Experience Colorado's Royal Gorge Railroad Route

Girl with champagne glass in First Class on Royal Gorge Route Railroad

Welcome aboard a journey filled with majestic landscapes and historic allure on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad. This is more than just a train ride; it's an unforgettable experience that takes you through one of Colorado's most picturesque canyons.

The Royal Gorge Route Railroad is renowned for its breathtaking scenic splendor. As your train gently rolls along the tracks, immerse yourself in the enchanting views of the Royal Gorge's steep canyon walls. Don't forget to keep your camera ready as each bend reveals a new, awe-inspiring panorama. Prepare for an adventure that offers a unique blend of comfort, exhilaration, and a tangible sense of history!

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Girl boarding the Royal Gorge Route Railroad in Cañon City, Colorado
Sara boarding the First Class train car

Where is the Royal Gorge?

The Royal Gorge is a scenic canyon on the Arkansas River near Cañon City, Colorado. Known for its breathtaking views and thrilling outdoor activities, it has become a favorite destination for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. Just a couple of hours' drive southwest of Denver and an hour and a half from Colorado Springs, it's a must-visit spot for anyone traveling in the Colorado area.

How far is Royal Gorge from Colorado Springs?

The Royal Gorge is approximately 60 miles southwest of Colorado Springs. Depending on traffic and the route you take, the drive takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. The journey offers stunning views of Colorado's natural beauty, making it as enjoyable as the destination itself.

How far is Royal Gorge from Denver?

The Royal Gorge is approximately 115 miles southwest of Denver. The drive typically takes about 2 to 2.5 hours, depending on traffic and the specific route chosen. The journey from Denver to the Royal Gorge offers a truly scenic drive through some of Colorado's most spectacular landscapes, ensuring your adventure begins long before you reach the train ride itself.

Man on observation deck of train riding the Royal Gorge, Colorado
Chris on the observation deck of the train riding through Royal Gorge next to the Arkansas River

How to get to Royal Gorge

Getting to the Royal Gorge is quite straightforward and to get to the train station where the ride begins you'll need to map to Cañon City, Colorado. If you are driving from Denver, take the I-25 S to CO-115 S in Colorado Springs, then continue on CO-115 S. Take US-50 W to your destination in Cañon City. When coming from Colorado Springs, simply take the CO-115 S to US-50 W in Penrose, then follow US-50 W to your destination in Cañon City. The stunning Royal Gorge, with its breathtaking river views and spectacular landscapes, is located within this quaint and charming city. Please note that the travel time can vary depending on traffic and weather conditions.

Denver, CO to Cañon City, CO: 116 mi | 1 hr 57 min | Google Maps

Colorado Springs, CO to Cañon City, CO: 44 mi | 53 min | Google Maps

Rocky Mountain National Park (Estes Park) to Cañon City, CO: 179 mi | 3 hr 4 min | Google Maps

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to Cañon City, CO: 183 mi | 3 hr 32 min | Google Maps

Looking out at the tracks from the train engineers booth
View from the engineers booth on the train

How deep is Royal Gorge?

The Royal Gorge is impressively deep, reaching a maximum depth of approximately 1,250 feet. This depth is measured from the highest point of the Royal Gorge Bridge down to the rushing waters of the Arkansas River below. The sheer depth of the gorge adds to its majesty and allure, creating a truly stunning natural spectacle that visitors will remember long after their train journey concludes.

How high is the Royal Gorge Bridge?

The Royal Gorge Bridge, one of the biggest attractions along the train ride route, stands an astounding 955 feet above the Arkansas River above the railroad tracks in the canyon below. This makes it one of the highest suspension bridges in the world. The bridge itself is a marvel of engineering and offers visitors not only an adrenaline-pumping walk across, but also breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding gorge and landscape.

What year was the bridge built?

The Royal Gorge Bridge, a remarkable engineering feat and iconic Colorado landmark, was constructed in 1929. This historic bridge, which adds a unique touch to the already stunning Royal Gorge landscape, has been a testament to human ingenuity and a major tourist attraction for nearly a century. When you see the bridge from below while on the train ride through the Royal Gorge you'll be amazed at the construction and wonder how on earth they managed to construct such a massive bridge back in the 1920s without modern day machinery and equipment.

