(Image Royalgorgebridge.com)

With Royal Gorge Bridge reopening, Fremont County signals it’s open for tourists

Zip lines, aerial gondolas, and thrill rides at Canon City’s Royal Gorge Bridge and Park welcomed guests this Memorial Day Weekend for the first time in two months.

“We were pleased with the turnout we got, but it is definitely slower than in years past,” said Peggy Gair, human resource and public relations manager. “It doesn’t look like a normal year right now.”

One of Fremont County’s most popular tourist attractions, the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park closed its doors to visitors late March in keeping with state COVID-19 ordinances. On May 4, the park opened up to car traffic. About 90 percent of the park was allowed to reopen by May 22 after Fremont County applied for variances from the State of Colorado.

“We are following all the protocols that were laid before us by Fremont County and by the state,” Gair said. “Like everyone else, we have got our six-foot markers so people know where they can stand in line. We sanitize the gondolas after each use. Parties are not mixed. If a family of four is standing there to get on the gondola, they will be put in one gondola.”

As of Thursday, May 28, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment reported Fremont County had 26 total cases of COVID-19 since early March.

Bathrooms and touch points at the park are regularly sanitized. Attractions with multiple touch points, including the carousel and Tommy Knocker Children’s Playland remain closed. The Plaza Theater also remains closed until variances addressing theaters are approved by the state. Employees are required to wear masks and visitors are encouraged to do the same.

“We are hoping we can open the theater pretty soon and of course the Playland,” Gair said. “These are all contingent on the variances that come from the state and the county and as you know, the variances are coming one at a time for a gradual reopening.”

As restaurants across Colorado reopen their doors, the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is also in the process of reopening the 1230 Cafe on park grounds. In accordance with state laws, the cafe will operate at 50 percent capacity starting next weekend. A large tent will also be provided for visitors to eat outside of the cafe.

“We place the tables accordingly so they will be as the variances have requested,” Gair said. “We are following all the variances that have been laid out before us so we are going to be like every restaurant. Tables are going to be pushed back, all the chairs, and we do have a lot of space for people to eat outside.”

For the time being, visitors are permitted to take a 2,200-foot glide across the Royal Gorge in an aerial Gondola, ride the highest zipline in North America, and swing 50 miles per hour on the Royal Rush Skycoaster. The Via Ferrata, one of the park’s latest additions, is also open to visitors.

“The Royal Gorge Via Ferrata, that is a protected climbing experience that goes about 600 feet down into the Gorge,” Gair said. “This is a guided experience that uses carabiners and cables so a person is always connected to the walls of the Royal Gorge. That’s our newest attraction. We opened up that last year.”