The settlement of Cañon City began in 1858, during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. However, the town was unsettled for the next two years until the first building was made in 1860. A decade later, the population of the town was 229. During the next forty years, the town only grew, and most of the city’s downtown was constructed between 1899 and 1910. Furthermore, during this period, the town was infused with wealth coming from the nearby mining camps digging for silver and gold.
Many of the mining towns peaked during this period and significantly suffered due to Silver Panic and the fact that U.S. currency wasn’t based on silver anymore, but on gold instead. However, thanks to Cripple Creek and the fact that it was rich with gold, Cañon City prospered even further. In the upcoming years, Cañon City became an ideal repository and transition point for interstate commerce.
Eventually, gold barons started investing in the city and buying real estate, which only helped the city grow.
Today, the city continues to grow. And while gold mines are mostly depleted, the railroad carries tourists instead of gold. For those looking to experience an authentic west lifestyle, Cañon City is an excellent choice. The location is excellent for mountain biking, hiking, and many other exciting outdoor activities. There are also numerous restaurants, as well as museums, galleries, and tea rooms. The last census reported over sixteen thousand people living in the city.
Geography and Climate
The Cañon City itself is located on the eastern part of the Fremont County. It also sits on the north side of the Arkansas River rather close to where the river leaves Royal Gorge. This gorge is also known as the Great Canyon of the Arkansas (meaning the river, not the state). The total area of the city is approximately 12.5 square miles, and the city sits on 5,332 feet altitude.
It is located on the high desert land in the southern part of Colorado. The city also known as the Climate Capital of Colorado. Thanks to its high altitude, it is safe from harsh weather conditions. Furthermore, the average high temperature for the first month is 49 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, the average low for the same month is 20.
Places of Interest Near Cañon City
While it is not the biggest city in Colorado, there is still plenty of interesting locations to visit and things that you could do in this town. The city owns a dozen parks, and there are several more in ownership of Cañon City Area Recreation and Park District or more popularly the Rec District. Besides many parks located in the city area, there are golf courts and other sports activities. One of the most visited parks and locations is the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park.
Among the places you shouldn’t miss while visiting the town is Cañon City State Armory.Furthermore, there are numerous places if you are interested in art and museums, like the Museum of Colorado Prisons and the Dinosaur Depot Museum, which is currently located in the municipality building. It is worth mentioning that depending on the time of your visit, you might even be able to visit the Music and Blossom Festival. Finally, there is a Fremont Center for the Arts.
If you decide to travel a bit farther, you could visit Garden Park Fossil Area where you could walk along the trails and see real dinosaur fossils. Furthermore, It is also worth mentioning that almost the entire Royal Gorge region is filled with museums and parks where you could spend a day or evening. Unfortunately, you won’t have a chance of visiting Buckskin Joe. The western-themed park was closed a few years ago and before that served as a location for many movies. The park was a popular visiting destination but was closed in 2010.
Finally, if you happen to be in town, you should visit Holy Cross Abbey, which is a local winery.
Recreation and Activities
One of the most popular activities in Cañon City is mountain biking. There are several tracks among which the most popular is Oil Well Flats. This trail is rather new, so you should gather as much information as possible before starting your trip.
Furthermore, you could travel across Royal Gorge via Ferrata. Besides, there are so many different activities available at Royal Gorge that you’ll undoubtedly have to create a plan if you want to indulge in all of them. The activities include aerial gondolas, cloud-scraper zip lines, skycoasters, theatres, playgrounds, and many more.
Naturally, if you plan something like hiking, you will love the trails and paths that can be found in and near Cañon City. One of the most exciting locations and sights in the town is Skyline Drive. This route is a scenic road which is one of the most thrilling parts of the town. The second hidden gem of the Cañon City is the tunnel drive which is family-friendly and will also give you an incredible view of the Arkansas River.
Of course, in the summertime, you could always go rafting on the Arkansas River. Furthermore, Colorado rafting is one of the most exciting and popular things you could try while visiting Cañon City.
Trekking and Hiking in Cañon City
While there are several trails and paths that are perfect for hiking near Cañon City, people always prefer trekking. This is an activity that doesn’t require roads, and compared to regular hiking, it’s a bit more extreme.
There are a few peaks, and mountains surrounding Cañon City, and the Rocky Mountains are relatively close to the town. You can always opt to go to Tanner Peak near the town or even to YMCA Mountain, which will demand less effort to climb. Nature is mostly untouched, and you will undoubtedly enjoy no matter where you go trekking.