Luxury accommodation and adrenaline-fueled outdoor adventure are not mutually exclusive. Like fried chicken enhanced by the effervescent elegance of champagne, outdoor adventure is sublime in high-end accommodation.
Royal Gorge Cabins, located in CaÃ±on City, Colo., Are proof that you can challenge Mother Nature and devilishly designed human sensations by day, then slip into a stylish, amenity-packed cabin at night. It’s a best of both worlds thing.
The one and two bedroom cabins are across the street from Echo Canyon River Expeditions, a partner property with glamping tents and a campground. Echo Canyon has been running whitewater tours on the Arkansas River since 1978.
We can thank Arkansas for the spectacular gorge 13 miles from CaÃ±on City, the result of a lingering river forcing its way through granite for millions of years, creating a narrow passage framed by shear walls. rising to over 1,000 feet. From above, the Arkansas winding far below looks barely large or wild enough to have sculpted such a humiliating landscape. But experienced from a raft crossing rapids, the often choppy river makes its power known.
Fortunately, Arkansas has multiple personalities. Some sections offer a mostly scenic journey interspersed with Class III thrills, while others offer the kind of serious, jaw-dropping action served by Class IV and V rapids.
On a blue sky day, I picked the section that runs through Bighorn Sheep Canyon, a family-friendly stretch of river with easy moments of photo-op scenery. Possible sightings of bighorn sheep are punctuated by nearly a dozen Class III rapids with names like Maytag, Wake Up, Sharks Tooth, and Spinner – just the right amount of wilderness to get us wet, cool, and make a splash. exhilarating half-day trip.
Serious veterans know that the only acceptable activity after rafting is a cold beer in the company of their seasoned colleagues. The 8 Mile Bar & Grill (named for its distance from CaÃ±on City) is the perfect spot for this in Echo Canyon.
The indoor-outdoor restaurant is conveniently located a short walk from the changing rooms, with some interesting historical signs to read in between. The best tell the story of the beginnings of the Arkansas River Valley and the missing people who left their mark here.
Satisfied after our quick afternoon hike and cold craft beer, we headed to our cabin. It is almost misleading to call them “cabins”. Sleek and contemporary in design, they exude upscale sophistication and are the perfect place – two perfectly placed outdoor chairs and a hammock – to sip a drink and watch the sun set over Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains. . Add family games, a well-equipped mini-kitchen, extremely comfortable beds and a wonderful shower. What more does he need?
Just down the road, Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience pays homage to Colorado’s paleo past and the prehistoric giants that once roamed here. Visit the museum, then exit. You can hike a short dinosaur trail, dig for “bones” or take on the challenge of a rope course menacingly guarded by two animatronic behemoths. The T-Rex seems particularly inclined to take down puny humans who find their way along the course, though I’m told most survive.
A few miles to the south, the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park stretches across the top of the gorge, offering visitors multiple ways to freak out when crossing back and forths. If heights aren’t a problem, all the fun options are on the line.
Take the cable car on the side of the reception center and cross the vertiginous bridge suspended between the walls of the gorge. Or you can buckle up to the hands-free Cloudscraper zipline and be catapulted in the direction of your car. Whichever you choose, stand under the zipline for a moment to hear adult males screaming as they are launched into nothingness, legs dangling over the river 1,200 feet below.
If swinging at 50 mph in free fall and momentarily clinging to the yawning chasm sounds like fun, there’s Royal Rush Skycoaster. And you don’t have to be an experienced climber to tackle the Via Ferrata – but it can make the scrambling around almost vertical walls less terrifying, even if you’re securely attached to a cable.
The park has restaurants, but we booked dinner at 8 Mile for its excellent salads and burgers. The chef will accommodate dietary requests if requested, and there’s a dog-friendly menu with organic quinoa among the options (it’s Colorado, after all). In the morning, CaÃ±on City’s Waffle Wagon is the perfect place to mingle with the locals over a high calorie breakfast.
If you’re in the mood for even more adventure, Skyline Drive is a gripping three-mile single-lane road with anxiety-inducing descents on both sides. Look for dinosaur tracks along the way, but not the driver, who shouldn’t take their eyes off the road until they’ve reached CaÃ±on City safely.
Fried chicken and champagne? Yes please. Ditto thrilling adventure associated with the high-end comfort of the Royal Gorge cabins.
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