Royal Gorge| The grand canyon of the Arkansas

Royal Gorge, Canon City, Colorado

 When we were planning our Colorado trip, one attraction we were particularly attracted to was the Royal Gorge in Cañon City. There seemed to be a lot to see and do at the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. We were travelling with my ‘bestie’ and her family and it seemed like a great place to go to if you had some ‘company.’

We wanted to see the gorge, the suspension bridge over it (it used to be the world’s highest suspension bridge for several years), the aerial tram, the railway ‘along’ the gorge and the incline railway here at the Royal Gorge Park.

Now the biggest attraction here is the Royal Gorge itself, for me, at least. This gorge owes its being to the Arkansas River that trickled down from that part of the Rocky Mountains in central Colorado and decided to flow through this rocky surface. Today, millions of years later, this gorge is one to have a look into. It’s over a 1000 ft deep, said the person who manned the aerial tramway that took us to the other side of the gorge. What sets this canyon apart from its cousins in the United states is that it is not as wide as them. The Royal gorge is just about 40-50 metres wide and perhaps that is why it looks as precarious as it does. You should see this picture I took from a little gap in between two planks of one of the highest suspension bridges in the world!

Royal Gorge Bridge - one of the highest suspension bridges
Royal Gorge - the bridge
Now if you have no acrophobia, this is something to do on this really ‘high’ suspension bridge–peep down.
Royal Gorge
The sight down below — a pic from one of those gaps between the planks on the bridge.
You see the Arkansas river and the railway tracks that run along the river.

One of the first few things we did as we got to the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park was to take a ride in its famous Incline Railway. The cars of this railway are placed like steps and they go up and down an inclined path travelling at a 45 degree angle. As we waited to go on the trip to the bottom of the gorge, we happened to be the first in the line and so we had the privilege of getting into the first car at the bottom. And this gave us the best possible (the scariest. if you have a fear of heights) view of the trip down this steep track. In a little over 5 minutes we were at the lower end of the tracks where were got to get down and look up at the majesty of the Royal Gorge. While we were down there, we also got to see the Arkansas River up close.

We also saw the tracks that took the train along the canyon bed. Since it was a weekday and not exactly holiday season yet, the train was not in operation. That was pretty unfortunate but we were not really upset because California Zephyr did take us through some massive Canyons and we also got to drive through some of these rocky structures when we drove down from Denver to Aspen.

Incline Railway, Royal Gorge, CO
Royal Gorge’s ‘Inclined Railway’
Incline Railway, Royal Gorge, CO
Downward Bound!
The view from the Incline Railway, Royal Gorge, CO
All the way to the bottom of Royal Gorge.
The view from the first car of the Inclined Railway

After the ascent back up on the winch, we had a quick lunch and got into the aerial tramway that took us over the gorge. They call it one of the longest single span aerial trams. From this tram we could see the full depth of the gorge and the striking suspension bridge that connected the two sides of the canyon. From the quick chat I had with the gentleman who took us across, I learnt that the gorge was over a 1000 ft deep and over 2000 ft wide at the top, and that the cable car took 4 minutes to get to the opposite side of the gorge.

Aerial tram, Royal Gorge, CO
The tram is said to be 1178 ft above the Arkansas River.
And it runs a good 2200 ft to get to the other side of the canyon.

He also told us that he could take us back to where we came from or we could chose to walk over the bridge. We chose the latter option which was the 1270 ft long and 18 ft wide suspension bridge. On our way to the bridge we walked through a Wapiti Park which was made of enclosures that housed bisons and elks. We also had a quick look inside a Mountain Man camp.

 The walk on the bridge was a great experience.  There was more time — compared to the crossing on the cable car — to take in the surroundings and have a nice long look into the deep ravine. I’d also like to remind you about that peep through the planks of the bridge and the amazing view of the gorge down below and the Arkansas River that flowed through. Wait there’s one more thing you should experience while walking on this bridge — try to stay on it till a vehicle drives by. We stood by as an SUV came that way and wasn’t it exciting to feel one plank go down after the other as it passed by!

