In a state that’s wall-to-wall with spectacular scenery and exciting adventures, one destination stands a little taller than the rest: Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Located one hour from Colorado Springs and two hours from Denver, the park is home to America’s highest suspension bridge — and plenty of adrenaline-pumping attractions.
The Royal Gorge Bridge was constructed in 1929, but the natural wonder it spans has been millions of years in the making. This narrow, plunging gorge was forged over time by the mighty Arkansas River, one of Colorado’s most popular whitewater-rafting destinations.
But the bridge is just the beginning. Perched on the tip-top of the gorge rim are an assortment of pulse-racing thrill rides, including the highest zipline in the country and a new Royal Gorge via ferrata that will immerse you in the majesty of the gorge like never before.
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is the type of place daredevils dream about, and the groundbreaking via ferrata takes the adventure to new levels.
Originated in the Alps more than 100 years ago, via ferratas are mountain routes made of steel cables and iron rungs that make it easier to scramble across steep, rocky terrain. The Royal Gorge via ferrata is by leaps and bounds the most thrilling of its kind in the Rockies, due to the dramatic natural beauty and sheer verticality of the red-granite gorge walls.
Starting halfway down the gorge, you’ll put on your climbing helmet and ascend the gorge in enough time to meet your friends for beers at one of the in-park restaurants. Tours are led by trained mountain guides to give guests a controlled climb, and no previous experience is necessary. The via ferrata is open year-round (weather permitting), and just like your favorite ski run, you’ll discover something new every time you do it.
Royal Rush Skycoaster
Still looking for the biggest adrenaline rush in Colorado? Nothing matches the speed and height of the Royal Rush Skycoaster, a thrill ride that holds the title of “world’s scariest Skycoaster.”
You’ll strap into a harness connected to a cable tether and swing 50 miles per hour in free fall, soaring 1,200 feet above the gorge before shotgunning back to the surface. In addition to the sheer exhilaration of the experience, you’ll be treated to stomach-dropping views that are normally reserved for birds and planes. And if you’re too scared to do it alone, the Royal Rush Skycoaster accommodates up to three people, so you can bring your friends or family members to scream their lungs out right along with you.
Cloudscraper Zip Line
Even if you’ve ridden a hundred ziplines before, Royal Gorge Bridge and Park’s Cloudscraper Zip Line boasts bigger views, higher heights and serious bragging rights for all who strap in. This is the highest zipline in the country, and one of the most scenic anywhere; just try to keep your hand from quivering as you sign the required waiver before taking flight.
With your feet dangling high over the gorge, you’ll practically be at eye level with the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The zipline has a state-of-the-art harness with a built-in braking system, so the ride is totally hands-free.
As you enter the park, it’s impossible to miss the shiny red gondola cars crisscrossing the Royal Gorge. Aerial gondolas are the perfect way to see the sights at a slower pace, but this gondola isn’t like the ones you’ve ridden at Disney World; you’ll glide 2,200 feet across the gorge at a heart-stopping 1,200 feet in the air for what many consider to be the best seat in the state.
As you cross, you’ll get stunning panoramic views of the gorge, river, bridge and park, and you can even watch the brave souls riding the Royal Rush Skycoaster and Cloudscraper Zip Line. Cars hold up to eight people, so you can bring your whole crew along for the ride. And because there are no height requirements and no waivers to fill out, the aerial gondola is a great activity for families with kids.