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An Adventure Seeker’s Wonderland

Royal Gorge: Rafting, Thrill Rides + America’s Highest Suspension Bridge

Article by Ashley Hamershock

Photography by Fox Run Art / Retrospect Film / Ben Black Films

Originally published in Colorado Springs Lifestyle

Start by trekking 1,257 wooden planks suspended 956 feet over the Arkansas River, across America’s highest suspension bridge. After that? It’s a create-your-own-adventure story. 

“The Royal Gorge Bridge is a destination for everyone in the family,” said Dona Webb, sales and marketing manager for Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. “From our Children’s Playland to hiking/climbing on the Via Ferrata to relaxing on the deck with a great meal, we have an experience for everyone.” 


Early explorers and settlers frequented the gorge about an hour southwest of Colorado Springs to marvel at the beauty of the region. In 1929, about 80 men built the highest suspension bridge in the world in just seven months. That title held until 2001; it remains the highest suspension bridge in America. 

The Cañon City region boasts an abundance of history, culture and outdoor recreation. Allosaurus, stegosaurus and brontosaurus fossils have been found here. Following the dinosaurs, Native American tribes used the sheltered canyons for hunting and camping. 

Today, the region is home to miles of trails for outdoor recreation. Visitors can still experience the beauty of the region as they walk across the bridge – Arkansas River below; Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the distance. 

Adventure in the Park

Via Ferrata - Meaning “iron way” in Italian, this climbing system developed by soldiers during World War One blends rock climbing and hiking techniques, using carabiners and a harness. The Royal Gorge offers guided tours ranging from 2 ½ to 5 hours. 

Royal Rush Skycoaster - Dubbed the “World’s Scariest Skycoaster,” this thrill ride offers a 50-mile-per-hour free fall, momentarily dangling 1,200 feet above the river. 

Cloudscraper Zip Line - The Travel Channel called this Colorado’s #1 bucket list experience. Visitors ride the Aerial Gondolas over the gorge from the visitor center and “fly” back across on America’s highest zip line. 

Aerial Gondolas - Installed in 2013 with the help of a helicopter and specially trained pilot, these bright red cars transport guests 2,200 feet across the gorge in style. 

Tommy Knocker Playland - Three-story playland with slides, ropes, nets, tunnels, 20-foot towers, a splash pad and a vintage-style carousel, this spot is the real deal for kiddos. 

Nearby Fun

Whitewater Rafting - Several Cañon City-area outfitters run rafting trips on this stretch of the Arkansas River, known for challenging rapids, abundant wildlife and fantastic canyon views.

Train Rides - The Royal Gorge Route Railroad traverses the base of the canyon along the Arkansas River. It’s stunning. Several classes of service offer various dining options.

Wineries and Cideries - The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey offers 19 wines and has won 139 awards and medals in international wine competitions. The tasting room also offers charcuterie items. It’s just one of the wineries and cideries in the region.

Off-Roading - Whether you have your own Jeep or ATV or want to borrow one for the day, there are countless trails of every level of difficulty here. And the views? Ahhhhh….

Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival - This family-friendly annual event features whitewater competitions, land-based outdoor recreation events, bands and more to celebrate the whitewater season on the Arkansas River.

If you’re looking for fun outdoors this summer, the Royal Gorge region is beckoning. 

Facebook: @RoyalGorge @RoyalGorgeBridge
Instagram: @RoyalGorgeRegion @RoyalGorgeBridge