A Year After Devastating Fire, Royal Gorge Seeks Comeback
CANON CITY, Colo. (CBS4) - The iconic Royal Gorge Bridge and Park in Southern Colorado is bouncing back a year after a wildfire charred 3,200 acres and shuttered the popular tourist attraction for two seasons.
The fire jumped 1,600 feet across the gorge, destroyed 48 buildings and melted the incline railroad in its tracks. Crews demolished the remains of most structures, but the bridge was spared.
The fire started on June 11, 2013, on the gorge’s south side. Investigators haven’t determined a cause but suspect lightning.
A year later, charred hillsides remain, and trees have been cut to make way for seedlings and newly planted grass.
Canon City, just east of the site, owns the park and leases it to a contractor. The wildfire impacted the city’s finances.
“We have been told not to expect the whole rent payment,” Kevin Ditmore, an official with the city, said. “So, as a result, we had to redo our city budget.”
For now, the sight of construction workers has replaced the familiar park employees.
The park is now open for bridge-only guided tours on weekends. Go to RoyalGorgeBridge.com for more information. The park’s reopening next year will feature a new visitor center, a roller coaster, a zip line across the gorge and a glass shelf that will allow visitors to walk out over a part of the gorge to peer down into it.
For now, visitors can still enjoy the Royal Gorge via the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, which remains open. Visit their site at RoyalGorgeRoute.com.