Become a Gateway Community

What Is a CDT Gateway Community?

Building stronger local relationships with communities adjacent to the Trail and involving volunteers on the ground is the most powerful way we can work to preserve and protect the CDT. Through building this network of individuals, groups, and local communities, we strive to build a strong and healthy voice for the CDT that will ensure it remains a national landmark for generations to come. Additionally, CDTC strives to help strengthen the communities along the trail corridor, as they are an integral part of the CDT experience. We established the CDT Gateway Community program in order to build symbiotic partnerships with communities along the trail.

CDT Gateway Communities are a network of towns and counties located within proximity to the Continental Divide Trail. Official designation as a CDT Gateway Community is only the first step in building an ever-evolving, working partnership between your community and the CDTC. The CDTC promotes Gateway Communities as welcoming destinations for people from around the world looking to experience the CDT; in turn, Gateway Communities provide resources and outdoor recreation access for visitors and locals alike while encouraging local awareness, stewardship, and pride in the trail.

Hikers walking into sunset

The CDTC Gateway Community Program is designed to:

  • Encourage a sense of ownership and pride in the CDT among those who live closest to it
  • Recognize communities which are welcoming to trail users
  • Recognize communities which act as advocates for the protection of the Trail and its resources
  • Encourage economic development through outdoor recreation
  • Educate residents about the Trail and the benefits of living in proximity to it
  • Provide locals and visitors with opportunities to use, steward, and support the CDT

The CDTC Board and Advisory Committee identified and endorsed four pillars of focus for the Coalition. The four pillars are: stewardship of the Trail, promotion of the Trail, building a strong Trail Community to support the Trail, and building an organization with sound governance to support its efforts. CDTC focuses on these four pillars to generate a broader culture of stewardship and belonging within and among the trail community.

Building a Strong Trail Community. CDTC establishes strong community-based relationships through activities that support the construction, maintenance and support of the CDT. We engage a wide audience of volunteers, supporters, and partners in an on-going process that inform the work and the priorities of CDTC.  

We feel that building stronger local relationships with communities adjacent to the Trail and involving volunteers on the ground is the most powerful way to build our movement and preserve and protect the CDT. This includes municipalities, Gateway Communities, state and federal governments, public entities, and tribal communities and governments.

Through building this network of individuals, groups, and local communities, we strive to build a strong and healthy voice for the CDT that will promote the Vision for the CDT and ensure it remains a national landmark for generations to come.

Towns, counties, and communities along the Trail’s corridor are considered an asset by CDT users, and many of these towns act as good friends and neighbors to the Trail. With the potential of thousands of visitors coming to the Trail every year, it is no wonder that outfitters, restaurants and businesses are beginning to embrace CDT Travelers.

Designation as a Continental Divide Trail Gateway Community and participation in the program is designed to act as a catalyst for enhancing economic development, engaging community citizens as trail visitors and stewards, aiding local municipalities and regional areas with conservation planning, and helping local community members see the trail as a resource and asset. The program also serves to highlight and recognize those communities who are taking steps to ensure the ongoing protection of their natural, cultural, and recreational resources, including the CDT. Preserving and enhancing a charming, memorable community destination will contribute to the long-term economic health of CDT towns and make a CDT hike even more desirable.

  • International recognition as a welcoming destination for CDT enthusiasts via CDTC’s website, social media, and printed materials
  • Creation of the following marketing materials for your community:
    • Banner
    • Road Signs
    • Community Maps
    • Postcards
    • Press release announcing designation
    • A webpage for your community on CDTC’s website
  • Connection to a network of similar communities across the Rocky Mountain West, including opportunities to meet with and learn from other Gateway Communities
  • Increased ability to develop outdoor recreation infastructure and complete other projects that contribute to economic development in your community
  • Increase volunteerism and sense of local pride
  • Access to new funding opportunities
  • Opportunity to strengthen partnerships with federal land management agencies
  • Access to a variety of CDTC resources, including:
    • Free marketing materials including CDT brochures and stickers
    • Assistance with organizing and marketing local CDT-related events
    • CDT merchandise for resale at you Visitors Center and/or Chamber of Commerce
  • Opportunities to advocate for your community and the CDT at state and national levels
  • Support from CDTC’s Gateway Community Coordinator and other CDTC staff

There is no maximum distance a community can be from the CDT to be considered for designation. If your community sees itself as a gateway to the Continental Divide Trail, it is elegible to pursue designation as an official Gateway Community by CDTC. 

The Gateway Community designation process is ultimately driven by the community itself. While CDTC takes every opportunity to inform partners and communities of the program, we leave it up to individual communities to initiate the application process and ensure that they meet the criteria for designation. 

In order to be designated, a community must meet several criteria. First, the community must form an advisory committee that will fill out the application and which will continue to meet after the community’s designation. The application should include several letters of support and the designation must ultimately be approved by the town or county government of the community that is applying to the program. Finally, upon designation, the Gateway Community Coordinator and the community’s advisory committee will work together to come up with a plan of action and several priority projects that the community would like to undertake.

As partners of CDTC, Gateway Communities commit to participating in the program on an ongoing basis as follows: 

  • Annual CDT event: This can be a new event or can be incorporated into a pre-existing event in your community. For example, if there is already an annual festival in your town, committee members can set up a table with information about the CDT. Other examples of events include:
    • Community hike
    • Speaker series at the library
    • Tabling at an athletic event
    • Community happy hour at a local brewery or restaurant
    • Trail cleanup or other stewardship
  • Quarterly check-ins with the Gateway Community Manager
  • Committee meetings 2-4 times a year
  • Working with the Gateway Community Manager to recruit 1-2 Gateway Community Ambassadors for the community. Learn more about our Ambassador Program here (PDF).

Download Gateway Community Application