Royal Gorge Park
And Royal Gorge Bridge
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is a truly unique attraction that is fun for the entire family. The Royal Gorge Bridge is the highest suspension bridge in the world, at 1,053 feet. It spans across the one-quarter mile canyon for a thrilling adventure walk.
For more spine-tingling adventure, take the world’s longest single-span Aerial Tram or the planet’s steepest Incline Railroad. For the very brave, the new Royal Rush Skycoaster is an eye-popping experience. Get the thrill of a lifetime white water rafting down the raging Arkansas River.
The less adventurous will enjoy burro rides, the petting zoo and a wide variety of other recreational activities, such as hiking and nature walks. Royal Gorge Park consists of 360 acres of world-class attraction and family fun.
The first visitors to Royal Gorge were Native Americans who camped and hunted in the region. The Utes made their winter home in the area of present day Canon City. Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa and Sioux came in search of the buffalo that grazed in the mountain meadows during the spring and summer months.
As early as 1642, Spanish missionaries knew that Royal Gorge existed and during the 1700s, fur traders and trappers worked the area for their livelihood.
In 1806, Lieutenant Zebulon Pike came to the area to define the borders of the Louisiana Purchase and sent scouting parties into the canyon to explore. Pikes Peak was named for Lieutenant Pike.
The Royal Gorge War
Silver was discovered on the upper Arkansas River in 1877. This sparked a disagreement between the Santa Fe and Rio Grande railroads. Both companies felt it was their privilege to establish a railroad to bring the ore down off the mountains. The Royal Gorge War had begun.
The two companies exchanged gunshots and dynamited each other’s railroad building efforts. Eventually, they took the war to court, where a six-month battle occurred. When the court ruled in favor of the Rio Grande, the Santa Fe was very displeased. The company hired Bat Masterson to protect their railroad building efforts. The Rio Grande hired former governor A.C. Hunt and 200 men to protect their efforts. In the end, the battle Rio Grande Railroad won the war.
The Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge
The Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge is the world’s highest suspension bridge at a height of 1,053 feet. Construction began on June 5, 1929 and was completed in November of that year. The walkway consists of 1,292 planks of which 250 are replaced each year. The origenal cost to build the Bridge was $350,000. The Bridge is capable of holding over two million pounds and is listed on the National Historic Register. Be sure to take the Cliff Walk for breathtaking views. A panoramic view of the Bridge and Royal Gorge can be seen from Inspiration Point, which overlooks Telegraph Gulch.
Mountain Man Encampment
Step back in time to the sound of black powder muskets at Mountain Man Encampment. The attraction is a living history venue where three mountain men dressed in period clothing gives visitors a glimpse of what life was like during the 1800s. The attraction educates and entertains those of all ages.
Wapiti Western Wildlife Park
On the southern rim of Royal Gorge Park, you will find Wapiti Western Wildlife Park. This is a great area for unique wildlife viewing experiences, as a wide variety of Colorado species live in their natural habitat. See bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain elk, American Bison and other Colorado wildlife species. Wapiti Western Wildlife Park is a great experience for the entire family. The Park has a very successful breeding program and you never know what animal babies will be present among the fragrant evergreens and wildflowers of the area.
Royal Gorge began to be carved out by a trickle of water over three million years ago. The water slowly carved a canyon out of the granite rock and today, one of the world’s longest rivers, the Arkansas, rages through it. The Gorge continues to be carved by the River at a rate of one foot per 2500 years. Royal Gorge has been dubbed the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River, and is considered a world wonder. At the canyon bottom, the width of the Gorge is 40 to 50 feet. At the top, it measures a few hundred feet. The view from the top of the canyon is breathtaking and something that you’ll remember for years to come.
The water clock can be found at the entrance to Royal Gorge Park and is one of only three such clocks in the entire world. The water splashes from one bucket to another, and keeps track of every second of the day. Around the clock, flowers and lush plants add to its beauty. It’s a great place for to have your photo taken for a unique keepsake of your visit.
Theme Park Rides
The rides at Royal Gorge Park have been designed for a one-of-a-kind Colorado experience. Thrill seekers will love the world’s highest Skycoaster, the world’s longest Aerial Tram and the world’s steepest Incline Railway. For those who are looking for something a little less wild, the replica of an antique carousel offers a beautifully decorated menagerie of animals. Burros that are descendents of those used in the gold rush days will delight kids, while the entire family will enjoy an authentic covered wagon ride that is pulled by a mule team.
For train buffs, the Royal Gorge Silver Rock Railway is a scale model of an 1893 locomotive. Open cars allow visitors panoramic views of the Park’s natural wonders.
The Park’s shows offer a wide variety of entertainment for those of all ages. The Plaza Theater offers a presentation that highlights the natural attraction and tells the story of the building of the Suspension Bridge. At the Gazebo, visitors will enjoy live family entertainment. If you enjoy Bluegrass or Rock and Roll, the Rocky Entertainment Pavilion is the place to be. Kids will enjoy the animated characters that perform at the Pavilion.
There are lots of shopping opportunities available in Royal Gorge Park. Authentic souvenirs, crafts, pottery, T-shirts, toys and Disney ® collectibles are stocked in shops throughout the Park.
There’s a great selection of delicious foods available in Royal Gorge Park. Enjoy Mexican cuisine, hickory smoked BBQ and American classics, such as grilled cheese or ice cream. Snacks are sold at a variety of venues throughout the Park.
After a busy day exploring the Park, kick back and relax in the Royal Gorge area. The Park offers a dozen rustic campsites for those who wish to sleep under the stars. If more luxurious accommodations are desired, the Bighorn Mountaintop Lodge is located near the Park’s front gates. There is wide range of lodging opportunities within a short distance of the Park in the Canon City area. Whatever your budget, you will also find excellent hotel accommodations in Colorado Springs to suit your tastes.
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is a great day trip for both locals and tourists. For majestic natural wonders and thrilling rides, be sure to include Royal Gorge Park in your itinerary.