Colorado Parks Refute Fire Damage Reports
Click here to watch a video highlighting one of the parks in the Royal Gorge region.
Recent visitors to the Royal Gorge Region haven’t been put off by last week’s fire, which was brought under control in a few days. All campground and RV parks are open and unaffected, Camp Colorado reported in its current e-newsletter.
Virtually all of the Royal Gorge Region’s attractions are open. A fire covering fewer than 4,000 acres destroyed 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.
“We did everything we wanted to do while we were there,” said east Texas retiree Avalon Stewart, who stayed at the Royal View Campground this past Sunday through Tuesday with her husband, Bobby. “We went up to Cripple Creek, Victor, we rode the train, did the museums, the typical tourist things. We went up to Florence and did some shopping in Cañon. Everything is fine. We were there with two other couples. We had a wonderful time.”
The Stewarts, who have stayed in the Royal Gorge Region each of the past five years, have since moved onto Salida before they’ll head north and east toward Estes Park.
“If I had a trip planned and it included going to Cañon, I don’t think I would be canceling,” she said.
RVers Terry and Shorty Smith, who run an RV park in the winters in Yuma, Ariz., have been at Royal View and in the Cañon City area since late May.
Terry Smith said she would encourage RVers to come to the region.
“The [Royal Gorge] train is still going halfway into the gorge,” Smith said. “They can also go down and see the Winery at the Holy Cross Abbey. They can go the other way and see Salida, go down to Texas Creek and go up to Cripple Creek. There are a lot of things you may have to drive a little way to see them, but that’s the whole purpose of seeing what Colorado has to offer.”
Lisa Caimi and her husband, Adam, are living for a year at Royal View — “the best campground for miles. It’s spacious, beautiful. Todd [Denius], the owner, keeps everything immaculate. It’s quiet, family friendly and pet friendly.”
Fremont County is a beautiful place, she said. “We’re surrounded by many outdoor activities, rafting, climbing and the Royal Gorge. I just don’t think people know about all the other area attractions, dinosaur fossils, many hikes and other beautiful attractions. The best way to see the gorge in my opinion is the rafting. There’s a lot of rich history in the gorge and a lot to do.”
Adam Caimi, who works for Clear Creek Rafting and founded Friends of the Arkansas River, said whitewater enthusiasts are “really only shut out of the gorge section right now, and they anticipate having that open by this Saturday.”
“We also run what’s called the Big Horn Sheep Canyon, a Class 2 and Class 3 moderate level of rapids that’s pretty much good for everybody. It’s just up river of the gorge and even further up are Salida and Buena Vista and even more opportunities for rafting.”
He said his rafting company’s owner contacted a lot of people that had reservations to “give them a heads up. Some people were OK with switching” — moving into another section of the river — “but other people decided to cancel their trip. Anytime there’s fires in Colorado, it affects the whole tourist industry. People unfortunately assume the whole state’s on fire.”
Of particular note are the water levels. “It was shaping to be a bad year, but we got really good snow in April and May, and that brought us back up. … We have good water levels right now.”
Another area RV park, Mountain View RV Resort, filmed a six-minute video showing off its park’s features in the fire’s wake. Click here to watch the video.
Meanwhile, Camp Colorado President Rick Stauter will show his support for camping in and around Cañon City, Colo., by traveling to the area on Friday (June 21) 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, will encourage current reservation holders to keep their reservations and ask prospective campers to make a special effort this season to include the Royal Gorge Region in their travel plans.
Stauter also will welcome Royal View Campground and its owner, Todd Denius, to the Camp Colorado membership ranks.
Camp Colorado also encourages its members to lend a hand to their Cañon City counterparts!