Just 2 hours south of Denver and 45 minutes southwest of Colorado Springs lies one of Colorado’s most popular vacation destinations, the Royal Gorge region. While the main draw is the 10 mile-long, 1,200-foot-deep Royal Gorge, the entire region offers visitors world-class activities and attractions, magnificent views, adrenaline-packed adventure, and intriguing history and culture. There’s something to do for everyone, from adventure-seeking outdoor enthusiasts to road-tripping families.
Riding the Royal Gorge Route Railroad
For a breathtaking tour of one of America’s most beautiful historic railroad routes, climb aboard the Royal Gorge Route Railroad. Other than rafting, the railroad is the best way of seeing the entire gorge and the wildlife found within.
As you travel directly through the Gorge, you’ll be treated to spectacular scenery and incredible views. And as if the scenery weren’t amazing enough, the Royal Gorge Route Railroad also offers the option of dining aboard in what has been rated as one of the best train restaurants in North America.
Rafting Through the Royal Gorge
As it cuts through the Royal Gorge, the Arkansas River creates a water wonderland for rafters, kayakers, and anglers. With a mix of rapids, spectacular canyon scenery, and opportunities to spot bighorn sheep, elk, and other wildlife, it’s no wonder that the Arkansas River is one of the most beloved whitewater rafting spots in Colorado.
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
Image via Flickr by Michael W Murphy
The 360-acre Royal Gorge Bridge and Park amusement center offers a thrilling assortment of outdoor attractions for children and adults while providing spectacular 360-degree vistas of the mountains and valleys surrounding the region. Thrill-seekers can get their adrenaline pumping as they zoom across the gorge on North America’s tallest zip line or enjoy a leisurely walk across the highest suspension bridge in the U.S. There’s also the Royal Rush Skycoaster and aerial gondolas, the Tommy Knocker Playground, the Plaza Theater, and the unique Water Clock.
Exploring Cañon City and Florence
The Royal Gorge region is rich in history and culture, with a past that includes dinosaurs, gold-rushers, and agricultural pioneers. Strolling through downtown Cañon City, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is like being in another era. The area offers an abundance of turn-of-the-century architecture, music venues, boutiques, and art galleries, as well as a variety of places to stay.
Also in Cañon City is The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey, home to several award-winning varieties of merlot, syrah, and cabernet sauvignon. Many of the wines are made from the juice of locally grown apples and grapes. In addition to a year-round wine tasting room, there is also a gift shop filled with unique items you won’t find anywhere else.
The former mining town of Florence is also fun to explore. Known as “Colorado’s Antique Capital,” Florence has over a dozen antique stores where you can find collectibles ranging from vintage postcards to Western decor items.
From the railroad and whitewater rafting to wine tasting and historical exploration, the Royal Gorge region of Colorado has much to offer. The area enjoys some of the state’s mildest weather, which creates a popular year-round destination for stunning natural beauty and outdoor recreation. Whether you’re seeking thrilling adventures or are visiting for the outdoor festivals and historical culture, the Royal Gorge region is an amazing place to visit.
To read more on topics like this, check out the travel category.