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CAÑON CITY, Colo. (November 5, 2013) - Let the building begin! Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, Canon City, Colo., has been given the green light on master plan and architectural designs by the City Council of Canon City, to move forward immediately to restore the 84-year-old park that was 90 percent destroyed by the Royal Gorge Fire, June 11, 2013.


The park owned by the City of Canon City and leased to the Royal Gorge Company of Colorado since 1947, approved plans at the Nov. 4, city council meeting. Phase One of the rebuilding would include a new 16,000 sq. foot visitor center containing a restaurant and large gift shop with huge windows and deck perched on the edge of the Royal Gorge, and a new 5,000 seat amphitheater sitting on the north edge facing the stunning views of the bridge and gorge.


“We have combined several hundred years of experience in the tourism and attractions industry to put together a good master plan that our guests will enjoy for the next 100 years,” said Mike Bandera, Vice-President and General Manager of the park. He added master planning can usually take over a year’s time and the park has been on track to rebuild as soon as possible since the week after the fire.


Also to be constructed in Phase One is a South Side food and merchandise complex, a new aerial tram and zipline running across the gorge, and a large children’s play area. The park will welcome back the internationally acclaimed thrill ride, the Royal Rush Skycoaster as it received no damage during the fire. The Plaza Theater and Historical Expo, and the mini-train, both minimally damaged will also be ready for the Phase One opening. Bandera said a new people mover to replace the destroyed Trolley has already been purchased.


The second rebuilding phase of the park will include an Incline Railway to take guests 1,500 feet to the bottom by the Arkansas River, and a new Mountain Man Trading Post, both destroyed. “The City and the Bridge Company have come to an agreement with this approval that funds from the new amphitheater will help generate funds to build the Incline Railway as soon as possible.”


Next steps include the master plan and architectural firm, The Beck Group, Denver, Colo., to finalize engineered construction drawings to submit to Fremont County for approval said Bandera. Construction will begin as soon as permits are issued. He said the park plans to open during tourist season of 2014. “We will tell the world when we are ready to open, and we can hardly wait to do that.”


The Royal Gorge Bridge was built in 1929 and the deck stands 956 feet above the Arkansas River. The park held the title of the world’s highest suspension bridge for over 70 years. Over 26 million guests have visited since the first opening of the park.