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Cañon City with Kids: 10 Things to Do!

Cañon City intersection
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Cañon City. Photo Credit: Mobilus In Mobili on Flickr.

Cañon City is a historic city in Fremont County, Colorado. The city dates back to 1858 during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. Today Cañon City is alive and well. The city has a reputation for it’s outdoor activities and visiting Cañon City with kids is the perfect way to get some adventure in on your next family vacation!

Take a Trip Aboard the Royal Gorge Railroad

the royal gorge railroad, Cañon City
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The Royal Gorge Railroad. Photo Credit: Navigation Junkie.

The Royal Gorge Railroad is perhaps one of the most well known attractions in Cañon City. The Royal Railroad passes through the Royal Gorge, a 1,250 ft. high gorge carved out by the Arkansas River. During the two hour train ride you will be delighted with stunning views of the gorge and the Arkansas River while having the option to enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

The train ride offers three seating options: the vista dome, which is the most expensive but comes with the best views, club seating, which has table seating and large windows, and coach seating, which is traditional passenger seating. There is also an open-air car, so no matter what seating option you choose you can great views of the gorge!

The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park

The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park is the perfect stop when visiting Cañon City with kids. The park contains the Cloudscrapper Zipline, Via Ferrata (rock climbing), and the Royal Rush Skycoaster for the daring! For those looking for a more relaxed experience take a ride on one of the Royal Gorge gondolas.

The park also has an area called Playland, which contains a play area with a carousel, splash pad, ropes, slides, and towers. Kids can also enjoy panning for gold and making wax hands. Before exploring the area be sure to check out the Plaza Theater for shows on the history of the gorge and the wildlife of the area.

General admission tickets include access to the bridge, gondolas, Plaza Theater, and Children’s Playland. The zipline, via ferrata, and skycoaster have additional costs. Tickets are $23 for adults and $18 for children.

the gondoloas at the royal gorge bridge & park, Cañon City  with kids
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Gondolas at the Royal Gorge Park. Image by Lexus_ from Pixabay

The Museum of Colorado Prisons

The Museum of Colorado Prisons is located within a former women’s prison. It contains many artifacts and displays about the Colorado state prison system. Visitors can walk through the prison, seeing inmate cells, dining room, kitchen, isolation cells, and the laundry room. Adults and kids alike will enjoy hearing about the stories of past inmates and some may be fascinated by the ghost stories from the building. Kids may also enjoy dressing in black and white stripped clothing and standing behind fake prison cell bars-a perfect photo op!

museum of colorado prisons, Cañon City with kids
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Museum of Colorado Prisons. Photo Credit: Jeffery Beall on Flickr.

Drive the Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive is a narrow 2.6 mile drive along the ridges of the Hogback Hills overlooking Cañon City. Skyline Drive was constructed by 60 inmates from a local prison, completed in 1905. During the first couple years of the road’s existence it was used only for horses and travel by foot, but shortly after was opened to vehicles and remains so to this day.

The drive, although short, will give you some great views of the natural scenery around the city and views overlooking the city itself. The road is narrow and passes by many inclines and declines. With no guardrails it is important to drive cautiously on the road.

If you are up for a little bit of a hike be sure to check out the Old Skyline Drive Trail. The trail is a 1 mile out and back trail that will give you access to great views and a chance to relax. You will also find many pull off areas along the drive for great views if you prefer not to hike.

White Water Rafting

One of the things Cañon City is known for is the white water rafting opportunities. The Royal Gorge is a popular spot for white water rafting. With the variety of tours available that are perfect for kids as young as 3, white water rafting is the perfect activity when visiting Cañon City with kids. Check out these great tour options for getting out on the water in Cañon City:

Echo Canyon River Expeditions

Echo Canyon River Expeditions offers options three different options along the Arkansas River. The Bighorn Sheep Canyon option is designed for older children and adults (ages 6+), taking guests through Class III – IV Rapids. The Royal Gorge option is also designed for older children (recommended ages 14+) and takes guests through Class III – IV Rapids. The last option, the Family Float, is more family friendly (ages 4+) taking guests through Class I – III Rapids in the upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon.

Lost Paddle Rafting

Lost Paddle Rafting is a locally family-owned company that offers similar tour options to Echo Canyon River Expeditions. There are options for half-day, full day, or overnight rafting tours. Tours also range in difficulty from a family float with class I-II rapids that are designed for ages 3+ to trips through class IV rapids. Tours take you along the Arkansas River through either the Royal Gorge or Bighorn Sheep Canyon.

More Options:

white water rafting, arkansas river.
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White Water Rafting the Arkansas River. Photo Credit: Kari on Flickr.

Colorado Jeep Tours

Colorado Jeep Tours offers jeep tours of the Royal Gorge or Red Canyon. Half day jeep tours are available or tour packages that combine a jeep tour with rafting, a railroad ride, and ziplining. Tours range from 3-8 hours long. The adults can take in the scenery and stunning views while the kids will enjoy the bumps of the off-road journey. Colorado Jeep Tours also offers a jeep tour and wine tasting combination package that is perfect for families-instead of wine anyone under 21 will receive juice.

The recommended ages for each of the tours depends on what the tour is, the location, and duration. Recommended ages can be found here, but be sure to consider what you’re child could handle before choosing!

Garden Park Fossil Area

The Garden Park Fossil Area, located about 6 miles outside of Cañon City, offers a combination of hiking trails and dinosaur sites. The park contains two main quarries-the Cleveland-Delfs Quarry and the Marsh- Felch Quarry. The area is still an active fossil research area, so access to some sections will be limited. You can find many display and overlook areas that give you information about the sites while enjoying great views of the area. You can also find picnic tables, so be sure to pack a lunch and spend some time relaxing at Garden Park.

garden park fossil area, Cañon City  with kid
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Garden Park Fossil Area. Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management on Flickr.

Temple Canyon Park

Temple Canyon Park is a public park in Cañon City that lies along Grape Creek. One of the main features of the park is “The Temple,” which is a large natural amphitheater. The park also boasts great views of the Wet Mountains and the Dawson Mining District. The Temple can be reached via the Redemption Trail, a 3.6 mile out and back trail. The trail is of moderate difficulty and can be done with children, but be aware that there are some rocky and steep areas. There are also camping sites available within the park.

Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience

The Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience is the perfect attraction for kids of any ages. At the Dinosaur Experience kids can enjoy going digging for dinosaur bones, interactive exhibits, dinosaur fossil casts, exhibits containing real dinosaur fossils, and animatronic dinosaurs along the wild walk. The experience also contains a rope course for those looking for some adventure, with one suited to younger children and a more advanced three story course.

General admission to the Dinosaur Experience is $34.95 for adults and $24.95 for children. Admission includes access to the museum, ropes course, and wild walk. Tickets can also be purchased separately for each attraction at $14 for adults and $11 for children if you would prefer to only do one activity.

Fly High With a Royal Gorge Helicopter Tour

Royal Gorge Helitours offers a unique option for viewing the gorge and one that will surely be a memorable experience for the hole family. They offer many different tours, ranging in price from $54 a person to $480 a person for the most extensive tour. The tours will take you about the Royal Gorge or take you past the gorge as far as Pike’s Peak if you choose. The Helitours are a great option for a unique experience while visiting Cañon City with kids.

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Royal Gorge Helicopter Tour. Photo Credit: Michael Wallace on Flickr.

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Visiting Cañon City with kids offers plenty of opportunities for family fun, from hiking, scenic views, white water rafting, culture, and more
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