Girl on Royal Gorge Route Railroad in Colorado
Sara on the observation deck riding through Royal Gorge

Where does the Royal Gorge train start and end?

The Royal Gorge Route Railroad both starts and ends in Cañon City, Colorado at the Santa Fe Depot. This historic train station, located at 401 Water Street, serves as the gateway to an unforgettable journey through the spectacular Royal Gorge. The Santa Fe Depot is right downtown Cañon City and parking is a breeze with a lot next to the depot. For those with limited mobility they have a gold cart that takes visitors from the parking lot to the train depot entrance. To my knowledge you can't reserve a spot on the golf cart, we just happened to see it shuttling older guests with canes too and from their cars.

How long is the Royal Gorge train ride?

The Royal Gorge train ride is a leisurely journey that lasts approximately 2-2.5 hours, round-trip. During this time, passengers are treated to the awe-inspiring beauty of the Royal Gorge, with plenty of opportunities to marvel at the picturesque landscapes, the deep canyon, and the historic Royal Gorge Bridge. The duration of the trip allows sufficient time for passengers to relax, take photographs, and enjoy the onboard amenities, ensuring a memorable experience that is both enjoyable and leisurely.

Man cheers with sparkling wine in First Class Royal Gorge Train
Cheers in First Class on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad

How much does the train ride cost?

The cost of the Royal Gorge train ride varies based on the class of service chosen. The price starts at $89 for adults and $84 for children (ages 3-12) in the Classic Coach class and go up from there. Prices will increase depending on time of day, class of ride chosen, time of year, and whether or not you've chosen to attend for one of the special event rides. Due to the great variety in prices we'd recommend visiting the Royal Gorge Route Railroad website.


What are the different ticket options

The Royal Gorge Route Railroad offers several ticket options, each tailored to provide a unique experience. Here's a brief overview:

  1. Classic Coach Class: This is the most economical option. It offers comfortable seating and large windows for taking in the stunning views of the Royal Gorge. While food is not included in the coach price, a full menu is available for guests to order food if they wish.
  2. Vista Dome Class: For a more immersive experience, you might consider the Vista Dome Class. You'll enjoy priority boarding, comfortable booth style seating under glass-top windows for uninterrupted views, and the option to order food and drinks from the train's on-board restaurant. The views in the dome cars is incredible, especially when between the canyon walls! It should be noted that there are two options for the vista dome cars: First Class and then just regular Vista Dome Class. The first class option will include the same options as the First Class (below) but will be a slight up-charge to sit in the Dome Car vs. the Deluxe Class type car.
  3. Deluxe Class: This option offers a blend of luxury and historical charm. In addition to priority boarding and a gourmet meal, you will be seated in the 1950's era Club cars, providing a nostalgic journey through the Royal Gorge. Similar to First Class but food and drink are not included in the ticket price but are available to purchase separately. Lunch and dinner Deluxe Class tickets are available.
  4. First Class: For the ultimate luxury experience, opt for the First Class. Here, you'll enjoy priority boarding, plush seating, a gourmet meal, and the best views of the Royal Gorge from the historic luxury parlor car. Includes welcome drink (sparkling wine) followed by a three course meal (salad, entree, and dessert). Additional alcoholic beverages are not included in the cost. Lunch and dinner First Class tickets are available.
  5. Ride with the Engineer: For train enthusiasts or those seeking a truly unique experience, the Royal Gorge Route Railroad offers the rare opportunity to ride with the engineer in the locomotive. This up-close experience provides a firsthand look at the operation of the train, the mechanics of the locomotive, and offers an unparalleled perspective of the breathtaking Royal Gorge scenery. Please note that availability is limited and special conditions may apply, so be sure to inquire about this exclusive option when booking your journey.

Remember, prices can change based on the season and demand, so be sure to check the Royal Gorge Route Railroad's official website for the latest information.

Sara in the Vista Dome car on the Royal Gorge Route

What to expect on the ride

The Royal Gorge train ride offers an incredible journey through the heart of Colorado's most spectacular canyon. Passengers can expect a blend of rich history, stunning geology, and breathtaking views, providing a truly immersive experience. As the train glides along the Arkansas River, you’ll be gifted with unparalleled views of the towering cliffs and the magnificent Royal Gorge Bridge. Onboard, you'll find comfortable seating in air conditioned cars, excellent service, and a variety of dining options. Whether you choose to gaze at the awe-inspiring landscapes, capture stunning photographs, or simply relax and enjoy the ride, the Royal Gorge train journey promises a memorable experience for all ages.

