The Royal Gorge is a steep and deep canyon carved by the Arkansas River near Canon City. The Arkansas River has more whitewater than any other river in Colorado, with the Royal Gorge offering class III-IV thrills through the canyon.
The Royal Gorge is a steep and deep canyon carved by the Arkansas River near Canon City. It’s just 50 feet wide at the bottom, several hundred feet wide at the top, 1,200 feet deep and 10 miles long. It’s the perfect playground for rafting and kayaking, and offers world-class challenges between the granite walls. The Royal Gorge Bridge tops this canyon, which crosses 955 feet above the Arkansas.
What Makes It Great
It was the world’s highest bridge until 2001 and is a suspension bridge with a wooden walkway. The bridge is suspended from 150-foot-high towers and is still one of the highest bridges in the world. In June, 2013, the park surrounding the bridge was destroyed in a wildfire that also causes some damage to the structure. The attraction and the park have been rebuilt, and the bridge repaired.
The Royal Gorge has a peculiar shape, very different from other well-known canyons such as the Grand Canyon. The gorge was created when the Arkansas River cut through the surrounding granite, a much-harder rock than that in the Grand Canyon. Before the West was settled, the Royal Gorge was a perfect wintering spot for American Indians who stayed here on hunting expeditions to nearby places such as South Park. The area has relatively warm weather with very little snow.
The Arkansas River has more whitewater than any other river in Colorado, with the Royal Gorge offering class III-IV thrills through the canyon.
Who is Going to Love It
The Royal Gorge trips feature Class III-IV experiences; according to CROA, rafters will take on “intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water.”
To the Royal Gorge from Colorado Springs, take I-25 south to Pueblo. Take U.S. Highway 50 west to Canon City, and west of the city, watch for the signs for Royal Gorge. For a more scenic route take Colorado Highway 115 south from Colorado Springs to U.S. Highway 50; turn right onto 50 and head west to Canon City.
Rafting companies all along the Arkansas River offer rafting adventures with experienced guides. For a list of licensed rafting outfitters on the Arkansas, go to the Arkansas River Outfitters Association – most companies offer their trips according to ability, age requirements, types of experience (flat water floating to whitewater), and areas you want to visit.