Several months ago, the Wind River Visitors Council (WRVC) received an email from the University of Wyoming requesting senior projects for its Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management students. Obtaining Continental Divide Trail Gateway Community recognition for Dubois and Lander-South Pass City has been on the WRVC’s radar for several months, and this seemed like a wonderful project to work with the students on.
Things moved quickly, and last week the students visited Wind River Country to speak to the Wind River Outdoor Recreation Collaborative, to the County Commissioners, and to the Lander City Council and received support from each. Unfortunately, due to a snowstorm, the group wasn’t able to make it to the Dubois Town Council Meeting, but the WRVC’s Executive Director, Helen Wilson, will attend the next meeting on Wednesday, March 23.
The Continental Divide Trail is a famous trail that spans from the southern border of New Mexico to the northern border of Montana. Stretching over 3,000 miles, and passing through five states, this trail is a popular recreation site for many people.
Gateway Communities are towns and cities in close proximity to the Continental Divide Trail. These communities are recognized by the Continental Divide Trail Coalition as places that serve those using the Trail. Gateway Communities provide necessary amenities to trail users such as lodging, food, internet, laundry services, showers, etc.
Tourism is currently the second-largest player in Wyoming’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While only about 150 people will complete the entire trek between New Mexico and Montana each year, thousands more utilize the trail for short-term use. In addition to increased awareness of the Trail, these designations will put Dubois and Lander-South Pass City on the Continental Divide Trail Coalition’s website, which will result in increased tourism and the revenue that goes along with it.
These designations will receive local, state, national and international recognition through the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. Designated communities require an “advisory committee,” and the Wind River Outdoor Recreation Collaborative will serve that role. In addition, a yearly event per community is required, and the Wind River Visitors Council is committed to heading up the efforts for these events, which can be as simple as a guided walk on the trail, or as complex as a standalone event.
The students are currently in the process of filling out two applications; one for Dubois, and one for Lander-South Pass City. South Pass City is not a municipality, and therefore, needs to be linked to Lander in order to be recognized in the dedication. For these designations to come to fruition, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition needs to see that there is clear community support through letters.
Pending approved applications, dedication ceremonies will take place on Tuesday, May 3 at Headwaters Arts and Conference Center in Dubois in the morning and at the Lincoln Street Bakery in Lander in the evening.
Please direct questions or letters of support to [email protected]. A sample letter can be provided upon request. All letters must be received by Tuesday, March 29. Thank you for considering supporting this project.