Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Canyon in Colorado, United States

Royal Gorge Bridge and Park

Canyon in Colorado, United States

Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge at Night Photo © Dave Soldano

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Royal Gorge Bridge and Park

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royal gorge 066 - Royal Gorge
	Bridge and Park
royal gorge 066 - Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Photo by tsilb
The Royal Gorge, also called the ‘Grand Canyon of the Arkansas’, is a canyon that was cut out by the Arkansas River (Wikipedia Article) near Cañon City in Colorado. The canyon is 15 meter wide at its base and a few hundred feet at the top; it is about ten miles long and 381 meter deep, which makes it one of the deepest canyons in the entire state.

The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is home to a large number of great activities and sights. The Royal Gorge Bridge is one of the highest suspension bridges in the world and offers breathtaking views of the canyon below, while the Royal Gorge Route Railway is the state’s premier scenic railway journey. Other attractions include zip lines, a zoo, a skycoaster, a gondola, and so much more. The park combines awesome natural features with thrilling man-made rides and attractions and is one of the greatest (family) attractions in Colorado.

the view -
	Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
the view - Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Photo by Mary

History

The first step on the path toward the Royal Gorge was taken between 55 and 80 million years ago, when the Rocky Mountains started to rise up out of the plains. It wasn’t until much later, about three million years ago, that a trickle began to flow from a source in the mountains. That trickle turned into a stream, which turned into the present-day raging Arkansas River, which incidentally became one of the longest rivers in the United States. Over time the river carved its way through the granite bedrock, thus slowly creating an imposing canyon.

The Sioux, Cheyenne, Comanche, and Kiowa Indians used the gorge during annual migrations, on bison hunting expeditions and to access mountain meadows. The gorge was also a place where they would winter, because it offered protection and has a relatively comfortable climate. The first Europeans to enter the area were Spanish conquistadors, but the first recorded exploration was done by the party of Zebulon Pike (Wikipedia Article), an explorer after which Pikes Peak is named.

Cañon City was founded in 1850 and by the end of the century the Royal Gorge was a main route for transcontinental passenger trains. That old railway now offers scenic railway journeys to visitors.

Bridge across Royal Gorge -
	Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
Bridge across Royal Gorge - Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Photo by J. Stephen Conn

Geology

After the Rocky Mountains began to rise – they still continue to rise – the Arkansas River started to flow and began cutting its way through the surrounding granite. According to geologists the surrounding mountain rose at a rate of a foot per every 2,500 years. As the mountains rose, the river sank into the bedrock. Nowadays, the gorge has a unique narrow shape, which is due to a long period of direct erosion through extremely hard rock. It is only about 15 meter wide at its base, which is nothing compared to other wide canyons like the Grand Canyon.

Visiting the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park

The 360-acre Royal Gorge Bridge and Park has an incredible amount of activities and sights to offer its visitors. The visitor center is set on the edge of the canyon’s north rim and features loads of information on activities, as well as a huge gift shop and a fine restaurant.

Royal Gorge Bridge

The Royal Gorge Bridge is without question the flagship attraction in the park. Built in 1929, the bridge could be considered an engineering wonder, spanning the wild Arkansas River at a height of 291 meter. It is in fact the highest suspension bridge in the United States and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can walk or drive across the bridge, which is a fantastic experience in itself, and take the gondola back.

Gondola

The gondolas cross the Royal Gorge 366 meter above the Arkansas River, offering truly jaw-dropping sights and a thrilling experience. They leave and arrive next to the visitor center.

Royal Rush Skycoaster

The Royal Rush Skycoaster is one of the most thrilling things to do in all of Colorado. This attraction involves a 50-mph 100-feet free fall more than a thousand feet above the canyon’s bottom. It was named the world’s scariest skycoaster.

Royal Gorge Train and River -
	Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
Royal Gorge Train and River - Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Photo by Frank Carey

Royal Gorge Route Railroad

The Royal Gorge Route Railroad is technically not a part of the park, although it does cross it. This is the most scenic railway journey in Colorado, connecting Cañon City and Parkdale and traveling through the bottom of Royal Gorge on its way.

Other fun activities

Additional activities in the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park include bungee jumping, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, zip lining, visiting the small zoo, and enjoying fine wines, amazing views and a great meal in the restaurant.

the full span - Royal Gorge
	Bridge and Park
the full span - Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Photo by Mary

How to Get There

The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park lies about a two-hour drive south of Denver, forty-five minutes west of Colorado Springs, and ten minutes west of Cañon City. To get there visitors should follow I-25 to CO-115 South, and then continue on Highway 50 through Cañon City until the sign pointing to the Royal Gorge on the left side. There is free parking available.

Similar and Nearby Landmarks

Nearby landmarks include the Gardens of the Gods, Pikes Peak and the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. Other famous attractions in Colorado are the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Dinosaur National Monument and, of course, the city of Denver.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Feb 26, 2015

Pictures of Royal Gorge Bridge and Park

down in the valley - Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
down in the valley - Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Photo by Mary

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