Situated just west of Cañon City, Colorado, the Royal Gorge Bridge is an engineering marvel stretching over a spectacular canyon carved by the Arkansas River. The year-round park covers 360 acres of breathtaking terrain and features numerous mountain activities including a Via Ferrata and zip line.
The bridge deck towers 955 feet above the river floor, making it the highest suspension bridge in the country. You’ll find shows and events throughout the year at the park. The Gazebo Theater hosts live family entertainment like magic shows, while the Plaza Theater runs a continuous 13 minute video presentation about the gorge.
The Utes and several Plains tribes frequented the Royal Gorge region for shelter and herding within the steep walls of the rock formation. Following that, the area was first explored by gold prospectors and settlers in the 1800s. In 1879, the Royal Gorge Railroad was laid, providing access to the canyon and opening up the area to tourism.
In 1929 the famous bridge was built as a way to provide tourists with a unique view of the natural wonder and the surrounding landscape. At the time, it was the highest suspension bridge in the world, standing at 955 feet above the river.
Over the years, the park has faced a number of challenges, including several wildfires that have threatened the area. In 2013, a devastating wildfire destroyed much of the park, including many of its buildings and attractions. However, the bridge itself survived the fire and was able to reopen after extensive repairs were made.
Today, the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park remains a popular destination for tourists from around the world, offering millions of visitors the chance to experience one of the most spectacular wonders in the state of Colorado.
Activities at Royal Gorge
If you make the trek out to this southern Colorado gem, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy for the whole day. Aside from the bridge itself, there are numerous attractions and activities suitable for all ages and thrill-seeking levels.
Royal Gorge Bridge
The Royal Gorge Bridge is one of the most iconic attractions in Colorado, spanning the stunning Royal Gorge at a height of 955 feet above the Arkansas River. It is the highest suspension bridge in the United States and provides visitors with breathtaking vantage points of the canyon.
The bridge is a marvel of engineering, with a length of 1,260 feet and a width of 18 feet. It was constructed in 1929 and withstood the tests of time and nature, even surviving a devastating fire in 2013. Today, visitors can walk across the bridge or ride the Aerial Tram or zip line to experience the surrounding beauty.
The Visitor Center serves as the gateway to the park and offers a wealth of information for visitors including maps, brochures, information about the park’s attractions and activities, as well as a gift shop and dining options. There is also a movie theater, where visitors can watch a film about the history and construction of the Royal Gorge Bridge.
One of the highlights of the center is the Water Clock, an impressive timepiece that uses water to keep time and features a colorful display of spinning gears and water jets. The clock operates on a 12-hour cycle and has a different display every hour, adding an element of surprise to each visit.
The Aerial Tram carries visitors across the gorge in a cable car suspended 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River offering views of the canyon and the Royal Gorge Bridge from the comfort of the tram. The ride takes about 8 minutes, and visitors can choose to ride in an open-air or enclosed cabin.
This attraction is included with each entry ticket and operates year-round, weather permitting. It is accessible for visitors with mobility challenges.
Royal Rush Skycoaster (Mar – Jan)
Not for the faint of heart, the Skycoaster is a three-person swing that sends riders soaring out over the canyon, reaching speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. The swing is secured on the rim of the gorge, 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River. Riders pull a ripcord that drops them into a freefall before the swing catches them, adding to the thrill of the experience.
Anyone looking to ride must meet a minimum height requirement of 48 inches to participate. With stunning views and a rush of excitement, the Royal Rush Skycoaster is an unforgettable experience for thrill-seekers visiting the park.
Cloudscraper Zip Line (Mar – Oct)
The Cloudscraper Zip Line is 2,400 feet long and suspended 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River, providing riders with dramatic vistas of the canyon. The ride begins with a short hike to the starting point, and once there, riders are harnessed to the zip line and launched off the platform across the gorge.
The zip line consists of two separate lines, allowing riders to race each other to the finish as they run parallel to the Aerial Tram. Riders must meet a minimum weight requirement of 90 pounds and a maximum weight of 250 pounds to participate.
