Riding Tunnel Drive on Easter SundayPosted: May 8, 2023 Filed under: Holidays, Nature, Recreation | Tags: Arkansas River Walk, Canon City, Colorado, Easter Sunday, Royal Gorge, Writing to be Read Leave a comment
This year was the first time in seven years that I had Easter Sunday off. It was a beautiful day in southern Colorado, so I decided to do something I hadn’t done in several years. In Canon City, Colorado, they have a river walk that now spans from one end of town to the other. I used to ride this trail all the time when we lived in Canon City, and Mike and Josey were kids, but not for many years. When I was riding it, it was in sections and the route was not a continuous one, but they’ve completed the full length since my last ride in Canon City. On Easter Sunday, I started off at the Department of Recreation on Reynold’s Avenue and road clear through town, which is a fairly flat route and an easy ride all along the Arkansas River, to Tunnel Drive, which has a steep climb at the beginning, and then follows the river through the canyon from above.
Tunnel Drive is a path was the old wagon road which follows the river into the Royal Gorge Canyon along the east side. It runs through a series of three tunnels blasted through the granite of the mountainside, hence the name. When I’d come here with my boys, you could see bats hanging from the tunnel ceilings, and near dusk, you might see them flying. But besides bats, these tunnels and this trail have an interesting history. Originally proposed as an open ditch system to carry water to Penrose until citizens turned against the project after blasting caused damage to nearby houses, and then funding fell through, it eventually carried water through the canyon in an elborate piping system to the Canyon City water department. According to Brooke Johnson of the Canon City Daily Record, “A 30-inch wooden pipeline ran from the center of the Royal Gorge alongside the gorge walls across the river bringing water to an open ditch.” In fact, you can still see the remnants of the old pipeline running along the Gorge in spots, high up on the canyon walls, and there are pieces still remaining at the end of the trial.
As I mentioned, the start of this trail is pretty steep, and I won’t lie, I walked my bike to the top. Even an electric assist bike needs help for a climb like this one, and this old lady didn’t have it in her. But once up the hill, the ride to the end of the line is fairly smooth through three tunnels and across two bridges to the end of the line, about a three mile ride one way. At the last bridge I was fortunate to see the Easter Sunday train coming down the canyon below, which was kind of cool.
Canon City has it’s own tourist train that runs up the Gorge and back these days, complete with a dining car, an open car and one that is glassed in for those who don’t wish to brave the elements, but still want to enjoy the view. $119.00 per person to take the Easter train. I checked because I was thinking of doing that with my son for Easter Dinner, but a little too pricey for my pocketbook. Instead we ended up going to The China Garden and ate Chinese food for Easter dinner. As usual, Josey wouldn’t let me take his picture, even though we haven’t had a meal on Easter Sunday together for the last seven years, so I settled for photos of the food.
It was a very pleasant day, over all. It was a nice way to spend an Easter Sunday for someone who had maybe forgotten how. The river walk was a pleasant ride, as was the ride over Tunnel Drive. It all brought back fond memories of times past. Maybe I’ll go to the Royal Gorge Bridge for Memorial Day. HAven’t been there in a while either.
Royal Gorge Region: Tunnel Drive
Johnson, Brooke. 18 July 2020. “Back in Time: Tunnel Drive Originally Had a Different Purpose”. Canon City Daily Record. Retrieved from https://www.canoncitydailyrecord.com/2020/07/18/back-in-time-tunnel-drive-originally-had-a-different-purpose/
About Kaye Lynne Booth
For Kaye Lynne Booth, writing is a passion. Kaye Lynne is an author with published short fiction and poetry, both online and in print, including her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction; and her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets. Kaye holds a dual M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing with emphasis in genre fiction and screenwriting, and an M.A. in publishing. Kaye Lynne is the founder of WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services and WordCrafter Press. She also maintains an authors’ blog and website, Writing to be Read, where she publishes content of interest in the literary world.
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