Glenwood trumps rest of state as travel destination, AAA says |

Glenwood trumps rest of state as travel destination, AAA says

Greg MasséGlenwood Springs correspondent

Of all the places in Colorado to visit this holiday weekend, AAA Colorado members put Glenwood Springs at the top of the list. According to AAA statistics, Glenwood beat out popular Labor Day destinations such as Durango – with its steep mountains and close proximity to Mesa Verde National Park, and Estes Park – the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.Glenwood also topped Aspen and Snowmass Village. AAA spokeswoman Mary Greer shared some reasons why she thinks Glenwood is such an attraction this year. “One reason Glenwood is so popular is that you don’t have to drive that far,” she said.Because Glenwood is just three hours from Denver, Greer said, Front Range folks see it as an easy – and scenic – trip.People also see that there are also a lot of things to do in and around Glenwood. “There’s the hot springs, quality hotel properties and it’s a base for other attractions,” she said. “A lot of people use Glenwood as a place for an overnight stay.”The West Elk Loop south of Carbondale, which goes over McClure and Kebler passes and through Crested Butte and Gunnison, is a popular drive for people who want to get away from the city, she said.”We also do editorials and we have done things on Glenwood,” Greer said. “Not too long ago we did a mini-tour using Glenwood Springs as a base and we did the West Elk Loop. It creates interest for those who want to visit.”Glenwood was also featured on 9News’ “Trips by the Tankful,” Greer said.Lori Hogan, the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s director of tourism and marketing, said that as of Tuesday, there were only about six hotels in the city that still had vacancies for the holiday.”That’s a pretty good turnout because there are so many walk-in visitors. We think they’re pretty much going to sell out,” she said.According to a AAA news release, while this summer brought record-high gas prices, it could end with potentially record-high Labor Day holiday travel. The motorist service estimates that 34.1 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a 2.2 percent increase from last year.Approximately 28.7 million – or 84 percent – of those travelers expect to go by motor vehicle, a 2 percent increase from a year ago.A projected 1.5 million vacationers will go by train, bus or other mode of transportation.”This strong summer travel season appears headed for a strong Labor Day finale that might set records,” AAA travel director Sandra Barnes said. “A strong Labor Day weekend should be the icing on the summer cake for many parts of the travel industry. And our travel agency bookings look strong for the remainder of 2004.”Those traveling by car will find Colorado’s gas prices currently averaging $1.90 per gallon – about 22 cents higher than last Labor Day. Nationwide, gas prices are averaging $1.87 for a gallon of regular – about 15 cents higher than the levels hit last year at this time.Oceans and beaches top the list of preferred destinations this holiday with 26 percent of travel volume. Small towns and rural areas – such as the central-mountain towns of Colorado – took a close second with 21 percent. That’s followed by cities at 16 percent. Outdoor attractions rate high with lakes at 12 percent; mountains, 10 percent; and state/national parks, 4 percent.

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