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A grand honor for the Rio Grande Trail between Aspen and Glenwood Springs

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Rio Grande Trail is a project that Roaring Fork Transportation Authority Chief Executive Officer Dan Blankenship holds as one of the Roaring Fork Valley’s most valuable assets. It’s a project that he was proud to be a part of, and in his opinion, reflects the community that represents the entire Roaring Fork Valley.

“I’ve been involved in managing RFTA for 19 years,” Blankenship said. “This is one of the things I’ll look back on as one of the major accomplishments.”

The Rio Grande Trail was awarded the Outstanding Community Tourism Initiative Award Wednesday evening at the awards dinner during Gov. Bill Ritter’s 2008 Colorado Tourism Conference held in Beaver Creek. The award was presented to the community recognizing its successful tourism initiative.



“I think the award is a symbol of recognition for our region,” Blankenship said. “It’s an indication that the trail is recognized on a statewide basis on its value for stimulating tourism. And beyond that, it also is a recognition that this attraction, which will be one of the things our state has to offer to people from around the nation and the world, that is an amenity created with support and funding from all the communities in the Roaring Fork Valley.”

The Rio Grande Trail was completed in May with the final section of path between Carbondale and County Road 114 being paved. Stretching 44 miles through the towns of Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Basalt, Woody Creek and Aspen along the Roaring Fork River and Highway 82, the trail has a very gentle average grade from Glenwood to Aspen. The trail is paved for 33 miles, while the 11-mile section from Woody Creek to Aspen is soft-surface dirt trail.



RFTA also has a Bike Express bus that is equipped with special racks to transport bikes, allowing people to experience the full length of the trail without having to ride it in its entirety.

The trail is a great expansion to the valley, according to Kate Collins, Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association president of tourism marketing.

“This is a wonderful addition to the network of other recreation trails in the Roaring Fork Valley,” Collins said. “The newly connected trail is attracting more visitors and boosting the local economy.”

Collins and Vicky Nash, public relations representative for Resort Trends Inc., nominated the trail for the award, and RFTA board chair Dorothea Farris accepted the award Wednesday night on behalf of RFTA.

However, Blankenship said that the award is not only for RFTA, but is for the residents and communities of the valley.

“RFTA accepted the award on behalf of the communities and residents of the Roaring Fork Valley,” Blankenship said. “It was a team effort. It’s not about RFTA, it’s about us all and how we are all working together to promote the area and how we can effectively do that as a region, as opposed to each individual community.”

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

jgardner@postindependent.com

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO


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