Marketing the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway

January 2018
Wyvonne Graham


The Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway- Mountain Branch  is located in Southeast Colorado and spans a 184 mile corridor from the Kansas border southwesterly to the New Mexico border. This region is under served, culturally diverse and has very limited access to financial and organizational resources. Its gateway cities are in Lamar and Trinidad. We are blessed with two Colorado Welcome Centers on our Byway in each of the gateway locations. Our marketing efforts include the communities of Holly, Big Timbers, La Junta and Las Animas as well as those communities which are not directly on the Byway but have a connection to our Byway story of the heritage of the Santa Fe Trail like Sand Creek, Ludlow, Trinidad Lake State Park, the Springfield region of Comanche National Grassland and Rocky Ford. Since its conception, the Byway steering committee has managed many interpretive signage projects throughout the Byway and locations which are in the Byway impact area with the assistance of sponsoring entities including, Colorado Historical Society, Colorado Scenic Byway Program, National Scenic Byway Program, Southeast Colorado Economic Development, Trinidad Economic Development, and Council of Governments. With the assistance of the above partners and Byway stakeholders, cities and counties we attained designation as a Colorado Scenic Byway in 1987, achieved National Historic Trail status in 1992 and National Scenic Byway designation in June 9, 1998.
The Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail of Colorado is defined as such because of its ties to the heritage of our Nation as one of the great historic trails of the westward expansion. The Byway parallels the Santa Fe Trail, which served as a trade route between Missouri and the Mexican frontiers from 1821 to 1880. Traders, miners, military, and settlers all used this route in the settlement and exploration of the west. Even during the Civil War the area saw action as Colorado volunteers fought against Confederate troops. With the coming of the railroad, the Santa Fe Trail entered a new phase of its history.

The Byway is one of a distinct collection of America’s Byways containing unique cultural, historical, recreational, archaeological, natural qualities which are unlike any other in the nation. We are funded by the National Scenic Byway program through competitive grants process and these funds are distributed through CDOT State Scenic Byways Program. Our accountability is includes local, state and national entities. Working together, partners and the Byway steering committee placed interpretive signage at key visitor ready locations throughout the 184 mile Mountain Branch Corridor of the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway. Among the signage projects completed are the Purgatoire River Walk in Trinidad, El Corazon De Trinidad Historic District Walking Tour, Trinidad Lake State Park, along I‑25 on Raton Pass, along Highway 350 and Highway 50 for the Santa Fe Trail Auto Tour at Model, Timpas, Iron Spring and Sierra Vista. Our original interpretive plan maps out our plans in phases. Our current plan is revised each year to accommodate new Byway inventory of National importance. Through the years the Byway has worked with other entities to establish a Santa Fe Trail presence at our many visitor centers through development of brochures and marketing items which tell our story. Programs began in 1987 and have continued on through today. The Byway Organization is a grass roots organization with memberships throughout the Byway region. We received our own 501C3 status from the IRS in September 2005.

Visitors today follow the route traveled by caravans of traders. View existing historic sites, including trading posts (Bent's Old Fort), stage stops, graves and ruins. Discover an undisturbed, pristine landscape while observing a wide diversity of wildlife habitats. Archaeological sites along the byway include pictographs, petro glyphs, Native American teepee rings, fire circles and the longest continuous dinosaur tracks in North America. The culture of the Santa FeTrail has been shaped by the many people that have traveled along this historic American Roadl. The byway has many signs of Mexican influence, as well as the impact of a variety of other people. The tradition of the county fair and local rodeos can be found all along this route, and community celebrations highlight a unique mix of our cultures.

