinations receive a destination assessment, a full-day workshop, 100 hours of consulting, and a $20,000 creative asset production shoot from the Colorado Tourism Office. This program was made possible by a CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.