Everyone should have the opportunity to walk across the country’s highest bridge, if only to comprehend this amazing engineering feat. And of course, to take in the jaw-dropping views it provides from all angles.
The Royal Gorge Bridge, located in Cañon City, Colorado, is truly a marvel. At an impressive 956 feet high and 1,260 feet long, it is a testament to ingenuity. Built in 1929, this suspension bridge is also a historical sentinel, which has witnessed many of our nation’s important events.
The Royal Gorge has always held significance as a travel route for creatures and humans alike. Millions of years ago, the dinosaurs roamed in this area, and numerous fossil discoveries serve as record of their presence.
Native Americans arrived next, followed by the Europeans, who came to explore the gorge’s wild Arkansas River. Later, the railroads got in on the action, resulting in what became known as the Royal Gorge Railroad War of 1877.
The battle was over the rights to silver deposits along the river, with the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad on one side and the Santa Fe Railroad on the other. The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad was eventually declared the victor and proceeded to construct lines along the base of the gorge.
The rail line allowed more people to see the gorge and admire its beauty. Cañon City, which had been given the land around the gorge for use as a park, wanted to attract more visitors to the area. This spurred interest in building a bridge across the gorge.
The structure was completed in a mere seven months by a crew of eighty. What’s also remarkable is that there were no serious injuries or deaths during the project, even though the men often worked while dangling at dizzying heights above the river.
The crowds came in droves, and since opening, this famed attraction has attracted upwards of 30 million visitors.
Take your time as you stroll across this man-made wonder and stop to read the placards along the way. There are also signs and flags, marking each of the states. Photo opps are plentiful of the bridge, mountains, gorge and the Arkansas River below.
Once you’re on the other side, head to the Plaza Theater for an informative film. There are also artifacts and photos to look at, including pictures of the damage to the Royal Gorge Park from the terrible 2013 wildfire. The fire destroyed nearly all of the structures in the park. The bridge, however, remained intact.
The park was rebuilt and reopened two years later. Your admission includes a picturesque Aerial Gondola ride. For an additional cost, you can amp up the adrenaline and soar above the river on the Cloudscraper Zipline, the highest zipline in the country. Or extend over the edge of the gorge on the screaming Royal Rush Skycoaster.
Another adventurous activity is the Royal Gorge Via Ferrata, a guided mountaineering experience. Get ready to hike and scale the gorge’s granite walls via a system of steel cables that are fixed to the rock.
Kids have an attraction of their own at the Tommy Knocker Playland. It’s a haven of ropes, slides, tunnels, a vintage carousel and more.