Welcome to Colorado

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When tourists drive into Colorado for information at the Colorado Welcome Center in Dinosaur, they are gathering travel tips in one of the state's busiest centers.

Director Cheryl McDonald runs the welcome center, with help from 20 volunteers. The center is open from May through September and is one of the three busiest in the state.

The Colorado Tourism Office determines the number of centers to be found throughout the state -- currently at nine -- and their locations.

The CTO usually looks for locations that are the gateway to an important feature in Colorado, such as the Dinosaur National Monument.

Centers are often co-funded, with town, county or chamber of commerce dollars helping to pay the bills.

Moffat County Tourism Director Shelly Flannery is helping the center meet some changes coming down the road.

"In the past, DOLA (Department of Local Affairs) funded some of the welcome centers," she said. "So much has been happening with oil and gas exploration that dollars are being diverted by DOLA to roads and other projects in the energy impacted counties."

While DOLA and the state still are the main source of funding for the center in Dinosaur, the MCTA is contributing $8,000 this year with the hopes of adding another month to the summer season.

"We opened the doors for a Cultural Heritage Tourism meeting in October," Flannery said. "And we had hunters swarming the center looking for information on the monument and places to hunt."

The Dinosaur center had not previously asked the MCTA for money, but it was a natural fit to help promote tourism in Moffat County and fill Craig motel rooms with guests coming to and fro from Dinosaur. Guests pay the lodging tax that supports the MCTA.

Moffat County owns the Dinosaur building and the land under the center, which includes a lot next door that Flannery would like to fill with wooden sculptures promoting Whittle the Wood in Craig.

"We're trying to push people east into Craig to see the park with the carvings and maybe attend Whittle the Wood," she said. "We hope that funds from the Preserve America Foundation can be secured to help install some carvings and perhaps a replica of the Marcia Car."

The center supplies tourists with maps, brochures, hunting information and museum locations, along with lodging and dining information.

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