Millions of years after dinosaurs roamed the land that is now known as Canon City and Fremont County, Lt. Zebulon Pike explored frigid Arkansas River region in the winter of 1806. John C. Fremont, famed pathfinder and once presidential candidate, arrived to the area in 1843 and returned for multiple expeditions finding the headwaters of the Arkansas River and finding the railroad route through the Royal Gorge, still available today.
One of 17 original Colorado counties, it was home to the first-drilled oil well west of the Mississippi. Today, travelers can experience many of the same staples that helped form the country and surrounding towns. From the natural beauty of the Royal Gorge, to the rushing white waters of the Arkansas River.
Popular hiking and biking trails include the Oil Well Flats, most well-known for the discovery of intricate dinosaur bones. One of the region’s newest trail systems, it is constantly being modified and updated. Shelf Road is also a choice spot for climbers and hikers. Agriculture is also very popular here with orchards, farms and fisheries.
Odes to Fremont can be found all over, whether wandering the stacks of books inside the John C. Fremont Library, or catching a glimpse of his 20-foot statue at the entrance of Pathfinder Park. Come discover the beauty and adventure that can be found in Fremont County.
With Valentine’s less than a week away, here are some very Colorado-esque things to enjoy as a couple in the Royal Gorge region. It’s easy to impress with a hand-packed picnic afternoon at one of these breathtaking backdrops. Whether your sweetie loves adventure or is a tad leery of heights, a ride on our shiny red POMA gondolas is the perfect excuse for a little cuddle and hand-holding. Relax with a tasty glass of wine on one of the Park’s sitting areas or overlooks.
Cañon City is famous for our Chocolate Walk each February. Snag tickets to enjoy a sugar-filled stop at one of 50+ local businesses. Even better? All proceeds go to supporting the Cañon City Music and Blossom Festival held each spring. For a super special experience, take Colorado Jeep Tours most popular excursion, the half-day Royal Gorge Jeep Tour. Enjoy area views, and our beautiful bridge, from the inside of a custom-crafted Jeep. Commitment in the cards? Ask about their new proposal package.
There’s so much to enjoy here in the area, we suggest making it an entire weekend adventure. Book a night or two in our Bighorn Mountain Top Lodge, or nearby Royal Gorge Cabins for unforgettable panoramas of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Guest Post: Ashlee Sack of Fremont Adventure Recreation
Been there, seen that? Not in the Royal Gorge Region! Home to one of the most beautiful and iconic natural wonders in the state, Cañon City offers more than just beautiful weather and whitewater rafting. In 2018, you’ll find miles of new trails that are perfect for hiking, biking and strolling. Numerous trail systems, including the region’s newest – the Royal Gorge Park Trails – will keep you busy as you find inspiring overlooks, soaring vistas and scenic climbs.
Royal Gorge Park Trails
The landscape of this 5,000-acre park has rocky outcroppings that stand out from the panoramic horizon of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the distance. Whether you’re looking for a 15-mile ride or a quick three-mile hike, the Royal Gorge Park will help you keep your resolution to explore more.
Looking for a shorter hike with big rewards? Start your ride or hike at the Canyon Rim Trailhead, located on CR3A. You’ll catch views of the Royal Gorge, including unmatched views of the famed Royal Gorge Bridge. You may even see the Arkansas River winding its way through the 1,000-foot canyon. For bikers, the short Rock Hardy spur (which bisects the loop) offers some great technical climbing over slick rock and boulders.
You can also start your journey at the East Ridge Campground and head out Cañon Vista > FAR Out > Summit trail, which takes you around the front side of Fremont Peak – named for famed American explorer, John C. Fremont. Adventurous individuals (with secure footwear and appropriate hiking ability of course) can scramble the last few hundred meters to the top of the peak for an incredible 360-degree view of the Arkansas River valley.
Mountain bikers will enjoy the flowing, scenic qualities of the newest trails in the system: Dark Side of the Moon and The Maze. Climb up The Maze and find yourself smiling all the way down Dark Side of the Moon (or the yet un-named trail just north of The Maze) for an added bonus. Berms, turns, and bumps will keep bikers of all abilities coming back for another round.
