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The Royal Gorge Bridge – Cañon City, CO

Today we took our midday break and headed down to the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park in Cañon City. The route was along the Gold Belt Scenic Byway and it was a beautiful drive.

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We decided to stop first for a bite to eat and chose (out of convenience) the Whitewater Bar & Grill for a wrap and a salad. It was good! This is a place that does zip line and rafting tours (or tour combos) and both of those things looked like fun for another visit!

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The Royal Gorge (1,250ft deep) is apparently sometimes called the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River. The width at the canyon bottom is just 40 or 50 feet, while the width at the top measures only a few hundred feet wide. Deep and narrow.

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The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park is about $25 per adult and feels a little like a 50s/60s tourist trap, only it's actually cool. There are rides and other things to do, food, petting zoo, wildlife farm (buffalo!)…but we were pretty minimal. First, we walked across the bridge (one of the world's highest suspension bridges):

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Here are a couple views from the middle of the bridge:

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See that little white L-shaped structure down by the side of the river in the photo above? Remember that.

Next we decided to ride the Incline Railway 1,550 feet down into the gorge. You hop on this little contraption, standing two people wide:

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And you head down here:

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It's a nice slow ride that takes about 6 minutes to get to the bottom. Here's a shot looking up from the river:

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And here's the suspension bridge from below, taken from that tiny little L-shaped structure I showed you earlier:

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I was hoping we'd get to dip our feet in the river, but it's all fenced off and there's no access. Oh well. We hung out for a bit and then rode the 45 degree Incline Railway back up to the top. We were going to ride the aerial tram across the gorge to the other side and back, but when it showed up it was jam packed with people standing shoulder to shoulder like an overcrowded elevator (in 90 degree heat with only a few windows open) and we opted out. Looks romantic from here though, doesn't it?

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What a nice afternoon! Now I've got some chili on the stove simmering and there's a welcome bit of rain pattering on the aluminum. All the windows are open and it smells like pine trees. Tomorrow I think we'll drive up Pike's Peak, before heading to Leadville on Thursday.