15 Best Things to Do in Cañon City, CO

Cañon City, CO
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In Colorado, Cañon City (pronounced as 'canyon') has many exciting things to do.

It is the county seat of Fremont County and its most populous city in Colorado.

The United States Board on Geographic Names approved adding the tilde to Cañon City's official name in 1994.

Española, Peñasco and Cañones and La Cañada Flintridge are the only other U.S. cities with the Spanish letter in their names.

With Cañon City's proximity to the Arkansas River and several state and national parks, tourists have many outdoor leisure opportunities.

Additionally, neighboring Florence is home to one of the country's most infamous prisons.

The winters might be brutal, but that doesn't mean you can't have fun indoors. There are plenty of museums, galleries, and historical places to visit.

There are several activities to try in Cañon City that will put a smile on your face.

We're not going to cover all there is to do in Cañon City, but we can offer you a sample of the city's most popular activities.

Here are the 15 best things to do in Cañon City, Colorado:

Go on a Train Tour Along the Royal Gorge Route Railroad

Royal Gorge Route Railroad
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Some of Colorado's old railroads are still in operation, and most of them started operating during the state's formative years of exploration and colonization and over a century ago.

In addition to the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, there are many more exciting things to do in and around town.

The railroad's new operator provides two-hour trips that take passengers beneath the renowned Royal Gorge Bridge, providing vistas of both natural and manufactured beauties that are unmatched.

Royal Gorge Route Railroad
jmac23 / Shutterstock.com

As a bonus, the train also passes through the most famous section of the now-decommissioned Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, a line hailed by historical figures like President Theodore Roosevelt as among America's best railroad sections.

Wine and beer are available aboard, as well as burgers, burritos, and other small bites.

Hop in the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience

The Reynolds family owns and operates the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience in Cañon City, an engaging family museum.

The museum provides 16,200 square feet of exquisite displays and exhibits, including a life-sized dino park with 16 animatronic dinosaurs, overlooking the magnificent Royal Gorge Bridge and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

There are also life-size dinosaur fossil castings on display and a collection of genuine dinosaur fossils from the Lower Arkansas Valley's prehistoric past.

There are two different types of ropes courses available, one for adults and one for children.

There's also a Kids' Dig section and a Dolby-enhanced cinema showing several documentaries about dinosaurs for the kids.

Explore the City With Bikes From Cañon City Brews & Bikes

What do Colorado residents love the most? Beer and getting out into nature.

Cañon City Brews & Bikes should be at the top of the list for anybody looking to combine their two favorite pastimes.

Even though it only opened in 2018, it already has a devoted following and doubles as a bike rental store in addition to a tap house.

The majority of visitors would instead go on a ride first, then have a drink.

In addition to the large selection of beer, they provide live music on Friday nights and various food options.

It also has about 20 craft beers on tap at any one time.

Those unfamiliar with the region can obtain pointers on the best places to bike from the staff.

Traverse Along the Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive
K Goodwin / Shutterstock.com

Skyline Drive, completed in 1906, is a 2.6-mile picturesque route between Cañon City and Fremont County.

It is among the state's most popular tourist attractions.

Tailing the route of a steep razorback ridge, you may reach the drive from U.S. Highway 50.

Skyline Drive
Jeffrey Beall, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

To get to the summit, hikers must ascend slowly but steadily on a rollercoaster-like path that narrows to a few hundred feet wide at the peak and then drops southward for hundreds of feet in both directions.

There are several pullouts along the route where motorists may stop and soak in the breathtaking scenery.

Ankylosaurus footprints from the Cretaceous era spread throughout the trail's summit, where an interpretive exhibit points tourists in the right direction.

This drive isn't for those who are weak at heart; therefore, be careful while letting other vehicles pass you.

Explore the Temple Canyon Park

Visit Cañon City's Temple Canyon Park to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the great outdoors.

This public park in Cañon City preserves an enormous natural open-air theater called "The Temple," developed through the community effort of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad employees.

Since 1912, the site has operated as a public park.

It offers spectacular scenery of the Wet Mountains and the historic Dawson mining region, a distinctive "mixing bowl" geology, and terrain.

The park lies at the southern end of the Royal Gorge on several hundred acres.

The indigenous Ute people of the region had utilized it as a site for religious ceremonies.

Water seeping through natural rock cracks formed the area.

Visitors can trek the amphitheater's undeveloped route and spend the night at an authorized camping spot. Try your hand at rafting or just strolling along the riverbank.

Go Winetasting at the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey

On the grounds of Cañon City's ancient Holy Cross Abbey, the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey has been a renowned winery in the area since 2002.

It features award-winning sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, riesling, merlot, and syrah wines produced in the picturesque Wet Mountains winery.

There is also an excellent apple wine made from fermented apples grown nearby at the Colon Orchards.

Daily, a tasting room serves complimentary wine flights to the general public.

It offers VIP wine and cheese sampling during the summer, but you must book a lot at least 24 hours in advance.

Walk Across the Royal Gorge

Royal Gorge in Cañon City
NatalieJean / Shutterstock.com

Take a walk across the country's tallest suspension bridge and enjoy a cliff-top thrill ride in a rocky river canyon all at the same time.

Royal Gorge, a natural wonder off of County Road 3A in the city's outskirts, was sculpted through time by the relentless assault of wind and water.

The Arkansas River underneath is dwarfed by the Royal Gorge Park, which rises over 1,000 feet above it.