To visit the Royal Gorge Park Trails, take Hwy. 50 to Cañon City. Turn South on CR3A and head toward the Royal Gorge Park. Multiple trailheads allow you to choose your own adventure. Please see a trail map to find the best option for your group and/or abilities. Due to the area’s dry climate, snow doesn’t stick around for long. Please remember to check trail conditions before riding or hiking and do not use muddy trails. Find complete trail maps and more information on trails in the Royal Gorge Region or download the Royal Gorge Trails map.
Santa Paws (shh it’s really Ranger Pete, but don’t tell the pups) 🐾 and his adorable elves are ruffin’ it in Colorado this Christmas at North America’s highest suspension bridge. He only asked us fur one thing this year, to give his four bestest friends, and North Pole helpers, a fur-ever home.
Rocky, a two-year-old male Australian Cattle Dog/Blue Heeler mix, loves rockin’ around the Christmas tree, and belly rubs.
Three-year-old Allie is a real people person. She’s a red heeler who sits pretty, works hard and plays hard, for treats of course.
Bear, the border collie knows all kinds of magic tricks and is happiest when he’s on an adventure. He’s at the top of his class and has the best of manners.
Chert the three-year-old lab mix has white-tipped twinkle toes and her favorite hobby is snuggling in for a winter’s nap after a day full of play. She’s known for her warm, welcoming butt wiggles.
Pete, er, Santa asks that everyone take the time to paws and remember his tail-rriffic friends this holiday season. The Fremont County Humane Society is always in need of Dog and Cat Food, go to www.humanesocietyfremontcounty.org for approved brands.
Please come visit us at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. You never know who you’ll come across.
Cañon City is a great choice for a romantic weekend escape. Close to Cripple Creek, Penrose, Florence, Victor and Colorado Springs, there are a lot of things to do with that special someone while in Fremont County. Enjoy the scenic drive along Highway 50 and the stunning views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains against those famous Colorado blue skies.
Make a stop at the historic Abbey. Visitors are welcome to take a self-guided tour of the monastery year-round or enjoy a guided tour June through September. Also on the grounds of the monastery is the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey. Sip and swirl samples of these delicious, award-winning Colorado wines. The tasting room is open seven days a week year-round. A bottle, or two, make the perfect memento to remember the trip.
Stroll through downtown Cañon City, listed on the Registrar of National Historical Places. It’s also one of the largest intact historical districts in the state. Nearby, Florence’s downtown is known as the Antiquing Capital of Southern Colorado.
Nosh on some delicious lunch or dinner at Cafe 1230, located inside the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park’s Visitor Center. Gaze out the glass windows at the stunning Royal Gorge next to a cozy fireplace. Afterwards walk hand-in-hand across the highest suspension bridge in North America. It’s the perfect place to steal a kiss and get a photo opp.
Lodging options range anywhere from onsite Bighorn Mountain Top Lodge to quaint Bed & Breakfasts. Other eateries in the region offer pizza to French fare.
The John May “Bug Museum” offers what is now considered one of the world’s outstanding collections of giant insects, related creatures and rare artifacts. Even though the main collection contains over one hundred thousand invertebrates, about 8,000 are all that are shown to the general public because this is all a person can look at in one visit. The museum is easily found off Highway 50 as there is a large beetle on the side of the road that is a fairly difficult to miss.
The Di Nardo twins are known over for their famous, fresh-made cider as much as they are for their personalities. For more than six decades, Mario and Albert having been making fruity beverages and selling them from their charming Di Nardo’s Cider Mill & Farm Market roadside location. The most coveted flavor is the cherry delight, but make sure to browse the shelves for random produce, knick-knacks and mementos.
The site of the former World’s Largest Rocking Chair, Doxey’s Apple Shed, is long closed. However, the chair is still very visible. Those who stop can even snap a photo or two through the fence. Built in 1990, the chair sits at 21 feet tall, 14 feet wide, 9,100 pounds.
Underneath the sun of Colorado’s summer days and clear nights, performers, dancers and artists made their way to the scenic Royal Gorge region to show off their talents at the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. From dance troupes to Nature’s Educators, days were packed with family fun and entertainment. As the early evening hours rolled in, the Elk Park Amphitheater lawn and seats began to fill with excited fans.
