Camp Colorado Reinvigorates Gorge Tourism
Editor's Note: Following are excerpts from the current e-newsletter sponsored by Camp Colorado. The newsletter is devoted entirely to efforts underway to combat press reports about wildfires in Colorado that have deterred tourists to come to the state.
Camp Colorado Executive Director Josh Keltner, in an appearance on Denver television on Friday night (June 21), encouraged campers and other tourists to visit the Royal Gorge Region, which has rebounded nicely following a three-day fire that damaged the Royal Gorge Bridge but left all private campgrounds unaffected.
“If you’re planning to go to the Royal Gorge Region this weekend or anywhere in the near future and you were thinking about canceling because of the fires, don’t,” Keltner told 9News, a Denver TV station.
9News went on to report that while the Royal Gorge suspension bridge needs repair, the railroad below “is 100% open and … this weekend the river is open thorough the gorge too, a relief to the workers who depend on tourists.”
The station made note of a large fire burning Friday near the Colorado town of South Park, 155 miles southwest of Cañon City. But that fire isn’t affecting other areas of the state, which has 350 private campgrounds — virtually all of them open.
Camp Colorado, the state’s campground trade association, has played a key role in correcting the misimpression that the Royal Gorge Region should be avoided. With the exception of the bridge, which could reopen within 60 days, stores, restaurants and museums are open, and biking, hiking and rafting opportunities abound.
A section of the Arkansas River through the Royal Gorge managed by the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area reopened for whitewater boating on Saturday.
A 10-mile stretch of the river through the Royal Gorge was closed for over a week due to the Royal Gorge fire. Following the fire, it was determined that cables and debris presented a significant safety hazard to boaters. Whitewater rafting and kayaking through the gorge was suspended until mediation measures could be completed.
Alpine Cable & Construction Inc., the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, Rock & Rail Railroad and river rangers from the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area completed mediation measures Friday when they removed six cables that had fallen into the Arkansas River. The goal was to clear the river of boating hazards and that operation is now complete.
The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area stretches for 152-miles from just below Leadville to Lake Pueblo State Park. All portions of the river are now open for whitewater boating with blue skies, bright sunshine and warm temperatures providing the perfect setting for a family adventure!
Camp Colorado President Rick Stauter showed his support for camping in and around Cañon City, Colo., by traveling to the area on Friday and meeting with private campground owners and campers.
Stauter, who owns and operates Camp Colorado member Cutty’s Hayden Creek Resort, 38 miles southwest of Cañon City near Coaldale, encouraged current reservation holders to keep their reservations and asked prospective campers to make a special effort this season to include the Royal Gorge Region in their travel plans.
Stauter also welcomed Royal View Campground and its owner, Todd Denius, to the Camp Colorado membership ranks.
Virtually all of the Royal Gorge Region’s attractions are open. A fire covering fewer than 4,000 acres destroyed some buildings at the Royal Gorge Bridge, which has temporarily closed. But outdoor and recreational opportunities — including biking, hiking and river rafting at its peak season — abound. All campground and RV parks in the region remain open and unscathed.
Camp Colorado also encourages its members to lend a hand to their Cañon City counterparts!
There’s a lot of misinformation out there in the wake of the Royal Gorge Fire, but it’s beautiful in the Royal Gorge Region, the sky is blue, hiking, biking and rafting abound, shops and restaurants are open and that famous suspension bridge is … as the T-shirt says … still standing!
Dusty LaPerriere, a Colorado digital artist, designed the shirts as a charity fundraiser with 100 percent of the proceeds going to a charity designated by the bridge operator.