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Pictures of Winter Teeth Chattering Visit to the Royal Gorge in Colorado
The Royal Gorge
Remembering our teeth chattering visit to the Royal Gorge outside Canon City, Colorado in the wintertime many years ago, one might be inclined to think that warmer days might be more enjoyable. I would be one that would definitely agree with that assessment!
My grandparents liked to travel around the United States and from their tales of having seen the attraction, it was of interest to me to someday see The Royal Gorge of Colorado for myself.
That opportunity presented itself many years ago of which I am very happy. So when the time came for a visit the weather was not going to impede that action.
The Royal Gorge was discovered by a United States explorer by the name of Zebulon Pike in 1806. What he must have thought when he first stumbled upon this location!
The Arkansas River has been carving its way through this area for centuries and what has become known as The Royal Gorge is an impressive site indeed.
Mountainous cliffs frame the dramatic dropoff to the active river some 1,000 feet beneath their more lofty heights.
At times the Arkansas River can be slow and more sluggish with icy chunks on its surface as we saw it as compared with other times of the year when it is racing and offering rafters the time of their life in navigating the rapids.
World's Highest Suspension Bridge
This suspension bridge over the Royal Gorge was constructed in 1929. It is statuesque in its posturing over the Arkansas River below.
It may lose that status as some suspension bridges may soon beat that height statistic. But the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge will always have been the first to attain that status of being the world's highest.
Situated 1,053 feet above the Arkansas River it is an engineering marvel especially considering the time in which it was built.
The Royal Gorge Bridge is 1260 feet long (384 meters) and eighteen feet wide (five meters.)
A walkway was constructed using one thousand two hundred and ninety two wooden planks and it originally cost $350,000 to build.
It was never intended to be a main transport for motorized vehicles although vehicles can cross it, but more of a tourist attraction and that it has certainly become.
Renovations lasting from 1982 to 1983 and costing more than eight times the original construction cost, it has been reengineered to safely host hoards of tourists who wish to experience its lofty height amidst a wondrous setting for a long time into the future.
That is reassuring!
Anyone afraid of heights might just want to bypass walking out onto this suspension bridge. Or if one treads on it just keep gazing at the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the distance instead of peering downward.
As one can easily see from these many photos taken of wild deer roaming the area around the Royal Gorge, these animals are abundant in their presence at this site in the winter.
We found out from people who managed a store on site that these deer truly rely upon people to help feed them during the winter when their natural food sources are less easily attainable due to snow blanketing the ground.
They told us that even the grocery stores and restaurants in the area never let their excess produce go to waste but rather help to nourish these deer until they can once again gather their own food more easily.
Whether that is the right thing to do or rather to let nature take its course, that is another subject entirely.
Suffice it to say that this gathering of hungry and rather people-friendly deer becomes an attraction in itself.
We had a few crackers in the car with us that were gobbled up by the first deer that approached us.
Measures are taken to keep the deer out of the convenience store! They would love to walk right in and help themselves to offerings on the shelves!
After having heard that story and being animal lovers, we decided to return to the Royal Gorge after our initial visit with some grocery store purchases for the deer.
Leaf lettuce and carrots were among our offerings and foolishly I thought that we could pull off one leaf at a time and therefore feed many of the gathered deer in our presence.
We were hoping to feed some of the smaller and thinner appearing ones.
Ha! Temporarily I forgot about "survival of the fittest" but was taught a fast lesson.
We would have known more about the habits of deer had we read this first!
Once the deer discovered our generosity the biggest and strongest came to the forefront and literally snatched the entire head of lettuce from my grasp. A bit of a frenzy was created and we all retreated to the safety of the car.
This was foolish on our part and we could actually have been hurt had one reared up and used their hoofs.
Live and learn! After all as cute as these deer appear they are still wild animals and happened to be hungry ones at that. We fed the rest of them through our car window although the treasured lettuce had already disappeared primarily into the stomach of that one dominant deer.
Incline Railway at the Royal Gorge
This was the true teeth chattering part of our visit!
Ground level as one can see from the photos, snow was on the ground. It was also windy but the sun shined brightly and with our outer apparel, we were fairly comfortable.
The Incline Railway was constructed in 1931 and is another engineering marvel at the Royal Gorge.
Constructed by the same engineers that worked on the building of the suspension bridge, it has been taking people to the bottom of the gorge for decades now in assured safety.
There are backup emergency devices such as a diesel engine that could be utilized and also nineteen manually controlled stopping devices that could be put into place if ever needed.
Like the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge, the Royal Gorge Incline Railway is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
One sits in a metal cage of sorts. It was surely cold metal the day we rode in it!
A mechanical mechanism drives the string of cages holding tourists down a forty-five degree steep incline to the bottom of the Royal Gorge and back up again.
The descent progresses at a speed of three miles per hour.
As one is being transported down this incline of 1,550 feet (473 meters), closeup views of the rock formations can be intimately savored on this journey which takes about five and a half minutes to complete one-way.
Once down at the bottom, one gets a closeup view of the Arkansas River as well as the towering cliffs surrounding the river.
The Arkansas River continues its scouring action ever deepening the gorge over time.
As my mother, niece and I began our descent, few other tourists were doing the same.
The view presented is spectacular but as we descended lower and lower into the gorge, the temperatures obviously dropped more than just a notch or two on the scale. Wishing that we had been better prepared with warmer outer clothing, there was nothing we could do but shiver and shake trying to stay warm in that cold metal cage.
Believe me we did not linger at the bottom after seeing the chunks of ice on the Arkansas River but took the first returning cage lift back to the top and much warmer temperatures.
It was so cold down there! I guess we were about as well prepared for that part of the Royal Gorge experience as we were in feeding the deer! Ha!
Would I do it again? Would I take a ride on the Royal Gorge Incline Railway? Absolutely, but in warmer weather.
We would also act with better discretion regarding how to act around the deer if they are still a part of the scenery at the Royal Gorge. One is never too old to keep learning!
The actual address of the Royal Gorge is 4218 County Road 3A, Canon City, Colorado 81215.
Telephone numbers: 719-275-7507 or 1-888-333-5597
The general location is about two hours south of Denver or about forty-five minutes southwest of Colorado Springs.
Location of the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
Location of the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
Other Attractions at the Royal Gorge
There are 360 acres (1,5 km) of what has become a theme park at the Royal Gorge.
These include such things as the following:
- An Aerial Tram
- The Incline Railway
- The Royal Gorge Train that is a 24 mile round trip journey at the bottom of the canyon along the Arkansas River
- The Royal Rush Skycoaster
- Horseback riding
- Petting zoo
- Mule team wagon rides
- Cliff Walk and more.
Most of these things can be enjoyed during Spring, Summer and Fall. During the Winter, some of these attractions are more limited for obvious reasons.
Hope you enjoyed this post about our teeth chattering visit to the Royal Gorge and that stupendous Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge in Colorado. If you are ever there, check it out for yourselves especially if the weather is a bit warmer.
It is an amazing attraction and offers a great number of things in which to be entertained.
Wonder what it is like whitewater rafting at the Royal Gorge?
Which of these things would you most enjoy doing at the Royal Gorge?
© 2010 Peggy Woods