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Colorado mountain town hoping for snow to improve visitor experience

While a lack of snow in Georgetown hasn't kept visitors away, business owners hope the snow comes soon to help lighten up the experience.

GEORGETOWN, Colo. — Kimberly Knox has been in the area for more than three decades. In that time, the experienced hiker turned her hobby into a profession, opening up Georgetown Outdoor Discovery, where she hosts guided hiking and snowshoeing tours. 

“In Clear Creek County we hike year-round, whether it's in boots, whether it’s in this form of spike," she said. 

But so far this season, when it comes to snowshoeing, there's been a bit of an issue.

“People are really excited about snowshoe, but we’ve had no snow to speak of this year," she said. 

Showing off her piles of snowshoes, she said she hasn't been able to put them to use since the spring, but luckily the lack of snow hasn't stopped her customers from coming out, since they still get a scenic hike in. 

“It’s definitely impacted my business. I do still take people out for hikes, and/or spike hikes, if it’s cold enough. But I really would love the snow because people are enthralled with snowshoeing and using the equipment of snowshoes," she said. “Customers have been gracious to want to experience the hiking, the history."

Credit: Mat Gaskins
Kimberly Knox shows a snowshoe as she hopes for more snow this season.

If visitors aren't out snowshoeing, they may be out on the Georgetown Loop Railroad, which is decked out in holiday decorations every holiday season. 

“We’ve all been hoping and praying for snow. I mean, a Christmas Train! You got to have snow!” said Bryan Galke, the Director of Operations. “We got people coming here from California, Texas and Florida hoping we’ll have snow."

But much like Knox's business, Galke said it hasn't stopped visitors from coming out to enjoy the train ride. He said on average they get around 40,000 visitors every season. But the experience is what takes a hit. 

“We have the creek lit up. But without snow, you don’t get the colors and the reflections of the light, so it’s still a great show, but it could be more.” he said. “Some people may be delaying coming up, saying 'well maybe it’ll snow we can go up and see it.'"

Credit: Mat Gaskins
The Georgetown Loop Railroad decorated in holiday decorations.

On some weekends during the season, the town hosts Georgetown's Christmas Market, which has vendors set up their stands off Sixth Street. 

Jenn Jordan, the town's event and marketing coordinator, said the event draws in the highest amount of visitors, next to their Fourth of July weekend festivities. 

"Christmas market overall is the biggest economic impact, for sure," she said. "No snow, which makes it a little less scenic and a little less--Hallmark movie-esque."

Around 1,500 visitors on average attend the Christmas Market, but Jordan said last weekend when they had the event, it was a record-breaking turnout in the market's 61-year history.

She said the number of people staying outside at the market longer is actually one positive from the lack of snow. But that means less traffic for the brick-and-mortar businesses at the time. 

"Because people are okay, they're not freezing, they're okay to be outside. That said, they're not necessarily hanging in the businesses as long as they might otherwise when the weather is inclement. So there is definitely both sides to it," she said. 

Overall, she said, the desire for colder temperatures moving forward is still there so that people can go ice fishing on Georgetown Lake, and the ice skating rink can be set up and put to use.

Credit: Mat Gaskins
Holiday decorations at the Georgetown Loop Railroad.

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