Blake Walsh

22 Best Things to Do in Royal Gorge, CO

  • Published 2023/03/15

The Royal Gorge is one of the most stunning locations in Colorado.

It is only a short drive to Cañon City, which resembles a gigantic bite out of the earth!

The Arkansas River cuts the Royal Gorge; its flow averages four miles per hour as it rushes through the canyon.

Since the river has carved this channel for almost ten million years, you can imagine the level of erosion in the area.

The canyon derives its name from its regal crown-like shape.

Guy U. Hardy, a local newspaper editor and future Congressman, lobbied to construct an eight-mile park at Royal Gorge.

His proposal involved transferring the land to the City of Cañon City in 1905.

The Royal Gorge Route Railroad did not begin transporting people to this natural wonder until 1879.

Here are the best things to do in Royal Gorge, CO:

Try Extreme Water Adventure at Royal Gorge Rafting

People rafting along the rapids of Royal Gorge

Lindasj22 /

Are you all geared up to go on a trip of a lifetime?

Royal Gorge Rafting is another popular activity at Colorado’s Royal Gorge.

This Cañon City rafting tour features the well-known rapids of Sunshine Falls, the Narrows, and others.

Since it began offering river trips in 2004, it has become the most popular rafting destination among tourists.

Aerial view of Royal Gorge's rafting route

George Burba /

The establishment prioritizes quality over quantity and will make you feel welcome and involved.

The attraction employs seasoned personnel that meets safety requirements and expectations.

This Canon City rafting tour features the well-known rapids of Sunshine Falls, the Narrows, and others.

However, you will need to know how to swim and meet minimum physical fitness requirements to sign up.

Feel the Rush at the Royal Rush Skycoaster

Do you have the courage to swing 1,200 feet in the air?

The Royal Rush Skycoaster’s spectacular perspective over Royal Gorge is something you don’t want to miss.

This terrifying ride is not the “World’s Scariest Skycoaster” for nothing.

The Royal Rush Skycoaster is on the Royal Gorge’s southern rim near the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park.

A 100-foot tower will elevate you to the top of the ride, where you will see unparalleled views.

Then, the ride will launch you 1,200 feet over the edge of the Royal Gorge at top speeds of 50 miles per hour.

This attraction has no weight restrictions; you can get on if the flight suit fits.

For everyone’s well-being and safety, the skycoaster closes during inclement weather.

Explore the Area with Colorado Jeep Tours

Four generations of Jeep tour enthusiasts started Colorado Jeep Tours in Royal Gorge.

The tour uses Jeeps adapted and customized for your convenience.

You can rely on the selected expert tour guides and office staff familiar with the whole area.

The Colorado Jeep Tours will teach you a great deal about the history of gold mining and Indian mythology, and Cañon City’s Old West prison past.

You can hike along the Royal Gorge rim or among the red granite monoliths on a few more popular routes.

Explore the Cripple Creek and Victor gold mining districts at 10,000 feet and ride 4×4 trails to a mountain summit.

Are you curious about Indian petroglyphs and dinosaur footprints? The Colorado Jeep Tours will get you there.

Eat on a Train along the Royal Gorge Route Railroad

The Royal Gorge Route Railroad train passing by a river and mountains

jmac23 /

The Royal Gorge Route Railroad provides you with an award-winning breakfast-to-dinner experience.

This family-owned attraction provides stunning scenery, outstanding service, and delicious food.

After eleven years, they’ve drawn over 200,000 annual visitors, thanks to their high-quality service.

Body of Royal Gorge Route Railroad's train

TrevizoD /

In 1998, no other trains in Colorado offered first-class cuisine and service.

You can have a fantastic time with your partner while eating delectable food, great wine, and beautiful cocktails.

The railroad began with only five passenger cars and one service level but has since grown into a significant enterprise.

Journey to the Past at the Red Canyon Park

In Royal Gorge, the past comes to life.

You can witness the remarkable red rock formations tower over a fossil-rich landscape north of Canon City in Red Canyon Park.

Start your journey in the northern part of town where Filed Avenue and Red Canyon Road converge.

You can explore the 600 acres of pinon, sage, and red rock formations with your hiking boots or mountain bike.

Don’t miss the camping and hiking opportunities in this area.

