The Royal Gorge Bridge has been around since 1929 and is the tallest bridge in the United States towering 956 feet above the Arkansas River. If that stat doesn’t excite you then I’m sure one of the many park attractions built around the bridge and overlooking the Royal Gorge will.
My reason for visiting and why I will tell everyone else they must visit? The Via Ferrata at Royal Gorge! When I was researching what to do for a weekend trip to Colorado Springs, I came across the Via Ferrata at Royal Gorge Bridge and Park and decided we had to do it. Via Ferrata’s are like assisted rock climbing routes complete with a steel cable system and metal rungs. I love that they make rock climbing so accessible and the views (and thrills) are stunning! My last experience completing a Via Ferrata in West Virginia was the highlight of my trip. I could only image how the views would compare at the Royal Gorge.
Want to keep the adventure going? Check out my post on backpacking this hidden gem in Colorado just outside of Denver.
Coming from Colorado Springs, it will take just over 1 hour to get to the park entrance. Colorado Springs would make a great base for exploring Royal Gorge Bridge Park because it has so much more to offer in town. Find out what else you can do in Colorado Springs and make a weekend trip out of it with my guide to Colorado Springs!
If coming from Denver (another great option to spend a week exploring in and around Denver), it will take about 2.5 hours driving depending on traffic.
You cannot actually drive across the Royal Bridge (it’s pedestrian only) but you can park at the entrance for free. There’s a second upper lot if the main lot is full. We arrived at 10am when the park opened and had the lot almost to ourselves.
Unfortunately, it is not free to walk the Royal Bridge. Adults will cost $28 and children over 5 are $23. The entrance fee will get you walking the bridge, a ride on the gondola and access to the children’s areas. The real action will cost you more: the Via Ferrata, Zip Line, and Sky Coaster are all extra. If purchasing the Via Ferrata ahead of time (which I encourage you to do), it will include the entrance fee.
Now, on to the best part: the Royal Gorge Via Ferrata. This is one of the newest Via Ferratas in Colorado and making a strong case to be the best one. The routes will take you up and down the side of the Gorge and some routes will cross a suspension bridge. The views into the Gorge are stunning. It’s such a thrill to climb in such beautiful places without having to worry about the intense training and knowledge required for rock climbing.
Check out Royal Gorge Bridge website to book the Via Ferrata tour beforehand. You can book a time slot between 9am and 1pm based on availability. You must have a guide when climbing the Via Ferrata. They will supply helmets, harness, cables, shoes, and even a backpack if you need.
I will say that utilizing the climbing shoes they provided was helpful. The shoes are extra grippy so they give a little boost in confidence when climbing up the rock face.
The Via Ferrata is truly accessible climbing. You do not need any previous experience or training to be able to complete the routes in the gorge. The only thing that could hold you back? Fear of heights. There are parts of the route that are very exposed which can be nerve-racking but you are ALWAYS hooked into the steel cable system.
We chose the longer, more difficult route which was supposed to take 3-5 hours. We are relatively active people and we completed it in 3 hours with lots of time to take pictures and enjoy the views.
Some of the route includes ladder rungs to climb up vertically so if you can climb a ladder with lots of exposure and still use your hand to maneuver the cable system, then you are all set.
A tour can take 2.5 hours to 6 hours depending on the route you choose, how many people are in your group, and relative fitness. We chose the longer, more difficult route which was supposed to take 3-5 hours. We are relatively active people and we completed it in 3 hours with lots of time to take pictures and enjoy the views.
The park will provide climbing shoes and all the gear you need. They also have climbing backpacks that are great for carrying phones, water, and cameras.
I would suggest wearing sunscreen since you are completely exposed the entire time. Sunglasses would come in handy as well. Don’t forget your phone or camera to snap some photos, too! Just be careful of course 😉