The Royal Gorge Region of Central Colorado consists of Cañon City, the Royal Gorge, and Arkansas River, along with several area attractions. Cañon City is the base camp of the region and also a destination, with its historic downtown district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The major travel allure of the area, however, is the Royal Gorge and Arkansas River. The Royal Gorge is a 10-mile-long canyon that carves 1,250 feet deep and is only as wide as 50 feet at its base. An impressive suspension bridge spans the canyon at 955 feet above its floor and was the highest bridge in the world until recently. The Arkansas River flows through the gorge and is popular for its Class IV and V white water rapids accessed via numerous local guides. There are several fantastic ways to experience the Royal Gorge, the Arkansas River, and Cañon City. Here are a few of the most popular.
Royal Gorge by Bridge
The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is owned by Cañon City and is a sprawling playland designed to allow access to the bridge and experience the massive canyon up close in several unique ways. The incline passenger railway, for instance, steeply descends 1,500 feet to the canyon floor, and an aerial tram suspends visitors 1,178 above the river. Additional rides such as the Royal Rush Skycoaster and the upcoming Soaring Eagle Zip Line will appeal to adventurous types willing to dangle high speed over the mouth of the canyon. These adventure rides are usually in addition to the entrance fee. The park includes several family-oriented rides and attractions like the petting zoo and miniature railroad, and carriage, trolley, burro and mule rides. Restaurants and gift shops are located throughout the park.
Royal Gorge by Train
One of the best ways to see the canyon is via the Royal Gorge Route Railroad which offers passengers a three hour train ride, gourmet three-course meals, and different classes of service. The rail takes a historic route through the canyon with opportunities to spot wildlife and take in the breathtaking scenery in a high class way. Depending on your budget, options include lunch and dinner trains, a la carte and gourmet wine paired meals, coach class cars, vista dome glass cars, a bar and parlor car, and open air cars in each class. Special theme train rides are offered throughout the year based on certain holidays and include the Santa Express Train, Oktoberfest, Mother’s Day Brunch, and Easter Bunny Special. A Murder Mystery Train is hosted and performed several evenings each year.
Royal Gorge by River
The Arkansas River is the adventure lover’s preferred way to experience Royal Gorge. The river's Class IV and V rapids are not for the faint of heart, but there are stretches suitable for first-timers. Whatever your age and ability, experienced tour companies and guides are licensed to get you safely down the river. Some tours offer a hybrid raft and train experience in conjunction with the Royal Gorge Route Railroad. Kayaks and rafts of all sizes are another popular way to ride the river, and some anglers fish the river from rafts.
Cañon City by Foot
Cañon City’s downtown is listed on the National Historical Register for its numerous turn-of-the-century buildings. Strewn about this historic district are shops, boutiques, art galleries, a museum, restaurants, brew pubs and more. Just a little outside downtown is the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey, complete with a tasting room and an outdoor garden setting. For lengthier nature strolls, Cañon City maintains a riverwalk path, winding seven miles along the Arkansas River. You can enjoy the path by foot, bike, or even horseback. The riverwalk is an excellent area for wildlife viewing and bird watching.
There are other ways to experience the Royal Gorge and Arkansas River wilderness, including ATV tours, camping, hiking, rock climbing, and aerial tours. Whatever you’re preference, Cañon City will likely be your base camp. Lodging options in Cañon City and nearby Florence (9 miles to the southeast) include motels, cabins, lodges, five star hotels, bed & breakfasts, and campgrounds. To learn more about Cañon City / Royal Gorge attractions, tour companies, hotels, and recreation, explore the links to the left.
Nearby Cañon City
From Cañon City, many of the attractions of the Royal Gorge are about 10-15 miles west. Cañon City is located:
|120 miles south of||Denver|
|50 miles south of||Colorado Springs|
|60 miles east of||Salida|
|40 miles west of||Pueblo|