Restart Destinations Success Story: Silver Thread Scenic & Historic Byway

The Silver Thread Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway (STCSHB)was approved to participate in the Restart Destinations Program by the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) in July 2021. Program objectives included: 

  • identify opportunities to implement collaborative visitor management strategies along the byway
  • advance activities that enhance visitor communications related to the byway

Located in the Mystic San Luis Valley and Mountains and Mesas travel regions, the 117-mile Silver Thread Scenic and Historic Byway weaves through beautiful and remote Colorado landscapes, while also linking two national historic districts in the communities of Lake City and Creede.

STCSHB is responsible for promoting and managing the byway. Funding for the STCSHB is provided through contributions from the Town of South Fork, Creede/Mineral County and Lake City/Hinsdale County Chambers of Commerce, and the Lake City/Hinsdale County Marketing Committee.

The STCSHB was paired with Mimi Mather, a CRAFT Workshop Facilitator with experience in destination management, tourism development, and creative communications, to develop a recovery assessment and facilitate a full-day community visioning and action planning workshop.

The STCSHB also convened a core team of local tourism stakeholders to provide input throughout the design and delivery of the program. The STCSHB hosted two core team meetings to identify priority barriers and opportunities for advancing tourism, discuss the findings from the recovery assessment, and guide workshop design. 

Recovery Assessment and Workshop Results 

The STCSHB supported the development of a recovery assessment consisting of background research, a visitor profile study, insights from residents and tourism stakeholders, and input from the core team.

The STCSHB convened 14 tourism stakeholders on Dec 13, 2021 for a community visioning and action planning workshop to review the recovery assessment and align on priority actions for driving near-term recovery and long-term resilience. Workshop participants represented a wide range of tourism stakeholders, including economic development, public land agencies, accommodations, retail, public officials, and creatives. 

Workshop participants engaged in a small group activity to align on the future changes they would like to see implemented that benefit the tourism industry along the Silver Thread Byway. Overlapping themes from these discussions included an increase in winter visitation, increase in workforce housing, a greater diversity of arts and activities to attract visitors, infrastructure upgrades, and better paying jobs. 

As a result of the workshop discussions, participants aligned on key priorities and action items to inform the development of a recovery action plan. Key priorities include:

  • encourage responsible visitation 
  • enhance visitor communications along the byway
  • champion the value of tourism
  • disperse visitors geographically along the byway and throughout the year

CRAFT Mentor Project Results 

Following the workshop, STCSHB was paired with Bobby Chappell, a CRAFT Mentor from the Tourism Consulting Collaborative, with experience in destination stewardship planning, visitor use management, and sustainability standards to deliver 75 hours of free consulting to conduct the activities listed below.

The purpose of this Restart Destinations Mentor project was to develop a tourism supply inventory and collect pertinent information through various data collection mechanisms. The inventory will be used for the curation of itineraries and an enhanced digital footprint for stakeholders, and Points of Interest (POI) along the STCSHB. 

Project objectives included:

  • research POI and visitor services to populate the tourism supply inventory for STCSHB managers that includes:
  • accommodations (hotels, motels, cabin rentals, and campgrounds), POI, and visitor services (food and beverage, outfitters, groceries, and retail) 
  • develop a collection of winter recreation assets and activities that can be utilized as a new “intrinsic quality” for the corridor management plan 

The STCSHB achieved the following results through the Restart Destinations Mentor project:

  • tourism supply inventories for byway accommodations, POIs, visitor services, and visitor experiences
  • 235 listings each complete with a description, contact information (address, phone, website), spatial markers (latitude/longitude and Google Plus code), and other informative filters 
  • 45 POI, 33 food and beverage services, 82 accommodations, 34 visitor services, and 40 retail services were identified
  • accommodations also include the number of rooms and beds to help destination managers monitor and manage capacity
CRAFT Recovery assistance for Tourism

About Restart Destinations Program

The Restart Destinations Program supports Colorado tourism destinations to drive faster recovery as they emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Awarded destinations receive a recovery assessment, a full-day recovery workshop, 75 hours of customized technical assistance, and $10,000 in direct marketing support from the Colorado Tourism Office. This program was made possible by a CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.