Moffat County Locals: New MCTA director hopes to row in tourism
River rafting runs through Tom Kleinschnitz’s blood.
The first rafting trip he went on was along the Yampa River in Moffat County in 1971 at the wee age of 14.
“I worked and saved money all winter to go on a four-day trip in Moffat County along the Yampa River,” Tom said.
He was attending junior high school in Jefferson County at the time.
“I endured a 10-hour bus ride and arrived at Deer Lodge Park,” he said.
Tom paid Adventure Bound River Expedition to take him on the trip — a company he ended up working for after he accidentally cut himself on a kipper snack can he was trying to open.
“The can sliced my hand open,” Tom said, noting he was in Echo Park when the incident happened. “I was evacuated off the river trip and went back to Craig.”
He missed the rest of the trip, so the river rafters felt compelled to bring him on as swamper that summer so he could help expedite other adventures. He was hooked and never looked back.
Tom eventually bought Adventure Bound River Expedition in 1984, launching a 30-year career of guiding river rafting trips in Moffat County.
“I absolutely adored and loved being here,” he said.
It’s no wonder Moffat County Tourism Association Board hired him as their new executive director — his passion for the area is evident.
Not only that, his resume fits the bill.
He was the president of the Utah Guides and Outfitters Association, chairman of the Colorado River Outfitters Association and chairman of Club 20’s tourism committee. Tom also was on the Colorado Tourism Board of Directors.
“He has awesome connections through the work he’s done with Club 20 and the Colorado Tourism Office,” said Cindy Looper, who sits on the MCTA board. “We can capitalize on those connections and the experience he has to bring people up to Moffat County.”
Cindy highlighted also Tom’s enthusiasm for Northwest Colorado and his familiarity with its tourism treasures.
“Moffat County is where I fell in love with river rafting,” he said. “It’s a very special place. It’s where I find solace.”
Tom considers Echo Park the center of the universe.
“I think we were very lucky to be looking (for a new director) the same time he was looking for a change,” Cindy said.
Tom now has others running his rafting company so he can focus on MCTA. The organization’s office is in the process of moving out of Centennial Mall and into the former RE/MAX building at 11 E. Victory Way. The office will open in the beginning of January.
Currently, Tom’s wife, Denise, lives in their home in Grand Junction, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to grade school kids. The couple hopes to fully relocate to Craig in the near future. For now, Tom is renting a home in Craig and visiting his wife every chance he can.
“We’re absolutely in love,” Tom said. “She is an amazing woman.”
Contact Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or Contact Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @noelleleavitt.Contact Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @noelleleavitt.
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