Beyond the Rides: 4 Things to Do at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park

If Royal Gorge Bridge & Park in Cañon City isn’t on your Colorado must-visit list, it should be.

Royal Gorge Bridge is suspended above the blue, rushing waters of the Arkansas River. The clouds are dark and gray and spread above the bridge and park.
The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
A panting white Brittany dog with brown spots stands in the sun on the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park in Cañon City. The dog has a dark turquoise vest and collar on.
Furry friends are welcome on the bridge in Cañon City
A large, Wild West-looking brown building with white railings and awnings above the wrap-around porch sits on a rocky hillside in Colorado. The whispy clouds are pink and purple.
The Plaza Theater at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
A determined-looking climber in a white helmet and a navy-blue shirt that says "VIA FERRATA" on it climbs up the side of a mountain, holding onto a metal handle as they climb.
Climbers on the via ferrata climbing route
A golden sunset paints distant mountains in orange behind the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. The bridge stands stately on a rocky cliff over the gorge above the Arkansas River.
The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park at sunset
A smiling child sits on a vintage, silver carousel horse adorned in colorful ribbons and bridle. Behind them is their parent, smiling into the camera at Tommy Knocker Playland.
Kid-friendly fun on Tommy Knocker Playland's vintage carousel
A small metal, slated slab of art that looks like a sun shining with thick rays sits in dark-brown soil around Tommy Knocker Playland at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park.
Scenery at the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
Three smiling and laughing climbers a few feet down on the via ferrata climbing route at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park are tethered into safety gear and are wearing orange helmets.
Climbers on the via ferrata route at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
Two children wearing colorful summer clothes stand in front of the water clock behind the Visitor's Center at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. There are yellow, orange and red marigolds.
The water clock behind the Visitor's Center
Three kids focus on panning for gold in sluice boxes at Tommy Knocker Playland's Ole Zeb's Sluice Box at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. A parent stands close watching them find gold.
Pan for gold at Tommy Knocker Playland Ole Zeb's Sluice Box

While this park offers thrilling rides and heart-racing ways to admire the deep canyon in which it’s set, there are also many other things to enjoy, from guided climbs on the via ferrata to mouthwatering dining options and festive, family-friendly events. And 2024 marks the park’s 95th anniversary, meaning the atmosphere will be charged with extra excitement.

1. Outdoor Fun

The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park boasts outdoor activities that rival some of the most invigorating around the state to give you unforgettable Colorado experiences.

The Royal Gorge Bridge

The park’s multitude of things to do includes the famed Royal Gorge Bridge, which upon its construction in 1929, was the world’s highest suspension bridge. Today, it still exudes prestige as the highest in America, positioned 956 feet high, and visitors can stroll across and look down at the rushing waters of the Arkansas River. From the bridge, you’ll also find snowcapped-mountain views during winter and the waving flags of all 50 states lining the rails in the summer.

The Via Ferrata

Looking for something a little more hands-on? The via ferrata climbing route has you covered. Don your safety gear and clip into the cables as you walk along a narrow — but sturdy! — small-scale metal suspension bridge and dirt trails on the granite cliffsides overlooking the river. Offering various expedition lengths ranging from two-and-a-half hours to five hours, these guided trips are suited for multiple skill levels and are well worth the experience.

2. Kid-Friendly Amusements

Bring the kiddos to interactive and educational shows, watch them frolic on a three-story playground, or shop for souvenirs at the visitor center and see the water-wheel clock.

The Plaza Theater

There’s always something entertaining playing at the historic Plaza Theater, with a sweeping backdrop of the bridge. Have a seat for the mini documentary, which explores the history of the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. It’s the ideal film to keep you informed about the park and its storied past, especially in anticipation of its 95th anniversary.

The seasonal shows are also sure to please, like the Birds of Prey show by Nature’s Educators. This spectacle, which runs between Memorial and Labor Day weekends, teaches the whole family to understand, respect and conserve wildlife with up-close and personal lessons about hawks and other majestic raptors.

After your show, stay to take in the Historical Expo with artifacts and photos of the Royal Gorge Railroad Wars (the 19th-century fight for railroad purchase) and those who risked their lives to construct the bridge in 1929.

Tommy Knocker Playland

Tommy Knocker Playland is the perfect enclosed, whimsical park for the kids to expend their energy, with three stories of fun on a grassy complex. Its tall towers, ropes courses, twirling slides, large nets and explorable tunnels will delight all ages. Plus, the whole family will love panning for gold at the seasonal Ole Zeb’s Sluice Box or practicing target accuracy with pretend rifles at the Musket Mine. Other seasonal features include a splash pad with water fountains and a vintage-style carousel.

The Visitor's Center & Water Clock

Decked out in floor-to-ceiling windows and overlooking the gorge below, the Visitor's Center is a can’t-miss attraction all its own. Shop for gifts and souvenirs before walking out onto the large patio for sky-high views of the bridge, zipline, gondola and distant Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

While you’re there, head behind the Visitor’s Center to check out the Water Clock, which is a unique time-telling machine powered by trickling water on a turning wheel — the only one of its kind in Colorado. This current replica embodies the old-school engineering of a time long ago.

3. Dining & Drinks

Dining options at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park are sprinkled throughout the attraction for ease of delicious access.

Grab a coffee at Café 1230 before trekking to the other side of the bridge. Once your stomach starts rumbling again, dig into something savory from Grill on the Hill, a juicy bacon-cheeseburger and hot chicken tenders from Café 1230 or some classic barbecue from Bridge View BBQ. Top it all off with a sudsy Colorado craft brew from Mountain Man Beer Garden or Last Chance Tap Room as you admire the scenery.

4. Events

The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park offers family-friendly events to suit any fancy.

Boo at the Bridge

Boo at the Bridge is a classic trick-or-treat event that gives you and the costume-clad kiddos a chance to embrace the Halloween spirit. Score big on candy, chocolates and other treats handed out from local businesses and organizations. Snap some spooky pics and post on Instagram with the tag #booatthebridge to be entered for a chance to win various prizes.

Bridge of Lights

Think the bridge is magical during the day? Wait until you see it under a twinkling-star night sky in winter. Bridge of Lights is the perfect way to appreciate the magic of the 95th year of the park — take the kids, bundle up and drive under magnificent displays of lights just in time for the holidays. Purchase some Elf Munchies, which include hot cocoa, cider, coffee and cookies to enjoy under the lights — the treats also come with a special event-themed tumbler. Plus, every ticket you purchase enters you into a weekly giveaway for a Season Pass to the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park.

Previous events have also included the Cheyenne Mountain ZooMobile, petting-zoo days from Shepperly Farm, Easter Sunday Service and performances from rock 'n' roll band Deja Bluz, Grupo Folklórico del Pueblo and Grupo Xochitl Aztec Dancers. Keep an eye out for special 95th-anniversary events.

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