Approximately 70 people braved cold snowy weather and snow-packed roads to commemorate the groundbreaking ceremony at the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, Canon City, Colo., on a frigid Friday morning, January 31. The spirit and resiliency of Coloradoans was certainly evident—words read from the proclamation Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper sent for the event where local officials and dignitaries broke ground in the snow. The Royal Gorge Bridge celebrates its 85th Anniversary this year after a devastating fire June 11, 2013, which destroyed 90 percent of the buildings and attractions within the park, leaving the Royal Gorge Bridge relatively unscathed.
The Governor’s proclamation stated “the Royal Gorge Bridge is an icon of tourism in the State of Colorado….and this celebration signifies the rebuilding of the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park,” as read by Tony Greer, Mayor of Canon City. Harry Hargrave, Royal Gorge Company President told the crowd the Bridge Company and the City of Canon City “have been good partners since 1947,” and “we’re ready to build this for the community and make it successful.” Construction for the rebuild begins in earnest today with the BeckGroup Architectural firm, Denver, Colo., at the helm.
The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park has been on a fast track to get the park rebuilt and re-opened to help maintain economic stability in the region with over 300,000 annual visitors. Mike Bandera, Vice-President and General Manager of the park says the first rebuilding phase of the park will include a new 14,000 sq. foot Visitor Center which is scheduled to open this August. A new zip line racing across the Royal Gorge and a new aerial gondola will also be added in the first phase with a large children’s play area attraction. The first rebuilding phase is estimated to cost $23 million.
Beginning March 15, while the park is fully under construction, guided tours will be offered on park vehicles, weekends only for $10 per person, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until the grand re-opening in August. The Royal Rush Skycoaster, internationally acclaimed thrill ride also left unscathed will be operational on the weekends.