Canon City, CO is known for its public parks and significant paleontological sites, including the National Natural Landmark-designated Garden Park Fossil Area. Other major attractions include the Royal Gorge Railroad, which offers scenic excursions along one of the United States' most beautiful historic railroad routes.
© Nicholas Krotki/stock.adobe.com
Skyline Drive is one of Colorado's most beautiful scenic drives, spanning 2.6 miles throughout Cañon City and the Fremont County region. The drive, which was constructed in 1906, follows the route of a high razorback ridge, accessible via US Highway 50. A gradual but steep incline traverses up the ridge, following a rollercoaster-like rise-and-fall route that becomes extremely narrow at its apex, sloping hundreds of feet south on either side. Pullouts are offered along the road at several points, allowing drivers to take in the stunning view. Near the top of the route, an interpretive display directs visitors to a site with preserved ankylosaurus tracks from the Cretaceous period. Visitors should be aware that the drive is not for the faint of heart and should exercise caution when letting other cars pass on the road.
2.Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is home to the tallest suspension bridge in the United States, constructed in 1929 and crossing 955 feet over the Arkansas River, only surpassed in height by the Beipan River Guanxing Highway Bridge in China. The bridge is part of the 360-acre Royal Gorge Bridge and Park amusement center, which was completely redesigned in 2013 following wildfire damage. Today, the park offers a wide variety of outdoor attractions on either side of the bridge, including the Cloudscraper Zipline, North America's tallest zipline attraction, which soars 1,200 feet above the rushing Arkansas River. Other attractions include the thrilling Royal Rush Skycoaster and aerial gondolas allowing visitors to ride 2,200 feet across the Arkansas River. Children can play at the Tommy Knocker Playground, while families can view documentary films at the Plaza Theater or watch time being kept at the park's unique Water Clock, the only clock of its kind in the state.
4218 Co Rd 3A, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 888-333-5597
3.Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience
© Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience
Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience is an interactive family museum in Cañon City, owned and operated by local father-son duo David and Zach Reynolds. The museum, which is situated overlooking the impressive Royal Gorge Bridge and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, offers 16,200 square feet of state-of-the-art displays and exhibits, including a life-sized dinosaur park bringing 16 animatronic dinosaurs to life. Full-scale dinosaur fossil casts are also showcased, along with a collection of real dinosaur fossils showing the prehistoric history of the Lower Arkansas Valley. Two adventure ropes courses are offered, including a junior course for young visitors. Other attractions include a 775-square-foot paleo lab, a Kids' Dig area, and a Dolby-enhanced theater playing a variety of dinosaur-related documentary films.
44895 W US-50, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-275-2726
4.The Royal Gorge Route Railroad
The Royal Gorge Route Railroad is a charming scenic excursion railroad based out of Cañon City, offering two-hour historic railroad rides along the most famous portion of the now-defunct Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, a route acclaimed by historic luminaries such as President Theodore Roosevelt as one of the nation's greatest railroad stretches. The company, which has been in operation since 1999, operates excursions year-round from the Royal Gorge to nearby Parkdale, Colorado, with trains traveling directly underneath the immense Royal Gorge Bridge on a unique hanging bridge designed in 1879 by engineer C. Shallor Smith. Delicious dining options are offered on board all excursions, including grass-fed Angus and buffalo burgers, breakfast burritos, and shareable appetizers, with fine wines available to complement meals. Special trains offered periodically include gourmet dinner trains, cab rides, and murder mystery evenings.
330 Royal Gorge Blvd, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-276-4000
5.The Tunnel Drive Trail
© Mykola Mazuryk/stock.adobe.com
The Tunnel Drive Trail is a charming two-mile trail near the Royal Gorge in Cañon City, easily accessible from a trailhead near the city's main street. The scenic trail traverses a former railroad bed above the Arkansas River, offering unparalleled canyon and river views for walkers, joggers, and bikers. Crushed gravel paths pass through three granite-blasted tunnels, offering opportunities to view stunning pink and white granite rocks that were formed more than 1.7 billion years ago. The easy-difficulty trail is a favorite fitness trail for area residents and great way to explore the region's wildlife and impressive geography with young walkers in tow.
