9/23/16 (Friday) in Monument, CO (Colorado Heights Resort-ROD)
We’d have preferred to stay home and relax some more but the weather appeared to be headed for windy, cold conditions beginning this night, so we decided it would be best to enjoy these sites today, before the weather made it too hard to do. So we left at 8:30, after getting fuel in Monument. We ended up driving 212 miles, so that was a good plan. We arrived at Royal Gorge just before 10. Guess what? They open the visitor center and start selling tickets then! It’s a bit like Disneyland in that we had rights to many activities with our ticket purchase. The lady was very nice, giving us credit for being senior (over 60) and military, so we paid $19.00 each.
As the lady suggested, it’s best to take the Aerial Gondola across the Gorge first, I think because the lines will get really long fast. It’s only 19 months old, largely because this whole operation was burnt down in July of 2013 from a forest fire. It’s amazing how much they’ve built since then. Great views, especially if you sit away from the doors that let you in, near the large window opposite them. What with reflections (and we didn’t get to sit there), our best views were from the bridge, so those are the one’s I’ll share.
On the other side are all of the attractions except for the Visitor Center. If you like an adrenaline rush you can ride the Skycoaster or Cloudscraper by ZipRider, both cost extra, beyond your ticket. With the Skycoaster you swing under the support, a free fall at 50 mph, to hang momentarily 1200 feet above the Arkansas River.
We’d both tried a zipline on our last cruise. It was fun but we didn’t feel the need to try this one over the Gorge. So, on our way to Tommy Knocker Playland we saw some goats. As you can see, they weren’t Big Horn, but they were wild. At the playland we rode the carousel. It was small but we had a fun time.
We enjoyed their movie at the Plaza Theatre about the bridge over the Gorge. It was built in less than a year, in 1929. Soon all sorts of attractions were added, including an Incline Railroad that went from the top down into the Gorge. Unfortunately in June of 2013 a forest fire raged here, destroying everything that wasn’t stone. By the next year, June of 2014, they’d rebuilt most of the attractions except the Incline Railroad and a western town.
Then we walked on the Bridge to the other side. It’s got wooden planks where you walk. We were thinking maybe because it was built back in 1929 (it’s been restored since then). Maybe because they are lighter than another material. Several got burned in the fire but otherwise the Bridge survived.
Where the Inclined Railroad would reach the bottom of the Gorge.
View from the other side
Luckily we’re not afraid of heights and thoroughly enjoyed our walk back to the Visitor Center. That last photo is of a water clock. We had our picnic lunch near there. It was great until a gust of wind blew John’s potato chips all over!
Next we drove to Pike’s Peak. Cost: $12/person. NOT a national park or forest. At the point you cross the gate. It’s quite a steep, twisty drive up those 19 miles to the top but worth it. Just be sure to use your lower gears going up and then down. At about a third of the way down a guy even checked our brakes! They were fine, largely due to John staying in 1st and 2nd gear and stopping periodically for his picture taker. We were once again lucky to arrive when the foliage was at it’s fall peak. Unfortunately, I was supremely frustrated trying to photos of the bright yellow aspen. They were best when backlit but those situations happened when there was no turnout to stop, or the view was out John’s side. Sigh.
It was super cold (48 degrees) and windy at the top. You could barely stand up in the wind. You can click on an image to make it larger, so you can read it.
On our way down: