The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year will be opening Colorado’s newest adventure, a Via Ferrata on the granite walls of the Royal Gorge. The new attraction will be ready for the 2019 summer tourist season. Guests will be halfway down into the Royal Gorge when they start climbing on what will be a unique lifetime experience.
The Via Ferrata is in the planning and proposed routing stage for the first of three phases. The first route will be on the South Side (North Face) of the Royal Gorge with a targeted opening date of May 1, said Brent Hargrave, COO. “Guests will be able to enjoy watching people scale the opposite wall from the Visitor Center deck, the bridge, or just about anywhere in the park,” said Hargrave.
“Via Ferratas are increasing in popularity and timing is right for the park,” said Jeremy Boswell, VP of Operations. “This experience is for those who would not otherwise ever have a climbing experience.” You don’t have to be a professional or serious mountain climber, he said. This system introduces people to mountaineering in a protected, safe climbing system that uses trained guides, climbing lanyards with carabiners, steel cables, and iron rungs installed into rock surfaces. Popularity of Via Ferratas began in Europe over a hundred years ago even though the system has been around longer. In the United States, there are Via Ferratas most notably in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and California in the mountainous regions.
Hargrave said the Via Ferrata will capitalize on the natural attraction of the Royal Gorge. “We will set ourselves apart from other Via Ferratas with the sheer drama and vertical foot advantage of the 1,000 foot walls. In fact, this system will be unlike any other Via Ferrata in the nation due to its verticality.” The sturdy rock walls are made of Pike’s Peak granite and formed over a billion years ago.
Mike Friedman with Colorado-based Adventure Partners Attractions, designer and installer said “Via Ferratas are taking off in North America right now. It’s designed for non-climbers with an adventurous streak who want to know first-hand what it feels like scale a rock face. People today want to be more participatory in their experiences, and the Via Ferrata is a spectacular, earned adventure.”
Friedman, a former Teton mountain guide, began creating Via Ferratas for a resort in the red rock canyons of southern Utah in 2009. “The park is building something that will deliver life-long memories. It’s a gateway for those who want to experience climbing.”
Still in the beginning stages, this guided-only activity will be open to a wide range of ages, and courses from easy to more challenging. The average tour can range from two to five hours.
“The Royal Gorge is an awesome place. When I first stepped up the rim it took my breath away, the beauty of those sheer rock faces, perfect for a Via Ferrata.” said Friedman.
Check www.royalgorgebridge.com or facebook.com/royalgorgebridge for updates and opening date.
Colorado is home to some of the most breathtaking sites, scenes and outdoor recreation the country has to offer. Millions of travelers come from near and far to experience the unrivaled beauty of our state. With so many visitors enjoying our natural landscapes and resources, we kindly ask that you show these places the love and respect they deserve by being a responsible visitor.
- Bring along a reusable water bottle or tumbler to stay hydrated and contribute less waste while hiking, biking and adventuring
- Stay on the path. Trails are in designated places to ensure natural wonders stay as natural as possible. Make sure to camp at least 200 feet away from lakes, rivers and streams.
- Trash it. Make sure to properly dispose of trash and even food items, as well as pick up anything that may be there before you to maintain a great outdoor space.
Beat the Heat
- Be mindful of any fire restrictions or high fire warnings, especially in windy and dry seasons.
- If building a campfire, be sure it is small and manageable and make sure to put it out entirely.
- If you do smoke outdoors, be sure to put your butts out entirely and take them with you. Many roadside fires spark due to still burning butts.
Keep Wildlife Wild
- The state is home to an array of awesome plants and wildlife, please take care not to stray the path and destroy homes and plants.
- Do not feed or approach wildlife, you are in their home and we want to keep the best ecosystem possible. No matter how cool it looks in your feed, please think of them first.
- Pick up the dog poo and keep your furry friends leashed for their safety and yours.
Leave it as you find it for others to enjoy! There are a number of ways to help give back to our outdoor impressiveness, like these four opportunities courtesy of the Fremont Adventure Recreation.
Junior Ranger programs are a fantastic way to enjoy area attractions with a big ole’ side dose of learning. The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park’s Junior Ranger Program, thanks to Centura Health, is the perfect way to play inside the park. Even better? It’s included with your general admission ticket.
This real-time series of puzzles feature ways to find letters and numbers all while learning about the great history in the Royal Gorge region of Colorado. Two different programs mean the perfect trivia fit for ages up to seven and a bit more challenging option for ages eight and up.
Little legs will enthusiastically race around our grounds to the final payoff, a nice, shiny and totally official Junior Ranger Badge they can proudly display at their next show-and-tell, they even have the chance to be sworn into their duties onsite.
There are so many fun and interesting facts about the Royal Gorge Bridge. From how it began, to all of its impressive intricacies, here are a few tidbits to remember the next time you’re exploring this Colorado wonder.
Construction of the bridge began in June 1929
The bridge was built in only seven months time
The original cost was $350,000 and $100,000 over budget
A total 1,292 wooden planks make up the length of the bridge
Original builders average wage was $.50 an hour
The bridge towers stand 150 high
The bridge is 18 feet wide
The original toll was $.75 per person
The park has attracted upwards of 30 million visitors since opening
The bridge held the title of the “world’s highest” from 1929 until 2001
The total length is 1,260 feet
The original aerial tram opened in 1969
Franklin D. Roosevelt visited the site during his campaign in 1936
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.