Colorado Tourism Office, CDOT teaming up for Safety and Economics

May 7, 2019 - Northwestern Colorado


FRUITA – The Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado Tourism Office unveiled one of a series of replica “Welcome to Colorful Colorado” signs today at the Colorado Welcome Center in Fruita. This interagency initiative aims to lure more visitors to the state’s welcome centers and improve safety by giving them a safer spot for a photo opportunity with the iconic and rustic signs than along an interstate shoulder.

“While we’re very pleased that our ‘Welcome to Colorful Colorado’ signs have become a worthy traffic stop for visitors, we’re approaching safety in all aspects of our system, including this effort to place our iconic signs at rest stops to provide a safer location for photo opportunities,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “Partnering with the CTO will help enhance safety for the traveling public and hopefully boost economic activities in the more rural areas of the state. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Greeting travelers at Colorado gateways since 1950, the tall wooden signs have become an attraction in their own right, with motorists often parking on highway shoulders to photograph themselves with the sign. The proximity of the signs to high-speed traffic, however, creates a safety hazard.

To get travelers to pass up on photographing the border highway signs, CDOT will install new signage encouraging them to make a safer stop at the visitor center ahead.

“These new replica signs give us an exciting new way to attract visitors to our Colorado Welcome Centers, where our volunteer travel counselors can inspire them to explore more and leave more economic impact during their stay,” said CTO Director Cathy Ritter, whose office suggested and covered costs for the signs. “Every time we can encourage a traveler to stop by, the better chance we have of inspiring them to seek out new experiences, stay longer and come back for more.”

A 2017 CTO study showed that its 10 Colorado Welcome Centers serve more than a million visitors a year and directly influenced $23.2 million in additional travel spending. This finding was based on research showing that 21.9% of trip parties, which averaged 2.7 people, spent an additional $264 on average as a result of their welcome center stop.

The replica signs, fabricated in CDOT’s sign shop, have also been installed at the Colorado Welcome Center in Burlington. A third sign will be installed at the Julesburg location later this year. The state’s busiest Colorado Welcome Center, Julesburg, greeted more than 363,000 travelers last year, while Burlington served about 161,000 and Fruita approximately 150,000.

To heighten safety awareness, CDOT recently announced its Whole System Whole Safety initiative. This project takes a systematic statewide approach to safety combining the benefits of CDOT’s programs that address human factors, physical assets and organizational culture to better support real time operations. The goal is to improve the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving safety conditions for those traveling by all transportation modes. The program has one simple mission - to get everyone home safely.  

About the Colorado Tourism Office: The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) is a division of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The CTO’s mission is to generate traveler spending by promotion of Colorado as a four-season, four-corner, world-class travel destination and development of compelling, sustainable travel experiences. In 2017, Colorado travelers spent $20.9 billion, generating $1.28 billion in local and state revenues, reducing the tax burden for every Coloradan by $228. Tourism is the state’s second largest employer, directly supporting 171,000 jobs. For more information, please visit

CDOT has approximately 3,000 employees throughout Colorado, and manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway and 3,429 bridges. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of other agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments, and airports, and administers Bustang, the state-owned and operated interregional express service. Gov. Jared Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s intermodal mobility options.