Reimagine Destinations Success Story: Town of Lyons


The Town of Lyons was approved to participate in the Reimagine Destinations Program by the Colorado Tourism Office in July 2022. Program objectives included: 

  • celebrate the results of the Restart Destinations Program and foster collaboration between local tourism stakeholders
  • identify opportunities to increase year-round visitation, especially in winter
  • build Lyons’ reputation as a basecamp for the eastern entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park
  • advance creative arts experiences in preparation for Lyons to become recognized as a Colorado Creative District

Situated at the confluence of the North and South St. Vrain Rivers, Lyons is a small mountain community that offers a wealth of music events, creative arts, and outdoor recreation for all skill levels. Given its proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), Lyons is often a launching point to one of the most visited National Parks in the United States.

Town of Lyons (TOL) staff are responsible for managing tourism on behalf of Lyons in partnership with the Economic Vitality Commission (EVC) and the Lyons Main Street Program. Collectively, these organizations also serve as advisors to the TOL Board of Trustees on activities that drive local economic development through tourism and grow the town’s tax base. As of January 2023, a 5% lodging tax is collected on overnight stays in Lyons.

TOL was paired with Sarah-Jane Johnson of RoadMap Consulting, a sustainable tourism consultancy with wide-ranging destination development, marketing, and management experience, to develop a destination assessment, facilitate a half-day community visioning and action planning workshop, and provide 100 hours of consulting to TOL.

TOL also convened a core team of local tourism stakeholders to provide input throughout the design and delivery of the program. TOL hosted one core team meeting 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 

TOL supported the development of a destination assessment consisting of background research, a visitor profile study, a tourism stakeholder survey, 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.

TOL convened 15 tourism stakeholders on December 5, 2022 at the Lyons Community Library 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 elected officials, National Park Service staff, lodging and venue operators, creative arts organizations staff, and retail business employees.

During an initial activity, participants broke into separate groups to discuss what it means for Lyons to be a RMNP basecamp and what it means for Lyons to be a creative arts destination. Each group also discussed what community values were important for each topic. 

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:

  • establish Lyons as a RMNP basecamp 
  • position Lyons as a creative arts destination

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 identify opportunities to increase year-round visitation, build Lyons’ reputation as a basecamp for the eastern entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, and advance creative arts experiences in preparation for Lyons to become recognized as a Colorado Creative District.

Project objectives included:

  • support content enhancements on that includes providing input on the “Lyons Pairings” website itineraries being developed by Lyons marketing contractors
  • develop a strategy to better engage and inform businesses around the winter season
  • develop decentralized visitor communications by leveraging as a virtual visitor center and promote it to local tourism businesses within the destination
  • draft a proposal to support the development of a monthly community arts event that showcases Lyon’s creative arts community and targets local and regional visitors throughout the year

The Town of Lyons achieved the following results through the Reimagine Destinations Mentor project:

  • content updates and resources to promote the virtual visitor center that includes webpage updates, QR code sticker designs and distribution strategy, and recommendations for a mobile visitor information kiosk
  • resources for “Lyons Pairings” that includes a framework for creative arts itineraries and a visitor brochure 
  • business engagement resources that includes a business contact list, MailChimp newsletter template, newsletter strategy, and business survey
  • creative arts product development strategy and plan that includes strategic goals, product assessment, creative arts event concept recommendations, work plan, and budget resources 

“Our small, independently owned businesses are the meeting places for bringing the community together, sharing news and stories and fostering a positive vibe. This program has allowed us all to share in the success of the positive value of tourism in Lyons and for more businesses to be brought in to share in the enthusiasm.”

-Kim Mitchell, Town of Lyons

CRAFT Recovery assistance for Tourism

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.