Vision of the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway Mountain Branch Program
To create a distinctive collection of treasured places to visit on the Santa Fe Trail and  their stories.
To provide resources to byway communities in creating a unique travel experience and enhanced local quality of life through efforts to preserve, protect, interpret and promote the intrinsic qualities of  the Santa Fe Trail.
The Santa Fe Trail will be marketed as one of America’s Byways. Our major challenge is to market our unique road to seven different target audiences:
Primary audiences:
1. Current Byways travelers
2. Potential travelers
3. The media
4. Potential corporate sponsors and partners

Secondary audiences:
5. Program partners:

USDA Division of Wildlife
USFS- Comanche National Grassland: Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands
Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site
Koshare Indian Museum,
Sand Creek Massacre Site
Army Corps of Engineers
Otero Museum
Amache Preservation Inc.
Trinidad Lake State Park
John Martin Reservoir State Park
Boggsville Historic Site
Trinidad History Museum, Colorado Historical Society
Colorado Welcome Center Trinidad
Colorado Welcome Center Lamar
Scenic Byways Program Coordinator, Colorado Department of Transportation
America’s Byways
South Central Council of Governments
Prowers County
Bent County
Bent County Development Foundation
Baca County Economic Development
Trinidad-Las Animas County Economic Development
Trinidad & Las Animas County Chamber of Commerce
La Junta Chamber of Commerce- 719-384-7411
Las Animas Chamber of Commerce
Lamar Chamber of Commerce
Colorado Preservation, Inc.
ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects)
Colorado Brownfields Foundation
Colorado Historical Society
Amache Historic Society
Prowers County Historical Society
Bent County Historical Society
Daughters of the American Revolutions, DAR Santa Fe Trail Chapter
Trinidad Historical Society
Otero County
Southeast Colorado Regional Tourism Group
Southwest Colorado Regional Tourism Group
Trinidad Tourism Board
National Scenic Byways Online
Colorado Tourism Ambassador Program
Colorado State Parks
CTO Colorado Tourism Offic
Colorado Scenic Byway Coalition
TSJC Trinidad State Junior College
Bar N1Foundation
HARP Foundation
South Central Council of Governments
Scenic Highway of Legends
Pioneer Historical Society
Archaeological Conservancy
Long Distance Trail Division of the National Park Service
Big Timbers Museum
La Junta Economic Development
Public officials
Businesses along the Byways and their employees
Miners Memorial Museum Trinidad CO
Otero Junior College

This marketing plan spells out six goals, which will be achieved through research-based advertising in media, through public relations, and through a host of other brand-building efforts.

Goal #1
Achieve an increase of 20% in overall familiarity with the program among consumers.
Goal #2
Aggressively pursue partners and sponsorship opportunities to augment the budget and to build brand identity through borrowed equity.
Goal #3
Maintain a brand presence on the website (
Goal #4
 Establish a stronger presence within the travel industry through outreach and education.
Goal #5
Build awareness and understanding of our marketing program and brand building concepts within the byway community
Goal #6
Develop more effective marketing relationships with the byway stakeholders.

The ultimate objective of this plan is to co-ordinate a total brand-building effort, with the
media plan and the public relations plan working in concert to maximize our impact.
This plan is a fluid document that will be reviewed and updated on a yearly basis to
ensure that it is as dynamic as the roads it represents.

Overview of Marketing Goals, Strategies, Tactics and Measuring our Success
Goal #1
Achieve an increase of 20% in overall familiarity with the program among consumers.



Measures of effectiveness
Conduct awareness research. Track calls, inquiries and website visits against traditional and online media insertions and PR efforts. Keep an ongoing chart correlating media activity and consumer response. Utilize the Americas Byways Program tool to determine long term economic impact of our Byway program to our region.

Goal #2
Aggressively pursue sponsorship opportunities to augment the budget and to build brand identity through borrowed equity.


Measures of effectiveness
Make significant contacts with at least 4 potential partners. Obtain partnership commitments that will augment advertising budget by 30%.

Goal #3
Create a brand presence on the website (


Measures of effectiveness
Track activity levels before and after each phase of development. Track visitor comments before and after each phase. Track sponsorships of particular pages, web banners and special ads which offer merchants a venue for advertising.

Goal #4
Establish a stronger presence within the travel industry through outreach and education.

Measures of effectiveness
Clippings of articles in newspapers, magazines, print outs of web articles will help us measure our success. Conduct an e-mail survey, and compare and report results.
Goal #5
Build awareness and understanding of marketing program and brand building concepts within byway communities.


Measures of effectiveness
Partnership co-op advertising participation will measure our success. Participation in Byway events will also help measure our success.

Goal #6
Develop more effective marketing relationships with the Byway stakeholders and organizations.


Measures of effectiveness
Participation in our marketing co-op program will determine our success.


Section 6

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