The Arkansas River through Royal Gorge while man enjoys view from train car

Royal Gorge's Santa Express

The Royal Gorge's Santa Express is a magical experience that transports passengers to the North Pole, right in the heart of Colorado. This holiday-themed train ride is perfect for families, turning the journey into a festive celebration filled with cheer and wonder. Children are encouraged to wear their coziest pajamas as they board the festively decorated train. As the train chugs along through the wintry Royal Gorge landscape, passengers can enjoy delicious cookies, hot cocoa, and the enchanting stories of Santa and his elves. The highlight of the trip is when Santa himself boards the train, greeting every child and gifting them with a special holiday bell to remember their journey. The Santa Express is not just a train ride, it's an unforgettable holiday tradition that brings the magic of Christmas to life.

Holiday Express Train

The Holiday Express Train adds another layer of festive charm to the Royal Gorge Railroad experience. It's an enchanting journey that brings passengers into a mesmerizing world of holiday lights, decorations, and carol singing. As the train snakes its way through the snow-capped landscapes of Royal Gorge, guests can enjoy the cozy comfort of the train's cabins, decked out in holiday decor, and the heartwarming sounds of favorite holiday tunes. But the magic doesn't stop there. Passengers are treated to a selection of delicious holiday treats and beverages to savor while they marvel at the breathtaking views. The Holiday Express Train isn't just a train ride, it's a captivating holiday experience that encapsulates the joy and magic of the season.

Royal Gorge's Oktoberfest Train

The Royal Gorge's Oktoberfest Train Ride is a unique celebration of the popular German festival, right in the heart of Colorado. This special train ride offers a perfect blend of culture, adventure, and fun. As the train journeys through the stunning Royal Gorge, passengers can enjoy traditional Oktoberfest music, a variety of German beers, and a delicious, specially-prepared Oktoberfest meal. Dressed in Bavarian lederhosen and dirndls, the train staff ensures that the spirit of Oktoberfest is brought to life aboard the Royal Gorge train, making it an unforgettable experience that should not be missed.

Gondala over Royal Gorge, Colorado
Gondolas cross Royal Gorge

Other things to do nearby

The area surrounding the Royal Gorge Railroad is steeped in captivating beauty and abundant in diverse attractions, truly making it a gem of Colorado. Its stunning landscapes, ranging from the dramatic depths of the Royal Gorge to the soaring heights of the Rocky Mountains, are a testament to nature's grandeur. Beyond the natural wonders, visitors can explore a multitude of cultural, historical and recreational activities, such as the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, fascinating local museums, and thrilling outdoor adventures like white water rafting or hiking. Whether it's for the thrill-seeker, the nature lover, or the history buff, this area of Colorado has so much to offer.

Royal Gorge rafting

Rafting through the Royal Gorge offers an exhilarating adventure that combines breathtaking natural beauty with heart-pumping excitement. As you navigate the roaring rapids of the Arkansas River, you'll be surrounded by the towering cliffs of the Royal Gorge, creating a truly unique and awe-inspiring experience. Rafting trips vary from beginner to advanced levels, ensuring there's an adventure suitable for every thrill-seeker. Remember, safety is paramount, so always ensure you're guided by a professional rafting company. This unforgettable journey through the churning waters of the Royal Gorge is more than just a rafting trip, it's an extraordinary adventure that encapsulates the wild spirit of Colorado.

Royal Gorge zipline

Experience the thrill of the Royal Gorge Zipline as you soar over the stunning landscapes of Colorado from America's highest zipline at 1,200 feet above the ground! Referred to as the "Cloudscraper," this adrenaline-pumping adventure presents a unique perspective of the Royal Gorge, offering unparalleled views as you zip from tower to tower across the vast canyon. Operating all year round, it's an unforgettable way to experience the majesty of the Royal Gorge.


Aerial gondolas

The Aerial Gondolas at the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park offer another thrilling way to take in the breathtaking views of the Royal Gorge. Suspended high above the gorge, these gondolas provide a serene yet exciting journey across the canyon. As you traverse from one side to the other, you'll be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, the raging Arkansas River below, and the iconic Royal Gorge Bridge. It's a unique vantage point that truly celebrates the grandeur of this natural wonder.


