CANON CITY, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado icon that’s recovering from last year’s devastating wildfire has rebounded to rave reviews.

This weekend the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park debuted with what it calls a “soft opening” to see how tourists will respond to new attractions and a rebuilt visitor center.

“The past two days have been wild and crazy. We’re running about 30 or 40 percent over our projected attendances,” Mike Bandera with the park told CBS4.

The main attraction — the bridge that spans the canyon more than 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River — was packed. Now, tourists can come back to the Royal Gorge like they have for the better part of a century.

The most significant new building is the 14,000-foot visitor center. Its exterior siding is made from the roughly 150 planks of the bridge that burned in 2013’s fire.

“The park when completed will be a whole new look,” Bandera said.

Visitors agreed.

“A good thing has come of it,” one visitor told CBS4, “and they’re going to see attendance quadruple in the next year.”

“We’re just sad the holiday weekend is over,” Bandera said.

Around Thanksgiving, the park will add a new gondola and a zipline that spans the gorge.

Attractions are planned every year until 2018.


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