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Skyline Drive, forming the western border of Cañon City, is the magnificent product of convict labor chain gangs, who constructed the one way road 800 feet above the city below. The draw here is the novelty of the 3 mile long ridge-top road, and the thrill of driving without guardrails to keep you from driving off the drop-offs on both sides of the roads. Excessive speed is discouraged by low speed limits and a glut of potential energy available at moment’s notice.
The seemingly purposeless (and simultaneously indispensable) road carries travelers from US-50 in the west, to an expectantly residential section of Cañon City in the east. From Denver, it’s a 2 hour drive to the southwest, assuming that you don’t stop at Pike’s Peak on your way. The trip from Denver picks up once you get through Colorado Springs and make your way along CO-115.
Traffic on Skyline Drive varies, but even in peak summer travel season, it’s reasonable to expect a traffic-free drive, especially if you wait at the bottom and time your start to give yourself some space – a tactic you may be familiar with from timing canyon runs. A few traffic pull-offs dot the road to allow for photos and a bit of walking around.
I accompany every trip to the road with a visit to Pizza Madness on Main Street in Cañon City. Its comic sans era decor is a nice respite from the hip and stylish settings back in Denver. As for lodging, there are hotels in Cañon City, but we found a link to a reportedly free campsite a few miles from Skyline Drive. In pitch darkness, we were unable to locate the campsite, but did come very close to driving into the nearby Royal Gorge, and were quite successful in separating the rear exhaust from my 1988 Alfa Romeo Milano Verde. We ended up driving into theKOA adjacent to the Royal Gorge tourist entrance, where we were able to lie in sticker plant and mend the exhaust. We were also able to wake up the entire campsite when our dachshund discovered horses at the campsite at 6AM.