Travelers on the coast highway have good reason to stop in Crescent City, but they don't necessarily know that.
Every day, we lose opportunities to welcome these visitors. Many of them may be inclined to spend a little time and money rather than just passing through - if they're enlightened about the area's attractions and amenities.
That's what makes the proposal for an Interagency Visitor Center right on the highway at the harbor's edge such an attractive concept. More than attractive, actually. Downright crucial for the economic future of an area dependent on tourism.
It's not that out-of-towners aren't being well-served now, if they
find the two information centers tucked away a block off the highway.
Walk into the ground-floor center at Redwood National and State Parks
headquarters, and you're likely to catch an employee behind the counter
spreading out a map and regaling visitors with all the outdoor
opportunities they've happened upon. In minutes, they can customize an
adventure based on their interests, their physical abilities, and their
A half-block away on the second floor of the Cultural Center, similar
service is offered at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center. That's
where people learn that they can actually walk out to our signature
lighthouse at low tide, or enjoy the craggy coastline along Pebble Beach
Drive - two signature features invisible from U.S. Highway 101.
It's on that highway that countless travelers make snap decisions
about whether to tarry or carry on. Most probably never see
insubstantial signage mentioning the current visitors' centers, which
end up serving only people who have already decided to investigate their
Imagine the impact a well-designed, one-stop-shopping visitor center
would have right on 101.
An artist's rendering of such a facility appeared on the front page
Jan. 7. Next up is a more-detailed design for the proposed two-story
building. Within its 13,000-15,000 square feet of space would be
displays and interpretative information about Del Norte's natural and
cultural resources. Other amenities could include a gift shop,
conference center and a 120-seat auditorium. And what about the skeleton
preserved by community activists of that 35-foot sperm whale that
washed ashore back in 2008?
An impressive collection of local governments and agencies have
already gotten on board, at least tentatively, and Redwood National Park
has agreed to fund the daily operation and maintenance.
When the proposal was discussed at a recent Crescent City Harbor
Commission meeting, there were understandable questions about just how
elaborate the facility should be. The answers will lie in how much money
can be raised, but it makes sense to design a top-notch facility and
see what kinds of grants can be obtained to make it a reality.
Even a modest visitor center on the highway would pay dividends for
our tourism industry. But this is a marvelous opportunity to show off
what Del Norte has to offer.
Let's build a visitor center worthy of the world-class natural
amenities we have here.
- Del Norte Triplicate