Frontier/Mountain West Travel Tips, by Kyle Bradley

The Frontier and Mountain West states certainly live up to their Wild West pasts, with deserts butted up against frontier towns where you can almost hear the whistling in the wind. This vast region is abundant with opportunities for your group to taste the Old West lifestyle while still giving them the tourism experiences they have come to expect. From the starkness of a white sand desert to a shopping district that cost close to $1 billion, your groups will not have a minute to waste.

Arizona

SouthBridge is the newest group destination in Scottsdale, Arizona, set to open spring 2007. This new urban center will offer retail, dining, entertainment and residential components inspired by some of the worlds most famous urban destinations. Seven new restaurants will feature tasty urban cuisine. Also, a collection of locally owned fashion boutiques and eclectic shops are sure to be filled with the latest fashions and furnishings. All will be centered on European-style courtyards and a Town Square. Weekly organic farmers markets, fashion shows, cultural festivals and outdoor movie screenings in these open-air courtyards give groups plenty of entertainment options. If you are heading to the Grand Canyon this fall, here is something you will enjoy: The Grand Canyon Railway is introducing The Sunset Limited tour to complement its other offerings. The new tour will leave in the late afternoon and head into the Canyon for a relaxing sunset ride. Guests can enjoy a dance car, hors d oeuvres and a full service bar and regional wine service. The company offers groups both percentage discounts and comp tickets. The Sunset Limited tour is the first step in a series of updates for the Grand Canyon Railway, including 900 new hotel rooms (200 more by 2008), eight new restaurants and a full-service spa.

Colorado

Among the many unique exhibits at Denvers Colorado History Museum is Soldiers on Skis. The exhibit has been revisited and improved, highlighting the training and preparation of the 10th Mountain Division for action in the Second World War. Utilizing artifacts from the Colorado Historical Societys collection along with photographs, letters, maps and diaries from the Denver Public Library, the exhibit looks at the mens experiences at Colorados Camp Hale and on the front in the mountains of Northern Italy. There is no hurry to see this exhibit, though. It will be on display through August of 2008.

KansasBy late 2006, downtown Kansas City will put itself on the map again. Kansas Citys downtown convention district is in the midst of a $4-billion transformation, an exciting portion of which is the new $835-million Power & Light District. The district will cover a nine-squareblock area and looks to be a solid addition to group travel itineraries. Charming boutiques, art galleries, bookstores, live entertainment, and a mix of restaurants are sure to have something for everyone in the group. This huge project will enhance the already numerous shopping choices in the Kansas City Plaza at Twelfth and Vine.

New Mexico

If your group wants to take a trip during the busy Christmas season, they might enjoy the Sunset Stroll Nature Walk at the White Sands National Monument, 45 miles east of Las Cruces. Here, gently rolling dunes of gypsum sand cover 275 square miles of desert the largest field of its kind in the world. Groups can take the one-hour rangerguided walk through the unique white sands or do a selfguided tour with the help of free brochures from the on-site museum. Both will explain everything from the areas wildlife to the history of the dunes, and the biological explanation for their picturesque coloring.

OklahomaThe 2007 event calendar for the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum proves that its extensive collection of art, objects and research materials helpful in understanding and appreciating the history of the American West is anything but stagnant. Temporary exhibitions begin next year with Pinturas de Fe: the Retablo Tradition in Mexico and New Mexico, February 3 through April 29. The Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition returns June 8 through September 9, and beginning October 13, the Museum hosts Samuel Colt: Arms, Art and Invention, organized by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art,Hartford, Connecticut.

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