Friday, May 1, 2015

Skyline Drive

Looking south
Built in 1905 with prison labor, Skyline Drive is one of the most scenic (and thrilling) drives in Colorado. This very narrow, one-way, three-mile-long road begins west of town and follows the spine of a razorback ridge offering visitors amazing views of Cañon City, the Arkansas River Valley and surrounding mountains. Once on top of the ridge, the heights are dizzying with sheer drop-offs on each side. Fortunately there are numerous pull-offs to let you safely get out and enjoy the views. Cañon City is 800' below.

Looking northwest
At one point you'll find signs pointing out a place where dinosaur prints are embedded in the rocks. They were discovered in 2001. There are also two or three places along the way where you'll find short trails paralleling the road offering unique vantage points. And since it's one-way, it's a great place for joggers and bikers, too.  After traversing the heights of this hogback mountain (as these types of ridges are known), sharp switchbacks will eventually lead you down the eastern side of the ridge, safely depositing you into a residential area of Cañon City not far from the downtown.

Here's a link to a 'hyperlapse' video giving you a quick tour of the road and its awesome views -- it'll also give you a sense of just how narrow and dangerous the road is. Before I went I read some online reviews of Skyline Drive written by visitors clearly unable to take the heights, the narrowness and the drop-offs on either side. This road is not for the faint of heart. Most find it to be exhilarating and the views inspiring -- such a wonderful thing for Cañon City to have a road overlooking the city and the mountains. I can't think of a better introduction to the Royal Gorge region of Colorado!

Downtown Cañon City from above
Nice description of the drive here.  I like their recommendation to not take RVs up there! Very good advice. :)

The Fremont County Historical Commission has developed an excellent guide to Skyline Drive.

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