Skip to main content

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 25; the Royal Gorge Bridge

The morning after visiting Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve I headed out of Alamosa via US Route 160 west and US 285 north to US Route 50.  I followed US Route 50 east along the Arkansas River to Fremont County Road 3A.  Upon pulling onto Fremont County Road 3A I took it 4 miles south to it's terminus at the Royal Gorge Bridge.


This article serves at the 25th entry in the 2016 Summer Mountain Trip Series.  Part 24 covered former Colorado State Route 150 over Mosca Pass and Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve.

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 24; CO 150 and Great Sand Dunes & Preserve

The Royal Gorge Bridge is a suspension span which crosses the Arkansas River and namesake Royal Gorge.  The Royal Gorge Bridge is 1,260 feet length and has a clearance of 955 feet above the Arkansas River. The Royal Gorge Bridge was built by George E. Cole Construction Company between June and November 1929 as a purpose built tourist attraction.  The Royal Gorge Bridge opened for visitation on December 8th 1929.  At it's opening the Royal Gorge Bridge had had the highest clearance of any structure in the world and wouldn't be surpassed until 2001. In June of 2013 the Royal Gorge Bridge was damaged by a wild fire but the wooden deck was quickly replaced.  The fire of 2013 damaged the narrow gauge incline railway next to the Royal Gorge Bridge which had opened in 1931.

The Royal Gorge Bridge makes an appearance on the 1931 Clason Highway Map of Colorado just south of US 50/CO 6.


Both sides of the Royal Gorge Bridge contains segments of it's attached Park.  From the eastern cliffs of Royal Gorge the depths below to the Arkansas River are strikingly obvious.





It might not seem like it but the Royal Gorge Bridge is designed to carry the weight of vehicle traffic over the Arkansas River.  The deck width of the Royal Gorge Bridge is 18 feet wide which can handle two-way traffic.  Vehicles are typically only allowed to cross the Royal Gorge Bridge early in the day to set up shop at the western part of the park.  In the photo below the entrance to the incline railway can be seen on the right.


Walking across the Royal Gorge Bridge in my opinion is far more of an experience than driving it.  While on foot the true height of the Royal Gorge Bridge feels much more intimate than it does behind the wheel.  The wooden road deck of the Royal Gorge Bridge shakes easily and the Arkansas River can be seen below the planks.  When vehicles cross the Royal Gorge Bridge the whole structure shakes which can be pretty extreme in the middle of the main 880 foot span.




Looking northwest from the Royal Gorge Bridge the full width of Royal Gorge can be seen.  The Royal Gorge Route Railroad can be seen below the Royal Gorge Bridge on the Arkansas River.   The Royal Gorge Route Railroad was the point of contention of what led to the so called "Royal Gorge Wars" between the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad and Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad.  Ultimately the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad gained control of the Royal Gorge Route by 1880.  The Royal Gorge Route carried passenger service until 1967, freight traffic ended in 1996 when the Union Pacific Railroad merged with the Southern Pacific Railroad.  The Royal Gorge Route was sold in 1997 and reopened to passengers in 1999.


The Royal Gorge Route is best observed looking southeast from the Royal Gorge Bridge.


Upon leaving the Royal Gorge Bridge I returned to US Route 50.  I stayed on US Route 50 eastbound to CO 115 where I turned north towards Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Highway.

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 26; the Pikes Peak Highway

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

California State Route 38

California State Route 38 is a fifty-nine-mile State Highway located entirety in San Bernardino County and a component of the Rim of the World Highway.  California State Route 38 begins at California State Route 18 at Bear Valley Dam of the San Bernardino Mountains and follows an easterly course on the north shore of Big Bear Lake.  California State Route 38 briefly multiplexes California State Route 18 near Baldwin Lake and branches east towards the 8,443-foot-high Onyx Summit.  From Onyx Summit the routing of California State Route 38 reverses course following a largely westward path through the San Bernardino Mountains towards a terminus at Interstate 10 in Redlands.   Pictured as the blog cover is California State Route 38 at Onyx Summit the day it opened to traffic on August 12th, 1961.   Part 1; the history of California State Route 38 California State Route 38 (CA 38) is generally considered to be the back way through the San Bernardino Mountains to Big Bear Lake of Bear Valley

The original alignment of California State Route 33 in Firebaugh

Firebaugh is a city located on the San Joaquin River of western Fresno County.  Firebaugh is one of the oldest American communities in San Joaquin Valley having been settled as the location of Firebaugh's Ferry in 1854.  Traditionally Firebaugh has been served by California State Route 33 which was one of the original Sign State Routes announced during August 1934.  In modern times California State Route 33 is aligned through Firebaugh on N Street.  Originally California State Route 33 headed southbound passed through Firebaugh via; N Street, 8th Street, O Street, 12th Street, Nees Avenue and Washoe Avenue.  The blog cover depicts early California State Route 33 near Firebaugh crossing over a one-lane canal bridge.  The image below is from the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Fresno County which depicts the original alignment of California State Route 33 in Firebaugh. Part 1; the history of California State Route 33 in Firebaugh The community of Firebaugh is named in honor of Andr

Driving the Watkins Glen Historic Road Course - New York

  Situated at the south end of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, Watkins Glen is well known for wineries along Seneca Lake and waterfalls at Watkins Glen State Park . But one thing that gives the town much renown is its connection to the world of auto racing. The raceway at Watkins Glen Internationa l holds a number of big races every year, such as Six Hours at the Glen and the NASCAR Cup Series . The history of auto racing at Watkins Glen starts during the 1940s when the race followed a course on local roads and also through the streets of downtown Watkins Glen. It's a course that you can follow today, preferably at a more moderate speed than the auto racers of yore raced at. Let's explore the history of the original course, how it came to by and why it is no more. Organized races through the village of Watkins Glen and surrounding roads were first proposed and started by Cameron R. Argetsinger in 1948, marking the beginning of post-war sports car