Fodor's Expert Review Royal Gorge
Cañon City is the gateway to the Royal Gorge, whose canyon walls tower up to 1,200 feet high and were 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 revived the touristic hub, which launched a new children's area in 2015. Rafting remains a strong and prosperous draw to the region.