Pikes Peak

There are several ways to experience the beauty of Pikes Peak, one of Colorado's most iconic landmarks. One of the most popular is the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, a scenic train ride that takes you to the summit, providing breathtaking views along the way. Alternatively, you could take the Pikes Peak Highway, a 19-mile (38 miles roundtrip) drive that offers numerous scenic overlooks. For outdoor enthusiasts, hiking the Barr Trail is a rewarding physical challenge that culminates with an extraordinary panoramic view at the summit. Regardless of the method you choose, a trip to Pikes Peak promises an unforgettable encounter with nature's majesty.

Hiking near Cañon City, Colorado

The area around Cañon City, Colorado, is a paradise for hikers, offering a multitude of trails that traverse the region's diverse and stunning landscapes. From gentle strolls along the river's edge to challenging climbs towards craggy peaks, there are options suitable for all levels of ability. Each trail offers its unique perspectives of the Royal Gorge, the Arkansas River, and the expansive Colorado wilderness. So lace up your hiking boots and embark on a journey that connects you with the raw beauty and tranquility of the great outdoors.

Chris in Garden of the Gods, Colorado

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is a must-visit attraction in Colorado Springs near the Royal Gorge. This National Natural Landmark features awe-inspiring rock formations and panoramic landscapes that are truly a sight to behold. Visitors can enjoy hiking, rock climbing, or simply marvel at the park's natural beauty for free. There are also interactive exhibits at the visitor and nature center that provide an in-depth look at the park's geology, ecology, and cultural history. A trip to the Garden of the Gods offers an immersive experience into nature's grandeur, making it a rewarding addition to your Royal Gorge adventure.

Cañon City, CO to Garden of the Gods: 49 mi | 1 hr 9 min | Google Maps

Chris at sunrise at Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
Sunrise at Sprague Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

While Rocky Mountain National Park may be a bit of a drive from Canon City, it's certainly worth the journey for those venturing to Colorado. This iconic natural wonder, spanning over 265,000 acres, is a paradise for nature enthusiasts, offering a myriad of activities such as hiking, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives. The park's diverse landscapes, ranging from towering mountain peaks to verdant forests and serene alpine lakes, create a captivating backdrop for outdoor adventures. With over 300 miles of hiking trails and countless scenic spots, a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park serves as a perfect complement to your Royal Gorge experience. Just remember to leave early for the approximately 3.5-hour drive to ensure a full day of exploration and to make it to the park in time to enjoy the best sunrise in Rocky Mountain National Park!

Cañon City, CO to Rocky Mountain National Park: 197 mi | 3 hr 29 min | Google Maps

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park presents another remarkable showcase of Colorado's natural beauty. The park's dramatic landscapes, defined by the steep, deep, narrow gorge, offer a truly awe-inspiring spectacle. Its stark black granite cliffs and craggy spires, carved over millions of years by the Gunnison River, pose an enticing challenge for experienced hikers and rock climbers. Whether it's driving along the South Rim Road for panoramic vistas, hiking the rim trails, or fishing in the crystal clear waters of the river, each visitor to the Black Canyon is in for an adventure filled with stunning scenery and unforgettable experiences.

Cañon City, CO to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: 183 mi | 3 hr 48 min | Google Maps

Sara in Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Great Sand Dune National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve creates a fascinating contrast to Colorado's mountainous landscape with its massive sand dunes—the tallest in North America. Adventurous visitors can enjoy a unique experience of sand sledding or sandboarding down the dunes, while nature enthusiasts can explore diverse ecosystems, from wetlands to forests, throughout the park. The park is also a dream for stargazers, offering some of the darkest skies and brightest stars in the country. A trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park adds an element of desert wonder to your Colorado visit.

Cañon City, CO to Great Sand Dunes National Park: 143 mi | 2 hr 30 min | Google Maps

Final thoughts

Colorado's Royal Gorge Route Railroad promises a memorable experience no matter your age. Whether you're looking to relax or fun time with friends and family, this train ride will meet your needs and serve as the perfect backdrop to your Colorado vacation (or staycation!) memories.

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Experience Colorado's Royal Gorge Route Railroad
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