The trip to Disneyland in California didn’t work out so the Gilbert Castaneda family from Wellington, Colo., decided to stay in Colorado and check out the things to do for their summer vacation.The family of 6 was “surprised and shocked,” said Mindi Castaneda, when she was named the 25,000,000th guest at the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, Canon City, Colo., shortly after noon, June 30, receiving $4,000 worth of gifts.
Gilbert and Mindi Castaneda and their four children between ages 2 and 11 were all smiles. “This will be a good story to tell when we get home, I never win anything, I should buy a lottery ticket,” said Mindi. Husband Gilbert added it was his birthday “just yesterday and we decided to take a few days off and take a vacation.”
“We’re doing the Colorado vacation,” said Mindi, “and it was great to see everybody that is here, we saw license plates from Texas when we drove in. I was here when I was a child, but this is the first time for my family.” She added that their Colorado vacation included tickets to a Rockies Game and Elitch Gardens in Denver.
Mike Bandera, General Manager of the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park said he was not surprised that a family from Colorado was doing the “Stay Vacation” in Colorado just by the statistics at the park, and vacationers still wanting to get out and do things but not travel far.
“We have a great venue for vacationers in Colorado, and especially here in Southern Colorado, we’re only a few hours from Denver, so the Canon City area is great place to get away without taking a long trip. We’ve been entertaining families for 82 years now, and it is typical for generations to come back with their kids, their grandkids and even great grandkids,” said Bandera.
The park awarded the Castaneda family a package valued at $2,500 which included a Life Time Family Pass to the park, two free night stays at the Bighorn Mountaintop Lodge, tickets for the Royal Rush Skycoaster, Watt Mule Trail Rides, Mountain Jeep Tours expedition, and free merchandise and food. The Pikes Peak Country Attractions Association, representing 26 attractions in the Pikes Peak and Royal Gorge region, awarded the family with VIP passes valued at $325 each.
The Main Street Canon City Merchants awarded the Castaneda family a large basket representing the businesses downtown. Arkansas River Inn and Suites awarded a two night stay in their family room. Starika’s Carwash awarded a $100 gift certificate, “so they can keep their car clean when they come visit,” Captain Zipline Adventure Tours, Salida ,offered a Zipline Pass, Starlite Campgrounds offered a one night stay in a refurbished vintage trailer, and 3rd Dimension Signs will send them a small gold leaf and glass art piece with their photo on it.
“It’s a great vacation package for our area,” said Bandera. “They can come back soon and enjoy the area for a few more days.”
The Royal Gorge Bridge opened in December 1929 as a year round attraction. Back then the bridge was the world’s highest suspension bridge and now ranks in the top ten of the world. Other world class attractions include one of the world’s longest Incline Railways celebrating its 80th Anniversary this year, and the 2,100 foot Aerial Tram that traverses alongside the Royal Gorge Bridge. The Royal Rush Skycoaster is an internationally acclaimed thrill ride perched on the side of the Royal Gorge.
The park is open year round, and during tourist season May to end of September adds another 12 attractions. For more information about the park, visit www.royalgorgebridge.com, or call 888-333-5597.