One of the Deepest Canyons in Colorado!
Colorado’s Royal Gorge, sometimes called the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas, is a narrow, steep canyon carved by the Arkansas River through Fremont Peak, located near Canon City.
This magnificent Gorge was created about 3 million years ago when the Arkansas River flowed across solid granite as the uplift of the Rocky Mountains began. Over the millenium, the mountains lifted higher and higher, and the river carved the deep channel that can be enjoyed today.
The history of the Gorge probably began when Native American groups spent winters there because of its mild climate and relative protection from the fierce winds.
Later, the Spanish expeditions and the fur traders arrived in the 17th century and probably spent some time in the area. The first recorded European contact in the region was made by Zebulon Pike, of Pike’s Peak fame, when he came through the area in 1806.
Canon City, close to the Gorge, was founded in 1860 as a center for early mining and now is a delightful mountain town.
When silver and lead was discovered in Leadville in l877, the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad was built through the narrow gorge to provide access to the mining towns. For a while, it was actually the best route to travel across Colorado from either the East or West Coast of the United States.
Today, there is a sightseeing train run by the Royal Gorge Route Railroad. This ride includes a 12-mile stretch along the spectacular Arkansas River on trips that include lunch or dinner, wildlife viewing and of course, the breathtaking canyon itself.
There is even a Santa Train in the month of December and a New Years Eve train to celebrate the arrival of the new year in style.
While you’re there, don’t miss the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. The bridge is a quarter mile long and 956 feet above the river below. It is one of the highest suspension bridges in the world and to cross it is a thrill beyond compare. Whether you walk or drive across the bridge, it will be an unforgettable experience.
The Gorge and surrounding area also offers opportunities for rafting, backpacking and hiking. Add to that a helicopter tour or skydiving, and you’ll be able to choose exactly how you’ll see the Gorge.
When visiting the Royal Gorge, plan to stay in Canon City at one of the great hotels, bed and breakfasts and campgrounds to be found in the area.
If you’re hungry, restaurants in Canon City offer choices ranging from Mexican to Italian to several casual spots offering pizza, burgers and burritos.
While you’re there, you can also have afternoon (luncheon) tea or High Tea (dinner) at the Queen Anne, an 1889 historic victorian home.
So if you’re looking for a great weekend or an unforgettable vacation, the Gorge and Canon City area would be a great choice.