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17 Exciting Things to Do in Cañon City, Colorado

February 13, 2024

Nestled in the heart of Colorado, Cañon City city is a gem waiting to be explored! The area is renowned for its incredible landscapes, fascinating history, thrilling adventures, and inviting vineyards and microbreweries. With its year-round mild climate, this city is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs.

With so many attractions and activities, we thought it would be helpful to compile a list of top recommendations for things to do in Cañon City:

1. Explore Royal Gorge Bridge & Park

Kick off your Cañon City exploration by marveling at the impressive Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. Walk across the highest suspension bridge in America and witness awe-inspiring views of the deep Royal Gorge and the meandering Arkansas River beneath. But the excitement doesn't stop at the bridge! Indulge your adventurous side with a thrilling gondola ride across the Royal Gorge. There's a playground for the little explorers in your group to expend their energy. This incredible human-made wonder is not just a bridge but a destination, guaranteeing an exhilarating start to your Cañon City journey.

2. Experience River Rafting in the Arkansas River

Immerse yourself in the exhilarating world of whitewater rafting in the heart of Cañon City. As the Arkansas River snakes its way through the city, it presents an irresistible playground for adrenaline junkies and nature enthusiasts alike. Trustworthy local outfitters offer a variety of guided river rafting tours tailored to match different thrill levels. Opt for a tranquil, family-oriented trip down the gentle parts of the river, or, if you're up for the challenge, brace yourself for heart-racing rides down the roaring rapids. The raw beauty and varied landscapes around the Arkansas River enhance the overall rafting experience, making it a must-try activity whether you're a rafting novice or a seasoned pro. Strap on your helmet, grab an oar and prepare for an unforgettable water adventure that promises equal parts thrill and scenic beauty.

3. Visit the Museum of Colorado Prisons

Step inside a world of historical intrigue at the Museum of Colorado Prisons. Situated in what was once a functioning state penitentiary, the museum offers a unique perspective on the state's criminal justice history. You can wander through former cell blocks, each echoing tales of past inmates, while absorbing the rich stories presented through captivating exhibits. The museum provides an intimate look at the personal narratives of former inmates, capturing their struggles and triumphs. This exploration of Colorado's penal system isn't just a history lesson but an experience that resonates with the human spirit. No matter what your interests are, a visit to the Museum of Colorado Prisons is bound to leave you with a newfound intrigue and understanding of this chapter of Colorado's past.

4. Wind Along Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive is the winding road you didn’t know you needed. This historic road is a narrow, one-lane path etched into the face of a towering cliff. As you navigate this thrilling route, you'll be treated to unrivaled vistas of the city and the sweeping landscapes that cradle it. Don't forget your camera, as the view from the top is truly breathtaking. Numerous pullouts provide safe spots to capture the scenery or simply pause and soak up the serenity. For the dinosaur enthusiasts, there's an exciting surprise midway - a site with well-preserved tracks. Exploring Skyline Drive is not just about the destination but the entire journey. The road demands careful navigation, but the payoff is an unforgettable adventure filled with unbelievable panoramas and a hint of prehistoric mystery. Fasten your seatbelts, take a deep breath, and let Skyline Drive redefine your idea of a scenic route.

5. Get on a Mountain Bike and Ride the Royal Gorge Trails 

Love mountain biking? Then the Royal Gorge trails are for you! There are endless scenic trails and diverse landscape making this area a haven for riders of all skill levels. For visitors looking for a more leisurely ride, the Riverwalk Trail is a scenic path along the Arkansas River for a relaxing journey surrounded by towering cliffs. For advanced mountain bikers, there are an array of technical routes of the Royal Gorge Park, featuring rugged terrain and outstanding canyon views. Regardless of which trail you choose, the majestic Gorge views will be the highlight of your ride. 

6. Tour The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey 

Relax and indulge your senses at The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey, a noteworthy stop in your itinerary of Cañon City things to do. Sip on the exquisite flavors of award-winning wines carefully crafted on-site, and take advantage of the peaceful atmosphere surrounding you. The tasting menu will satisfy every palate, from bold reds to crisp whites. The knowledgeable and hospitable staff will guide you through the wine-tasting process, helping you uncover each selection's unique notes and aromas. To remember your visit, you can stop at the winery's gift shop, a treasure trove of wine-related trinkets, souvenirs, and gourmet treats. Set against the stunning Colorado landscape backdrop, the winery offers a sensory feast of fine wines and a visual treat of serene beauty. The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey is not just about wine; it’s about experiencing the harmony of great taste, vibrant culture, and breathtaking nature.

