It’s not hard to find adventure all around our beautiful state. As a native, I’ve had my fair share of quintessential Colorado experiences, and while each is incredible, they always leave you wanting to find more.
If it’s adventure you’re seeking, head to Central Colorado’s Pikes Peak Wonders Region for wet, wild and high-flying thrills by day and luxurious accommodations by night.
The region, one hour west of Colorado Springs, offers some of the best whitewater rafting in the West on the Arkansas River. It is also home to the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, where adventure-seekers can experience the country’s suspension bridge and zipline. Other adventures include human-powered fun like mountain biking, Jeep touring and rock climbing as well as classic destination attractions like the Royal Gorge Route Railroad.
“Whether you are looking for a full-blown active vacation or pure relaxation built around stunning mountain views and classic sunsets or something in between, we certainly fit the bill,” said Andy Neinas, owner of Echo Canyon River Expeditions, Colorado’s largest whitewater rafting outfitter.
Echo Canyon River Expeditions, which includes the luxurious Royal Gorge Cabins, was named one of the top adventure resorts in the country by The Travel Channel.
Neinas and his crew put together this three-day itinerary to demonstrate how to have a quick getaway to Central Colorado’s Pikes Peak Wonders region. It’s very similar to the itinerary we enjoyed last summer when we stayed at the Royal Gorge Cabins.
Get an early start and arrive in time for a full-day rafting trip on the Arkansas River with Echo Canyon River Expeditions. Located seven miles west of Cañon City near the Royal Gorge, the resort offers half-, full- and multi-day rafting trips, including the half-day Gentle Family Float, Bighorn Sheep Canyon rafting and Royal Gorge rafting, the most challenging of the resort’s rafting options. Full-day trips include riverside lunch.
After rafting, head over to the resort’s 8 Mile Bar and Grill and join the guides and other rafters to watch videos of the day’s trips while you enjoy food and cold drinks.
After dinner, check in to Royal Gorge Cabins, grab a blanket, light a fire and enjoy some of the darkest, light pollution-free skies in Colorado. Visitors can choose from one- or two-bedroom luxury cabins with indoor/outdoor fireplaces or Glamping Tents, with fire rings and included camp fire kits.
Consider staying in the most luxurious accommodations in the area. Opened in 2017, the nine 600- to 800-square-foot cabins include six king loft cabins featuring two bedrooms and one and one-half baths and three king cabins featuring one bedroom and bathroom. The cabins also offer fully equipped kitchens and living areas, large windows, double-sided gas fireplaces that can be enjoyed from inside and outside, 400-square-foot landscaped outdoor patios and private parking.
For those who prefer something rustic – but not too rustic – the cabins offer eight Glamping Tents. Situated in the resort’s campground, four tents accommodate two people each while the other four tents accommodate up to four guests with two queen beds. Both sizes of tents include a swamp cooler for summer-season climate control, screened windows and private porch.
Make the short drive over to the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. Built in 1929, the bridge is 955 feet above the Arkansas River and was the tallest suspension bridge in the world until 2001 and is still the highest in the United States. In addition to the bridge, the park features a Skycoaster, zip lines, gondola, restaurants and children’s play areas.
Grab some lunch next to the bridge at the barbecue restaurant and then head over to the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience where you will find science-focused interactive displays, full-scale dinosaur fossil casts, hands-on exhibits, animatronic dinosaurs, tours and a multi-story ropes course.
Return to the 8 Mile Bar & Grille or make the easy seven-mile drive to Cañon City for dinner at Pizza Madness for the region’s best pizzas as well as salads, pasta, sandwiches and more. Make sure you take the time to check out the artwork.
After carbo loading at dinner the night before, check out a local mountain bike trail. You can rent a bike in town and easily find trails ranging from gentle to gnarly. The area is quickly gaining popularity as bicyclists are discovering that the region’s “Banana Belt” weather and foothills topography make an unbeatable combination.
Grab some lunch in town at the Owl Cigar Store. It only seems like “The Owl” has been there forever, but this locals’ hangout has been serving old-fashioned burgers and milkshakes since they weren’t, well, old fashioned.
More information about rafting trips can be found online or by calling 1-800-755-3246.
Reservations for the cabins and glamping tents can be made online at www.royalgorgecabins.com or by calling 1-800-748-2953.