Renovation of visitor center paying immediate dividends, staffers say

PHOTO BY LE ROY STANDISH—Everything about the Grand Junction Visitors Center is new, after an $80,000 renovation was recently completed.

Everything’s new at the Grand Junction Visitor Center, which reopened last week after a week-long closure for renovation.

Much of the $80,000 renovation to the building at 740 Horizon Drive is kid-friendly, making the center a welcoming place for families touching down for a stay in the Grand Valley, said
Barbara Bowman, division manager of the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau.

Before the renovation, visitors often ducked in for a bathroom break, “10 minutes at the longest,” Bowman said. “One of our goals has been to make this visitor center a true destination lure, and we are finding that people are staying much longer. We have had people staying 30 to 45 minutes in the center.”

A walk through the high-ceilinged center presents the Grand Valley in microcosm. There are tips on where to go mountain biking, ride the river, tour the wine country. If it is a valley attraction, it is displayed here, and visitors are encouraged to touch most of the displays.

“It gives a much more interactive fun approach to what truly is available in Grand Junction and the Grand Valley,” said Jennifer Grossheim Harris, marketing director.

On the north interior wall of the building is a special painting of Island Lake on Grand Mesa, said Melanie Wiseman, visitor center coordinator. The painting provides a wealth of information.

“We have a water feature in front and text panels that talk about the importance of the mesa and the water up there,” Wiseman said. “It shows all of the different activities you can do up on the mesa from snow sports — skiing, snowshoeing, downhill skiing — to fishing, hiking, camping and boating, all the variety of activities.”

Visitors will see new artwork on the outside, too. Some sculpture is on loan from the Grand Junction Arts Commission. Other works of art, such as a metal dinosaur hiding in the bushes at the entrance, are owned by the center.

But the finest addition is the new painting of Colorado National Monument that greets everyone who enters.

When people come in and ask about the monument, Wiseman said, “Instead of showing them a postcard, we show them the wall, and then they say, ‘How do I get there?’ ”

The center is staffed by 85 volunteers and is open every day.


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