Day Trip to the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park: Highest Suspension Bridge
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The Royal Gorge Bridge is the highest suspension bridge in North America, and because of this it is often called “America’s Bridge”.
The Gorge is a 1,200 foot canyon that surrounds the Arkansas River and forms a 10-mile long canyon, with the bridge as the centerpiece.
The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park sits on 360 acres and is open 365 days a year as an epic tourist destination and amusement park.
Since it’s opening in 1929 Park officials have estimated that more than 26 million people have visited the Royal Gorge Bridge.
Driving has not been allowed on the Bridge since the 2013 man-made fire that destroyed a large portion of the buildings, railway, and acreage.
However, due to the 2019 pandemic, restricted driving was allowed for visitors to cross the bridge in order to observe social distancing.
Why was the Royal Gorge Bridge built?
Construction on the Royal Gorge Bridge began in June 1929 and was completed in November.
It originally cost $350,000 to build and is said to have gone over budget by about $100,000.
Surprisingly, the build stayed true to the projected timeline and no deaths or serious injuries occured.
The Royal Gorge Bridge and surrounding acres were originally built as a tourist attraction and amusement park, which is how it remains today.
This 360-acre amusement park sits 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River and features nearly 20 different things to do and to see.
Over the years, the Royal Gorge Bridge has been owned by many different people but is currently owned by Cañon City.
In 1983 the bridge and the incline railway were listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
During the 1980s the bridge underwent significant renovations including new cable anchors, installing suspension rods, and repainting.
The total cost for these renovations was more than $2.8 million dollars, much more than the original purchase price.
Where is the Royal Gorge Bridge?
The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park is located at 4218 County Road 3A in Cañon City, Colorado.
It is about 12 miles west of the city, about an hour south of Colorado Springs.
If you are traveling from Denver it will be about a 2.5 hour drive. Take Interstate 25 south and exit onto Highway 115 to Penrose.
Turn onto Highway 50 heading west towards Canon City. Then follow the signs to the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park.
You can’t miss it!
Is the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park free?
Visiting most of the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park is not free.
You can view the bridge and surrounding acreage from the parking lot or hang out inside the Visitor Center for free.
But if you want to cross the bridge, take the Gondola, or ride any of the attractions, there is a cost.
General admission and park tickets to the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park starts at about $25 for adults ages 13 & up or $22 for children ages 6-12.
Kids under 5 years old get in for free, although a ticket is required.
General admission tickets includes access to:
- The Bridge
- Aerial Gondola
- Plaza Theater
- Children’s Playland
If you want access to the Skycoaster, Zipline and Via Ferrata those are considered Extra Pay Rides and will cost an additional fee per person.
Get additional savings when you bundle pay for a bundled Jeep Tour + Royal Gorge Bridge package.
Colorado Jeep Tours works closely with the Royal Gorge Bridge to offer free tickets when you book one of their tours.
Things to do at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
There are more than 20 things to do when visiting the Royal Gorge Bridge. Read on to find out how to make the most of your trip.
1. Cross the bridge
The main attraction at the Royal Gorge is the bridge and it offers several options for crossing.
While the most common way to experience it is to walk across the bridge, you can also take the Gondola or the Zipline.
The Royal Gorge Gondola is free to ride and is included with your Royal Gorge Bridge tickets. The Cloudscraper ZipRider zipline, however, costs an additional fee.
Or you can book a Colorado Jeep Tour and drive across the bridge since personal vehicles are still not allowed.
Colorado Jeep Tour includes free tickets to visit the bridge & park, plus a fun drive across the bridge.
How long does it take to walk the Royal Gorge Bridge? The bridge stretches across the length of the canyon and is 1,260 long.
This takes approximately 40 minutes to walk across if you are walking at a moderate pace, taking photos, and checking out the views.
2. Ride the Skycoaster
If you love heights and want to cross the highest rollercoaster around, check out the Royal Rush Skycoaster.
It’s quite the adrenaline rush! It’s not called the World’s Scariest Skycoaster for nothing.
Strap in and get ready to be pushed out over the gorge at 1,200 feet above the floor, with nothing but the open air below.
You’ll sweep across the air at 50 mph dangling over the Rocky Mountains and Arkansas River.
Riding the Skycoaster is an additional fee on top of your tickets to see the Royal Gorge Bridge.
3. Go rock climbing
The newest feature added in 2013 is called Via Ferrata which is Italian for “Iron Way”.
This mountaineering adventure allows for safe and protected rock climbing using hand and foot holds.
You are literally climbing up the walls of the Royal Gorge with some of the best climbing guides available.
Via Ferrata is considered one of the best rock climbing experiences in Colorado!
All skill levels are welcomed as there are routes available for beginner, moderate and experienced rock climbers.
Again this experience is part of the Extra Pay rides and costs an additional fee on top of General Admission.
4. Watch history at the Plaza Theater
On the other side of the bridge there are loads of things to do, but a must-see is the free mini-documentary at the Plaza Theater.
Grab a seat and learn about the history of the bridge and surrounding park from 1929, as well as some fun facts.
In between showings you can check out the interactive museum known as the Historical Expo.
See historic photos and touch original artifacts and fossils found in the area.
And between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, you can catch an extra special nature show!
This year’s feature is the Nature’s Educators Birds of Prey show, with each showing lasting about 20 minutes.
And this is all free included with your general admission ticket price.
5. Play at the children’s Playland
The Tommy Knocker Playland is the perfect stop for kids of all ages. The three-story playground is accompanied by a large carousel and a splash pad.
The play area also includes ropes, slides, nets, tunnels and 20-foot towers for mini-adventures and exploring.
Make lasting memories of your trip when you stop by the Wax Hands shop and make wax casts of you and your kid’s hands.
Plus, children will have the opportunity to sluice for gems and other precious metals, just like in the Colorado gold rush days!
The Tommy Knocker Playland is open seasonally at 10am and access is included for free with your general admission ticket.
Visiting the Royal Gorge Bridge
The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park is one of the most amazing and epic experiences you will ever see.
Whether you’re crossing the bridge on foot, taking the Gondola across, or riding the Skycoaster, this is a memorable experience you won’t soon forget.
Click here to grab your ticket to the Royal Gorge Bridge and discover some truly incredible Colorado scenery!
Your family will have fun exploring the Playland, Carousel, and Plaza entertainment areas.
Related: Riding the Royal Gorge Route Railroad (1,000 feet below)