Royal Gorge

Home Around Las Vegas South of Las Vegas North of Las Vegas Cima-Kelso Nevada Southern Desert Wind Trip Steam to Las Vegas! Tennessee Pass Trip Royal Gorge Durango

In September, 2004 I visited the Canon City & Royal Gorge RR, in Canon City, Colorado.  This tourist operation runs 12 miles through the Royal Gorge to Parkdale, Co. on U.P. (ex DR&W) trackage.  This is the "lower" part of the now embargoed Tennesse Pass line.  The DR&W opened this line in 1880 and passenger service continued until the last run from Denver to Salida on July 27, 1967.   The next passenger train to run over the line was a AARPCO special on October 27, 1993 (click on "Tennesse Pass" to read about my adventure on this special!).  Steam returned to the Gorge on June 22, 1997 when U.P. 844 and the U.P. cruise train ran west from Denver to Salt Lake City.  The CC & RG began operation in May, 1999.

At right is a view of the suspension bridge at the top of the Gorge.

The train operates in pull-pull mode. At left is the 403 returning to Canon City.  At right GP7 2238 is ready to depart westbound. The 12 miles to Parkdale averages a 1.5% grade.

I opted for the extra fare cab ride.  At left we are a few miles out of Canon City, entering the narrow Gorge.  Due to the passenger load only one-half  of the train was open that day but you can see the two open air cars in the consist.  They have since gotten more and newer passenger equipment, including a dome and diner.
As we enter the narrow Gorge the suspension bridge 1,053 feet above the tracks becomes visible.

Click on image for larger view

The view from the cab of  F unit 403 as we enter the Gorge from the opposite direction - eastbound - on the return trip.

Click on image for larger view

The famous "hanging bridge" from the 403 cab.  At this point the Gorge is less than 40' wide with no room for a roadbed.  A bridge was literally "hung" length-wise from the sides of the deep Gorge.  Later, in the early 1900's rock and concrete fill was placed underneath the bridge to support the weight of heavier and heavier trains.

They have an excellent website at with video.

Click on image for larger view


Top of Page