Colorado Travel Planning Guides : Royal Gorge Country : Scenic Drives


Royal Gorge Colorado


Royal Gorge Bridge & Park

(888) 333-5597


Raft Masters

(800) 568-7238


Royal Gorge Route Railroad

(888) 724-5748


Royal Gorge Rafting & Zip Line Tours - 100% Fun!

(719) 275-7238


Lost Paddle Rafting

(719) 275-0884

(866) 766-7238


Echo Canyon River Exp, 8 Mile Bar and Grill, Camping



Arkansas River Tours & Fishing

(800) 321-4352


Eat,Shop, Experience

Galleria at Michael's On Main

Colorado Rafting

The Winery at
Holy Cross Abbey

(719) 276-5191

(877) 422-9463


Colorado Vertical Helitours

(719) 276-9038


Quality Inn & Suites

(719) 275-8676

(800) 252-7727

American's Best Value Inn & Suites



Florence Chamber

Royal Gorge Vacation Guide to Scenic Drives

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Royal Gorge Vacation Camping
Royal Gorge Area Maps
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Royal Gorge Communities
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Retrace the historic routes connecting Cripple Creek and Victor Mining District, site of the world's largest gold rush, to the communities of Florence, Caņon City and Flo

Phantom Canyon Road

This road follows the Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad. Vehicles over 25 feet are not permitted to travel Phantom Canyon Road. The unpaved road winds through the canyon with steep drop-offs, and there are areas where it narrows to one lane with turnouts for passing. The speed limit is 20 mph through most of Phantom Canyon. Four-wheel drive or a higher-clearance vehicle is recommend.

Along the way, be sure to visit the Indian Springs Trace Fossil Site, the Steel Bridge and Wilbur - a popular early 1900s whistle stop town.

Get There: From Caņon City, drive 6 miles east of Caņon City on US 50 then turn north at the intersection with CR 67.

Highlights along Phantom Canyon Road

Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area & State Wildlife Area
Turn east here then north on CR 132 to reach the main trailhead into this rugged and remote area. The Bureau of Land Management and the Colorado Division of Wildlife manage this 27,000 acres to protect its values and wildlife.

Indian Springs Trace Fossil Site
This National Natural Landmark contains 460 million year old track trails and burrows of ancient animals. This site is on private land. Contact Indian Springs Campground (719)372-3907 for a tour.

Lower & Upper Tunnels
No timbers support these tunnels that were blasted out of solid granite. The lower tunnel was built in 1894 as part of the original railroad grade. After a violent flood in 1895, the upper tunnel was built as part of an effort to raise the railroad tracks out of the path of the floods. The 1895 flood destroyed ten miles of track and The Adelaide station.

Things to do in Royal Gorge Country
Orchards & Farmers Mkts
Downtown Canon City Historic Walking Tour Royal Gorge Railroad
Art, Culture, Museums Dinosaurs Fossils Rafting Adventures Scenic Drives
ATV, & 4 wheel Fishing & Outdoors
Rock Climbing Wildlife Bird Watching
Antiquing in Florence
Royal Gorge Bridge & Park Winery Holy Cross Abbey
Calendar of Events
Hike, Bike, ATV, & 4 wheel Royal Gorge Helitours
Zipline Tours

Royal Gorge Country Vacation Ideas
Adventure Vacation Ideas
Family Vacation Ideas
Leisure Vacation Ideas

Steel Bridge
This notable bridge was built in 1897. It replaced a woo
den railroad trestle that burned in 1896. Stop here and read about the history of the bridge and the railroad on the interpretive signs.

Elevation. 8,625 ft. This was the largest settlement in Phantom Canyon (Pop. 60). Wilbur boasted a train depot, post office, school and saloon in 1900. Even after the trains stopped running in 1912, several families remained in the area. Phantom Canyon Road opened in 1918, and the remodeled engine house at Wilbur served as a store and restaurant for motorists driving the scenic road.

