Trip to the Royal Gorge
Almost immediately, the ground falls away beneath you. One thousand feet below, the Arkansas river tumbles through a series of rapids. You shift your gaze from looking down, to looking across. The aerial tram takes you close to a remarkable engineering feat, a suspension bridge hanging out over the v-shaped cleft in the earth known as the Royal Gorge.
Built in 1929 by engineer/entrepreneur Ron Piper, the Royal Gorge Bridge spans the narrowest gap in the gorge, more than a quarter-mile across. Only two 150-foot towers and 4,200 steel cables support that expanse. More than 1,000 tons of steel were used in its construction. At the time, the Royal Gorge Bridge was the highest suspension bridge in the world. Remarkably, no one was seriously hurt or killed during its construction. Not bad for a job that paid all of 50 cents per hour.
As the tram moves across the gorge, you see people walking on the 1,292 wooden planks that make up the length of the bridge. That’s your next stop. Once on the bridge, you may feel a slight movement. Feel free to look over the railing. The canyon walls drop off immediately below your feet to the depths below. Don’t forget to take some photos!
If you’re really fearless, there’s the Royal Gorge Cloudscraper zip line, running 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River. As if the bridge wasn’t enough!
If heights aren’t your thing, you can explore the bottom of the gorge on a three-hour trip courtesy of the Cañon City and Royal Gorge railroad, which makes the 12-mile run through the gorge along the Arkansas River. The train itself is a favorite of railroad buffs, voted one of America’s top trains by Trains Magazine. The Royal Gorge train is specially equipped with open-air observation cars. Looking up at the vertical walls gives you a real feel for just how enormous the gorge is. It’s all thanks to the patient effort of the Arkansas River, carving out one foot of depth every 2500 years or so.
The Royal Gorge tour is an officially sanctioned event of GT-47, one of several options on the official calendar. We’ll be caravanning over to Cañon City to see this breathtaking attraction, which is about an hour from the host hotel. https://royalgorgebridge.com