Tommy Knocker Playland
Royal Gorge Via Ferrata
A Via Ferrata is a fun sport that combines rock climbing, hiking, grappling, and mountaineering in a way that provides some of the most elite climbing experiences to those who are new to this type of outdoor activity. Sporting a secure lanyard harness, adventurers use rungs, ladders, and steel cables to traverse along the cliffside safely.
The Royal Gorge Via Ferrata is an exhilarating Colorado experience that can be done by anyone with a love for the outdoors, no rock climbing skills are necessary. However, those who wish to do this Via Ferrata are recommended to have a decent fitness level and be in good health.
Tours are led by an expert guide who takes participants through routes on the south rim, offering one-of-a-kind viewpoints. The steep rock walls make for some of the best Via Ferrata conditions, solidifying it as one of the most unique out of the 8 routes in the state.
The Royal Gorge Via Ferrata is available to anyone older than 10 years of age, and there are two paths that you can sign up for. The shorter of the two can last between 2.5-3 hours, while the longer one is 4.5-5 hours in length. Reservations aren’t required for either course, but they are recommended to ensure that you can get on the trip that you want.
Primitive tent camping is available at 23 designated campsites on the grounds near the park at the East Ridge Campground. Each site has been recently updated and includes a fire pit and picnic table. There are trash cans and vault toilets nearby.
About 8 miles south of Cañon City is Temple Canyon Park, which hosts 4 primitive campsites that are pretty spread out. There are a few fire rings and picnic tables but that’s about it. If you’re looking for solitude, this is the place to be.
Canyon Rim Trail is rated as an easy route that totals 6.1 miles out and back. It is the first trail to be built on the rim of the canyon and has beautiful scenic viewpoints in exchange for little effort. The Le View and Far Out trails are also accessed via this trail. It is dog friendly.
Made in the Shade is a great choice if you need a break from the harsh summer sun. It offers views of the gorge but mainly winds through vegetation that provides ample shade for the whole 3.1 mile loop.
Point Alta Vista trail is the best spot for families to stretch their legs on a wide, easy trail that’s only 1 mile out and back
All your adventures in the park are bound to leave you a little bit hungry. Guests are more than welcome to bring their own food from home and enjoy it in any of the various picnic areas around the bridge park. If you forgot to pack some snacks, don’t worry, there are plenty of dining options scattered on either side of the bridge.
Chow down on a cheeseburger from Cafe 1230, grab a slice at Pizza on the Hill, or get your caffeine fix at Java at the Bridge. You’ll also find options for a cold beer, ice cream, and fresh BBQ. All dining spots are open seasonally except for Cafe 1230, which stays open year-round.
The Visitors Center has a large souvenir shop if you’re looking to take a memento home. Everything from shirts and plushes to magnets and keychains lines the shelves. There are also a few special collections such as Colorado Pride and ones specifically for the Via Ferrata route. If you realize you want to purchase something after you’ve already left, they have an online store to browse as well.
Bighorn Mountaintop Lodge – The only accommodation you’ll find that is directly on the rim of the gorge. The spacious 1,500-square-foot house has 3 bedrooms and is within walking distance of the park. Guests can enjoy WiFi, a propane fireplace, and a full kitchen.
Read about the hotels in nearby Cañon City.
In addition to the activities at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, this amazing natural landmark region offers a few more gems. You can go whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River directly through the Royal Gorge. Or opt to hop aboard the Royal Gorge Route Railroad for a one-of-a-kind train ride in the heart of the canyon.
If you prefer an even more thrilling way to experience the towering canyon, consider a helicopter tour. This high-flying adventure company offers tours from 8 to 60 miles long, and you can even choose to soar over the park during sunset.
Address: 4218 County Road 3A, Cañon City, CO 81212
Season: Year round
Hours: 10 am – 4 pm to 7 pm (depending on the season).
Admission: Daily admission passport includes all attractions except Zip Line and Skycoaster.
- There is a free scenic overlook by the parking lot for those just looking to sightsee.
Pets: Yes, on-leash, allowed in the park but not in buildings or rides. Kennels are available first come, first served.
Maps: Royal Gorge Map