Shelf Road transformed an untraveled wilderness into a major route for the stagecoaches and freight wagons traveling between the Arkansas Valley and the Cripple Creek Gold Mining District. The rugged route’s name is ‘THE SHELF’, a five-mile stretch of road that hugs the sheer rock walls of above Fourmile Creek. Originally called the Cañon City and Cripple Creek Toll Road, Cañon City’s business leaders financed the road. The toll collectors lived in small cabins nestled at either end of the Shelf and collected tolls every time a horse, wagon or stagecoach passed. The toll varied from 30 cents to $1.75 for single riders, wagons, and stagecoaches. Ranchers driving cattle along the road paid for each head. Eventually, competition from railroads put the toll road out of business. Fremont County purchased the road and opened it as a free road. This road has made for a memorable trip since its construction in 1892 so be prepared for a driving adventure.
Listen to a narration about Shelf Road: