A new way to tour Colorado invites travelers to explore five rural destinations as part of a unique itinerary highlighting arts and cultural experiences. The Colorado Creative Corridor is a 331-mile trail that links the mountain towns of Carbondale, Paonia, Crested Butte Ridgway, and Salida. These five towns combine to offer a collective experience of unique event programming and activities alongside mountain eclecticism, majestic vistas and outdoor recreation, and authentic Colorado mountain culture.
Each of the five towns are state certified Colorado Creative Districts, a program led by the Colorado Creative Industries, which supports arts and creative industries. For the first time, the Creative Districts have worked together with local and regional tourism organizations to create a new tourism product and experience, further supporting the mission of rural economic development. This initiative was part-funded by the Colorado Tourism Office through its Marketing Matching Grant awards, overseen by the Destination Development program which supports rural tourism development.
Visitors can download maps and itineraries to start planning their unique road trips through the region. The itineraries spotlight creative activities that range from art walks, gallery tours, theater, music and film festivals, healing arts, dining and craft beverage highlights in each destination, all of which are members of each Creative District. The map, created by Carbondale-based artist Laura Stover, provides inspiration for outdoor recreation and natural wonders to explore along the way, offering the perfect Colorado creative adventure. The itineraries can be used as a five-day road trip, or for inspiration on shorter visits.
The Colorado Creative Corridor itinerary is also featured on the Colorado Field Guide trip-building website.
Carbondale sits on the confluence of the Crystal and Roaring Fork Rivers at the foot of the mighty Mt Sopris where over 200 creatives reside. Rich agricultural history and a little hippy flair combine to form a community focused on health and wellness, local food production and four-season recreation to boot. Creative Corridor highlights include: wellness at True Nature Healing Arts, bike the Rio Grande Artway, sleep at the stills of Marble Distillery Inn.
Tucked in the North Fork Valley under the watchful eye of Mt. Lamborn and surrounded by the natural beauty of the west elks Wilderness, Paonia has a thriving arts community and has the largest number of natural and organic farms, per capita, in Colorado. Creative Corridor highlights include: browse the art gallery and taste wine at Azura Cellars and Gallery, check out live music at the Blue Sage Center for the Arts, dine at a true farm to table experience at The Living Farm.
Once described as a surf town in the mountains, Crested Butte features a National Historic District with vibrant Victorian storefronts and expressive local characters. With more 2 million acres of public land surrounding town, enjoy legendary skiing and snowboarding, unparalleled mountain biking, or a secluded fly fishing experience. Creative Corridor highlights include: historic walking tour of town, an art class at the The Design Collective, food pairings with high-mountain rum at Montanya Distillers.
Nestled in the picturesque Uncompahgre Valley and surrounded by the majestic snowcapped peaks of the Cimmerons and San Juans, the Ridgway experience satisfies art lovers, foodies, history buffs, and outdoor enthusiasts. Day-trip for adventure, soak in hot springs or tour the town, noting public art and creative surprises even in the alleys. Creative Corridor highlights include: tour the alleys to discover alley art and alley poems, try thought-provoking cuisine at Taco Del Gnar, soak in thermal pools at Chipeta Solar Springs Resort.
Salida falls along the Collegiate Peaks Scenic and Historic Byway and is a short drive from Browns Canyon National Monument. While in town, visit one of Salida’s artist studios and galleries, kayak, tube or raft the Arkansas River, climb a 14er in the Collegiate Range or unwind with a soak at one of the three area hot springs. Creative Corridor highlights include: artists receptions and film screenings at The Steamplant Theatre and Event Center, shop the creative boutiques such as The Bee Keeper’s Honey Boutiques, bed-down at the historic Palace Hotel.