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Cañon City is all about epic outdoor adventures, gorgeous views everywhere you look, and delicious food. The Colorado city is influenced by a history of prisons, monks, and railroads which only adds to the adventures to be had in Cañon City. In just a two-hour drive from Denver, you can experience all the adventures and things to do in Cañon City.
The Royal Gorge
Cañon City is probably best known for the Royal Gorge. The Arkansas River and a railroad run through the deep but narrow canyon. The wall of the gorge reaches an impressive 1,250 feet, but no more than 300 feet across at the widest point.
Things to Do At Royal Gorge
The Royal Gorge is often at the top of the list of things to do in Cañon City, and there are a few different ways to experience the Royal Gorge.
Visit the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park for the best views of the gorge.
Tip: Admission runs about $20-30 per person, but you can find reduced ticket prices online. You can even do this on your phone while standing in the ticket line.
There are three ways to get to the other side of the gorge: ride the gondola, walk across the bridge, or fly over on the zipline.
Ride the Gondola
A 2,200-foot ride that takes you 1,200 feet above the gorge. Take in spectacular views of the gorge in the gondola.
Walk Across the Suspension Bridge
Walking across the highest suspension bridge in North America tops the list of things to do at Royal Gorge – and makes our list for one of the most unique Colorado experiences. The bridge was constructed almost 100 years ago but has been refurbished and upgraded since then. For those with a fear of heights, it might help to know it is surprisingly sturdy for a suspension bridge!
It’s by far the best place to view the amazing Royal Gorge.
According to the Travel Channel, this is the #1 Colorado bucket list experience. At 1,200 feet in the air, the Cloudscraper Zip Line is the highest zipline in the US.
A separate ticket is required for the zipline at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park.
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More Things to Do at Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
When you’re not riding, walking, or flying over the gorge, you will find a few other things to do at Royal Gorge Bridge and Park.
Stop for a drink at the beer garden (where you might get to see the bighorn sheep that live in the area), take in a show at the Plaza Theater, let the kids play at Tommy Knocker Playland, swing over the edge of the gorge on the Royal Rush Skycoaster, or climb the walls of the gorge with a guide on the Via Ferrata. There is an extra fee for the Skycoaster and Via Ferrata.
Also, make sure to check out the Water Clock by the Visitors Center – the rare clock is the only one in Colorado!
2. Royal Gorge Train
Experience the gorge from above at The Royal Gorge Bridge, then experience it from within the gorge on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad.
Take the 2-hour ride on open-air cars, or in the upscale club cars. There are multiple meal options, but you can’t bring your own food onboard. Tickets often sell out (especially around the holidays – the train rides with Santa are very popular), so plan to purchase in advance.
Tickets start at around $50 per person.
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3. White Water Rafting
If you’re looking for a more intense adventure than the train, try white water rafting. The Royal Gorge has some of the best white water rafting in Colorado. Class IV and V rapids aren’t for the faint of heart, but they make for an epic adventure.
Find lots of highly-rated rafting companies in the area for guided tours along the rapids.
- Arkansas River Tours
- Echo Canyon River Expeditions
- Lost Paddle Rafting
- Whitewater Adventure Outfitters
- River Runners
- Raft Masters
- Royal Gorge Rafting
Things to do in Cañon City Colorado
4. Skyline Drive
Drive the narrow, one-way road up to 360° views of Cañon City. There are pull-offs along the way to stop for pictures and take in the views.
About 1/2 way up is a bigger parking area with short hiking trails and see a dinosaur trackway that was discovered in 1999.
5. Museum of Colorado Prisons
Rural areas of Fremont County are home to 15 of Colorado’s prisons, including the only federal Supermax prison in the US. While this isn’t a place you can (or would want to) visit, you can visit the Museum of Colorado Prisons.
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The museum, located in the original Women’s Correctional Facility near downtown Cañon City, has exhibits for visitors to learn more about the history (all the way back to 1871) of inmates and guards in the Colorado Prison System.
On your way out, stop by the gift shop for some prison-themed souvenirs!
Hiking and Mountain Biking
6. Tunnel Drive Trail
Don’t miss out on some Cañon City hiking while you’re there. Hike – or stroll, really – along the Arkansas River on the 3.8-mile Tunnel Drive Trail. There is a bit of a climb in the first 0.25 mile, but the rest of the trail is wide and flat.
Shortly after the only incline in the trail, the path continues through 3 granite-blasted tunnels. The first two are short, with the third tunnel much longer.
Keep an eye out for the Royal Gorge Route train departing from the nearby station, running along the Arkansas River below the trail.
The Tunnel Drive Trail is also open to mountain biking. If you’re looking for a longer and more advanced trail, head over to the 13 mile Oil Well Flats Trail System on the north side of town.
Where to Eat and Drink in Cañon City, CO
7. Happy Endings Caboose Café
This café and coffee shop is really in a caboose that was once a working railcar. Start your day with a latte and a house-made crepe. There are savory dishes – including the crepes – served for lunch and dinner too, but we think breakfast is too good to pass up!
If you can’t fit a morning stop here, come by in the afternoon for beer, wine, or cocktails.
8. The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey
The history of the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey goes all the way back to 1886 when two Benedictine monks came to Colorado from Pennsylvania.
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They first opened a school, but after enrollment decline enough to drive them to close the doors of the school, they shifted their focus on establishing a winery to generate an income.
Visit the winery to taste award-winning wines in the Tasting Room and dine at the onsite restaurant.
9. Pizza Madness
We still talk about this pizza. It’s that good.
After a full day of adventures and checking out all the things to do in Cañon City, pizza on Main Street is the way to go.
The crust is thick, but not too chewy, and is absolutely delicious. And the wings are pretty fantastic too – try the Garlic Parmesan.
Want more for your Cañon City Colorado itinerary? The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is just 2.5 hours away. Click here for the best things to do at Colorado’s sand dunes!
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