History of the Grand Circle Association

The Grand Circle encompasses parts of five states – Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada. The Circle includes some of the most important archaeological and historic sites in America. America’s largest concentration of National Parks and Monuments is in the Circle. Four of the 22 prestigious UNESCO World Heritage site designations in the country are in the Grand Circle.

The nonprofit Grand Circle Association was organized in 1983 by four travel professionals: Dave Johnson of Del Webb (concessionaire to Lake Powell); Gerald LaFont of Gouldings Lodge at Monument Valley; Steve Tedder of TW Services (holding company for Trans World Airlines); and Bruce Fears of ARA (concessionaire to Mesa Verde; now Aramark). Each contributed $50,000 towards their goal was of promoting the National Parks and Monuments in the Four Corners area. It was based on their observation that no one was visiting just one destination, but rather as many destinations as possible within the Circle. They decided to form an organization to promote the whole area. Their first meeting was at Manco, Colorado in 1983.

The early years were about collaboration, and members contributed financial resources and their time to launch a brand new way of marketing. Fall, winter, and spring itineraries and collateral materials were created to market the Circle, and a concerted effort was made to sell directly to tour operators.

The Association has expanded greatly since these beginnings, and currently has about 100 members, including tourism-based organizations of every description. Thirty-five years of promotion by the organization has vastly increased awareness of the outstanding tourism opportunities in the Circle.

Past Presidents include:

  • Leif Johnson
  • Becki Lewis
  • Judith Swain
  • Donnita Parker
  • Kit Law
  • Gerald LaFont
  • Marilee Fowler
  • Karlin Bunting
  • Matt Creamer
  • Al Early
  • Randy Wolf
  • Lynn Dyer
  • Lena Ross
  • Ed Spear