Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Hayden More restaurants, more hotels and more signs.
With those components in place, Hayden could capitalize on its rustic, agricultural charm and ride a new wave in tourism highlighting historical, cultural and recreational assets of communities.
Hayden residents and leaders met with tourism development expert Judy Walden last week to discuss what Hayden has and what it needs to take advantage of affluent tourists looking to experience the areas' unique character.
"They were pretty excited about the whole thing, and I think Judy Walden was excited," said Pat Holderness, who is leading the effort to promote Hayden as a heritage tourist destination.
Walden, who is president of the Walden Mills Group and specializes in community-based tourism development, took a tour of Hayden and met with residents as part of a series of meetings throughout Routt and Moffat counties.
The meetings' focus is to determine whether the Northwest Colorado region is interested in applying for state dollars available to promote culture and history. The state has designated about $550,000 in funds for a statewide cultural heritage tourism program.
To get a well-rounded perspective of the Hayden area, Walden visited the Carpenter Ranch, the Yampa Valley Regional Airport, the Hayden Heritage Center and the Routt County Fairgrounds, as well as historical buildings on Walnut Street.
Walden also toured the Hayden Inn, as well as nearby twin houses built of cement blocks in the early 20th century, all of which have attained state historical designation, Holderness said.
During the tour, Walden emphasized the area's scenic and natural beauty as magnets for hunters, fishermen and especially those interested in viewing and photographing birds and other wildlife, Holderness said.
The area's recreation potential is only half of the picture, however. Walden also stressed that a variety of restaurants and accommodations also are key to attracting tourists, Holderness said.
"High-end tourists don't mind doing really wild and hard things in the day, but once evening comes, they want good food and excellent places to stay," she said.
The Redstone Motel is the only lodging option in Hayden. And while there are several restaurants and eateries, Hayden Planning Commission Chairwoman Donna Hellyer pointed out that all but a pizza parlor are closed on Sunday afternoons and Monday.
Perhaps just as important as more lodging and places to eat, Walden stressed that Hayden needs more signs and maps guiding tourists to places of interest as well and recreational areas and driving tours, Hellyer said.
"We've got to get people off the beaten path to where things are," Hellyer said.
Just a few minutes away from Hayden, the airport is a significant asset that the town should take advantage of in terms of advertising and informing travelers of things to do in the town and area during layovers as well as vacations, Hellyer said.
During Walden's tour and meeting, she emphasized the one-block area of Walnut Street south of Jefferson Avenue as an ideal area for historical designation, Holderness said.
The next step is to look at the town's comprehensive plan, which is being updated, to see how Hayden can begin to fulfill what it needs to attract tourists, Hellyer said.
That process will begin during a Hayden Planning Commission work session at 7 p.m. Thursday, when the commission will discuss what residents like about the town's character and how those aspects should influence zoning codes and development regulations.