Mission: Through collaboration, interpret the vast heritage of Northwest Colorado and impart the legacy and stories of the region and its communities in order to generate economic vitality.
Vision: Leading resource for Cultural Heritage in Northwest Colorado!
Core Values: Respect ● Integrity ● Inclusive
From the beginning, the NWCCHP initiative has been a grass roots effort. In the fall of 2004, a group of citizens with an exuberant passion for heritage and historic preservation, as well as a keen perspective of "community," began their journey to assess the potential of cultural heritage tourism in Northwest Colorado. The Yampa Valley Economic Development Council worked with Judy Walden, a specialist in heritage tourism from Walden Mills Inc. Ms. Walden made an on-site visit to each of the ten communities and found that "The region is rich in all asset categories for tourism-- historic, cultural, natural, recreational, archaeological and scenic." Further Ms. Walden noted in her that the region has "rich assets which provide two essentials of cultural heritage tourism - authenticity and experience."
With the 2010 expansion of the program, the region now includes Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Jackson and Garfield Counties. The composite includes 17 communities participating in our regional efforts for the purpose of continuity in stories and assets. Our region spans over 14,919 square miles. The total population service area is currently (2013) estimated at 102, 090. Communities range in size from Maybell (population LESS THAN 100), Dinosaur (population 319) and Yampa (population 429) to Craig (population 9,000) and Steamboat Springs (population 12,000). The addition of Garfield County engages towns ranging from Parachute with a population of 1,096 to Glenwood Springs at 9,837. Rounding out the region, Rio Blanco County's population is 6,807 (Meeker and Rangely) and Walden, the County Seat for Jackson County boasts a population of 590. We are a region that is defined by our rivers, mountains, and geographic isolation, each of which has, in turn, led to a shared identity and similar stories of ways of life, boundless landscapes and economies. Located in the northwest corner of the Colorado, we border Wyoming on the north and Utah on the west and Rocky Mountain National Park on the east. The mountains and river basins in our area provide the framework for our communities and their histories. The Yampa River Basin begins in the Flattops Wilderness Area and flows for almost 200 miles through Routt and Moffat counties and the communities of Yampa, Oak Creek, Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Craig, and Maybell before joining the Green River within Dinosaur National Monument. The Elk River flows from the Zirkel Wilderness Area through North Routt County to join the Yampa River between Steamboat Springs and Hayden. The White River also begins in the Flattops Wilderness area, and then flows west through Garfield and Rio Blanco County and the communities of Meeker and Rangely before joining the Green River in Utah. Jackson County is home to the head waters of the North Platte River.
Northwest Colorado has a shared history in terms of prehistory, similar early settlement and settlement patterns, town development patterns, and similar development of agriculture, energy, and recreation (such as hunting by Teddy Roosevelt) within the region. It should be noted that because federal and state entities own between 50 and 90 percent of the acreage in each of the defined region's counties, federal and state land policies influence many of our regional strategies. This is particularly important in the regional cooperative marketing and promotion efforts. The NWCCHP's staff and interpretive planner are aware of the need to engage with state and federal agencies since they are critical partners when determining existing or potential heritage site assets and to address visitor readiness related to our promotion to the cultural traveler.
Travel corridors within the region follow the river valleys of the Yampa, Elk, White and North Platte Rivers. Colorado Highway 131 enters the region near the town of Yampa and the start of the Yampa River and then follows the river to Steamboat Springs where Highway 131 merges with U.S. Highway 40, which enters the region from over the Continental Divide at Steamboat Springs. Highway 40 then follows the Yampa River through Routt and Moffat Counties and into Utah. Colorado Highway 64 follows the White River from Meeker to Rangely, and then turns north to Dinosaur. Colorado Highway 13 closes this loop between Highways 64 and 40 from Meeker to Craig. The eastern corridor takes you over Rabbit Ears Pass on Highway 40 and then turns north on Colorado Hwy 14 to Walden. Highway 14 continues east through Gould and over Cameron Pass. And the Interstate 70 corridor is now an invaluable access point for the southern part of the region as it runs the entire length of Garfield County.
The region is also home to four partial or complete scenic by-ways, Flat Tops Historic Trail and Scenic By-way, Dinosaur Prehistoric Highway National Scenic Byway and 35 miles of the Cache La Poudre-North Park Scenic and Historic Highway. The integration of Garfield County has brought the southern tip of the Flat Tops Byway and northern section of the West Elk Scenic By-way into the region.
1. 2016 Article Steamboat Pilot and Today Community Ag Alliance Column: Last year, on a visit to Denver, a conversation ensued with a friend about the emerging Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Program. After listening to the description of the program, she responded….Oh, You Are Cultivating the Torchbearers! Up until that time, such a poignant description of the program had not been expressed. And it continues to resonate today.
A Torchbearer is defined as a person who leads or inspires others in working toward a valued goal. Over the past six years, more than forty Torchbearers have worked tirelessly to establish an organization to meet their dedicated common philosophy/goal; so aptly expressed by Irina Bokova, Director of UNESCO; "We need to protect our past to build a better future."
2. 2017 Economic Benefits of Historic Preservation Report - a partnership of Colorado Preservation Inc. and History Colorado: NORTHWEST COLORADO - NORTHWEST COLORADO CULTURAL HERITAGE PROGRAM
•5-county effort to promote cultural heritage tourism in northwest Colorado
•A partnership of 20+ government agencies, non-profits, local businesses, and individuals
The Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Program (NWCCHP) is a regional organization that seeks to promote and coordinate heritage tourism efforts through collaboration among its federal, state, and local partners in Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Jackson, and Garfield counties. The 14,919-square-mile region features a variety of unique historic, cultural, recreational, and natural attractions, many of which were identified and mapped in order to both preserve the assets and also to harness the potential for heritage tourism as a regional economic development strategy. Using an overall theme of "Forces of Nature and Ways of Life," the program promotes attractions, touring routes, and other sites of interest in a range of sub-themes, all tied to the history of the region and the peoples who have called it home. The program acts as an interface between local partners and federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. NWCCHP also acts as a technical resource for its partners, providing information to assist local governments, non-profits, and others involved in heritage tourism in the region to develop and strengthen their own local programs.