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Royal Gorge Park Attracts More Visitors Years After Damaging Fire

By Matt Kroschel

FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- For 89 years, people have flocked to Southern Colorado for chance to walk across the Royal Gorge Bridge, the highest suspension bridge in the U.S. Now, the attraction continues to rebuild after a 2013 wildfire burned 90 percent of the park.

Five years after the fire and most of what was there has been rebuilt, bigger and better.

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"They come to see the bridge and the gorge, everything else we have is just extra and they love it," said Peggy Gair with the Royal Gorge Bridge.

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When the fire leveled much of what was the park, including the visitor center and part of the bridge itself, officials turned to the community to get involved with helping them re-imagine and rebuild.

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"The only thing that was left was the theater and the sky coaster and the bridge and that was it."

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They have spent millions redesigning buildings to better withstand future fires, as well as improved infrastructure with new firefighting water tanks.

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The iconic bridge is the oldest way to get across the Royal Gorge, but now you can fly on the zip line or take the newly rebuilt gondola across the jaw dropping gorge below.

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Access to the bottom of the canyon remains closed but there are plans to replace the railway down the cliff face that was also damaged in the fire.

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Officials with the park say they have seen visitor numbers increase every year since the fire forced them to close. This year they are already up three percent over last year's total visitors.

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