A vision plan for the Gateway to the Authentic West.
City of Cañon City, Colorado
RNL has a deep and lasting relationship with the City of Cañon City, Colorado. Beginning in late 2013, RNL worked to produce a Vision Plan that would build upon the unique characteristics of the small mountain town in order to define a direction for its “brand.” Realizing the town had many special but under-visited attractions, restaurants, neighborhoods, and other amenities, the design team held a series of in-depth community and stakeholder meetings to help establish what prompted community members to live and spend time in the area and what they believe would attract others to do the same. Through this input, the vision plan established Cañon City as the “Gateway to the Authentic West” as a result, not only of its many recreational and cultural attractions in and around town, but also of its position as the threshold between the populous Front Range and the many exciting small towns and wilderness areas beyond.
Following on a recommendation on the Vision Plan, RNL prepared a detailed framework plan for the 5,000 acre park outside of town defined by its most well-known attraction: the Royal Gorge. The goal of this project was to develop an achievable and sustainable plan that would help position the park as a world-class attraction and become the centerpiece of a multi-day, activity-rich destination. The framework plan balanced recreational and outdoor attractions with light, ecologically sensitive development that could include residences, one or more lodge or resort campuses, a visitor center, amphitheater, and more. Enhancing the outdoor experience was foundational to the plan and aimed to bolster the popular activities such as hiking, biking, and equestrian activities while adding layers for increased activity such as a family-friendly rim trail. All of this incorporated and refined the existing Royal Gorge Bridge attraction area. The plan was rigorously filtered through the lens of implementable water and other infrastructure (amidst an arid plateau), dramatic landscapes and terrain, and a desire to keep the park wild and natural. The vision for the park resulted in an exciting wilderness playground supported by the uses that would make travelers come, enjoy, and stay in Cañon City.