Royal Gorge Region Activities
Ditch the Crowds, Experience the Adventure
For those who want to experience real, rustic Colorado in all its bluebird-sky, whitewater, big adventure glory, the Royal Gorge Region is your destination. Combine the striking natural landscape with the area’s year-round mild weather and laid-back local vibe, and you’ve got the ideal Colorado vacation.
Expert outfitters are on-hand to take you and yours rafting, biking, fishing, ATVing, zip-lining, horseback riding and more.
Feel the power of the Arkansas River on one of the country’s most sought after whitewater rafting experiences as you paddle between the rugged rock walls of the Royal Gorge.
Cross America’s highest suspension bridge, go ziplining and feel the free-fall rush of the Skycoaster at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park (www.royalgorgebridge.com). Climb aboard the Royal Gorge Route Railroad (www.royalgorgeroute.com) for an unbelievable journey through the steep and narrow 10-mile-long canyon and be sure to visit the open-air car for wildlife viewing (blue herons and bighorn sheep thrive here).
For cultural favorites, visit the area’s theaters, browse art galleries for paintings, prints and crafts and explore local museums for a peek into local lore and dinosaur, mining and pioneer history.
Shop and sightsee, collect amazing antiques and then delve into the countryside at a family-run orchard, pumpkin patch or corn maze. Drive the scenic Gold Belt Tour, walk discovery trails and search for fossils or have a relaxing picnic by the river.
Outdoor excursions span mellow to extreme. Hike at your own pace, take a guided fishing or hunting trip and see it all on a Jeep tour, guided horseback tour or an ATV tour through the Arkansas River Valley. There are even Segway and helicopter tours.
From the forest to the canyon, the rushing river to our charming Main Streets, the Royal Gorge Region promises to feed your spirit and create everlasting memories.
With its easy access and nearly continuous rapids, the Arkansas River is the most rafted river in the world. Rapids range from mellow Class II to raging Class IV in the stretches that run through the region.
Ride the Rapids
The Arkansas River starts at the Continental Divide near Leadville, Colorado, and offers various levels of rafting. The river drops 10,000 feet in the first 125 miles providing some of the best-known big-water rafting in the nation.
For a moderate trip of Class III rapids, take a half-day trip through Bighorn Sheep Canyon. This is a great trip for families with children and for those who like scenery alongside moderate excitement.
Whitewater Kayak & Recreation Park
Centennial Park features two surf waves for kayakers, rafters and river-boarders to surf and play on. Onlookers enjoy a wading pool and sandstone sideline seating. The park hosts the annual Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival typically on the last weekend in June. Centennial Park is located where 3rd Street meets the river in Cañon City.
Hiking & Biking the Royal Gorge Region
The Royal Gorge Region continues to add miles of outstanding trails each year. Local trail advocacy groups such as Fremont Adventure Recreation (FAR) and the Lower Arkansas Mountain Bicycling Association (LAMBA) work hard alongside the BLM and the City of Cañon City to maintain and expand the trail scene. While trail excursions can be quite hot during summer months (bring lots of water and sun protection!), the spring, fall, and even winter months lead to idyllic adventures. Wondering where to start? Read on!
Royal Gorge Park
The new Royal Gorge Park trails wind through piñon and juniper trees throughout the area, boasting trails from relatively easy to advanced. The Canyon Rim Trail offers up breathtaking views of the gorge, but be aware of exposed areas as you make your way along the trail. Other area trails are generally of intermediate difficulty as they meander throughout the park, and even connect with the Royal Gorge Park Campground.
Arkansas Riverwalk Trail
The Riverwalk Trail runs through some of the most scenic parts of Cañon City. Along the 7-mile stretch of trail, you’ll track the river’s course through the city, passing historic properties, open farmland, cottonwood groves, and city parks. The Riverwalk is mostly a flat, wide maintained trail that is open during all seasons; perfect for families and cruiser bike rides!
Oil Well Flats
One of the most popular and extensive trail systems in the area, Oil Well Flats offers up about 12 miles of singletrack trails. Cruise through junipers and piñons as you ascend the Unconformity or Fire Canyon trails toward the high point of Island in the Sky for spectacular views of Cañon City and beyond to the Wet Mountains and the Sangre de Cristo range.
*For complete maps and directions to trailheads, grab a free copy of FAR’s 2017 Recreation & Trail Guide, available at the Cañon City Chamber of Commerce, Red Canyon Cycles (410 Main Street, Cañon City), and several other locations throughout the Royal Gorge Region. See www.joinfar.org/adventureguide for more information!
The Royal Gorge Region has some of the best trails in Colorado for ATV and 4-wheel fun at Texas Creek Recreation area. Detailed maps are available at Cañon City Chamber of Commerce, and the Visitors Center Cabin.
Clearance varies on these routes, and the network links some ATV sections with 4-wheel drive. There are miles and miles of trails and tracks. Among the most popular 4-wheel drive routes are Bull Gulch (606), Fremont County Road 27 (27), Fernleaf Gulch Connector (6020) and Reese Gulch Bypass (6024). Popular with ATVers are East Arkansas River Overlook (6025), Cut Off (6036) and Tucker Trail (6035).
Always consult maps, check weather forecast in advance; and be aware of the BLM regulations.
The Royal Gorge Region also has several guide services – a great idea for novice riders or folks unfamiliar with Rocky Mountain terrain. Visit the combined BLM/USFS regional office at 3028 E. Main Street, Cañon City for regulations, trail maps and other outdoor recreation information.
Road rides across the Royal Gorge Region offer up the opportunity to traverse some of the area’s most scenic roads as you take in iconic vistas. If hitting the pavement is your thing, the Royal Gorge Region has a ride for you. A locals’ favorite, the 30-mile Red Canyon Road Ride will treat you to historic ranches with sweeping desert views. The Hardscrabble Loop is a century test piece, taking you all the way up to scenic Westcliffe and back. Lastly, consider the 68-mile Phantom Canyon/Shelf Road ride to travel along part of the Gold Belt Byway. For complete information and maps of these rides, grab a free copy of the 2017 Recreation & Trail Guide by Fremont Adventure Recreation at the Cañon City Chamber of Commerce, Red Canyon Cycles, and other area locations. Or see the web to download your own copy: www.joinfar.org/adventureguide