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The Royal Gorge Bridge is a tourist attraction near Cañon City, Colorado off Highway 50 towards Salida east of town.

It is within Royal Gorge Bridge & Park - a 360-acre entertainment park located along the edge of the Royal Gorge around both ends of the bridge.

The road leading to and across the bridge from Highway 50 is designated as Fremont County Road 3A and begins about 10 miles or 16 kilometers west of Cañon City.

The bridge remains the highest bridge in the United States and was among the ten highest bridges in the world until 2012.

The Royal Gorge Bridge maintained the title of the world's highest suspension bridge until the Beipan River Guanxing Highway Bridge was completed in 2003 in China.

The bridge crosses the gorge 955 feet or 291 meters above the Arkansas River. The main span of the bridge between the towers is 880 feet or 268 meters and the total length is 1,260 feet or 384 meters.

The width is 18 feet or 5.5 meters and the towers are 150 feet or 46 meters in hieght. The steel base structure is covered with 1292 wooden planks.

Royal Gorge Bridge

Passenger vehicles are allowed to cross the bridge, but only before park attractions open or after they close, times depending on season.

Oversize vehicles, including large trucks, RVs and buses, are not permitted onto the bridge or to cross.

When I was a kid living in Canon City we would drive across the bridge even on very windy days in order to take in the thrill of being on it when the winds would make it sway back and forth.

This was no longer allowed a few years later when they determined it put too much stress on the suspension cables.

The bridge was built in six months between June and November of 1929 at a cost of $350,000. A rediculously low price in the current economy.

Adjusting for inflation, the cost to rebuild in 2010 would have been over $20 million and considerably more today.

In 1931, the Incline Railway, or simply the Incline - also known as a funicular, was added beside the bridge to reach the bottom of the gorge.

In the 1950s, a miniature railroad was built by the edge of the gorge and an aerial tram was opened in 1969.

In the early 1980s, the bridge was renovated with new cable anchors, suspension rods and paint.

Royal Gorge Bridge

A Skycoaster attraction was added in 2003, with riders being swung out over the edge of the gorge.

In June 2013, a wildfire destroyed most of the park's buildings and the aerial tram, and damaged the Incline. The bridge sustained only slight damage to the wooden deck and was otherwise undamaged, along with the Skycoaster.

The park was rebuilt and partially reopened in August 2014 and the park had a grand re-opening in May 2015 with new gondolas and a new zip-line crossing the gorge on the east side of the bridge.

Back in 1947, after struggling for many years through the Great Depression and World War II, the original builder sold the bridge and leasing rights to a group of local Colorado businessmen and Clint Murchison, a Texan who made a fortune in oil, gas, and real estate.

A long-time employee of the park stated that Murchison, who died in 1969, never visited the bridge he had bought, even after he became the sole owner.

In 1956, Murchison and his Royal Gorge Bridge Company based in Dallas agreed to pay the city a percentage of its revenue instead of the $1000 yearly fee for the lease.

This percentage arrangement has proven very favorable for the city in the ensuing years, allowing it to lower property taxes significantly. The property tax rate has since become the lowest in Colorado.

Royal Gorge Bridge

In July 1998, William Fehr, the owner of a gravel business based in Parkdale near the entrance to the gorge, purchased the rail lines through the gorge.

The sale came after the Southern Pacific and the Union Pacific had merged in 1996 and decided to run their trains on better tracks through northern Colorado.

As a part of the purchase, and unbeknownst to Fehr at the time, the sale included the "air rights" above the tracks through the gorge, including the space occupied by the Royal Gorge Bridge.

An air rights fee had been negotiated with the railroad companies for $200 per year since 1929, plus another $200 per year for the space occupied by the base of the incline railway.

In January 1999, Fehr placed a bid to purchase the entire concession from the city, since the operating company's lease was due to expire in 2001.

When the bid was declined without consideration, Fehr decided to increase the fee for the air rights to $750,000 a year. So, the city began investigating legal procedures to possibly condemn the air rights.

Royal Gorge Bridge

Eventually, the city and Fehr agreed on permanent easements that cost the city a one-time fee of $99,000.

When I lived in Canon City there was a group of British nationals that were given permission to bungee jump off the bridge.

They would arrive at the bridge every year dressed in tuxedos and top hats and would sit at a table on the bridge, drink high tea and casually put down their cups on the table, stroll over to the railing and nonchalantly leap off the bridge while connected to their bungee cords.

I think I had lived in the area for many years and been on the bridge dozens of times before it really sank .in that this huge amazing steel and wooden structure really did not go anywhere.

When you'd cross the bridge there was a large parking lot like area where everyone would turn around in order to go back across the bridge.

When I was a kid I can remember saying to myself that when I got older and had a drivers license that someday I would go out to the bridge, cross over it and see what was past it.

But long before that ever happened I now can recall being told that it was built as an attraction and that there was nothing on the far side that was noteworthy or required access.

It was merely there to marvel at and draw visitors to the area. I think it may have been the first time my young brain ever had a the thought that adults were quite odd to have built it in the first place.

Royal Gorge Bridge

If visiting the Royal Gorge / Canon City area there are a number of trails for hikers such as the Arkansas Riverwalk Trail, Skyline Drive, Arkansas River Canyon Rim Trail among several others. www.alltrails.com

Up river from Canon City near Salida, Colorado there are more great hiking trails listed on www.alltrails.com. There are trail running trails, mountain biking trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and other nature lovers.

Located on the South Rim of the Royal Gorge, a zip line runs parallel between the Royal Gorge Bridge and the Aerial Gondolas. You can take the Aerial Gondolas over the Royal Gorge from the Visitor Center and “fly” back across.

Friends and family who are not quite as daring as you can wait and watch you “come in for landing.” They will hear your whoops and hollers well before you reach the end of this fantastic thrill ride!

This once-in-a-lifetime attraction was manufactured by ZipRider who specializes in hands-free and harnessed, “no sweat” experiences. This special harness comes with a small pouch in the back to place phones, keys, small pocketbook or billfold, or small items such as sunglasses.

You can prove you really did it! Be sure to stop by the photo booth on the way out and check out the video of your exhilarating ride across the world famous Royal Gorge!

The 8 person Aerial Gondola Cars ride is included in our General Admission ticket and guests are free to experience the thrill of riding it an unlimited amount of times during their visit to the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park.

Leashed, friendly dogs are allowed to ride with their owners at the sole discretion of the ride operator.

Royal Gorge Bridge

www.royalgorgebridge.com




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