I’ve been shooting a few assignments for High Country News where I work primarily as a designer and photo editor. I shot a story about a tiny speck on the map in Western Colorado back in October. That speck is called Gateway and with a population so small only 30 K-12 students attend the school, it’s hard to notice as you pass through the canyon. But what many people do notice is a huge resort, number one in Colorado and twelve in the world, that boasts a car museum, rafting, horseback riding, and romping around on gnarly roads.
I visited the place with Maureen Neal, who wrote an essay about watching the town of Gateway disappear for High Country News. She taught at the then one-room schoolhouse in 1985. We walked through the resort-owned land surrounding Gateway to visit the ancient cemetery that overlooks the town and spent the afternoon chatting with Aggie Wareham, 83, who has lived in Gateway almost her entire life. There were no commercial buildings not affiliated with the resort, and the old Vanadium mine that used to fuel the town economy in the 70s has turned into a site full of wrecked and rusting equipment.
The resort, out of sight from the town, is a huge complex of adobe buildings and green lawns with sprinklers spewing across the lawns. In October the place seemed empty, only a few cars in the lot, but apparently they get busy and fully booked during some seasons. Which is why they are building an employee housing complex to house all the workers that tend to visitors at the resort. I suspect the resort’s population exceeds the town’s during high season, maybe even year round.
Here are some shots from the area, including some I didn’t include in the magazine edit:
A construction worker from Grand Junction works on infrastructure for employee housing at Gateway Canyons Resort that will include a pool, a gym and more. Brooke Warren/High Country News
Buck Talbert works on a Baja racing vehicle at Gateway Canyons resort. For the past eight years he has commuted over an hour from Grand Junction to work as the resort off-road vehicle mechanic. Brooke Warren/High Country News
Aggie Wareham, 83, looks through old photo albums, remembering her lifetime spent in Gateway, Colorado. Brooke Warren/ High Country News
Bighorn sheep stand roadside on Hwy 141 on the route to Gateway, Colorado. Brooke Warren/High Country News