New Southeast Wyoming Welcome Center Opens
The new Southeast Wyoming Welcome Center will give visitors an impressive start to their travels in the state. The welcome center opened to visitors Sept. 24 and had its grand opening Oct. 12. The center is situated along the east side of Interstate 25 at the new High Plains Road exit (Exit 4) near the Colorado/Wyoming border.
“We are very thankful for the legislative support that made this project possible and the untiring efforts early on by Governor Freudenthal and continued backing from Governor Mead. They realize tourism is a vital industry to Wyoming and a gateway welcome center enhances the visitor experience. It is an effective means of directing tourists to many interesting Wyoming locations they might have missed otherwise,” said Diane Shober, state tourism director.
The main exhibit showcases the region’s early inhabitants in the form of a Columbian Mammoth cast. There are interactive displays particularly hands-on for kids along with wildlife exhibits and several video stations.
The public attended an open house Friday, October 12 where Governors Mead and Freudenthal made short remarks. “It’s really a stunning piece of architecture and functionally it is outstanding for visitors,” said Shober.
She added that many features added to the landscaping and the building itself are specially crafted. “From the rammed-earth walls to wind turbines and solar panels, there’s a whole energy value package and system in place that puts us at a very low carbon footprint.”
Center project coordinator Suzanne Norton has been told by Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power Company officials that at times the building’s renewable energy generation system produces enough energy to sustain the entire welcome center. “We are astonished to see the amount of energy produced each day,” said Norton. There is a kiosk in the center that shows the energy levels and the module can be accessed online as well.
Shober believes the positioning of trees and “shelter belts” around the property bode well for the future. “I think what we are going to see as the facility and landscape matures will be a fine example of what can be done with a large, open space on the high plateau,” noted Shober.
Shober and her Wyoming Office of Tourism staff are housed in the new welcome center. She says the former location on the west side of I-25 below a hillside offered neither of the key factors – high visibility and easy access – that make for a successful welcome center. “You can’t miss us here and listening to the comments by our guests who’ve been in to see us already, this location will greatly bolster our ability to send visitors to all four corners of the state,” she added.