Sean and Danielle Pond, of Nucla, say that tourism and recreation are on the rise in the communities of Nucla and Naturita. They purchased the old Yellow Rock in Naturita, a former restaurant and bar. For the last few months have been working to get it open for their new businesses.

Sean Pond’s aunt used to run the Yellow Rock years ago. He grew up in Grand Junction, but would come to Nucla often to visit. He also worked as a nuclear engineer from 1995-2001 in the local area at Slick Rock and Uravan. Pond’s children were born in the area and spent their early years in Nucla, too.

Now he’s back with his aunt’s old building, but doing something completely different: renting recreational equipment, including boats, campers, tubes, paddleboards, jeeps and side-by-sides. Called Rimrocker Adventures, it’s named after the famous trail that runs through the West End area, and when he gets permit approval from the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, he’ll also be giving guided tours on it.

Can Naturita and Nucla support a business like that? Is tourism and recreation something people really go to the West End for?

According to Pond, it’s already happening. 

“Absolutely,” he told The Norwood Post over the weekend. “We saw 150 people at Camp V last weekend. They rented stuff. Where they came from, I have no idea. Someone flew in from New York and rented our camper. There is a lot of activity and tourism coming into this area.”

He said others have stopped in his place from the Denver area, who were traveling through, sightseeing.

“What happened with COVID is people couldn’t fly and travel abroad,” he said. “People are discovering the West End.”

He added the Rimrocker Hotel is booked through August. The High Horse is also booked through September.

“People are coming here and spending money, and I think it’s just the beginning,” he said. 

Those who have passed through Naturita recently have seen the work the Ponds have been doing, painting and fencing their property. Sara Bachman has supported the business with insurance liability for the rentals.

The Ponds haven’t really had a soft opening yet, but they are already renting their equipment to people who stop and ask. He said he’d like to have an official opening in the next few weeks.

At the same time, on the other side of their Main Street property there in Naturita, the family also decided to open an equipment rental shop. After redoing their Nucla home and driving to Grand Junction, Montrose or Telluride to get what they needed, they figured the West End could use a place that rented skid steers, mini-excavators, dump trailers and other mid-sized equipment. Soon, they’ll have tools to rent out also.

They’ve been receiving feedback on what sorts of equipment West End locals would like to see available.

Down below the ground floor of the old Yellow Rock, there still sits the old bar downstairs, the Incline. At this point, the family has no plan to reopen the tavern, since they have so much to do with their other businesses.

“Right now, we need to get these two off the ground and running and see what’s next,” he said.