Shelf Road

The road is paved between Caņon City and Red Canyon Park and unpaved between Red Canyon Park and Cripple Creek. Shelf Road narrow to one lane with turnouts for 8 miles where it crosses "The Shelf." Four-wheel drive is recommended and may be necessary for travel north of Garden Park when the road is wet. Don't miss the Shelf Road Recreation Area, a famous technical rock-climbing spot.

Get There: From Caņon City, turn north at the interse
ction of Raynolds Avenue and US Highway 50. Raynolds Avenue becomes Field Avenue; Field Avenue becomes Shelf Road.

Highlights Along Shelf Road

Window Rock
This landmark rock formed as wind and water eroded the 1.7 billion year old granodiorite. Big Horn sheep are frequently seen in this area.

Roosevelt & Carlton Tunnels
The Shelf - This section of road perched high above Four Mile Creek has made for a memorable trip since its construction in 1892. Originally, it was a toll road constructed by Caņon City's business leaders seeking to cash in on the traffic between the mining district and the Arkansas Valley. The toll collectors lived in small cabins nestled at either end of the Shelf and collected tolls every time a wagon or stagecoach passed.

Shelf Road Recreation Area
Climbers come from around the world to scale these limestone cliffs. The climbs are short but very difficult.

Red Canyon Park
This 500-acre park contains unusual red rock formations with spires up to 100 feet tall.

Garden Park Fossil Area
In 1877, Fremont County's school superintendent sent some large fossil bones collected from the area to Edward D. Cope, famous paleontologist. The discovery touched off numerous excavations and discoveries spanning well over a century. Well-known dinosaurs excavated here include Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Stegosaurus and Diplodocus. The most recent notable discovery occurred in 1992, a nearly complete and fully articulated fossil Stegosaurus skeleton. A 1/4 mile walk along the March Quarry Trail will lead you to an overlook to the Marsh-Felch Quarry.

High Park Road

As the center of finance, politics and entertainment for the mining district, Cripple Creek boasted two opera houses, 75 saloons, 8 newspapers, and a stock exchanged by 1900. Experience a taste of the past by exploring the historic downtown and residential areas, before descending into the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine, touring the The Homestead House Museum (an 1890s brothel), and riding the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad.

The Cripple Creek District Museum, housed in the historic Midland Terminal Railroad Depot, tells the story of "The World's Greatest Gold Camp" with an impressive collection of artifacts and photos. A self-guided walking tour of downtown begins here. Limited stakes gaming has revitalized Cripple Creek's economy with casinos, shops, and restaurants to enjoy. Cripple Creek even has its own donkey herd, descendants of the animals that once worked in the mines.

Suggested one-way driving time between Caņon City and Cripple Creek is 1 hour. The road is paved throughout its entire length.

Get There: From Caņon City, drive 9 miles west on US Highway 50 to Colorado 9, follow Colorado 9 for 10 miles to High Park Road, turn east (right).

Teller County Road 1

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
The peaceful ponderosa pine forests and rolling meadows of modern Florissant are a sharp contrast to the violent volcanic activity that occurred here millions of years ago. Volcanic ash and mudflows preserved a priceless legacy - petrified redwood stumps and delicate plant and insect fossils dating to 35 million years ago. This world-class fossil site, known for its abundant insect and plant fossils, gives us a detailed picture of an ancient environment and a chance to reflect on the ever-changing nature of the earth. The historic Hornbeck Homestead is located at the north end of the Monument.

Highlights along US 50

Skyline Drive
Built in 1903 by prison inmates, Skyline Drive climbs 800 feet above the surrounding valley and offers a panoramic view of Caņon City, the Wet Mountains and the Arkansas Valley. In 1999, a dinosaur trackway was discovered next to Skyline Drive. The trackway may be viewed by parking in the first pull-off then walking a short distance back down the road.

Mt. Pisgah and Pikes Peak
Look north for a postcard view of two of the regions most famous peaks.

The Gold Belt Tour has widely varying road conditions. Some roads are unpaved, winding and narrow with steep drop-offs. Please refer to the individual road segment descriptions below to guide your trip planning or for more information visit


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