Bridge at Royal Gorge
Daniel Stephen Hakes / Shutterstock.com 

Gorge, bridge, and park are among the area's most photographed landmarks, and many people end up spending a substantial amount of time there.

Aside from these, you will also enjoy its outdoor playground, movie theater, and an unusual clock driven by water—the only one like it in the state.

Arkansas River in Royal Gorge
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Visit Museum of Colorado Prisons

The Museum of Colorado Prisons is the perfect location to enjoy the macabre history and scary stories.

A former women's jail with a history dating back nearly 150 years houses the museum near the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility.

More than 200,000 people have visited the museum since it opened.

It advocates the collection and preservation of artifacts relating to the history of the Colorado prison system and its activities.

On-going displays feature inmate-made contraband weaponry as well as uniforms, cells, and first-person stories from former guards, officials, and convicts.

Many people enjoy reading about notorious inmates who have lived in the prison system and the stories they have to tell.

Wander Around Garden Park Fossil Area

Many fossils discovered in Cañon City's Garden Park Fossil Area fill prominent museums around the country, including in Washington, DC.

Excavations have been going on here for over a century.

If you are interested in natural history, it's a must-see while in the region.

In the picturesque environment, there are almost 20-mile multi-purpose trails available to all types of trail users.

The Dinosaur Flats area of the park has difficult roads for those who want to explore by four-wheel or all-terrain vehicle.

Go Fishing at Arkansas River

Arkansas River
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With its location along Highway 50, this 58-mile length of water is ideal for fly fishers looking for a Western-style fly fishing adventure.

The state has designated the bulk of this section as "Gold Medal Water."

You may catch brown and rainbow trout using dry flies, nymphs, and streamers on this freestone river.

Arkansas River
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Colorado's waterways are home to some of the state's best-tasting fish, including trout.

The delicate white meat needs only a few simple seasonings to produce an unforgettable feast.

The Lower Arkansas River fishing is best in the fall.

Discover the City's Past at the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center

Located in Cañon City's Municipal Building, the museum and history Center was built in 1927 with a certification for limited use as a museum institution.

Exhibit halls managed by Heritage Center explain regional geology and natural wonders, and cultural and social history.

The museum is part of the list of National Register.

Here, you may find local dinosaur fossils going back over 450 million years, as well as a stunning collection of the area's historical pictures from the 1870s.

You may also use the museum's public research facility and study room, which has an extensive collection of civic records as well as historical papers, or visit the museum's preserved 1881 stone home and 1860 log cabin, which belonged to local pioneer Anson Rudd.

Try Echo Canyon River Expeditions

Colorado has some of the greatest whitewater rafting rivers in the country.

Whatever your experience level, you're sure to find something fun with Echo Canyon River Expeditions, regardless matter whether you're an expert or a novice.

The agency, located at U.S. Route 50, has been offering guided trips since the late 1970s.

All tour guides are knowledgeable in First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) to ensure the highest level of safety for all participants.

Half-day and full-day tours are available down Parkdale Run in Bighorn Sheep Canyon and the enormous Royal Gorge, with varying degrees of difficulty in the rapids.

These all feature a riverside lunch, which is a local favorite.

As a result, trips can fill up quickly at the height of the summer season, so plan ahead of time if you can.

Cross Royal Gorge on Zipline

Royal Gorge Zip Line
Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another exciting way to gain a panoramic view of the terrain is through ziplining through the forest canopy.

Royal Gorge Zip Line Tours lies at U.S. Route 50, just outside of town, and has almost two dozen separate zip lines positioned at different heights to offer visitors a thrilling experience.

Fearless participants can attain over 50-mile speeds per hour over the steepest and most sloping routes.

Here, you'll enjoy amazing views of the canyon, the Arkansas River, and spectacular rock formations, as well as the frequently snow-covered summits of the Sangre de Christo Mountains in the background.

Explore Royal Gorge on Air

Royal Gorge Helitours treats visitors aerial views of the Royal Gorge Colorado's majestic mountains and Arkansas River once in a lifetime.

Mike Pond established the company in 1989 and passed it on to professional pilots Will Sanders and Eli Plavney

It uses Robinson R66 helicopters because of their high altitude prowess and ability to carry up to five passengers at once.

Excursions are available seven days a week from March to September, including Bridge Run tours that highlight the Royal Gorge Bridge, the country's tallest suspension bridge.

Tours on Canyon Run take you through the Royal Gorge's eastern end, while Royal Gorge Run takes you through the canyon on both sides.

There are sunrise and sunset excursions available upon request and Christmas light trips around the Colorado Springs region, which run from December through the end of the year.

Discover the Works of Local Artists at Fremont Center for the Arts

This art center, founded in 1947, is the West's first privately run art gallery.

Since 2000, Cañon City's historic 1931 U.S. Post Office houses the center listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It features a permanent main gallery showcasing a selection of works from the center's permanent collection, as well as several galleries for rotating special exhibits showcasing the works of artists from the region and all over the country in various media.

The studio gallery of the center holds valuable exhibits and site-specific installation pieces, avant-garde, and experimental art.

With an extensive art history collection and books on art techniques, and a gift store selling works by local artists, the center has something for everyone

Final Thoughts

Cañon City's attractions and activities don't stop there!

Bring your spirit of adventure to Colorado, and be ready for an unforgettable trip.

Learn your way around the city. Get to know the locals. Learn about its past.

A vacation to the Royal Gorge region close to Colorado Springs is ideal for thrill-seeking activities, family outings, and non-stop entertainment.

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