Country music’s finest didn’t miss a beat in July from singer, songwriter and actress, Pam Tillis followed by John Michael Montgomery. Early August brought more country chart toppers when Wynonna Judd and Diamond Rio delighted fans from all over with their famous lyrics and sounds. Ms. Judd made it a point to catch some thrills on the SkyCoaster.
Before Atlas Genius and Dirty Heads filled the final Park After Dark series night with hits, they had to ride the country’s highest zip line. It seems heights make even rock stars nervous. After playing their final sets, the guys decided they had to pull the cord on the Royal Rush SkyCoaster, in the dark.
Met with rave reviews from guests, the final Park After Dark series closed out with a bang thanks to amazing sponsors St. Thomas More Hospital, St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center, Penrose- St. Francis Hospital and Bristol Brewing Company.
With the summer sun still shining high in the Colorado sky, here are a few ways to cool down when you and the fam are exploring the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park.
We all scream – Ice cream is the tried and true cure all to the warm weather. Whether a swirled cone or bowl of delicious, grab a sweet treat at our Cliff Side Patio, a Dippin’ Dots spot near the Tommy Knocker Play Land and even root beer floats at Bridge View BBQ.
Splish Splash – There’s nothing like enjoying the cold spray of our splash pad on a hot day. We ask that kiddos have swimsuits and T-shirt’s to cover them, as well as shoes while running through this area of the park. We suggest you pack a dry change of clothes as a backup.
The Wind in Your Hair – Want a super quick cool down? Hop in our Cloudscraper Zip Line harness to feel the rush of the wind through your hair as you cross the span of the Royal Gorge with the river below.
Whitewater Wonder – Of course the quickest way to a reprieve is a guided rafting trip down the rolling waters of the Arkansas River. Book with a variety of local and talented guides and make sure to look above when floating under the Royal Gorge Bridge.
The kick-off to summer is here and Canon City is in the spirit with festivals, live entertainment and all the adventure that Colorado has to offer. Here are a few ways to play in the region this Memorial Day Weekend.
Live Entertainment at the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
Enjoy the sounds of Deja Bluz and Exit West and Out of Nowhere at various locations throughout the park. We’ll kick-off our Nature’s Educators series at the Elk Park Amphitheater where guests can get up-close-and-personal to birds of prey, reptiles and other animals. Find a full list here.
Bridge View BBQ opens for the season. Taste the hours that go into slow roasting delicious meats like pork, brisket and more. Classic sides like coleslaw, pasta salad and beans are sure to please your palate. Don’t forget to enjoy the view from our patio.
Rafting the Royal Gorge
It’s officially rafting season and Canon City is home to the best rapids in the country, whether you’re enjoying a family float, or an adrenaline rush down the river. Book with one of our amazing partners.
Enjoy great food, award-winning wines on the grounds of The Abbey and see the works of local artisans. Watch balloon launches, glows in the evening and even skydivers. Enjoy a great music lineup or participate in races. The kids can play in the Kids’ Zone. Stay in the evening for Balloon Glows and the Abbey Glow. The Create Cañon City Balloon Classic is open to the public with FREE Admission and FREE parking.
There’s nothing quite like spending a warm summer afternoon with some freshly-packed food and a view. Gather up the sandwich making materials and pop a squat at these beautiful picnic spots in, and outside the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park.
The Elkhorn Loop is just outside the Bridge and Park
Outside the Bridge & Park entrance, the Elkhorn Loop picnic area and overlook provides a glimpse at our beautiful bridge.
Outside Gate Pavillion
Enjoy a bit of shade from the Colorado sun from these pavilions, also outside our park entrance.
Inside the Park (must pay admission).
Near the Tommy Knocker Play Land
Cool off with some Dippin’ Dots ice cream before or after watching the kiddos climb, crawl and slide their way through our play land, included with admission.
While this area is reserved for special events, the public is free to take advantage of the tables and shade when no one has booked the space. Enjoy the sounds of live entertainment in the background during the summer months.
Cliff Side Patio
Stay on the north side before crossing the bridge and enjoy snacks while watching others cross the 1,270 wooden planks of the Bridge to the south side.