At the end of July we traveled to the Denver area to visit our daughter. This was our first time to Denver and a long weekend at that, so we had a jam-packed itinerary! Our first stop was Royal Gorge Bridge in Cañon City. It took us about 2 hours to get there from the Denver area.
Royal Gorge Bridge is the highest suspension bridge in the USA. It soars almost 1000 feet above the Arkansas River. I have no idea how this bridge was built, but it has been there since 1929, even surviving a wildfire in 2013 with minimal damage.
What a beautiful sight and fun area. As you exit your car there is a viewing post that looks out over the gorge and provides a wonderful view of the bridge. This is your typical state or national park – get tickets, go through security, pass through a visitors center, and out to the park, or in this case gorge and bridge.
Before crossing the bridge there is another viewing area on the side opposite the parking lot that gives you a different view of the gorge and bridge. There is also a selfie spot – which I doubt was there in 1929, but it offers a perfect spot for your selfie!
A really cute feature on the bridge are the 50 state flags. They encourage visitors to take photos with their home state flag and post it on social media. As a marketing professional I thought this was a fun and engaging way to encourage photos on social media. We all dutifully looked for our flags and posted our photos. This can distract you from the views – so be sure to take your photo and then take the time needed to enjoy the absolutely amazing views from the bridge.
Once on the side opposite the visitors’ center there is a playground for kids, theater (with concerts in the summer), a café, bar, a “Royal Rush Skycoaster”, and a zip line or gondola back to the visitors’ center.
Since two of the people with us were under 30 and fearless they chose to ride the Royal Rush Skycoaster. I have no way to properly describe the Royal Rush Skycoaster except as a big swing. After signing disclaimers, they were strapped in on the swing, raised up and then let to swing over the gorge. My husband and I were on firm ground taking photos. By the smiles on the faces when the ride was done I think it was well worth the excitement for them.
We chose the more sedate, and in our minds safe, way back to the visitors’ center by taking a ride across the gorge in a gondola. This was a fun way back that offered a different view of the gorge itself, the bridge and the Arkansas River.
After stopping in the mandatory gift shop we were off for a late lunch. We chose to eat in the town of Cañon City since a member of our party has a food allergy and it appeared the on-site restaurant and café could not accommodate that allergy.
This is a can’t miss sight and experience if you are in the Denver area. It is an engineering wonder, and so beautiful. If you are an adventurer and have the time – be sure to check around the Cañon City area as there are places offering river rafting tours of the Arkansas River, train rides, hikes, Jeep tours and more.
- We kept hydrated! From the minute we stepped off the plane we had a bottle of water in our hands, thanks to the advice of our daughter, and we are certain this helped us adjust to the difference in altitude smoothly. After all, we were coming from 25 feet elevation at home and going to 5000 feet elevation. The bridge is at about 6500 feet elevation.
- Be sure to take your time walking/hiking – you will get winded faster at the higher elevation if you are like us from a low altitude.
- Two people in our party of four have a fear of heights, but they both did really well crossing the bridge. It is wide and sturdy. The only time they were uncertain was when park service golf carts crossed the bridge causing it to shake slightly.
- When returning to the visitors’ center take a different way back than you did out – we took the bridge out and gondola back. Each offers a different view and experience.