Cañon City is the gateway to the 1,053-foot-deep Royal Gorge, carved by the Arkansas River more than 3 million years ago. The famed Royal Gorge War between the Denver & Rio Grande and Santa Fe railroads occurred here in 1877. The battle was over the right-of-way through the canyon, which could only accommodate one rail line. Rival crews would lay tracks during the day and dynamite each other's work at night. The dispute was finally settled in court—the Denver &
Rio Grande won. Today there's a commercially run site, the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, along one part of the gorge. A wildfire swept through this region in 2013, but quick-acting locals are ensuring its fast return as a touristic hub. The commercial park plans for a "grand re-opening" in mid-2014, and rafting remains a strong and prosperous draw to the region.