ROYAL GORGE PARK and RECREATION AREA. A Feat of Natural and Man-Made Engineering

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1 ROYAL GORGE PARK and RECREATION AREA A Feat of Natural and Man-Made Engineering

2 As Growth Resumed in the 1870 s Town Leaders Began to Envision a Tourist Industry. The Arkansas River Canyon was advertised to help lure visitors.

3 Future of the Royal Gorge Park The Royal Gorge Park is a roughly 5,000 acre property owned by the City of Cañon City. It is located 1.3 miles west of the City s boundary in unincorporated Fremont County, although it is actually 9.4 miles by vehicle. In April 2014 the City Council, with participation of many residents, developed a new Vision for Cañon City. From this Plan, a number of ideas and strategies to brand and improve the community were developed, including ideas for the Royal Gorge Park property. Currently, about 300-acres of the Park, or less than one (1) percent, is actively used. That area is leased to the Royal Gorge Company of Colorado. Within the 300-acre leased area are the Royal Gorge Bridge, a new visitor center, tram, zipline, Skycoaster swing, and other associated buildings. Also within the 300 acres is the Incline Railway, which will be inoperable for the foreseeable future due to damage sustained during a June 2013 wildfire. The June 2013 wildfire destroyed most of the facilities within the leased area of the Park. Prior to the fire, the facilities owned by the City but operated by the Royal Gorge Company of Colorado produced about $8.1 million in gross revenue. Of this amount, the City received about $1.6 million in revenue toward City operations. The City Council recognizes that to make many of the community improvements that council members agree are necessary, expanding the City s revenue base is imperative. The Royal Gorge Park is an underutilized asset that can help the City achieve this important objective. However, a Vision, proper amenities and quality throughout will be required.

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5 The new community Vision Plan states: 1. The community is a wealth of opportunity...and all of the authentic recreational opportunities in the region, with Cañon City the gateway to it all. 2. The City should invest in the City-owned land (Royal Gorge Park) and the investment will need to complement the existing community. 3. Provide a...wide range of authentic western experiences, including hiking, mountain bike trails, nature trails, etc. This likely should not be extreme sports if it is intended to attract a large family-oriented market, tourists, empty nesters, retirees, and a broad cross-section of the traveling market. This experience also should contribute to the quality of life of those who live in Cañon City. 4. The City should annex the land at the entrance to the Royal Gorge Park and establish land use regulations that would limit what uses could be built there. (Right now, the lower value rubber tomahawk market that exists there today is not a positive image for the visitor, nor is it supportive of a quality destination resort image.) Royal Gorge Bridge Company of Colorado in the implementation of the vision for the City-owned lands. The City may need to consider options to market the long-term vision of the Park consistent with that of the community, and begin developing the Park to complement a the new resort vision, such as: Develop a new destination resort on the city-owned land. Develop a new private development that will support investment for single and multi-family homes on the city-owned parcel. Develop a festival park and performance venue. Design and build a golf course and other on-site recreation venues. Develop an RV destination park. Develop a destination equestrian community. The purpose of this document is to help us imagine the evolution of the Royal Gorge Park as generally described in the Vision Plan. The Royal Gorge Recreation Center might be just one part of the overall property master plan. 5. The City should develop a master plan (long-term vision) for the entire city-owned land, consistent with the western theme and a national park quality. This master plan should focus on a vision that will eventually upgrade the operation of the leased Royal Gorge venue, with destinations spread throughout the property. Seek active participation and commitment on the part of the

6 Park Entryway Character As stated in the Vision Plan, the activities within the leased area in the Royal Gorge Park have developed around a visitor experience that is catering to adventure and extreme sports, amusement and entertainment. As a result, the length of stay at the Park and in the community is short. Over time, the number of visitors has decreased. Following the June 2013 wildfire, the investment in new facilities appears to be directed again at amusement. In order for the Park to stimulate other activities in the area, the format for the Park, including the leased area, will need to evolve over time to a more national park visitor s experience. The Vision Plan notes that the lower value rubber tomahawk market in the vicinity of the Park today is not a positive image for the visitor; it is not supportive of a quality destination resort image; and it is not representative of National Park image or quality. Efforts should be made to begin changing the image of the Royal Gorge Park, from the front door and throughout the Park. Gateway Monment Welcome Signs Sign Forms that Represent the Morphology of the Gorge Extruded Letters Extruded and Stained Representation of Terrain Masonry Techniques

