After a few years of using the “Colorado’s Natural Wonder” illustration, the art director from the ad agency in Colorado Springs called me up to create a new image to expand the Royal Gorge Park campaign. This time they wanted to feature the aerial tram that spans the gorge. I had the opportunity to travel down to the park and take reference photos for the illustration. The park officials even let me venture “out-of-bounds” to acquire the right angles for the final art.
It has been developed as part of my Colorado Vintage Travel Poster series. Created in Adobe Illustrator, I am able to enlarge and reduce the illustration without loss of quality. I call this the “travel poster” look which is a simplistic graphic illustration style but with more gradations than the old world travel posters from the 1930’s and 40’s. The process: I first create rough sketches. Then I tighten up each part as a pencil sketch and scan the drawing into the computer. I then use this scan as an underlay importing it into Adobe Illustrator. Each part of the image is created as a shape and eventually I fill the shapes in with color. After the color palette is established, I then create simple gradations to allow the image to have some depth.
The Royal Gorge is a canyon on the Arkansas River near Cañon City, Colorado. With a width of 50 feet at its base and a few hundred feet at its top, and a depth of 1,250 feet in places, the 10-mile-long canyon is a narrow, steep gorge through the granite of Fremont Peak. It is one of the deepest canyons in Colorado. The Gorge was created some three million years ago when a trickle of water first began to slowly carve a canyon out of the solid granite bedrock. Today that trickle is the raging Arkansas, one of America’s longest rivers. And the masterpiece that it continues to carve at a rate of one foot every 2,500 years is the Royal Gorge in Cañon City, Colorado. The Royal Gorge is considered a world wonder, and is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River. Yet it’s unlike any other canyon. The width at the canyon bottom is no more than 40 to 50 feet, while the top measures only a few hundred feet wide.
The Royal Gorge Fire was a forest fire that began south of the Royal Gorge Bridge near Canon City, Colorado at around 1:15 PM on June 11, 2013.
Although the fire jumped the Royal Gorge, the famous Royal Gorge Bridge is still standing, only losing 32 wooden planks off of the platform. However, according to Peggy Gair, a spokeswoman for the park, “many buildings on the property were a catastrophic loss,” including the aerial tram over the Royal Gorge.
The park was rebuilt and partially reopened in August 2014. The park had a grand reopening in May 2015 with new gondolas and a new zip-line crossing the gorge on the east side of the bridge.