The Colorado Adventure: Day 6, part 1
If you’re afraid of heights, this one could make you a little anxious. Afterall, the tallest pedestrian bridge in the US means that it is a long way down! None of us had heard of Royal Gorge Bridge and Park before watching a video about it, but this little place on the map was worth checking out.
If you’re new to this string, keep reading. If you’ve read about our adventure before, skip to the next picture.
I must give credit where it is due. While the majority of the trip were places we knew about, the specific itinerary ideas were thanks to a YouTube channel called Less Junk, More Journey. The channel is a regular vlog about a family traveling around the country full-time in their RV. I used locations from their videos that really interested Cheryl and I, and formed a route that covered most of the state of Colorado. The route’s intention was to give us a taste of what every area had to offer so that we would know what we wanted more of. We consulted the kids to get their input and set our plans in motion.
If I’m fully honest, day 6 of being on the road was starting to be felt by everyone on this little journey. Not that we were burned out, only that it was a good idea to start with the hiking, and then end with the sightseeing. When we set out that morning we had 4 must-see stops left, and 3 days to do them in. Next up was stop 7: Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, near Cañon City.
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is located just south of the center of Colorado, a little over an hour southwest of Colorado Springs. It was originally constructed in 1929, spanning the flowing Arkansas River over 1,000 feet below! In 2013 there was a fire that ripped through the area and destroyed 90% of the area around the bridge. The bridge escaped without any real damage, and almost everything around it was rebuilt. The biggest loss was that the elevator that would take you to the bottom was abandoned. Even the water-clock was rebuilt to the specs of the original.
There is more to the park than the bridge, so lets take a peek.
When I first started looking into the park I found that they have a good number of attractions to check out and make the trip more active than just walking across a bridge. Which is good because tickets aren’t exactly cheap… So the first thing you notice when you pull into the parking lot is one of the locomotives that used to run on the tracks the run along the Arkansas River down below.
It looked weathered and worn, which I thought added to the atmosphere that this bridge is from an age that has long since passed. From there you come to the visitor center where you get your tickets and you can get something to eat. On the back side of the restaurant/food court is the deck where you get your first glimpse down into the canyon, and just how deep it is. However, that view is nowhere near as impressive as the one you get once you are actually crossing it.
This is also where you jump in line for the gondola ride to the other side, and the zip line ends from the other side. Since we got there at open, we got to watch one of the employees conducting the daily inspection of the line. Imagine if that was your job… “Hey Mitch, go see if the cable is still good enough to hold a person’s weight…”
Even though I knew I was going to be passing over it a couple of times that day (ride the gondola over and walk the bridge back), it was still impressive to actually see how high you were once you were over the center. (Of course a fisheye lens will also exaggerate it a little more as well.)
Once on the other side you have access to the bulk of the extra attractions. The Royal Rush Skycoaster is basically a giant swing that sends you out over the edge (but it wasn’t running that morning), and the zip line that I just mentioned both require extra fees that we decided to skip. They do look like they would be fun, but the price was a little too steep for us.
We walked down the road to the newest attraction for little ones, Tommy Knocker Land. This is where we discovered CJ’s first passion… carousels! Holy cow does she think they are the greatest thing on earth. Luckily we were early enough that there weren’t really a whole lot of people around and the guy operating it let her stay on the ride for a few turns. I think she rode it 4 or 5 times after the near wave of complete sadness engulfed her once we started to exit after the first go round. She was still quite sad after her final ride, but they had bubbles, crisis averted.
A touch further down the road we came to the Plaza Theater where they have a gift shop and the magic show. The magic show is every couple of hours and we had just missed it. We debated on hanging out and waiting for it, but we were also considering getting on the road ahead of schedule if we didn’t wait. If we chose the latter, we’d be able to make it to the zoo later that day, rather than just heading to our hotel and hanging out in the room. We decided to move on to the bridge and try to get ahead of schedule.
Now time for the main attraction of this destination. The bridge itself. I would start off by saying, make sure your keys are secure in you pockets, because it is a long way down and there is enough of a gap between the boards that they will drop right through on their way to the river below. It was interesting to see the construction of the bridge up close. The support cables are so massive with a more wire build than I expected.
The bridge is 1,260 feet long and a solid conclusion to your trip to the park. As you walk across, the flags from every state lines sides. Cheryl liked looking for the Iowa flag and her Idaho flag as we progressed across.
There were a couple of points on the bridge where they pointed out “fun facts.” The first was that someone had made a record-breaking rappel from the center point of the bridge, and the second was that from the bridge you can see a mountain that looks like is in the shape of JFK.
Of course, like I mentioned before, the view from the center is quite impressive.
Even though we skipped several items, it was still satisfying to conclude our day by crossing the bridge on the way back to the visitor center. Now I will say for a park where you’ll likely only spend 2-3 hours, it is a little pricey. That being said, it was definitely worth visiting once. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves during our visit, especially CJ!
If you make your way to the Colorado Springs area, see if Royal Gorge Bridge and Park can fit into your itinerary. Take an early morning trip, or maybe make a lunch excursion out of it.