Colorado · Colorado Moutains · Day Trip · Overnight Trip

March 2017: The Royal Gorge

DAY 1

By March our bond had grown strong and we were really beginning to hit our stride as a couple. We were comfortable with each other in ways that told us we could be more adventurous and push our Resolution Destination boundaries by extending our travel distance and perhaps even include an overnight stay somewhere (GASP!). With the mild March weather that Colorado granted us this year, we decided a 2.5-hour drive (1.5 hours with Cameron at the wheel of his favorite hatch-back turbo) to Cañon City, CO to visit The Royal Gorge was perfect for a quick overnight getaway.

We packed our bags (making sure to include plenty of poo-pourri for the hotel room) and set-off on a sunny Friday morning. We arrived in Cañon City about mid-day, starving and ready to stretch our legs. So we stopped at The Royal Gorge Brewing Company for some lunch and a cold beer before jumping back in the car for the final stretch into The Royal Gorge park.

As we entered the park, before making it to the main gate, we pulled off on a side road so Royal Gorge Bridgewe could admire and soak it all in from a distance. The Gorge itself is breathtaking and viewing the bridge, even from a distance, was enough to get Corrie’s nerves worked-up into a frenzy. After we snapped some quick photos and drained our tiny bladders (drip-dry anyone?) we made our way to the main entrance.

Once we entered the main building to pay our admission, the park staff was quick to point us in the direction of the gondola. Corrie’s fear of heights almost stopped her from boarding (who really wants to be faced with the potential of plummeting to your death at warp speed from 1,200 feet up in the air??). But with a gentle nudge of encouragement from Cameron she conquered the fear and we were saved from a long uphill slog from the north rim of the bridge to the the south rim. Once we were creaking our way over the gorge all fear (or at least some of it) melted away as we admired the gorge from a whole new perspective. It was also in this moment that Corrie realized just how much she trusted and admired the man sitting beside her.

Royal Gorge 4
Royal Gorge Gondola

While this could have been enough adventure for Corrie, Cameron was ready for more. Once we got to the south rim and exited the gondola we were offered the opportunity to test our nerves of steel (ha!) with two other rides. These were the rides that provided the most exciting ways to get a bird’s eye view of the river thousands of feet below. The first was the Royal Rush Skycoaster. This is a giant swing that pulls its riders backwards, hundreds of feet off the ground and then launches them out over the canyon. We had the pleasure of watching one rider as she dared the ride. After watching her panic, breakdown and nearly wet herself before being launched over the cliff we politely declined to strap ourselves into the skycoaster. But we do admire those who do it!Royal Gorge 2.jpg

At that point, we decided it was safest to walk down to the bridge and make our way back to the admission building. The bridge swayed in the wind as we crossed it while looking through the cracks in the slats at the river and railroad. While we made it across in one piece, Cameron may still have fingernail marks in his hands from Corrie’s grasp.

Once we got across the bridge, Cameron started regretting not riding the second attraction on the south rim… the Cloudscraper Zipline. Not wanting Royal Gorge 6.jpgCameron to miss out on a bucket list item we hopped back on the gondola and Corrie even started to talk herself into riding the zipline as well. But, once she was handed the ubiquitous “sign your life away” waiver, she politely backed out and raced back across the bridge so she could video Cameron as he flew across the canyon on North America’s tallest zipline. It was a thrill just to watch Cameron and he loved his peaceful ride across the gorge (at least he claims it was peaceful). At the end of day Corrie regretted that she had backed out, but we have vowed to go back again and do it together one day.

Overall, the Royal Gorge was a great success. We were happy that we could enjoy the park on a less crowded weekday. And we pushed ourselves as individuals and as a couple by testing our comfort zones. We also racked up tons of steps on the pedometer.

After an action-packed day at the Gorge, we headed back to Cañon City to check into our fabulous accommodations at the Best Western. 4.2 stars in Cañon City, 2.2 stars anywhere else.

If you’re from Colorado and hear the words “Cañon City,” you likely think of prisons, since there are 13 in the area (including one Supermax). To be honest, this was actually a draw for Corrie since she has a strange fascination with prisons. But even being surround by thousands of felons, Cañon City has a peaceful feel to it (although that could be attributed to the mostly deserted downtown).

That evening we enjoyed dinner at a small Mexican restaurant and enjoyed some swimming and the sauna back at our hotel before turning in for the night.

DAY 2

Saturday wRoyal Gorge 9as a beautiful day. So of course we got up late, had a leisurely breakfast at the Waffle Wagon (the second breakfast of the day for one of us, whose name starts with c.a.m.) and took a short drive to the west side of town. There we slathered on sunscreen and hiked the Tunnel Drive Trail. This is a beautiful little trail along the Arkansas river that has multiple tunnels cut through the rock and has great views of the river (ask Cameron if he spotted any fish). This was a perfect way to help burn off a large breakfast while capturing even more pictures to mark the weekend.

After the hike it was off to the Museum of Colorado Prisons (Corrie almost cried with Royal Gorge 11.jpgexcitement). The museum occupies an old prison that shares a wall with a current, functioning prison. It contains many creepy and fascinating exhibits. The women’s restroom being the creepiest of them all (okay, the restrooms are not a mandatory stop in the museum, but mandatory for us anywhere we go). We learned all about torture methods, riots, death penalties (including being able to step into the old gas chamber) and child prisoners. After spending over an hour there, we were both fascinated and happy we made it a stop on our weekend adventure before heading back home.

It’s easy to say that we were thrilled with March’s resolution destination!! It is a place we will be going back to so we can explore further and ride that zipline together. The weekend left us both excited for more and solidified us even further as partners in adventure.

Destination Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

What We Learned

  • DO: buy tickets to The Royal Gorge online to save yourself a couple bucks.
  • DO: get to Cañon City early if you want to try the local winery. It closes at 6 pm (5 pm on Sundays). We missed out, but hear it’s worth it.
  • DO: wear comfortable shoes, you will do a lot of walking around the park.
  • DO: wear (and re-apply) plenty of sunscreen. The Colorado sun is no joke and there is little shade as you walk around the park.
  • DON’T: plan on walking around downtown Canon City if you’re looking for entertainment. Most of the storefronts are vacant.
  • DON’T: pick up hitch hikers on Highway 50 around Cañon City (even if there are no signs to tell you this, it’s common sense).
  • DON’T: expect fabulous dining or accommodations. But it’s fun nonetheless!

 

 

 

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