Inside the Chamber column: A funny thing happened on the way to the visitor center
In the 1950s there was a TV Show called “People are Funny.” After serving more than a whopping 25,000 people in the visitor center this summer, we are here to tell you that people are truly funny, and tourists are among the funniest people. Here are a few of the questions that were actually asked this summer at the CMC/Chamber Visitor Center:
At the Hot Springs Pool, is clothing optional?
Where is the alternate road to bypass Glenwood Canyon?
Where is the best view for a marriage proposal?
On what day do the leaves change?
Where is the Continental Divide? I would like to cross it and get my picture taken there.
I am on County Road 125 (off Four Mile Road) and I can’t find Hanging Lake. The GPS says it should be right here.
Are we in Utah or Colorado? We came from Boulder but still have not found the Dam.
Where are the department stores — like Macy’s or Lord & Taylor?
At what elevation does a deer turn into an elk?
We’re here to see the Kardashians. (Thought they were in Aspen.)
Is there sledding we can walk to? (In October)
Is there white water rafting? (In November)
I just came in off I-70. Where is the pool? Over the bridge? What bridge? What river?
How can you stand it, not having a view from here? All you can see is mountains!
What do I wear if it is raining on the 4th of July? (Hmm, maybe a raincoat?)
The hikers at Hanging Lake brought a new slew of questions this year. The Forest Service has a new body-counter at the trailhead to calculate the number of hikers, and believe it or not, the counter can tell a deer or a bear from a human, so the count is accurate. Fifteen hundred hikers made this trip in the off-season from post-Labor Day to pre-Memorial Day alone.
Hanging Lake questions we love:
How do you drive all the way up to Hanging Lake?
Can we rent kayaks at Hanging Lake?
How many restaurants and hotels are at Hanging Lake that could accommodate a wedding of 100 guests and the wedding party for a three-day weekend?
Is the hike really easy? (This is from a woman in flip flops, a sundress and a baby on her hip at high noon.)
It says “no dogs” but am I allowed to carry my dog in a back pack up to Hanging Lake?
Is the Hanging Lake trail accessible for wheelchairs?
Where is the gondola to Hanging Lake?
If it is raining at Hanging Lake, should I bring an umbrella? (Yeah, probably.)
We get asked about our favorite restaurants all the time, and because it is impossible to choose, we say you just can’t miss in Glenwood Springs. The questions about specific food items, however, are sometimes comical, but if you have not walked in the shoes of the consumer, you cannot laugh. (Did someone say “vegan,” peanut allergies, Rocky Mountain oysters or Sushi made from rainbow trout?)
We are often asked why Independence Pass is not open in the winter because it would make the trip more convenient. Well, we found a note at the Frontier Museum Archives that describes the frustration of a young bride coming to join her husband in Glenwood Springs in 1885 when the only way into this valley was over Independence Pass. It was May and the pass was not yet open to wagons. She could get to Leadville by train but from there she had to wait for the pass to open. She found this “inconvenient.” Some things don’t change.
These questions come from years of information specialist experience. We, of course, hear many more questions that we can more easily answer and are glad to be asked. One we particularly like is: “Where do we let the town know how wonderful we think it is?” Did we mention social media?
Elaine Benson and Suzy Alcott are visitor information specialists who work at the CMC/Glenwood Springs Chamber Visitor Center where they introduce tourists to opportunities at CMC and CMC customers to the wonders of Glenwood Springs. They serve thousands of visitors and handle hundreds of phone calls and email messages. Oh, and they also get to answer interesting questions.
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Doug Stenclik and Randy Young had a feeling that ski touring — everything from uphilling at ski resorts to more adventuresome trips to the backcountry — would surge in popularity, so in 2011 they took a chance and opened a shop dedicated to the niche sport. It paid off and they have continued to grow. This winter they teamed with Aspen Expeditions to take over retail operations at the base of Aspen Highlands.