Summer postcard season is under way. Let’s kick it off with a visit to Royal Gorge in Colorado. The suspension bridge that spans the vertigo-inducing gash between rocky cliffs was billed as the world’s highest from 1929 until 2001.
Suspended 955 feet above the Arkansas River, it remains the highest bridge in the United States.
- 1,260 feet long
- 18 feet wide
- 1292 planks in its wooden walkway
My friend Caroline wrote, “We went to the Royal Gorge today but instead of viewing it from the top we rode a train along the bottom.” She also recalled my telling her that I had an old photo of my father on that bridge, a tidbit I shared when she spoke of her travel plans.
My parents visited the Royal Gorge Bridge during their transcontinental drive to California in 1950. Driving in Dad’s classic 1938 Packard, they stopped the car on the wooden plank expanse long enough to take a few photos. Dad looks like a Cecil B. DeMille fanboy in his jodhpurs and tall riding boots, bent intently over a movie camera mounted on a tripod.
I notice Mom took the photo of Dad from the solid dirt of the road. She never liked heights. When Dad took us to the top of Seattle’s Space Needle, Mom declined the treat. The bridge was built to give visitors a view of Royal Gorge so perhaps Mom did not have to cross it to get to California. Maybe she just stood at the entrance, yelling “Careful!” to Dad as he shot movies and photos of the breathtaking drop below.
While you can still walk or drive across the bridge, it’s now part of an amusement park complex that includes an aerial tramway, cafe, souvenir shops, train ride through the gorge and even bungee jumping.
But the Royal Gorge Bridge remains the star attraction — and something to write home about.