One of my first outings in Canon City was a healthy walk along tunnel drive, above the Arkansas River. Colorado Guy gives a great review of the trail and some awesome pictures on his website. The approximately 2-mile long trail follows the Arkansas River along an old railroad bed leading out of Canon City into the gorge. Interestingly (to me, at least) the headwaters for the Arkansas are just 100 miles north of Canon City!
And since the river is the topic of this post, here’s a photo that by some stretching of your imagination can capture the river, the railroad, the bridge, and possibly the headwaters in Leadville!
Having gotten a great tip from the local Chamber of Commerce about viewing the gorge without entering the highly commercial park, I was excited to check out the 1000ft deep hole in the ground for free! (I have never been a huge fan of paying to see what nature created.) The bridge itself is one of the highest suspension bridges in the world – an engineering marvel, and a great place to take the kids I’m sure. If you can afford it!
Not that I didn’t want to support the local economy (the bridge is owned by the city, and the park managed by an outside concessionaire!) – but paying $26 to gain entry to a park with rides best suited to adrenaline junkies and kids or to walk out onto a bridge 1000′ above the Arkansas just wasn’t in the cards for me! Although, one hour prior to closing, the rate drops to $16! There are also discounts for kids, locals, and veterans. Still, not for me. I just wanted to see the view! So I did!
On the way out of the parking area there are many picnic pull-offs, scenic views, and even trails. I enjoyed my lunch at the Elk Horn picnic area, then took a short walk.
After seeing the views from atop the gorge, I was excited to venture down into it. My awesome host and friend, Julie, had raved about the luxurious Royal Gorge Route Railroad rides along the Arkansas river into the gorge. She treated me to lunch in the dining car on the two-hour ride.
The train staff does a great job of pacing your meal so you can enjoy the food and the views. On the return trip, the train stops directly beneath the bridge where you can view the tiny specs of people above waving wildly at the train below, and possible even get a glimpse of the incline railway or some of the other amusement rides in action. There are several classes of service and all offer a chance to walk outside to the open cars for a great panoramic view!
One more great way to enjoy the Arkansas (besides getting INTO in!) was to stroll the River Walk trail in Canon City!