7 Change Entry Character from This To This Photo Pullout

8 Improve Message and Character of Park Directional Signs Replace Standard Highway Directional Signs

9 Future Design Vernacular of Park Buildings Architectural design is one way to upgrade the image of the Royal Gorge Park to National Park quality. Before the wildfire struck the Park in June 2013, buildings at the Park were comprised of a mix of designs and styles from 1930 to the present. The Park had begun to look worn and dated. A new standard or style should be established. It should be one that will stand the test of time; one that clearly reflects the region and the setting in which buildings/structures will be located. Openness and use of glass, native materials and stone, colors and roof lines that refect the surroundings and other design details should be given careful attention. While the vernacular can and should evolve over time to reflect technological changes and needs, the environmental, cultural, and historical context of the basic design should remain constant over time. As stated in the Vision Pan, our goal should be to envoke the image and quality of a National Park. Following the June 2013 fire, significant debate ocurred and effort was made to upgrade the character of the new visitor center at the Royal Gorge Bridge. This effort should be carried throughout in all future improvements in the Park. The photographs provided here are intended only to conjure up images of the design style and quality that could be achieved and maintained long-term at the Park. As a Master Plan is prepared for the Park, the desired design vernacular for the key public buildings should be identified and adopted as a guideline for future development and improvements.

10 New Design Direction

11 Use of Compatible Materials Integrating Design into Surrounding Environment Use of Windows to Bring Outdoor Environment Inside Appropriate Colors and Materials High Desert and Mountain Landscape and Low Water Design Carefully Consider Building Locations and Design Materials and Colors to Avoid Inappropriate Decisions That Will Have a Lasting Effect

12 The Royal Gorge Recreation Area As recommended in the Vision Plan, an active recreation area could be created at the Royal Gorge Park. The Royal Gorge Recreation Area should be both consistent with and integrated into the overall property master plan. The Recreation Center, which would be the hub for related activities, including restrooms, camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, winter sledding, nature experiences and other activities, should be designed so that the construction can be phased over time, as the master plan is completed and funds become available. Initially, basic services should be re-established after the fire, which might include restrooms, improved picnic and campground areas and signage. There should be a long-term commitment to the completion of the Royal Gorge Recreation Area and the Recreation Center. The Recreation Center can be a hub of learning and active recreation that attracts both residents and visitors state-wide and beyond to the Royal Gorge Park. The Recreation Center should provide for recreational opportunities year round. It is important that the Recreation Center not be a feature that competes with or detracts from the activities within the leased area of the Park. Rather, the recreational amenities and facilities offered should help bring more people to the Park and to the paid attractions within the leased area. It should help to promote extended stays locally, which will benefit the entire community.

13 Concept Site Plan Information Desk and Camping Check-in

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15 Royal Gorge Recreation Area Concept Trail Plan Trail Connection to Cañon City Trail Connection to Cañon City Incline Trail Connection with Tunnel Drive Trail

16 The Nature and Learning Center The Nature and Learning Center could be an amenity that is incorporated into the Recreation Area concept. It should be accessible to people of all ages and provide a one-of-a-kind adventure, where visitors can experience animals and plants from both the past and now native to the Royal Gorge Region. The Nature and Learning Center could also disseminate information about the cultural heritage of the Region and create connections to the various museums in Cañon City. In fact, the Center could be an extension of local museum operations that now occur near downtown. Ideally, it would be a hands-on learning center, offering living history demonstrations, interpretive programs, exhibits, multi-media presentations, special events, and trails within the Recreation Area that specifically offer interpretive displays and information. Plant and Wildlife of the Royal Gorge Region Interactive Displays - How the Royal Gorge Was Formed

17 Local Paleontology Link the message to other local museums, quarries and parks Local Natural and Cultural History Displays

18 Trail Heads and Intrepretation Trail Head Markers Intrepretation and Education Creative Approaches Quality Trail Maps Demonstration and Education Areas

19 Hiking and Equestrian Trails Trails for all ages and abilities Equestrian Trails Scenic Overlook Trails Picnic Areas Incline Trail from Tunnel Drive Trail to Fremont Peak

20 Linking the Train and Recreation Area In the future, the opportunity to connect the community, the Royal Gorge Route Railroad and the Royal Gorge Park and Recreation Area should be explored. As the Incline Railway is repaired and brought back into operation, consideration should be given to linking the community, the Train, the Park and recreational activities at the Park into a seamless experience. Recreational Passengers and Bicycles carried aboard the Train Transporting Visitors and Bicycles between the Train and Park via the Incline Railway

21 Mountain Biking and Challenge Courses Challenge Courses Mountain Bike Trails Road Bike Paths Organized Mountain Bike Events

22 Available Nearby: Fishing Technical Rock Climbing Horseback Riding Camping Whitewater Rafting and Kayaking Tourist Train Excursions Hunting ATV and Jeep Tours Year Round Festivals Helicopter Tours Wineries Dining Shopping Geocaching Golf Museums Rodeo Sightseeing

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