6.The Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center
© The Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center
The Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center is a regional history museum housed within Cañon City's Municipal Building, which was constructed in 1927 with a designation for partial use as a museum facility. Today, the National Register of Historic Places-listed museum showcases exhibit galleries overseen by the Heritage Center, detailing the region's geology, natural wonders, and social and cultural history. Exhibits include locally-discovered dinosaur fossils dating back more than 450 million years, along with an impressive collection of regional historic images dating back to the 1870s. Visitors can also use the museum's public research center and reading room, which showcases an extensive collection of civic records and archival documents, or explore the 1860 log cabin and 1881 stone house of area pioneer Anson Rudd, preserved on the museum's grounds.
612 Royal Gorge Blvd, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-269-9036
7.Fremont Center for the Arts
© Fremont Center for the Arts
Fremont Center for the Arts is the oldest privately-operated art center in the American West, originally founded in 1947. The center, which has been housed within Cañon City's National Register of Historic Places-listed 1931 U.S. Post Office since 2000, showcases a permanent main gallery highlighting a selection of pieces from the center's permanent collection, along with several galleries designated for rotating special exhibits highlighting the works of regional and national artists working in a variety of mediums. Avant-garde and experimental works are showcased at the center's Studio Gallery, which also hosts large exhibits and site-specific installation works. The center's library is home to a substantial collection of art history and technique books, while its gift shop sells works by local artists.
505 Macon Ave, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-275-2790
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8.Red Canyon Park
Red Canyon Park is a 600-acre park within the stunning Fountain Formation, formed over 290 million years within the Ancestral Rocky Mountains. The park, which is overseen by the City of Cañon City, showcases beautiful red rock formations that have been carved into unique canyons and monoliths by erosion over the years, showing similarities to formations in the nearby Front Range and Flatirons. Visitors can explore the park's entire area on or off trail, with a parking area offered approximately a mile off Red Canyon Road. Trails lead to dramatic formations within the park such as The Arch, a natural red stone arch carved out by erosion. Visitors should note that some lands surrounding the park are private property and should pay attention to signage to avoid accidental trespassing.
Co Rd F24, Cañon City, CO 81212
9.Temple Canyon Park
Temple Canyon Park is a unique public park along Cañon City's Grape Creek preserving a spacious natural amphitheater, which was originally discovered by Denver and Rio Grande Railroad workers in 1881 and named "The Temple." The site, which has been operated as a public park since 1912, spans several hundred acres south of the Royal Gorge, offers dramatic views of the Wet Mountains and the former Dawson mining district, known for its unique "mixing bowl" geography and topography. It is believed to have been used as a ceremonial site by the region's indigenous Ute people, originally formed by water seepage into fissures within the natural rock. An undeveloped trail allows visitors to hike along the amphitheater, with camping permitted at a designated overnight campsite.
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10.Garden Park Fossil Area
Garden Park Fossil Area is one of the United States' most prominent paleontological sites for study of dinosaurs during the Late Jurassic Period, actively excavated for more than 120 years. Many of the fossils that have been discovered at the site over the past century are on display at top museums throughout the nation, including Washington, D.C.'s famed Smithsonian Institution Museum of Natural History and the Denver Museum of Natural History. Late Jurassic mammal and reptile species have also been uncovered at the site, which has been designated as a National Natural Landmark, a Colorado Research Natural Area, and a Bureau of Land Management Area of Critical Environmental Concern. 15 miles of visitor trails are offered at the Oil Well Flats Trail System, which are available for use by hikers, bikers, and campers. 4x4 riders can also use primitive roads contained within the park's Dinosaur Flats area, with areas available for target shooting practice.
3501-3767 Garden Park Rd, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-269-8500
11.The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey
© The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey
The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey is an acclaimed Cañon City winery that was originally established in 2002 on the grounds of the city's historic Holy Cross Abbey. The beautiful Wet Mountains winery strives to produce the state's finest wines, offering award-winning Chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, riesling, and merlot variants, along with a delicious apple wine produced with fermented apples cultivated at nearby Colon Orchards. A tasting room is open to the public daily, serving up complimentary flights of the company's finest wines. VIP wine and cheese tastings are available during the summer months, with reservations required at least 24 hours in advance to secure tasting slots.