Have Fun at the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience

The Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience offers everyone an affordable, lively, and instructive experience.

The Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience allows families to learn and play while enjoying the Royal Gorge Bridge views.

This 16,200 square-foot structure includes a collection of interactive exhibits, full-scale fossil castings, and actual dinosaur fossils.

It also has a multi-story ropes course that strikes a delicate mix between fun and learning.

The goal is to learn more about Colorado’s paleontological past.

Join a Climbing Tour at Via Ferrata

Daytime view of Via Ferrata

photoff /

The Via Ferrata in Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is one of the most sought-after attractions in the region.

You can team up with professional mountain leaders to maximize your climbing experience.

The general public rarely sees the Royal Gorge’s spectacular views.

The summit of Via Ferrata

ilya dvilyanski /

Participants must be at least ten years old to climb the Royal Gorge Via Ferrata, which is open year-round.

Try to arrive at the park at least 30 minutes before the tour starts.

You’ll need to join a brief training session and familiarization run before setting off.

Experience the Breathtaking Cloudscraper Zip Line

Colorado takes pride in its breathtaking natural beauty, from beautiful mountains and crystal blue lakes to vibrant cities and active villages.

However, go to Cloudscraper ZIP Line in Royal Gorge Bridge & Park for an adrenaline rush that will leave you gasping for air.

You’ll ride a stunning 2,350-foot zip line while taking in the breathtaking views of Colorado.

A tour of America’s finest attractions would not be complete without a stop in Colorado.

Relax at the Royal Gorge/Cañon City KOA

This excellent camping experience at Royal Gorge is perhaps on everybody’s list.

Enjoy a relaxing vacation at the KOA.

Royal Gorge KOA offers whitewater rafting, hiking, and other daily activities.

The campground has no traffic noise, so you can relax and enjoy the peace.

Standing 6,300 feet above sea level, the site presents a night sky filled with more stars than you can imagine.

The Royal Gorge/Canon City KOA can accommodate RVs up to 90 feet long.

There are also eleven quaint cabins and secluded tenting areas nestled among the pinon trees.

Go Camping at the Temple Canyon Park

Are you looking for the perfect camping spot away from the crowds?

Your destination is Temple Canyon Park.

This park in Royal Gorge, south of Canon City, features three separate campgrounds, allowing you to feel secluded even when you’re not alone.

Redemption Trail, which runs down the canyon bottom where Grape Creek flows, also has a trailhead.

This canyon features grasses and trees in the spring, and it’s a great area to wade in the creek.

During the 1870s, people discovered rich mineral deposits at the Wet Mountain Valley, prompting mining activities.

Then, they planned to connect Cañon City to the settlements of Rosita and Silver Cliff.

During the Great Depression, the WPA constructed road, parks, trails, viewpoints, and recreational places.

Stroll along the Tunnel Drive

Exterior of the Tunnel Drive

K Goodwin /

Tunnel Drive is your new way to experience the Colorado River and the Royal Gorge.

Tunnel Drive is a two-mile walk that presents views of the Arkansas River and canyon along an abandoned railroad track.

The smooth rock surrounding the trail is 1.7 billion years old, comprising pink and white granite stretching 11 kilometers beneath.

A man walking along Tunnel Drive

Ernest L Dunbar /

Tunnel Drive provides access to Royal Gorge without the crowds.

Anyone can access Tunnel Drive with quarter-mile markers, frequent seats, and inclines.

Bring water during the summer to avoid dehydration.

Enjoy Family Day at the Royal View RV Park

The ideal way to relax with loved ones and take in the beauty of nature is taking a road trip in an RV.

The Royal View RV Park offers the best views of the San de Christo Mountains and the Royal Gorge Bridge in a peaceful and clean atmosphere.

You can also organize your small meetings at their newly opened meeting place.

Everything you’d expect to find at home awaits you at the Royal View in Royal Gorge.

You can also enjoy the largest pool in the region from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Enjoy an RV Outing at the East Ridge Campground

If you’re looking for a camping spot that’s both convenient and affordable, East Ridge Campground is a great option.

This little-known campsite in Royal Gorge Park offers breathtaking views of Cañon City and the surrounding park area.

Cañon City opens and operates new attractions where you can spend your next vacation.

The place is convenient with available vault toilets, fire rings, and some picnic tables.

