Planning a Colorado adventure?

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to discover the historic secrets of the land, people and towns around Colorado:



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.


Leading resource for Cultural Heritage in Northwest Colorado!

Core Values

Respect – Integrity – Inclusive


The charitable purposes of the Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Program (NWCCHP) are:
• Research and interpret cultural and heritage assets in the region.
• Maintain a comprehensive inventory of cultural and heritage assets including statements of priority for interpretation and visitor ready conditions.
• Develop and facilitate updates of a comprehensive Master Plan that expressly outlines NWCCHP’s protocol for advocating and preserving regional cultural and heritage assets.
• Utilize interpretation to educate local citizens, students and visitors of the legacy and stories of the region.
• Develop cooperative marketing and promotion opportunities that benefit the region as a whole.


The Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Program advances its Mission and Charitable purpose by:

Convening: Regularly convene and facilitate regional partnership meetings for the exchange of data, information, consensus building and resource sharing to advance the mission of the NWCHP.
Assessing: Perform ongoing evaluation of attractions, visitor services, organizational capabilities, capacity for protecting resources and marketing/promotional opportunities exist in communities.
Planning: Utilize human, financial and technological resources efficiently and prudently to prioritize and evaluate measurable goals in all program strategic areas.
Advocating: Support Best Practices in the management of cultural, historical and natural resources by qualified regional preservation organizations that assure authenticity and quality.
Sharing: Implement a multi-year regional/state/national marketing and promotional plan that is equitable to all communities within the region.


Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Program Project Strategic Areas and Goals

Established September 2014

Organizational Development
• Governance: Recruit, train and retain dynamic regional governance Board of Directors
• Operations: Develop organization policies and procedures based on nonprofit best practices.
• Development and Finance: Establish annual operating, marketing and project budget that is realistic and fundable through a comprehensive development plan that includes contribution, grant, agency partnerships and sponsorship opportunities.
• Communications: Establish a strong and effective external and internal communication plan that allows for maximum efficiency of operations and for the dissemination of vital regional information.
• Succession Planning – Build succession plan and timelines for Board of Directors and Executive staff that maintain strong institution history but allows for new vitality to advance the program.

Planning: Review and update Interpretive Master Plan every two to three years.

Education: Engage K-12 and higher education institutions to develop and support projects relevant to Colorado History curriculum and other educational opportunities.

Product Development: Perform periodic reviews of educational and promotional materials for effectiveness and possible edification.

Marketing and Public Relations: Develop annual multifaceted cooperative marketing and promotion plan that maximizes equitable return on investment for the diverse communities and partnerships of the region.

Special Projects: Develop criteria matrix to evaluate proposed projects for authenticity, fiscal capacity and impact.

Program Background

The NWCCHP Master Plan, brand identity, brochure, mapping and shared stories for the original four county (Rio Blanco, Routt, Jackson, and Moffat) region was completed in 2010. The overarching interpretive themes of the program are: Forces of Nature and Ways of Life. With contiguous assets and continuing stories, the six communities of Garfield County were integrated in the program. This furthered our efforts in bringing a comprehensive and substantive approach to telling the stories of people and place in Northwest Colorado. Program identity continues to grow throughout the state, through strong partnership development within the communities of the region as well as wide distribution of educational and branded materials to Colorado Welcome Centers at all portals of the state through our website and new social media efforts. To this end, the program continues to contribute to the diversification of the regional tourism market, while enhancing its education program and product development.

NWCCHP’s role in Cultural Heritage Tourism
Northwest Colorado has a long history of contributing to the economic impact of the tourism industry in Colorado. This has been primarily accomplished through the promotion and marketing of regional recreational and sport related opportunities. With the integration of Garfield County in 2010 NW Colorado Cultural Heritage Program’s role in furthering its effort in diversifying the tourism base will grow with the addition of six asset rich communities. Although still a young program, the importance of the cultural traveler was recognized in the compelling 2013 Mandala Research, LLC study on Culture and Heritage. First, the report indicated growth in all areas of data beginning with 76% of leisure travelers identifying themselves with cultural and/or heritage travelers. Trip spending for cultural travelers had also increased from $994 per trip in 2009 to $1,319 in 2013. Finally, the general leisure traveler’s awareness of the term cultural and/or heritage traveler increased by 14% (2009- 30% to 2013- 44%). This is clearly an indication that efforts such as NWCCHP’s regional capacity building are important to growing the foundation, understanding and value of cultural heritage tourism as well as assisting in improving Colorado’s #10 ranking in the country for cultural and heritage travelers to a higher position.

Description of Our Region
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 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 Colorado, we border Wyoming on the north, 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. 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.

Please view our full Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Plan by downloading our pdf:



Screen shot 2014-04-30 at 4.46.54 PM

Background Information
From the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

“What is cultural heritage tourism?

What benefits does cultural heritage tourism offer?
Cultural heritage tourism means traveling to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes irreplaceable historic, cultural and natural resources. To learn more about cultural heritage programs, go to

Tourism is big business. In 2006, travel and tourism directly contributed $740 billion to the U.S. economy. Travel and tourism is one of America’s largest employers, directly employing more than 8 million people and creating a payroll income of $178 billion. (Source: U. S. Travel Association, December 2006)

In addition to creating new jobs, new business and higher property values, well-managed tourism improves the quality of life and builds community pride. According to a 2003 national research study (The Historic/Cultural Traveler by the Travel Industry Association and Smithsonian Magazine) 81% (118 million) U.S. adults who traveled in 2002 were considered cultural heritage travelers. These travelers included historical or cultural activities on almost 217 million person-trips last year, up 13 percent from 192 million in 1996. Visitors to historic sites and cultural attractions stay longer and spend more money than other kinds of tourists. Cultural and heritage visitors spend, on average, $623 per trip compared to $457 for all U.S. travelers excluding the cost of transportation. (Source: 2003 The Historic/Cultural Traveler, TIA). Perhaps the biggest benefits of cultural heritage tourism, though, are diversification of local economies and preservation of a community’s unique character.”

Subscribe to get your FREE Brochure!

Download the complete brochure, featuring every town from the Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Program!