The Texas Phenomenon: Why Texans Drive Tourism in the Mountain States
[Originally posted on JustTrails.com August 5th, 2013.]
It’s a love/hate kind of thing. Texans love to vacation in the mountains and locals hate them for it. Well kind of, here’s what I mean…
Mountain states have a long history of courting vacationers from Texas. Sure they lure in folks from other destinations, but it’s the Texans that seem to flock en masse. You can count on them just as sure as the winter snows – in the mountains, not so much in Texas. Like the snow, you welcome them at first. Then after a few days, you start to wonder when is it going to stop?
Southwest Airlines’ Southwest Vacations, notes that Texans make up nearly 70 percent of the ski business to New Mexico, nearly half of its traffic to the Lake Tahoe area in California and Nevada, and nearly a fifth of its ski traffic into Salt Lake City. Texas skiers also are among the top five groups to visit Aspen. Texas and California are neck-in-neck as the top two originating states for overnight travel in Colorado based on the Colorado Longwoods report.
So why is that? You have to visit Texas to find out. Texas is its own country. It’s big, for sure, and has some of the fastest growing cities in North America. In fact, a recent Forbes study showed four out of the top 10 fastest growing cities were in Texas.
This growing population is always looking for things to do outside of Texas. If you’ve been to Texas, you know it lacks a vertical playground. Yes, the state does have the Davis and Guadalupe Mountains (and others), but they lack in comparison.
The mountains offer one of the best escapes from the sweltering heat of the Texas summer. The ski slopes and snow are an exotic alternative to local options during wintertime. Better yet, Texans don’t have to travel too far to retreat. Most flights are less than two hours and affordable, thanks to carrier competition and easy access.
Back when Texas was an independent territory, it had claim to some of those beautiful mountains that now belong to Colorado. Maybe some native Texans still have some of that mountain DNA in their blood. Further, every so often some Texas boom happens, and these “neuveaux riche” flock to Colorado to buy up land and sport ridiculously expensive Aspen chaps that they couldn’t wear back home for fear of ridicule.
Local business owners tend to keep quiet on this debate. They let the dollars do the talking. They have been advertising to attract that Texas money for years. The travel sections of the Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News and Austin American Statesman are littered with articles and ads about getting away to the mountains.
Texans are a prideful, individualistic bunch. Some locations have appealed to the Texas spirit. In Colorado there are a couple of vacation spots that have adapted their names to make Texans feel more at home: The Tall Texan Campground (Gunnison) and Texan Resort (Lake City). Real Estate companies like the Texans too. I even found a Facebook page “Texans in Colorado” devoted to helping these southern transplants.
This is a growing trend . . . because of global warming, a low cost of living, and the “budding” recreational marijuana market . . . the number of Texans vacationing in the mountains will only increase. Texans will soon edge out Californians in overnight travel to Colorado and New Mexico. The phenomenon is here to stay for better or worse.
As a Texan (formerly Nutmeggar and Sooner), I’d say we aren’t all that bad. Maybe it’s a good thing!
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