Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Small tourist towns feel pinch from gas prices, economy

CHAMA, N.M. — The summer tourist season in this tiny mountain town is well underway, and the quiet RV park nestled under towering cottonwoods ought to be full.

But with diesel fuel nearly $5 a gallon at the local gas station, Russell and Marji Patterson are seeing a dropoff in business at the riverside campground they've operated for almost three decades.

There are fewer campers — on a recent Friday afternoon the park is only about three-fourths occupied — and family groups are noticeably absent.

Russell Patterson says he's learned to live with the ups and downs of a tourist-oriented business in a remote area of the southern Rockies where a scenic railroad and outdoor recreation are about the only draws.

"But this gas thing — this is sucking all the extra money out of the American household," said Patterson.
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