April 28, 2021

Trail Towns

Trail Towns

Last month the Utah Department of Natural Resources sponsored a Webinar by Amy Camp, author of “Deciding on Trails; 7 Practices of Healthy Trail Towns”.

I attended via Zoom, to access if their idea could/would spill over to Heritage Trails.  I purchased her book prior to the event so I would have a sense of where her focus was.  We were miles apart, yet we weren’t.

After living in a remote tourist town in Utah for 10+ years, I never heard of the bicyclist community spending big dollars to stay, eat, or seek night life.  Our hospitality industry experienced greasy bikes on carpets, hungry riders seeking fruits and vegetables from the food bank and a hot shower at the state park or 4 to a room with one bed.

But I listened, because Cedar City has the perfect set of assets for a Heritage trail. But where to start? With an Assessment!

Current resources:

  • Our Museum
  • Our Historic District
  • Parowan Gap
  • Kanarraville Falls
  • Old Iron Town
  • Three Peaks
  • Brian Head
  • Cedar Breaks

And lots of sites throughout the loop to Cedar Breaks/Brian Head and back.

Part of the assessment is how many beds, RV Park spaces, and other attractions.  The most obvious of all questions was “What will our memorable travel activity be?  What cultural activity, event or community offers what makes Iron County special?

From my perspective it’s the museum.  It offers the history, culture, and hands-on activities for families, in a safe and friendly environment.

Other items to include in our historic tour could be the wonderful historic downtown places, historic farms, wineries, wild areas, historic lodging, and of course the old Railroad Depot.  It all matters to the heritage traveler.

Who is the heritage traveler?

According to national standards, the heritage traveler is:

  • Slightly older – 48 but 1/3 are 55+
  • More likely to have a post-high school education
  • Tend to have $50,000 a year income
  • Travel in June, July and August
  • Stay longer
  • Stay in hotel, motels and BnB’s
  • Spend more per trip
  • Spend more per day.

The other findings from a national survey showed:

  • People are taking shorter holidays and vacations. This encourages repeat visitation to Historic sites and cultural attractions that offer the traveler new opportunities for education and exploration.
  • Authentic places are important to understanding history and culture. “In order to value the present, we must understand the past”.
  • Tourism is big business. Every community has a story to tell Those stories attract diverse audiences with a common desire to experience first-hand the sites that served as a backdrop for a history-making event.

“Deciding On Trails”

I’ve read the book several times now, and made notes of items to consider, places to include, and the stories we might share.  But we’ll need the community to embrace the trail, even if it’s just the retail/business community.

Iron Mission

In reality, we need the Iron Mission families to embrace the trail and the stories they might share.  The museum was once called “Iron Mission State Park”.  I know there’s a story behind the name change, but it’s not really relevant at this point.  But it would be wonderful if the families of the original mission would join the friends and start telling their stories for future generations to enjoy.

As for the presentation, it was fine, but I was glad I had read her book first.  She has a great speakers voice, clear and not hard to understand, but uses ah’s and “you knows” way too much.

Her most memorable quote was “we are not in the business of trails and tourism, we are in the business of creating experiences”.  That’s what we do at the museum.  I hope you’ll join us.  Here’s the link to become a member.


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