This is where our Colorado vacation began: a train trip in the awesome surrounding of the Royal Gorge. A two hour train trip following alongside the Arkansas River where we can see deer, elk, blue beer and even mountain lions. The train left at 9:30 sharp, and we had to board at 9. We were actually surprised by how many people from the local area hopped on the train to enjoy a day out. This train route has been in operation as early as 1942 carrying passengers to their varying destinations.
We were fortunate that it was an absolutely gorgeous day for this trip.The Rocky Mountains were awesome. Geologists call these mountains the “Mixing Bowl” with all the different types of rock and colors caused by five tectonic plates coming together. There is such a variance in terrain, and the different colors are caused by the mineral content and give it its geological diversity. It was really neat to see it so close because the train travels in a pretty much carved out pathway between these giant rocks, so close you could really touch it, but of course you are not allowed to! The train offers an open air cart for all the passengers, and that is exactly where we were most of the trip. The train also offers four seating cars for coach class tickets, an open-dome car and a lunch car. There are different options depending on how you want to spend your day. They do serve snack-type food on the coach class car, like pretzels, hot dogs and chips.
As we were traveling, we saw rafters maneuvering down the Arkansas River right next to us. The scenery was breathtaking! At some point it felt like we were in a “Cowboys and Indians” movie with the mountainous terrain and perfect hiding spots for animals or Indians! We were just ready to duck at the sound of gunshots! The train takes you right underneath the highest suspension bridge in the world, built in 1929. We will take a trip to the bridge and park later in the week. Thank you Sara, Kerry and Varner for your hospitality and answering our questions on the train! I would love to have your job to see this spectacular terrain on a daily basis!
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
About a two hours’ drive outside Denver is where you will find the highest suspension bridge in the world spanning the Arkansas River. It was built in 1929 and cost a mere $350,000 to build! You can walk or drive over or take the cable car to the other side. We chose the daring ride aboard the fire engine red cable car.
As we and fourteen other people climbed into this car, we could feel the wind starting to move this vehicle up and down in the sky. And as the weight started to increase, so did the tension in the air! There was one woman who would not open her eyes for the whole five minutes it took to cross the river which seemed to be a mile high below us! I must say, that was a bit on the scary side! But the cable car is operational everyday with an excellent safety record and stops running if there is a threat of strong winds.
Once we finally reached the other side, we had a choice of taking the scenic route through their wild life exhibition onto the bridge, or to pretend to swing over the river on their Skycoaster and hope for the best!! No, you won’t actually go across, but you will need some help walking after being on their newest thrill ride that can reach speeds of 50 + mp/h after you freefall for 37 feet over the river beneath you!
This ride is like bungee jumping horizontally and falling into this “Grand Canyon” like gorge. Up to three people are strapped into a harness and lie flat on their stomachs while being hoisted up a 100 foot tower. At this point you are about 1200 foot above the river and all that is between you and the plunge is a rip cord that you have the honor of releasing! We, or maybe just I, screamed our ears off once we released that cord! What a rush! We felt like superheroes flying over the river and VERY sharp mountain rocks and formations! Great Fun, if you’re brave!
John O’Dell and Jeff Madden, the site controllers, said that they flew about 14,000 visitors from their site last year alone! They opened their Skycoaster on June 24th, 2003 and it is flying strong! The Skycoaster operators are very safety conscious and check and double check their gear and harnesses while preparing their visitors to fly. So all you have to worry about is having a clean pair of underwear when you come back down!
We would like to thank the crew: John, Jeff, Anthony, Coco, Andrew, Amber, Tina and Caitlin for their hospitality and a great time we had while flying! Thank you!
The Bridge was amazing. The wind was picking up a little and we could see a storm approaching. We could feel the gusts of wind bouncing off this enormous steel structure, and all we were hoping for was that we could walk a bit faster!!!! Through the large wooden planks lining the bridge you can see the river beneath, and all I saw that it was a really long way down. It was amazing to think that people in 1923 built this structure. Like I said, you can drive over it as well, so we came back with our little compact rental and drove about 6mph across the river on this bridge. It was really fun to see how high you are and amazing to realize how far you can see.
There was also a little village type outdoor restaurant area where we ate some delicious barbeque and looked at the crazy people who were flying from the Skycoaster! It was a real fun day to start our weeklong vacation!
Thank you Ms. Peggy Gair and the wonderful employees of Royal Gorge Park for the great adventure you provide for so many! We had a great day!