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Royal Gorge continues comeback from wildfire with opening of tramway, theater

March 14, 2015 Updated: April 2, 2015 at 1:03 pm
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photo - The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. Image from Instagram @joncardner via the Royal Gorge website.
The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. Image from Instagram @joncardner via the Royal Gorge website. 

The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park's effort to rebound from a devastating 2013 fire will take a major leap Saturday as it opens a new $4 million tramway and reopens its Plaza Theater.

The June 2013 wildfire destroyed an aerial tram and all but four of the park's 52 structures, and damaged the 188-seat Plaza Theater. The Cañon City attraction embarked on a $23 million reconstruction project and has been rolling out offerings in phases to visitors.

It reopened a year ago on weekends only for guided tours of the bridge, which was slightly damaged by the fire, and rides on its Royal Rush Skycoaster, which allows three people to swing on a cable 1,300 feet over the gorge. A 14,000-square-foot visitors center, which includes an observation deck, gift shop and cafe, opened in August, when the park resumed daily operation.

The new tramway can carry eight passengers in each of six cabins, or 13 more than the old 35-passenger aerial tram.

The Plaza Theater has been repaired and outfitted with a new $70,000 state-of-the-art projection system, screen and surround sound that will show a video about the reconstruction project. Rides on the gondola and entrance to the theater are included in the park's $21 admission price.

Mike Bandera, vice president and general manager of the attraction, said that on March 21, the park plans on to reopen two zip lines, which are the highest in North America, and the Silver Rock Railway mini-train. A children's play area with a 20-foot climbing structure, carousel, maze, water feature and climbing mounds is scheduled to open in late April. Construction is scheduled to begin in September on a 5,000-seat outdoor amphitheater and the Mountain Man Trading Post and town, and be completed for a spring 2016 opening.

Click here for more information on the bridge and park.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

Facebook Wayne Heilman

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