When Grand County doesn’t even make the map

For the second year in a row I was at first huffily outraged that Grand County and its towns didn’t even get one mention in the Denver Post’s Summer Getaways Special Section that came out in mid-May.

Here it was, the state’s premier newspaper produced an entire section on what to do during the summer in Colorado, aimed at Front Rangers and Denverites, and perhaps the best county for summer adventure didn’t even get one mention?

Well, I take that back. There is one mention of a Grand County place in the entire 72-page section. In an article about Rocky Mountain National Park’s best waterfalls, the famed Adams Falls near Grand Lake gets four paragraphs. And it’s the last falls mentioned and the blurb about Adams Falls begins tellingly. Here’s what it says:

“It can be easy to forget that Rocky Mountain National Park has a whole other side with the small town of Grand Lake and hiking opportunities to the west. . .”

Yeah, it was so easy to forget that they forgot about the entire county!

Even the easy-to-read maps that appear through the publication to orient the readers don’t mention any town in Grand County. Not once.

Now I know that there are other counties that got scant mention in this special section, but I have to say that I think Grand County’s unique relationship to Denver and the Front Range should merit extra special coverage. We are the closest Western Slope county to Denver. We have a ski area that is essentially owned by the City of Denver. The vast majority of the water used by people who live in Denver comes right from Grand County. There’s a train (Amtrak) that links Grand County directly to Denver twice a day. And so on.

I guess it all made me feel like Rodney Dangerfield on behalf of Grand County saying: “We don’t get no respect!”

After I calmed down a bit I began to wonder why this omission had occurred. First I thought that perhaps the special section was a “pay to play” advertorial supplement and that resorts or regions that paid got special treatment (coverage). I was informed that was not the case. Then I thought, maybe, we were simply forgotten. What else could explain this?

Of course I love Grand County and I think it’s a great place, as I’m sure many local readers do as well. But maybe other people don’t think it’s so great or maybe many other reporters become addicted to driving on I-70 and they’ve never bothered to make the drive over Berthoud Pass. Maybe. I don’t know.

But I’ve been told by many local friends, tellingly, that I (we) should be counting our blessings for this omission. In one instance the local wit saying this pointed over his shoulder to the long line of cars stopped at the intersection of Highway 40 and First Street in Granby. Another one, this time a woman, said we don’t need any more people clogging the trail around Monarch Lake. Others said the very thing that makes Grand County so great is that we aren’t known like the typical destinations in Colorado such as Breckenridge, Vail, Telluride, Steamboat Springs and Aspen.

After all, if we really were that well known then we couldn’t continue to use lines in advertising that read “Colorado’s Best Kept Secret,” a tag line that I’ve always read with suspicion when referring to other locales. Those always make me wonder: Why is it so secret?

And yet I’m sure that the land sellers peddling homes, the food sellers pushing great food, the renters of gear and sellers of lift tickets would rather that Grand County not be a well-kept secret. Think of the untold millions spent by the tourism industry in the county over the years only to get, well, essentially no mention in Summer Getaways in the Denver Post.

Of course, I’m pretty sure that Grand County would get plenty of visitors and recognition without all the special glitzy attention shown to other Colorado locales. In fact, it does get plenty of attention. The truth is, this county sells itself, without having to try.

Let’s not oversell it, I tell myself, and let’s have just the perfect number of visitors every year. Then I’ll be happy, with or without the Post’s Summer Getaways.

Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He offers free and confidential business management coaching to anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached by calling 970-531-0632 or at patrickbrower@kapoks.org.

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