7. Stroll Along Tunnel Drive

Unlike Skyline Drive, Tunnel Drive is for your feet, not your wheels. The straightforward pathway presents an opportunity for a quiet escape, carving its route through three intriguing tunnels originally engineered for a water pipeline. As you stroll along this serene path, the spectacular Arkansas River flows peacefully alongside, offering a soothing soundtrack to your trek. The trail opens to unspoiled views of Cañon City, the distant mountains, and the river's serene expanse, painting a picturesque canvas worthy of a postcard. Its gentle terrain makes the Tunnel Drive trail a perfect outing for visitors of all ages and abilities. Each step on the Tunnel Drive trail further unveils the natural beauty of Cañon City, making it an awesome addition to your itinerary. Four-legged friends and bikers are welcome!

8. Travel Back in Time with the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience

Unleash your inner paleontologist at the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience. This mesmerizing museum is a trove of prehistoric wonders, captivating visitors with its realistic, life-sized dinosaur replicas and intriguing fossil casts. The experience goes beyond just seeing, offering a host of hands-on exhibits that enable you to engage with the mysteries of the bygone era. Watch your children's eyes light up as they delve into the world of these ancient titans, or find yourself equally enthralled by the rich amount of knowledge. As you navigate through the exhibit halls, each corner reveals a new facet of dinosaur history and science, transporting you millions of years back. So step in, let curiosity guide you, and journey through our planet's history. 

9. Cruise the Gold Belt Byway

The Gold Belt Byway boasts a fascinating history as the main route during the world’s largest gold rush! This picturesque drive traverses the backbone of Colorado's golden mining heritage, weaving past dormant mining towns that speak volumes of the gold rush era. The road is your storyteller, unraveling tales of miners who flocked here in search of fortune. Yet the byway's allure goes beyond history. As you navigate its course, your eyes will feast on panoramic vistas of the Rockies. Make it a point to pull over at some of the ghost towns dotting the route. A walk through these deserted settlements offers a tangible connection to the past, letting you sample life during the gold rush. The Gold Belt Byway is not just a road, it's a sightseeing adventure and a time capsule that transports you back to the golden age of Colorado's history.

10. Fremont Center for the Arts 

Holding the esteemed title of the oldest privately-run arts center in the Western United States, Fremont Center for the Arts is a place of creative expression. From the striking brushstrokes of local and international painters to the intricate details of ceramic sculptures and thought-provoking photography, the array of exhibits caters to varied artistic tastes. As you wander through the gallery, you're not just observing art; you're engaging with the emotions and experiences that the artists have intricately woven into their creations. Artistic curiosity or avid appreciation, whatever your motivation, the Fremont Center for the Arts promises an enriching encounter with the local arts scene. Do you want to get more interactive? Check out their class schedule to open your mind to the eloquent language of art, and allow yourself to be captivated by the profound beauty that this remarkable center has to offer!

11. Brace the Ultimate Adventure With the Via Ferrata 

Prepare to elevate your adventure by tackling the Via Ferrata in Royal Gorge. This Italian term translates to "iron path" and consists of a series of steel rungs, cables, and bridges affixed to the rock face, offering a thrilling, cliff-side climbing experience. Designed for adrenaline-seekers, this adventure is suitable for anyone in good physical health and willing to challenge their limits. Expert guides accompany you throughout, ensuring safety while offering tips to enhance your climbing prowess. As you traverse this man-made route, you’ll be privy to breathtaking views of the Royal Gorge and Arkansas River, unmatched by any other viewpoint. This exhilarating journey strikes a perfect balance between challenge and thrill, punctuated by moments of serene beauty. Strap on your harness, put on your climbing shoes, and let Via Ferrata gift you an unforgettable experience packed with adventure, challenge, and captivating panoramas.

12. Become High Class at the Royal Gorge Mansion

If you like the finer things in life, this is one of the best things to do in Cañon City. Royal Gorge Mansion, also known as the Robison Mansion, is a magnificent symbol of Victorian-era architecture, blending lavish ornamentation with timeless elegance. Step inside this beautifully restored property, and feel like royalty as you roam through its opulent rooms full of exquisite details. The mansion is also surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens, offering a peaceful retreat to bask in nature's charm. Ideal for history fans, architecture enthusiasts, and lovers of beauty, tea, or wine, the Royal Gorge Mansion hosts afternoon tea and wine tastings.

