5 Reasons to Spend the Day at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park

Whether you’re in the mood for stunning natural splendor, intriguing history or adrenaline-pumping adventure, Royal Gorge Bridge & Park offers the experience of your dreams. The 360-acre park near Cañon City, just a two-hour scenic drive from Denver, has attractions for visitors from all walks of life — making it the perfect place to spend a Colorado day.

By: Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
Updated: February 19, 2024

1. The Park Is Home to One of the World’s Highest Suspension Bridges — and One of Colorado’s Most Iconic Natural Wonders

The Royal Gorge Bridge rises 956 feet above the roaring Arkansas River and extends 1,260 feet across the Royal Gorge, a 10-mile-long canyon characterized by over 1,000-foot tall, red-granite walls. While the bridge was built in 1929, the Arkansas River began carving the gorge more than 3 million years ago. In fact, the waterway continues its work today — increasing the Royal Gorge’s depth by about 1 foot every 2,500 years. Flanked by Colorado’s famous blue skies and the majestic Rocky Mountains, the “Grand Canyon of the Arkansas” is a sight you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

2. You Can Walk Across the Bridge or Glide Across In an Aerial Gondola

There are multiple ways to experience the grandeur of the gargantuan Royal Gorge Bridge. Stroll across to stand 956 feet above the Arkansas, marvel at the structure’s complex engineering and peer over the edge to spot whitewater rafters cruising the rapids down below. Or glide across to soak up jaw-dropping 360-degree panoramas of the rugged canyon and neighboring mountains from the comfort of a slick aerial gondola.

3. A Once-In-a-Lifetime Thrill Awaits on the Cloudscraper Ziprider & Royal Rush Skycoaster

The Cloudscraper ZipRider is North America’s highest zipline and allows intrepid visitors to soar 1,200 feet above the Arkansas using the latest harness and breaking systems. The Royal Rush Skycoaster, which drops visitors in a 50-mile-per-hour free fall and dangles them above the river, is another stomach-flipping experience. Up to three people can embark on the ride together — so you don’t have to brave the coaster alone! 

4. There Are Attractions & Entertainment for Every Member of the Family

With slides, nets, tunnels, 20-foot towers and a splash pad, the park’s Tommy Knocker Playland keeps little ones occupied for hours. Other grin-inducing activities for kiddos include gold panning and a classic carousel. Meanwhile, the Visitor Center is the place to watch zipliners fly across the gorge from the sunny deck, grab a bite to eat amid incredible views at Café 1230 and pick out souvenirs at the gift shop. And shutterbugs will delight in the numerous Photo Lookout Areas located throughout the park — making it super easy to capture Insta-worthy photos of the bridge, gorge and surrounding area.

5. From Dinosaurs to Railroad Wars, Colorado History Was Written at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park

The Royal Gorge’s long history stretches back more than 100 million years, when dinosaurs roamed the Royal Gorge Region — evidenced by fossils unearthed by paleontologists near the park. Centuries after dinos ruled the land, Native American tribes like the Utes hunted and wintered in the Royal Gorge. Other noteworthy folks who have traipsed across the landscape include fur traders and explorers. In fact, Zebulon Pike surveyed and camped inside the canyon and discovered nearby Pikes Peak in 1806. In 1879, the Royal Gorge Railroad Wars broke out at the canyon between the Rio Grande Railroad and Santa Fe Railway over rights to silver deposits along the Arkansas River. After two years of fighting between the two parties and a battle in the courts, the Rio Grande was named the victor.

Constructed in 1929 for a cool $350,000, the Royal Gorge Bridge held the title as the highest bridge in the world for over seven decades and continues to dazzle visitors from all over the world. Delve deeper into the past at the Plaza Theater Historical Expo, where you can view original artifacts and photos and see the drama come to life in a film about the park’s history. 

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