Climbing in the Gorge is currently illegal according to Canon City Municipal Code 9.44.080 and is allowed only by the express permission of the Royal Gorge Company.
More than just a tourist trap at the worlds highest suspension bridge, the Arkansas River Canyon hides Colorado's forgotten big walls. The 1960's thru the 1980's saw first ascents from Layton Kor, Pat Ament, Art and Earl (The Squirrel) Wiggins, Bob LaGrange, Bob Robertson, Fred Pfahler, Bob Williams, Brad and Scott Shilling, Warren Banks, Leonard Coyne, Richard Goldstone, Kevin Murray and Ed Russell. Some say it's like climbing in the Black Canyon, except these 900 foot metamorphic and granite trad lines are scarier.
Camping is available upstream on BLM land along the Arkansas River with the boaters. Access into the canyon is free, although a sticky issue. The railroad tracks and bridge are private land. The actual walls though are a Canon City city park. Don't touch the bridge. Nearby Canon City has plenty of good restaurants and places to buy beer.
Most of the classic routes are on the north side of the canyon just downstream of the Royal Gorge Bridge on the "Tombstone Wall". All are in the 5.10 range. They all top out at or near the bridge footings. The south wall also holds a couple routes that top out near the bridge footings.
Beware of abundant choss, cactus, trains, and tourist junk.
Adventure climbing at its finest.
There are two approaches to The Royal Gorge. Both are off of US Hwy 50, about 8 miles west of Canon City. The first is a third class descent down a gully starting just outside the concession area. The second is a 2 mile walk down the train tracks after crossing the river from the Parkdale South Fishing Access, off Fremont County Road 3.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Royal Gorge:
East of the bridge looking west, traverse a long cactus-filled ledge to the bottom of the middle wall.(Pitch 1) 90 feet up slightly less than vertical face, via an old piton crack, to a marginal stance below a rounded roof; (Pitches 2&3)180 feet up high angle wall to a slippery ramp leading 10 feet right into base of vertical groove; (Pitch 4) 80 feet up groove to wide ledge, traverse right to huge red dihedral; (Pitches 5&6)two more leads up giant flakes and blocks...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
My partner Gertrude and I did a very hard route on the North side of the Gorge this past weekend. This Ben guy must be some dreamer. Most of the climbing was like climbing dinner plates superglued to sand paper. Great adventure though.
I was climbing at Shelf one weekend and my girlfriend and I decided to go check out the Royal Gorge. Oh my God!!! What a tourist trap! You had to pay something like ten bucks to go and walk out on the bridge to look at a chasm that about as spectacular as Boulder Canyon. Can you believe that !!! And all the billboards and bullshit signs hyping the place up on the way in!!! What a joke. That has got to be the cheesiest "tourist attraction I have ever been too. Who owns that place? They should be ashamed of themselves.
For you naysayers out there I thought I'd let you know that next weekend (Oct. 8th, 9th and 10th) there will be an extreme event at the Royal Gorge. The second annual Royal Gorge Go-Fast games will include Base Jumping from the bridge and Americas' first multi-pitch speed climbing competition. This will take a quality new route up the north wall just up stream of the bridge. Many of the big name luminaries of our modern climbing community will be vieing for substantial prize money.This event will certainly be worth the price of admission.
Okay, we can all agree the Gorge is not for climbing. What then? Rafting!!! However, if you do decide to climb, remember, it is illegal to cross the tracks, and the bridge and surrounding land is owned by Canon City. So, really there is no legal way to climb here, sans the GoFast Games. Keep an eye out here in the future as a friend and I have been discussing putting up routes on Sunshine Wall. Climb a river Gods face anyone?