You can also access the internet in the area to update your friends on how your vacation is going.

Try the Local Dining Experience at Pizza Madness

Do you know what sets this pizza joint apart from the rest?

They offer an award-winning homemade pizza, fresh salads, and baked sandwiches.

You can’t also miss taking pictures of their eclectic dining area, decorated with original artwork by local artists.

Likewise, listen to music and even see a little magic.

Locals flock here to socialize and unwind.

You and your friends can play the latest video games or unwind in the laid-back setting with a chilled microbrew and your favorite pizza.

Discover a Global Menu at the MoMo Sushi.Wok.Grill

Date night is no problem in Royal Gorge.

The famous MoMo Sushi Wok Grill is known for its flavorful Pan-Asian Menu.

This restaurant has provided an excellent dining experience to Royal Gorge locals and visitors for almost 15 years.

You may choose from more than 100 food choices, thanks to Chef Hyun, who has appeared on many cooking shows.

This restaurant offers a rich diversity of food, covering Asian cuisine to Latin and American favorites.

Grab Souvenirs at the Mountain Wookies

Don’t forget your buds who couldn’t make the vacation with you.

They’ll surely appreciate a souvenir or two from your Royal Gorge trip.

You can find many local businesses, such as Mountain Wookies, in Royal Gorge.

The Mountain Wookies sell clothes, primarily hiking and cycling gear.

It also sells small to large items with a Royal Gorge vibe.

Likewise, the prices won’t hurt your pocket.

Grab a Glass of Wine at White Water Bar & Grill

You deserve a glass of good wine after your exhausting tour of Royal Gorge.

Royal Gorge is proud of its excellent food selection, including wine and beers, and its tourist appeal and diverse terrain.

The White Water Bar & Grill, together with 8 Mile Bar & Grill and Florence Brewing Company, provides a fantastic dining experience.

This riverfront eatery is close to popular outdoor activities like Royal Gorge Rafting and Ziplining.

Enjoy the restaurant’s rustic western-style bar and excellent amenities.

Likewise, catch an acoustic live performance every weekend.

Visit the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center

Aside from the popular outdoor attractions, there are also interesting Cañon City historic sites you can visit like theRoyal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.

Housed inside the Municipal Building located at Royal Gorge Boulevard, the museum is open to the public from Wednesday to Saturday; make sure to reserve ahead for guided tours before your visit.

The historical structure was built in 1927 through the efforts of Dall DeWeese, a local businessman who also donated the first set of artifacts to the museum; architect Eugene Groves also designed the building.

After admiring the old building, make your way to the second floor to view the rotating exhibit at the galleries.

Learn about Historic Downtown Cañon City or take a peek at the artifacts at the Fossils of Fremont County exhibit; likewise, you can browse the Fremont County in the Great War era and be fascinated by 80 Artifacts from Around the World.

Take time to see the Movie Industry in Fremont County and the 90th Anniversary of the Royal Gorge Bridge exhibits, along with the Story of the Apple Industry in Fremont.

Behind the building, you’ll find the 1860 Anson Rudd Cabin which served as the residence for the early settler and his family, along with the 1881 Anson Rudd House, built for the couple’s retirement.

Tour inside the cabin and step back into the 1860s pioneer life; likewise, view the antique furnishings and items that represent that era.

The Municipal Building, the Rudd Cabin, and the Rudd House are all listed in the National Register of Historic Places, all of which you’ll see at the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.

Browse through the Exhibits at the Fremont Center for the Arts

Spend a day for some art appreciation at theFremont Center for the Arts.

The institution is housed inside the historic 1931 U.S. Post Office building on Macon Avenue; the building is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Fremont Center for the Arts was established in 1947 and is merited as the oldest private art center in the Western Mississippi River area.

Check out the rotating exhibits and Permanent Collection of art pieces on display; you’ll likely find inspiring and interesting artwork at the galleries.

Visit the Wendell H. Black Memorial Arts Library with over 300 books on art history, artists’ biographies and works, and art techniques.

You might even catch art shows, workshops, or scheduled events at the center.

You can stay on the building’s west side patio with an overlooking view of lovely trees surrounding the area, or better yet visit the Sculpture Garden on the east side of the property.

Drop by the Fremont Center for the Arts for a taste of the arts.