13. Find Serenity While Fly Fishing 

Fly fishing is a favorite activity in the Gorge, and the Arkansas River has serene stretches that present the perfect location. With a backdrop of spectacular mountain views, this calm river, teeming with rainbow and brown trout, is an angler's paradise. Whether you're a seasoned fisherman or new to the sport, the local fishing guides in Cañon City will ensure a rewarding experience. They'll provide you with the necessary gear and teach you the art of fly casting, setting you on a path to snag your catch of the day. The tranquility of the river, coupled with the thrill of a potential catch, makes fly fishing a relaxing yet engaging activity. It's a chance to connect with nature, appreciate its beauty, and experience the joy of patience. Fly fishing in Cañon City isn't just about the fish; it's about creating memorable moments amid the soothing sound of rushing water and the grandeur of the Colorado landscape. Put on your waders, cast your line, and let the Arkansas River reel you in!

14. Hike the Area’s Best Trails 

One of the most obvious things to do in Cañon City is to go hiking! The Royal Gorge is a hiker’s paradise—with endless scenic hikes, you can embrace the great outdoors and get moving. Whether you're an experienced hiker seeking challenging trails or a casual walker looking for tranquil routes, the area has a path (or 10) for you. Red Canyon Park and Temple Canyon Park are two popular options. Both offer trails that crisscross through unique rock formations and lush vegetation, providing breathtaking views at every turn. For those seeking a bit of history with their hike, the Oil Well Flats trail system offers a glimpse into the city's oil boom past. No matter which trail you pick, it isn’t just about exercise - it’s about a sensory experience filled with the sounds of local wildlife, the scent of fresh mountain air, and jaw-dropping views of Cañon City's captivating landscape. These hikes are a fantastic way to explore the city's natural beauty, giving you an intimate encounter with Colorado's distinctive flora and fauna. As you summit each crest or round each bend, you'll be rewarded with a sense of achievement and a newfound appreciation for what makes the area special.

15. See the Landscape From a New Perspective 

Take to the skies for an exhilarating sightseeing zipline experience in Cañon City. Strap in and soar above the stunning Colorado landscapes, feeling an adrenaline rush as you whizz from platform to platform. Ideal for thrill-seekers and families alike, ziplining offers a unique way to view the area's natural beauty from a new vantage point. Feel the wind in your face, enjoy the bird's-eye view of the canyon below, and relish the unique feeling of flight that ziplining offers. A zipline adventure in Cañon City offers an unforgettable blend of thrill, excitement, and awe-inspiring scenery that's sure to leave you with lasting memories. Take a leap of faith, and prepare for a breathtaking ride that's guaranteed to lift your spirits and your perspective!

16. Traverse a Mountain

If the Via Ferrata isn’t enough, there are a plethora of other great climbing options! With its rugged terrain and spectacular landscapes, the city serves as a haven for both beginner and experienced climbers. Whether it's maneuvering the technical routes of Shelf Road or the mild climb of Oak Creek Canyon, the city's diverse climbing routes present an exciting challenge for all skill levels. As you ascend, you'll be rewarded with 360-degree views of the city, the Arkansas River, and the majestic Rocky Mountains. Climbing in Cañon City isn’t just about reaching the top; it's about relishing the journey, testing your limits, and bonding with nature. 

If you are visiting in the winter, try ice climbing!

17. Go Glamping with Riverside Access and Views 

If you’re not one for camping or you’re ready to branch out, this riverside glamping experience is for you! You can choose from staying in a yurt, Airstream, or vintage Airstream, all with pristine river and mountain views. When you go glamping, you get all the benefits of camping—nature is in your front yard and at your backdoor, but you get a bed and the modern amenities that you crave. Whether the yurt life is tugging at your heartstrings or you want to level up to the walls of an Airstream, there are a ton of options to choose from.

Do you prefer bigger walls, windows, and more amenities? There are luxury cabin stays that will still keep you close to the land, set you at ease, and provide you with everything you need to enjoy your stay. These rentals are conveniently located in the Adventure Hub, so you are close to all of the best things to do in Cañon City, with all the comforts you desire.

Whether you are seeking extreme terrain and adventure, knowledge about a new place and its rich history, or a place to relax and reset, there are endless things to do in Cañon City. Follow our blog for more things to do, see, and eat in Cañon City and the Royal Gorge.

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