Approximately 5,000 acres around the Royal Gorge was acquired by the City of Canon City through a federal act signed by President Theodore Roosevelt and dated June 11, 1906. Twenty three years later, tThe Canon City council adopted a resolution to allow San Antonio businessman. Lon P. Piper the rights to build a bridge across the gorge. A franchise called the Royal Gorge Bridge and Amusement Corporation was established at this time to manage this toll bridge. Mayor Witcher would be one of the first to cross the bridge in the opening day ceremony, Dec. 8, 1929 so this was something where people cooperated together and got something done and done quickly! It was a classic public private cooperative effort.
Location: The Royal Gorge is well marked landmark in Canon City located on Eight Mile hill, west of Canon City.
The Royal Gorge is a rather fascinating geologic story and someone who looks at it probably has some questions. Why does the river cut through that location, rather than to the area just to the south that is much lower in elevation? Why is it so deep in this location yet hardly any canyon around the river in Canon City or in Parkdale just to the west? What are those strange rocks we see in the side of the canyon? We have a short post taking on these and some other geologic questions but regardless it is a fascinating story and a story that must be told if anyone expects visitors to have an authentic experience. Trained experts in tourism know that if they expect visitors to walk away with a deep appreciation of what they just saw, authenticity is a must.
The Royal Gorge is a rather large area around the Canyon with the city of Canon City owning approximately 5,000 acres and some public and private lands beyond that. It is a magnificent feature where there are many vantage points with views of the canyon from different perspectives. The river cuts through this canyon about 1,000 feet or more below the rim in most locations. The Royal Gorge Route railroad travels along this canyon including one location where the walls are so narrow that the train track is partially suspended from above (hanging bridge). Within this magnificent area is the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park which encompasses approximately 400 acres. It includes a number of buildings, the bridge and a variety of entertainment features. Much of this was caught in a devastating fire in the early summer of 2013. The bridge is scheduled to reopen in part in the spring of 2014 and open fully in the fall of 2014.
The Royal Gorge Bridge is scheduled to reopen in 2014. It is probable that there will be a modified version of the original facilities prior to the devastating fire that occurred in 2013. There has been some discussion of thinking of the Royal Gorge in a broader sense than just the 400 acres around the bridge, more akin to a state/national park rather than a smaller venue than has been in place since it’s opening in 1929. It has also been discussed of better connecting the Royal Gorge bridge venue with the Canon City and the train and rafts that run below it, a more comprehensive experience rather that something done in somewhat isolation. When it all gets said and done I hope that visitors are able to walk away with some understanding of why the Gorge is there in the first place and an appreciation of the natural surrounding in our area. The gorge is magnificent feature, a real treasure.