The place where adventures begin.
The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park is a Colorado Local Family Attraction, but it’s more than just your average park. It’s an intricate part of Colorado’s history and a place to visit with your family. While bridge construction was completed in 1929, the Gorge itself is millions of years in the making. No act of nature or mankind can stop the fun and excitement from happening for years to come!
The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park: Combining God’s Splendor with Man’s Ingenuity.
The Earliest Visitors
From Stegosaurus to Sioux, the Royal Gorge has seen many visitors throughout its long history. Over 100 million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the Royal Gorge region, including allosaurus, comptosaurus, stegosaurus, and the mighty brontosaurus. Paleontologists have made fossil discoveries of these ancient species less than three miles from the Royal Gorge Bridge.
Many, many years after the dinosaurs became extinct, the Native American Indians arrived, hunting and camping in sheltered canyons throughout this region. In fact, the Ute Indians, a mountain tribe, often wintered in the Royal Gorge to escape the wind and the cold. And a number of Plains Indian tribes, including Sioux, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Blackfeet and Comanche, followed buffalo herds down into the meadows in the warmer months.
When you visit Royal Gorge Bridge & Park in Colorado, you’re not just visiting an Attraction but are following in the footsteps of prehistoric dinosaurs, Native Americans, and fearless explorers!
The Building of the Bridge
About 80 hardy men completed the world’s highest suspension bridge, dedicated December 8, 1929. Their story is one of American ingenuity, hard work, and solid engineering. Men worked at daredevil heights beginning June 5, 1929, and completed this world wonder in just 7 months.
The story begins with San Antonio businessman Lon Piper, a bridge builder from Texas. His visit to the famous Royal Gorge in 1928 prompted a vision of building a bridge for people to enjoy the stunning scenic surroundings, not just on the precipice of the granite Royal Gorge, but in the middle!
Engineer George E Cole, who constructed bridges for Piper, served as Chief Engineer and General Superintendent for what would be the world’s highest suspension bridge for over 70 years. Today the bridge is America’s highest bridge, and monikered “America’s Bridge” as a tribute to the solid bridge and the men who built it.
People ask most often, how did they even start this project? Steel towers were erected on opposite sides of the Royal Gorge first, then two half inch steel cables were lowered into the gorge, joined, and pulled back up.
After completion in 1929, the Royal Gorge Bridge could boast:
- Length – 1,260 feet
- Width – 18 feet
- Main Span – 880 feet
- Towers – 150 feet high
- 2,100 strands of No. 9 galvanized wire in each cable
- 2 primary suspension cables
- Weight of cables – 300 tons
- Bridge capacity – 2,000,000+ pounds
- 1,000 tons of steel in floor of bridge
- 1,292 planks in deck – about 250 replaced annually
- 1,053 feet from the top of the bridge towers to the Arkansas River
- 956 feet from the bridge deck to the Arkansas River
The Royal Gorge Fire
On the afternoon of June 11, 2013, a wildfire started west of the Royal Gorge Bridge. Not long after, the flames jumped the walls of the Gorge itself. All guests and employees were safely evacuated, but most of the buildings, rides, attractions and landscape surrounding the Bridge were damaged or lost in the fire. In fact, 90% of the 360-acre Park was destroyed, except for our historic 1929 Bridge, which survived with only about 100 scorched boards (which have all been replaced).
Demolition and rebuilding of the park began immediately. Within 14 months a new park was offered to eager guests on Labor Day Weekend 2014 with the brand new 14,500 sqft. Visitor Center, landscaping, and Poma-Leitner Gondolas. In just a few months more attractions and additions were added such as America’s highest zip line, the Cloudscraper and Tommy Knockerland, the children’s playland complete with carousel. A grand “re-opening” was celebrated May 8, 2015 with a forward look to entertaining millions more in the coming years.