Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Royal Gorge Bridge

On Saturday we left Colorado Springs and did something we rarely do. We stopped along the way and did something touristy. The Royal Gorge Bridge (& Theme Park) was on the way to Salida, CO so it only made sense. At first we thought the $30 (for 2) was a little steep to look into a gorge, but in the end we felt we got our monies worth. All attractions were included with the entrance fee. So, poor Andy had to suffer through all of these "high-flying" attractions.
The Royal Gorge Bridge is the "world's highest suspension bridge". It hangs 1,053' above the Arkansas River, and it is 1,260' long. This was the first challenge. The cracks on the wooden-slat bridge were big enough to see through. And, the bridge (being a suspension bridge) did sway and bounce, especially if a car crossed it. Thankfully, it was mainly people on the bridge.
On the other side of the bridge there was a theatre, petting zoo, and several attractions. Their "wildlife park" consisted of 3 different natural settings for elk, bighorn sheep, and bison. The herd of bison consisted of rare white bison.
The one attraction we didn't do was the SpaceCoaster. This flys you over the rim of the gorge as you are strapped into some kind of bodysuit on a swinging rope. Not so sure we would've done it if it was open (closed during off-season).
So Andy had a choice for the return trip: go back over the bouncy suspension bridge or come with me via the "world's longest single-span aerial tram" at 2,200' long. We (he chose the tram) were surprised that it didn't swing, eventhough it was gusty.

Then we hopped on the "world's steepest incline railway" to get to the river 1,550' below at 100% grade and a 45 degree angle. The canyon here reminded me a lot of the Black Canyon of Gunnison, which might make sense considering it is almost due west of the Royal Gorge - same formation, perhaps? The scenic railway runs through the Gorge along the river. That might be interesting to do on a future visit - if it has windows in the ceiling or is open air in order to see the gorge in its entirety. If not the railway, then maybe a raft trip? Anyway, there's lots to do here, but many of the shops, cafes, and several attractions were closed for the "shoulder-season". But at least we didn't have any lines to contend with!


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