Enjoy Wine Tasting at The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey

Exterior of The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey

ERoss99, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you have a fascination for fine wines, take time to tour The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey located on East Highway 50.

Drop by any day of the week and have samples of multi-award-winning Colorado wines at their Tasting Room.

The location was originally a boarding school founded by two Benedictine monks in 1886 in their attempt to build a winery; several decades later, Larry Oddo acquired the property in 2005 and built the winery into what it is today.

Soothe your palate and try some of their award-winning creations like the Sangre de Cristo Nouveau, and the Viognier 2021.

Visit for self-guided Standard Wine Tastings at the picnic tables or the bar; likewise, you can opt for VIP Tastings on the terrace or in the park which also includes charcuterie platters you’ll enjoy.

You can also bring your blankets and chairs, have a picnic on the East lawn, and enjoy your wine by the bottle; also, the winery is pet-friendly so you can bring your furry friend along.

Take your pick of charcuterie items during the wine tasting, from flavorful meats, cheeses, nuts, and crackers to sweet dried fruit, jams, and indulging chocolates.

Aside from the extensive wine collections, The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey also offers beautiful items like Provence textiles, Italian crystals, and wine accessories, along with gourmet offerings like Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Modenese Balsamic Vinegar.

Take a Coffee Stop at The Bean Pedaler

Perk up your day with a delicious breakfast and craft coffee atThe Bean Pedaler.

This coffee shop is right on Main Street and also serves homemade baked treats and lunch fares.

Owner Scott Eckstrom opened the coffee shop in 2013 with the concept of a boutique-style coffee stop, a first in the Cañon City area.

You’ll experience an inviting atmosphere and warm and friendly baristas to serve your food and coffee.

The espresso menu includes coffee flavors like Americano, Latte, Cappuccino, and Mocha.

Sip some hot Drip Coffee brew in Light, Medium, and Dark Roast varieties; otherwise, if you prefer Hot Tea, they have Breakfast Blend, Earl Grey, Lemon Chamomile, Green, and Moroccan Mint.

For cold beverages, you can order Blended Frappe, Smoothies, Soda or Ice Tea, or Cold Brew.

Breakfast fares on their menu include Breakfast Burritos or Breakfast Sandwiches with Bacon, Sausage, or Vegetarian flavors; likewise, try other items like English Muffin Sandwiches, Breakfast Street Tacos, or a Power Bowl.

Enjoy appetizing lunch fares like wraps, salads, sandwiches, Street Tacos, Flatbread Pizza, or Hand-Tossed Pizzas.

Otherwise, if you’re looking for something light, have some Grilled Cheese, Doubletrack Nachos, or Grilled Cheese & Tomato Bisque Soup.

You’ll also enjoy yummy baked goods by The Bean Pedaler like brownies, muffins, cinnamon rolls, Quiche, and so much more.

Go for a Trekking Adventure at the Royal Gorge Trails

Ready to go for more trekking adventures? Then, head out and conquer theRoyal Gorge Trails.

You’ll get to explore spectacular sites along these scenic trails during the summer, spring, and fall seasons.

The difficulty of these hiking trails ranges from novice to intermediate levels and the trails are accessible at any of the designated parking areas, plus they are all dog-friendly, so you can take your leashed dog on during your hike.

The 3.6-mile Royal Cascade Trail connects Tunnel Drive with the other trails offering numerous switchbacks.

The Point Alta Vista Trail runs about a mile and is ideal if you want a relatively easy trail to walk, hike or ride your mountain bike.

If you want to see and take shots of spectacular views, the intermediate-level Canyon Rim Trail is the best trail to trek.

Otherwise, if you have limited time, you can pick the trail up at Elk Horn Picnic Area and see the gorge and mountains on the Overlook Loop.

Take the Dream Weaver trail to have a glimpse of the breathtaking Sangre de Cristo mountains, likewise, the 3.1-mile Made in the Shade loop trail gives you fantastic views of rocky outcroppings, majestic mountains, and rugged canyons.

Enjoy trekking the Royal Gorge Trails!

Final Thoughts

Don’t put off planning your next vacation getaway.

Royal Gorge Colorado is eager to show you around and share its world-class destinations.

If you want to experience the awe-inspiring majesty of nature while spending time with friends and family, start planning your Royal Gorge trip.

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