Not even close. Other examples of a national park bordering an urban area as closely as that found in Mesa County: Larimer County and Estes Park, CO – Rocky Mountain National Park (note: Rocky Mountain National Park is cited as the number 2 attraction to Estes Park, the number one attraction tourists to Estes Park cite is that it is a peaceful, quiet place to get away from the city). (Summit Economics economic study)
Other national parks with nearby towns include:
Teton County and Jackson Hole, WY – Grand Teton National Park, San Juan County and Grand County (Moab), Utah – Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and San Benito County (Hollister) and Monterey (Salinas, Carmel) CA, Pinnacles National Park” , several small towns also border the boundaries of the Grand Canyon. In each case the national parks have proven a quantifiable economic asset or driver to towns and counties closest to national parks. (NPS and Headwaters Economics)
Grand Teton National Park, in fact, has an airport within its borders.
So, how do we handle increased valley growth and an increase in visitors?
Historically, increases in visitation to the Colorado National Monument mirror the 2 to 4 percent population growth of the valley. Based on past history, visitation will continue to increase regardless of whether our backyard treasure remains a monument or is re-designated as a national park . As our valley grows, according to the Colorado National Monument Association…”so too will the challenge of ensuring resource protection, transportation, infrastructure, and enhanced visitor services that would accommodate visitors and provide a balance of meaningful and enjoyable experiences. Long-term integrated transportation plans, visitor and educational services planning, and infrastructure and operation improvement projects are already underway. These projects will seek to address current and future parking and traffic needs.
Currently traffic through the Colorado National Monument is at it’s lowest level since 1991. In 1991, 500 motor coaches toured the CNM. In 2012 that number had declined to 125. If traffic was not an issue in 1991, the slowth growth a national park is estimated to bring will not be an issue either. Along with the anticipated increase of local visitors to the national monument, tourist numbers are expected to increase an estimated 10 percent over 10 years should it be re-designated as a national park. A re-designation to national park status would primarily attract more foreign tourists who tend to spend far more that domestic tourists.
The Monument will continue to work closely with Mesa County to develop operations to support well planned growth and multi-modal transportation systems.