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All Aboard: The Royal Gorge Railroad

the royal gorge suspension bridge
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The Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge. Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

The Gorge

The Royal Gorge is a canyon along the Arkansas River and the Rocky Mountains just west of Cañon City, Colorado. The Royal Gorge is made up of a mixture of igneous granites and metamorphic schist, gneiss and quartzite. The Royal Gorge was formed over a period of millions of years as the Arkansas River carved out what are now the 1,250 ft. walls of the gorge.

The Royal Gorge was once inhabited by the Ute Indian tribe, which provided them with some protection during the harsh winters. In the early 1800’s the area was “discovered” by Spanish conquistadors and the area would later become even more inhabited during the Gold Rush.

Today, the Royal Gorge can be enjoyed aboard the Royal Gorge Railroad. The railroad offers daily two hour train rides that take you through the gorge with the option to purchase a meal along the way.

The arkansas river through the royal gorge
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The Arkansas River. Photo Credit: Navigation Junkie.

Location

The Royal Gorge is located just a 5 minute drive outside the center of Cañon City.

Free parking is available on-site.

The Journey

For our journey along the Royal Gorge Railroad we chose the breakfast train (you can also choose from lunch and dinner trains).

Boarding the train was an easy and uneventful process. Check-in is through a ticket booth within the gift shop with an exit directly to the rails and train. At this point there is another entrance to pass through where you present your boarding passes and get your photo taken against a green screen (the photos will be brought around for purchase while on-board the train if you desire).

After this we were on our way into the Royal Gorge for our 2 hour journey.

the royal gorge railroad
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Boarding the Train. Photo Credit: Navigation Junkie.

Seating Options

The Royal Gorge Railroad offers 3 different seating options:

  • Vista Dome: Table seating with large dome windows for better viewing of the gorge ($84/adults, $79/children)
  • Club: Table seating with large glass windows ($69/adults, $64/children)
  • Coach: Traditional passenger-train style seating ($54/adults, $49/children)

For our trip we decided to go all the way and choose the vista dome seating and it was well worth it! The views were great and having the extra space and table for the meal was definitely a plus!

vista dome seating on the royal gorge railroad
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Vista Dome Seating. Photo Credit: Navigation Junkie.

The Food

While reserving your trip you have the option to pre-purchase your meals, or you can choose to order when getting on the train. We decided to pre-purchase, giving us one less thing to worry about on the day of the trip. Either way, the food was delicious (although nothing extravagant for the breakfast meal) and I do recommend it!

pancakes & hash browns on the royal gorge railroad
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Pancakes and hash browns. Photo Credit: Navigation Junkie.

The Views

As we traveled through the Royal Gorge we were delighted with views of the gorge walls, some abandoned care taker cottages, and even some mountain goats hanging out along the walls!

cliffs of the royal gorge.
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One of the towering cliffs of the gorge. Photo Credit: Navigation Junkie.

One of the best parts of the Royal Gorge Railroad (especially for the kiddos) was catching a glimpse of the mountain goats hanging out on the rocks.

mountain goats in the royal gorge
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Mountain Goats. Photo Credit: Navigation Junkie.

The train also has an open-air passenger cart, so you can enjoy the fresh air and breezes and get some even better views of the gorge! (*Note: the open air cart was very popular and did get quite crowded at times)

the open air car on the royal gorge railroad
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The Open Air Car. Photo Credit: Navigation Junkie.

The Royal Gorge Suspension bridge is one of the most iconic views along the ride. The bridge is known as America’s highest suspension bridge and stands 956 feet above the gorge and Arkansas River. The bridge was built in 1929 for the sole purpose of providing opportunities for viewing the gorge.

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Looking Up Towards the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge. Photo Credit: Navigation Junkie.

If you are looking for more ways to view the bridge after enjoying the Royal Gorge Railroad be sure to stop at the Royal Gorge Park. Here you can get some great ground level views of the bridge and participate in some fun activities, including the sky coaster, zip lining, and gondola rides.

Once we reached the end of the gorge, the train backtracked and we arrived back at the train station and gift shop.

Looking for more reasons to visit Cañon City? Find them here.

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The Royal Gorge Railroad takes you through the scenic 1,250ft. tall Royal Gorge while enjoying a relaxing train ride, beautiful views, and a great meal
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