After taking care of some online business this morning, we packed a lunch and left for Royal Gorge at 10:00. It was about 50 miles to Canon City and then another 7 miles from there to Royal Gorge. It was a pleasant morning, not too hot, but the skies were hazy. We could barely make out the mountains.
The drive was pretty through the foothills and into the mountains. It became clearer the closer we got.
Along the drive, we passed a federal Supermax prison, ADX Florence. This prison is home to 14 of the most dangerous criminals including El Chapo. The notorious inmates include serial killers, terrorists, mobsters, cult leaders, and drug kingpins. It looks like a very serious place.
We entered Canon City, which sits right up against the mountains.
As we neared downtown, we saw one of the 4WD trails that climbs into the mountains.
Going through Canon City, we saw the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility. It’s quite an interesting place that backs up right to the mountains.
Canon City is the gateway to Royal Gorge as represented by this structure. The entrance to the Gorge is 7 miles from town.
We made the turn onto Highway 3A with another 4 miles to go.
From there, we made the climb and got some great views of the mountains and the valley below.
Finally, we arrived at the Gorge at 11:15. The temp there was 84 degrees.
We entered the parking lot which was only about half full.
From the parking lot, we got our first view of the bridge. It is the world’s highest suspension bridge spanning the Arkansas River built in 1929 at an elevation of 6626 ft.
From the overlook at the parking lot, we could see the red aerial gondolas crossing the Gorge.
A nice gentleman offered to take our picture there. We took him up on his offer since we seldom get our picture taken together.
There was an old Rio Grande engine on display there. The Royal Gorge Route Railroad is located in Canon City and transits the Royal Gorge for a 2-hour scenic ride in the Gorge along the Arkansas River. It is something I have put on my to-do list if we return this way again.
We entered the building with our prepared tickets and didn’t have to wait in line. It wasn’t very busy.
We walked around on the grounds and saw the water clock run by the water wheel. Unfortunately, it wasn’t working today.
On the observation deck near the Gondola Loading Zone, we watched the people returning on the zipline.
From another observation point, we could see the Arkansas River 1053 ft. below us in the canyon.
I had planned to walk across the bridge.
Bob took a few steps onto the bridge, but decided that was enough, due to his fear of heights. The Ranger said a lot of people go out about 10 boards and then change their mind and walk back.
He would wait for me at the beginning. I began my walk slowly making sure to step carefully on the wooden boards which had an inch of spacing between them. I had to be brave to walk over to the railing and look over the side to the river and gorge below to take these pictures.
Walking to the opposite railing, I looked in the other direction and took this picture.
Along the bridge are flags from every state in the Union. The wind was whipping those flags. The closer I got to the middle of the bridge, the stronger the wind became as it was funneled though the Gorge. It was blowing so hard in the middle that I had a hard time standing still. The wind was howling through the gorge. I looked ahead of me to the other end of the bridge and saw the bridge sway slightly in the wind. That’s when I decided it was time to turn around. I could have made it all the way across, but the realization set in that I would have to walk back again, so that was it! Once I got back to the start, my heart was pounding and I was breathing hard. It took me quite awhile to calm down. I found Bob waiting for me and he was surprised to see me back so soon. After I explained, we checked out the original cable display.
I walked out on another observation deck and a nice man offered to take my picture. The view of the canyon looked very different from there.
Bob was waiting for me back by the main road.
There was another platform where I could get a different view of the bridge.
From there, I got a nice view of the Gondola Loading Zone and observation deck from below.
We walked back up there to sit and watch the people ziplining back to the deck and returning in the gondolas.
I could zoom in to see the restaurant and the buildings on the other side. I could also get another good view of the bridge. There were a lot more people on the bridge now.
This structure on the other side is called the World’s Scariest Skycoaster.
They strap you into a harness where you lay on your stomach. A pulley pulls you back farther and farther and when you get so high, they release you. Then you swing out over the gorge and swing back and forth like a huge pendulum, over the gorge and back again.
We watched this man and young girl do it together. It was hard to watch! I think I screamed a little each time they swung over the gorge.
We ate our lunch in the Jeep and watched more of the action from the parking lot. We spent about an hour and a half at the Gorge with a quick stop at the gift shop and headed out. On the drive down, I spotted this beautiful doe laying in the shade of a tree.
We also spotted a golden eagle and an antelope on our drive today. We saw the beginning of the Skyline Drive, a 4WD trail, that we considered taking in the Jeep on Sunday, but then we came to our senses.
We drove through the historic downtown district in Canon City which is one street off the main highway through town. There were lots of cool, old historic buildings in town.
On many of the corners, there were colorful statues of dinosaurs.
It was a busy street with lots of people milling about.
We headed back to the campground after stopping for a few groceries and got back around 2:00. Auggie was glad to see us. Down in the campground, the temp was 93. We made some plans for tomorrow–our last day at Pueblo Lake State Park. From here, we start our slow trek back to Florida. We are in no hurry to get back because of the COVID issues back home, so we’ll make a few longer stops on the way back. It’s going to be hard to leave Colorado and the mountains, especially the cooler weather and no humidity. We had another great sunset tonight. It is something I look forward to every evening.