Royal Gorge Bridge, CO

 

If you are visiting in the peak season — you could take the train along the gorge, try zip lining across the bridge, even feel the adrenalin rush as a catapult throws you in the air — just above this deep gorge.
There will also be men in costumes in the Mountain Man camp to give you a history lesson or two about the ancient men who once lived in these areas and took refuge among these rocky structures when the strong winds blew past. By the way if you are there when the winds are doing what they do best, the tramway services might be suspended.

Royal Gorge history
A little Royal Gorge history
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66 Comments

  1. I love looking at the bright red tram, but there is no way in this lifetime I would get in that thing, Your pictures of the gorge and the bridge are impressive. I am glad you took them instead of moi.

  2. I'd love to photograph from the red tram, but no way would you get me up there.

  3. Great photos of the gorge and all the attractions for visitors around there. However, I am quite happy to look at your photos and NOT to stress out my very poor head for heights!!

  4. Amazing place and never heard of it before.. that railway line does look scary but exciting.

    • Amazing indeed. I love geographical features like this.
      The incline railway moves very slow so it's not as scary as it looks.

      The gorge is one to see, Prasad. The best view is from the bridge; when you look right down. 😉

  5. wow wow wowow .. and you did that excellentttttttttttttttt 🙂

    Bikram's

  6. How amazing is this place! To be honest, I will be a bit scared because of the heights. But, I will take that tram anyway.

  7. The bridge and the gorge looks beautiful. Train track nicely captured.

  8. This is one place I wish to visit some day.
    Thanks for these glimpses. Looks like good arrangements there.

  9. Great to read, Amazing photos

  10. Amazing photos, Great post

  11. Wow!! Such an exciting trip!!

  12. Another item to my pending list …

  13. You shared some Truly beautiful pictures, I'm gonna add this one to my bucket list as well.

    xoxo
    Style.. A Pastiche! – styleapastiche.com

  14. Beauty at it's primitive best 🙂 Superb clicks dear!

  15. Cool trip and images justify it.

  16. प्रभावी !!!
    शुभकामना
    आर्यावर्त

  17. Divya, you are crazy, girl! Wow, not just amazing shots, but the one you've taken through the gap is gorgeous!

  18. Very enticing post Divya with beautiful pictures woven with equally fascinating write up!

  19. You had all the fun! The steep train track looks exciting. But only five minutes ride :(. Photos are awesome!

  20. Such a thrilling experience, Divya. Well written and captured.

  21. Wow! Absolutely loved your post, the description and the perfect pictures that made it so real for me. Loved the place and so tempted to put in on my list of places to travel 🙂 Thanks for sharing D.

  22. At some parts it does look menacing, but then 'Darr ke Aage Jeet Hai 🙂 '. I am glad you took this trip and pictures, so we could get inspired to visit such places too!

    • I swear it's not as scary as it looks. When you're there, you're probably going to be filled with awe, looking at the depth of the gorge and thinking about the work the river has been doing, there.
      Thank you so much, Alok.
      Have a great Sunday, you two. 🙂

  23. Awesome! I was there many years ago – when it still was the highest suspension bridge! Didn't realize it no longer was. Great photos and glad you had a great trip.

    • That must have been so cool.
      Too bad it isn't the highest suspension bridge anymore. Lovely views of the gorge from up there, right?

      Thanks a ton, Mike. Nice to see you here again. 🙂

  24. super post D, peeping down the bridge looks scary and so does the car at 45 deg angle….the pictures and information is superb 🙂

    • That was a fab sight from the bridge, it told us where we'd land should we fall. 😉
      And the ride in the inclined railway was fun.

      Thank you so much, Shweta. 🙂

  25. I'd be scared stiff on that bridge! These are great photos, though, and they allow me to experience a sense of the place without quaking in fear!
    Hoping to see you at this week's Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) :
    http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/11/chicago.html

    • Actually the views are great so the fear would have to move to the backstage, I'm sure.
      Thank you Sue.

      Thank you also for the invite, I'll try to join in from next month on. I'm without proper internet these days.
      Thanks again.

  26. that should be thrilling 🙂

  27. Ziplining is certainly what I would like to do!

  28. Amazing place!! Great shots!!

    I am totally awed by gorges… it kind of puts us humans into perspective…how tiny we are in the scheme of things!!

    http://www.myunfinishedlife.com

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