48 Hours in Cañon City
By Erin Sendor
Welcome to the Royal Gorge Region of Colorado! Located just two hours south of Denver and 45 minutes southwest of Colorado Springs, Cañon City offers an incredible, out-of-the-ordinary weekend getaway that is sure to thrill. Offering the best of both worlds, enjoy this areas’ cultural heritage and family-friendly attractions, as well as plenty of outdoor adventure including whitewater rafting, hiking and more. Experience this region year-round, as Cañon City is known as “the Climate Capital of Colorado,” with temperatures generally 10 degrees warmer in winter than other nearby communities. From the historic downtown and the nearby Royal Gorge Bridge & Park to the unique surrounding geography and Arkansas River, Cañon City will keep you coming back for more!
Start your trip at one of the region’s top sites, the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. Home to “America’s Highest Suspension Bridge & Zip Line,” the Royal Gorge Bridge spans 1,260 feet and is situated 1,053 feet above the Arkansas River. Perfect for families and thrill seekers alike, take a walk across the bridge, soar above in an aerial gondola, or try the adrenaline-pumping zip line or Skycoaster ride! Designed with younger visitors in mind, the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park’s three-story playland offers hours of entertainment, with ropes, slides, nets, tunnels, 20-foot towers, a splash pad and more! No matter which activities you decide on, you will experience sweeping 360-degree views of the awe-inspiring Royal Gorge and mountain vistas!
Many visitors go deeper into the Royal Gorge, combining the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park with other scenic, adventurous tours. Explore the red granite gorge up close by hiking throughout the park, and climbing with the brand-new Royal Gorge Via Ferrata! Go further with an exhilarating off-road scenic excursion with Colorado Jeep Tours. Head down into the gorge and take advantage of the Arkansas River’s world-class rapids with a whitewater rafting tour. The Royal Gorge Region features several highly rated rafting tours which will equip and guide your group for a thrilling white-water journey. For those looking to do it all and maximize your trip, look for packages that combine many of these activities for the ultimate Royal Gorge experience!
For those looking for the views, with less of the adrenaline rush, the Royal Gorge Route Railroad offers a spectacular rail journey through the Rockies. This scenic train ride can also be paired with a full wine-and-dine experience for an elegant voyage through the mountains.
After an excitement-filled day, dine in downtown Cañon City, which features a number of excellent choices from American classics to authentic Italian, French and Mexican cuisine. Try local favorites: Pizza Madness for raved-about handmade pizzas, Chuck’s Seasoned Grill for homemade specialties or Cañon City Mugs for happy hour and an outdoor patio. Stop by Cup and Cone for a sweet treat, featuring ice cream, shakes, floats and banana splits.
Find lodging right in the heart of Cañon City, from charming, locally-owned bed and breakfasts and conveniently located hotels to budget-friendly inns and campgrounds. Whether traveling in smaller or larger groups, the options abound from amenity-filled hotels to plush vacation rentals throughout the Royal Gorge Region.
Begin your day with a delicious breakfast and coffee, with several great options to choose from in Cañon City. Known for their breakfast burritos, The Bean Pedaler offers craft coffees and a bakery, plus local Colorado microbrews for later on in the day.
For another action-packed day, head to the picturesque Arkansas River. Cañon City’s Riverwalk Trail follows the flowing river and offers the chance for excellent wildlife spotting and birdwatching. Renowned by anglers around the world, the Arkansas River is also the longest Gold Medal River in Colorado (and North America!) Anglers have a terrific opportunity to catch trophy-sized trout, including brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout. Fly fishing, as well as rafting and kayaking, are remarkable ways to enjoy this beautiful river.
Looking for more family-friendly and educational attractions? The Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience provides an affordable, dynamic and fun opportunity for children of all ages. With views of the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park and surrounding mountains, the whole family will enjoy this world-class collection of dinosaur fossils, enormous full-scale dinosaur casts and multi-story ropes course. Other opportunities for dinosaur fossil lovers include the Garden Park Fossil area and Indian Springs Trace Fossil Site.
For lunch, look for patio dining to enjoy a locally-sourced meal outdoors. As a thriving agricultural hub, it’s not hard to find fresh, seasonal produce, farm raised, grass-fed beef, true Southwestern style foods and homemade delights. For top-notch Mexican food, look for Toreros Family Mexican Restaurant, Ortega’s Restaurant or El Caporal.
For a relaxing afternoon, stroll through downtown Cañon City, which is filled with shops, cafes, restaurants, galleries, spas and more. Cañon City enjoys a thriving arts and culture scene, from the Fremont Civic Theatre and the Fremont Center for the Arts (FCA) to the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center. Public art is highlighted in the pedestrian-only Macon Plaza, which includes a sculpture garden and continually changing displays.
Year-round events in Cañon City create a buzz, with signature events including the Music & Blossom Festival in early May, the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival in late June and the Harvest Festival on the grounds of the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey in late September. With award-winning wines, The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey is truly a must-see. What better way to finish off a memorable trip to Cañon City than with celebrated wines curated by a knowledgeable tasting guide, all surrounded by a stunning mountain backdrop!
For those looking to escape the summer crowds and get a little off the beaten path, Cañon City offers the perfect trip. With incredibly unique attractions and endless ways to chase that adrenaline rush, the Royal Gorge Region won’t remain under-the-radar for long. Cañon City is a destination waiting to be discovered! Be sure to check ColoradoInfo.com’s Visitor Guides and Daily Deals for more adventure ideas and travel deals throughout Colorado.