Steamboat joins list of CDT gateway communities |

Steamboat joins list of CDT gateway communities

Big Agnes employees hike the Continental Divide Trail in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Noah Wetzel)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs has been added to a list of five gateway communities in Colorado that have committed to providing an inviting environment for hikers trekking the 3,100-mile Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, which runs between Mexico and Canada.

“The Continental Divide Trail Coalition has several gateway communities along the trail,” said Maren Franciosi, a member of the committee that led efforts to submit an application for Steamboat to become a gateway community.

“Basically, it shows our commitment and stewardship of this amazing trail that goes through our backyard,” Franciosi said. “It is also a resource for through hikers, or people who are hiking along the trail, to know that we are here welcoming them with open arms.”

Laura Soard, Steamboat Springs Chamber marketing director, organized a celebration this week that recognized Steamboat becoming a gateway community, as well as the 40th anniversary of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.

“It (the gateway designation) puts Steamboat on the map literally and figuratively as far as letting other people know that we have a presence on this trail  — it’s one of the world’s best through hikes,” Soard said.

Steamboat also offers section hikers — those who only want to do a shorter portion of the route — a great place to access the trail without committing the six months it takes to hike from Waterton Lake in Montana’s Glacier National Park to Crazy Cook Monument in New Mexico or vice versa.

“The Continental Divide Trail is just a really cool resource that we have access to as a community, and some people don’t even know that it is right there in our own backyard,” said committee member and Point6 sales and marketing coordinator Mackenzie Yelvington. “Here we have the ability to just go jump on it and walk over it a couple of days, pitch a tent and be totally disconnected from everything. We just wanted to bring attention to that.”

Steamboat Springs joins South Fork, Salida, Grand Lake and Pagosa Springs as gateway communities in Colorado. The Continental Divide Coalition provides information on its website about gateway communities, including dining and camping options, transportation information and even great places to grab a beer.

Hikers can also access essential information about local outdoors and adventure stores, so that if some vital piece of equipment is damaged or lost, the hiker can get what they need and then get back on the trail. Steamboat Resort provides gondola rides to hikers wishing to get down to Steamboat Springs, and BAP! sometimes transports hikers back to the trailhead at the top of Rabbit Ears Pass when needed.

Big Agnes, Point6, Main Street Steamboat Springs, Friends of the Wilderness, Steamboat Resort, the U.S. Forest Service, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation and the Chamber all supported the effort to make Steamboat a gateway community.

“That’s why this is exciting,” Soard said. “It really brought  together so many different groups with different interests, but everybody is interested in the trail.”

Big Agnes also partnered with the coalition to adopt 75 miles of trail from Rabbit Ears Pass to the Wyoming border. The Big Agnes team, along with about 45 co-workers from sister companies Honey Stinger and BAP!, will help maintain and protect the trail.

“So many of the employees here were using the trails for day use or for extended weekend overnight trips,” Big Agnes Marketing Director Garett Mariano said. “We are a part of the Steamboat community … we wanted to help maintain it.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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