Tourist-friendlier signs to be installed at Garden of the Gods
The way it is now, “There are 10 things on a sign, and if a family is driving 15 or 20 mph, Mom can't read fast enough to tell Dad where to turn,” said Terry Haas, part of the family operation that's been running the Garden of the Gods Trading Post at the south end of the city park for the past 20 years.
In a joint effort, the gift shop/art gallery/restaurant will pay for the upgrades - estimated at about $6,000 - with the city's sign shop doing the work, according to Chris Lieber, City Parks development manager. “It's a significant amount,” he said. “We're very appreciative.”
Having noticed a loss of business and determined that part of the reason was tourists getting lost, Haas had initially contacted the city this winter with a conceptual proposal to reroute one or more of the roads in the Garden. “We get a lot of questions from tourists,” he said. “They don't know how to get there from here.”
But he lost enthusiasm for the road-changing idea upon being told that an amendment to the Garden of the Gods Master Plan would be required. Haas had been a part of the group that wrote the plan about 15 years ago, and reaching agreement on its details required “about 60 meetings,” he recalled.
In any case, the Trading Post ownership wanted to see results sooner rather than later, so Haas found himself leaning toward Lieber's suggestion at a Parks Board meeting to look at the sign issue instead. Some of the signs were old and faded, anyway, he observed. Now, “our hope is that they [the new signs] will be in next month, at least in time for this tourist season,” Haas said. “This is a not a typical government deal where it drags out over two years.”
The biggest change in the wayfinding signs will be fewer items on each one. “Imagine you're in the Garden of the Gods Park for the first time,” Lieber said. “Your family members all want to see different things, but there are cars behind you, and you're trying to digest everything at once. Then afterward, remembering which way the arrows pointed is a challenge.”
After some consideration, Parks determined that the four directions park visitors want most are to Balanced Rock, the Visitor Center, the Trading Post and the park exits, Lieber explained.
Some signs will be moved so they are not right at intersections, thus giving tourists more time to make up their minds before they come to a turn. And, six new signs are being added. In a few places, such as Juniper Way and Garden Drive, one sign will tell where things are inside the park while the other will indicate how to get to places elsewhere.
Rampart Range Road will be removed from the wayfinding signs. The road has a street sign at its intersection with Garden Drive, but it's not a good idea to make it seem to tourists that the unpaved road into the hills is a recommended place for a family ride, Lieber pointed out. Picnic areas will also be left off such signs, but will be identified at their locations.
In accordance with the Garden's Master Plan, the requirements about sign font type and size will be followed, Lieber said.
Haas pointed out that it's nothing new for the Trading Post to donate money to the parks. Such contributions have been a regular thing for at least 15 years, he said, with the city allowed to spend it as needed on the Garden. The signage gift, however, “is kind of a one-time thing,” he said.
Westside Pioneer article