3011 US-50, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-276-5191
12.The Museum of Colorado Prisons
© The Museum of Colorado Prisons
The Museum of Colorado Prisons is a unique museum opened to the public in 1988, housed within a former women's prison facility located adjacent to the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, which has been in continuous operation since 1871. The museum has welcomed more than 200,000 visitors throughout its operational history, striving to collect and preserve artifacts related to the history and operations of the Colorado state prison system. Exhibits explore more than 140 years of history related to the state's prison system, spanning from the state's territorial prisons to the present day. Artifacts on display include 30 preserved inmate cells and original prison facilities, along with items related to infamous Colorado criminals such as Alfred Packer and Antone Woode.
201 N 1st St, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-269-3015
13.Lost Paddle Rafting
Lost Paddle Rafting is the Royal Gorge's premiere rafting excursion company, family-owned and operated since 2003. The company is committed to offering the safest, highest-quality excursions possible, with owner family members staffed aboard each raft. Half-day and full-day tours are available, spanning the immense Arkansas River's best whitewater rafting areas. Excursions range from scenic class II floats and introductory class III rafting adventures to exhilarating class IV-plus adventures, spanning beautiful areas of the Royal Gorge and the Bighorn Sheep Canyon. Biking trips are also available to backcountry areas, with overnight excursions allowing visitors to experience the rushing river during the nighttime. Tours are available for participants of all ages, including family floats for participants as young as three years old.
1420 Royal Gorge Blvd, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-275-0884
14.Royal Gorge Helitours
Royal Gorge Helitours were founded in 1989 by Mike Pond and are overseen today by expert pilots Eli Plavney and Will Sanders, taking participants on once-in-a-lifetime surveys high above the Royal Gorge, the Arkansas River, and the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. All tours are operated within Robinson R66 helicopters, which are known for their power at high altitudes and seat up to five people at a time. Tours are offered seven days a week between March and September, including Bridge Run tours showcasing the impressive Royal Gorge Bridge, the tallest suspension bridge in the United States. Canyon Run tours traverse the east end of the Royal Gorge, while both sides of the canyon are showcased on Royal Gorge Run tours. Sunrise and sunset tours are available by appointment, with specialty tours of Christmas lights within the Colorado Springs area offered throughout the winter holiday season.
45045 US-50, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-276-9038
15.Echo Canyon River Expeditions
Echo Canyon River Expeditions offer exciting river rafting expedition experiences for novice and expert rafters alike, exploring the majestic whitewater river waters of Cañon City. The company, which was originally founded in 1978, strives to offer all participants once-in-a-lifetime experiences with highly professional and knowledgeable tour guides, who are all First Aid and CPR-certified to meet high safety standards. Half-day and full-day trips travel along Bighorn Sheep Canyon's Parkdale Run and the massive Royal Gorge, with intensity of rapids experiences ranging from mild to extreme. After all trips, guests can enjoy inclusive riverside dining experiences, which can accommodate special dietary needs with advance notice. Guests looking to extend their Royal Gorge experience can enjoy world-class cuisine next door at the 8 Mile Bar and Grill or explore the nearby family attractions of Royal Gorge Bridge and Park.
45000 W US-50, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 800-755-3246
16.iLean Ride Co Segway Tours
© iLean Ride Co Segway Tours
iLean Ride Co Segway Tours traverse the only Segway dirt moto track in the world, allowing up to 12 riders at a time to ride at their own leisure throughout over two miles of hills, dips, curves, and other unique obstacles such as the "Widow Maker" and the "Bunny Hill." Rides are available on a first-come, first-served basis, though reservations are available for larger groups. Guided Segway tours are also offered, exploring beautiful area sites such as the Royal Gorge Bridge and the scenic Skyline Drive, exploring dinosaur tracks carved into the mountainside more than 100 million years ago. Cañon City Segway tours also explore the city's quaint downtown district, seeing attractions such as the Robison Mansion, the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, Centennial Park, and the Royal Gorge Museum and History Center.
39 Co Rd 3A, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-315-4044
17.American Adventure Expeditions
© John Sfondilias/stock.adobe.com
American Adventure Expeditions gives participants a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience whitewater rafting on the world-famous Royal Gorge, offering half-day and full-day trips based out of Cañon City. The company, which offers the only rafting outpost on the Arkansas River, gives passengers the unique opportunity to raft under the United States' tallest suspension bridge, the Royal Gorge Bridge, which reaches heights of over 1,100 feet. All participants can experience crashing waves and impressive drops while viewing world-class scenery within the gorge. For less intense experiences, visitors can embark on half-day and full-day excursions to Bighorn Sheep Canyon, with wildlife views of the canyon's namesake sheep and other native Colorado species. Gourmet barbecue riverside lunches are offered on all excursions, complete with seasonal Colorado fresh fruit and locally-produced burgers.
