The Royal Gorge offers excellent and difficult whitewater rafting, with rapids up to Class V. The season runs from May to August, with peak flows in June. Sometimes the river can be run in September. Royal Gorge is 10 miles long. Several commercial outfitters run trips through the gorge.
There are several other popular destinations on the Arkansas close to Canon City, including Browns Canyon, which offers Class III and Class IV rapids, and Big Horn Sheep Canyon, offering Class II and Class III rapids.
Check out nearby hiking in the San Isabel National Forest. Many loop hiking options are available from the San Carlos Ranger District. While Canon City is at an elevation of 5,332 feet, many of the hikes begin at a higher elevation of over 7,000 feet, so make sure you are acclimated before attempting them. There are also several hikes in the Royal Gorge and along the Arkansas River.
Pikes Pike, where "America the Beautiful" was written, is close to Canon City, just outside of Colorado Springs. You can hike, drive or ride a train to its summit 14,110-foot summit.
South of Canon City are some stunning 14,000-foot peaks in the Sangre de Cristo range, including Crestone Needle, Crestone Peak and Kit Carson Peak. These are three of the more difficult fourteeners in Colorado, and should only be attempted by experienced climbers.
In addition to the alpine rock climbs on Pikes Peak and in the Crestone group, Shelf Road, located about 30 minutes north of Canon City, offers a lot of excellent rock climbing. It features mostly hard, pre-bolted sport climbs. You can camp at Shelf Road, with individual sites going for $4 a night and group sites for $8.