41746 US-50, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-395-2409
18.The Abbey Events Complex
© The Abbey Events Complex
The Abbey Events Complex is Cañon City's premiere special events complex, offering more than 7,000 square feet of meeting and convention space along with a wide variety of overnight lodging options. The complex is housed within the former Holy Cross Abbey facility, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was operated as a Benedictine monk program until 2005. Its space is highly flexible, available for rental for corporate meetings, retreats, weddings, reunions, and a variety of other private special events. Friendly and accommodating staff are available to meet all guest needs, including a full onsite catering team, a bartending team, and DJs for a full dance floor. Guided hourlong tours of the facility are offered on Saturday afternoons during the summer months, with self-guided tours permitted during business hours daily. A wine tasting room is also open daily, allowing visitors to taste a variety of Colorado-produced wines for free.
2951 US-50, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-275-8631
19.Diana's Pumpkin Patch
© Diana's Pumpkin Patch
Diana's Pumpkin Patch is a family-owned and operated business in Cañon City, originally founded as an effort to shield nursery trees from regional drought. Today, the seasonal pumpkin patch is one of the region's most popular family-friendly autumn attractions, offering a large and challenging corn maze each year for more than a decade running. A standard entrance fee allows access to all fall festival attractions, including maze access. Visitors can pick their own pumpkins at the pumpkin patch or roast hot dogs over an open campfire offered on Saturday and Sunday evenings throughout the season. Food vendors are offered on weekends, selling hamburgers, homemade barbecue, and other American-style grill favorites.
1649 Poplar Ave, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-821-9133
20.The Canon City Queen Anne
© The Cañon City Queen Anne
The Cañon City Queen Anne is one of Cañon City's most romantic dining destinations, housed within a beautiful converted 1889 mansion that was purchased by Linda and Al Ballard in the early 2000s for use as a restaurant. Today, the restaurant is open to the public Mondays through Saturdays, with Sundays available for private special event rentals. Traditional English-style afternoon tea service is available daily, featuring delicious scones, specialty finger sandwiches, miniature quiches, and a variety of bite-sized desserts, including gourmet petit fours and miniature eclairs. Five-course high dinner teas are also served, showcasing menu options such as beef Wellington, cornish hens, marinated charbroiled steak filets, and coconut shrimp. Diners can also choose from a variety of decadent desserts, including chocolate lava cakes, Dutch apple pies, and chocolate fountains available upon request for private special dining events.
813 Macon Ave, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-275-5354
21.Le Petit Chablis
© Le Petit Chablis
Le Petit Chablis is an elegant French restaurant in Cañon City, serving up authentic French cuisine under the leadership of executive chef and owner Daniel Petit since 1989. The restaurant, which is housed within a renovated Victorian-style home, opens at 7:30am Tuesdays through Saturdays for full bakery and cafe service, offering a wide variety of specialty French Burgundy-style coffee shop beverages alongside fine pastries made each morning by Chef Petit. Lunch service highlights light fare such as quiches and croque monsieur, along with fresh seafood favorites such as trout amandine, tilapia Creole, and crawfish pie. At dinner, diners can choose from refined entrees such as pork osso bucco, duck a l'orange, Cajun-style ribeye steak, and New Zealand rack of lamb, with a variety of shareable appetizers and fine wines available to complement meals.
512 Royal Gorge Blvd, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-269-3333
22.Bunk House Burgers
© Bunk House Burgers
Bunk House Burgers is a casual dining restaurant operated by Kathleen Bowman since 2013 on a property within the former Chess-Shoemaker Ranch, which was originally established in 1899 in Garden Park. All beef for hamburgers served at the restaurant are sourced from Yampa Valley Beef, which produces high-quality, natural grass-fed beef within the region. Diners can build their own burgers on brioche, potato, or pretzel buns, choosing from a wide variety of clever toppings, including avocado, blue cheese, jalapenos, pineapple, and sauteed mushrooms. Chicken sandwiches are also available, along with healthier dining options such as veggie burgers and garden salads. For dessert, diners can indulge in delicious homemade milkshakes and malts in classic flavors such as chocolate and strawberry or fun seasonal variants like blackberry.
2147 Fremont Dr, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-315-2218
23.Whitewater Bar and Grill
© Whitewater Bar and Grill
Whitewater Bar and Grill is the official full-service restaurant and pub of Royal Gorge Rafting and Zipline Tours, originally opened to the public in 2004 by Anna and Ty Seufe. The restaurant is available for service after excursions or open to the public for general dining, offering up Western-style dishes in a rustic dining room overlooking the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Delicious shareable appetizers include creative nacho variants, jalapeno caps battered with Brew City beer, and deep-fried pork skins with homemade green chili for dipping. All-natural Colorado burgers are also available, along with a variety of delectable signature sandwiches, including barbecue beef brisket and pulled pork sandwiches. Other entree options include oversized loaded baked potatoes, Colorado premium cut steaks, and cups of the restaurant's homemade green pork chili.
45045 US-50, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-269-1009
© Pizza Madness
Pizza Madness has been voted as Fremont County's best pizza for more than a decade running, serving up award-winning pizzas with fresh, high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients in a sustainability-focused environment. The restaurant's dining room showcases colorful, eclectic artwork designed by local artists, offering a small arcade full of video games for young diners to enjoy. Handcrafted pizzas are made with homemade pizza dough tossed in house, with a variety of sauces and toppings available. Calzones are also served up, along with signature hot and cold sandwiches, spaghetti platters, and crispy baked chicken wings with a variety of scrumptious sauces. Cold microbrews are available, along with fountain drinks and wine served by the glass.
509 Main St, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-276-3088
25.Royal Gorge Zip Line Tours
Royal Gorge Zip Line Tours let participants take to the skies to explore the majesty of Colorado's Royal Gorge and experience the first flight line freefall belay zipline system in the world. The company offers 20 ziplines throughout its classic and extreme zipline courses, totaling three miles of canopy-level adventure. Platforms are crafted to work with the region's unique natural terrain, with ziplines reaching top speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. All tours traverse through the Royal Gorge plateau and past the Arkansas River, showcasing sights such as the immense peaks of the Sangre de Christo Mountains. Pioneer sites along Colorado's historic stagecoach road are also showcased, with tour guides elaborating on the area's natural and cultural history throughout tours.
45045 W U.S. 50, Cañon City, CO 81212, Phone: 719-275-7238
25 Best Things to Do in Canon City, Colorado
- Skyline Drive, Photo: Nicholas Krotki/stock.adobe.com
- Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, Photo: hqphotography/stock.adobe.com
- Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience, Photo: Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience
- The Royal Gorge Route Railroad, Photo: Chee/stock.adobe.com
- The Tunnel Drive Trail, Photo: Mykola Mazuryk/stock.adobe.com
- The Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center, Photo: The Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center
- Fremont Center for the Arts, Photo: Fremont Center for the Arts
- Red Canyon Park, Photo: luke/stock.adobe.com
- Temple Canyon Park, Photo: Jeremy/stock.adobe.com
- Garden Park Fossil Area, Photo: dtvphoto/stock.adobe.com
- The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey, Photo: The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey
- The Museum of Colorado Prisons, Photo: The Museum of Colorado Prisons
- Lost Paddle Rafting, Photo: mur162/stock.adobe.com
- Royal Gorge Helitours, Photo: Chee/stock.adobe.com
- Echo Canyon River Expeditions, Photo: PPstock/stock.adobe.com
- iLean Ride Co Segway Tours, Photo: iLean Ride Co Segway Tours
- American Adventure Expeditions, Photo: John Sfondilias/stock.adobe.com
- The Abbey Events Complex, Photo: The Abbey Events Complex
- Diana's Pumpkin Patch, Photo: Diana's Pumpkin Patch
- The Canon City Queen Anne, Photo: The Cañon City Queen Anne
- Le Petit Chablis, Photo: Le Petit Chablis
- Bunk House Burgers, Photo: Bunk House Burgers
- Whitewater Bar and Grill, Photo: Whitewater Bar and Grill
- Pizza Madness, Photo: Pizza Madness
- Royal Gorge Zip Line Tours, Photo: lanarusfoto/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Brian/stock.adobe.com