The Garden of the Gods is a city park on the west side of Colorado Springs, Colorado that is nestled on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains. The main features of the park are the towering red rocks rising hundreds of feet straight out of the ground.
The Garden of the Gods has been a sacred space to several Indian tribes that were known to travel in the area (Apache, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa, Lakota, Pawnee, Shoshone and Ute). Archeological evidence show that people visited the Garden of the Gods as early as 1330 BC.
Charles Perkins purchased 480 acres of the Garden of the Gods land in 1879 and in 1909 when he passed his family deeded the land to the City of Colorado Springs with the provision that it would be a free public park in perpetuity. In 1971 it became a National Natural Landmark and has grown in size to 1,367 acres through additional local donors and acquisition by the Parks Department.
The park contains 19 total rock formations. Most of the rock formations are very large and are surrounded by evergreen trees making for stunning scenery with the bright red rock formations rising up from a forest of dark green trees.
Some of the smaller formations are actually the most interesting because they are rock layers that were pressed together to form a single outcropping. These formations look fragile but they seem to be stronger than they look because people are climbing all over them.
Thirteen of the formations are named and there is a map that shows where to see each of the named formations. Sometimes it takes some imagination to see why the formations were given their name and other times it is very obvious. Three of the named formations are shown below:
Three Graces and Cathedral Spires
The park is designed for hiking with twelve main hiking trails that covers about 15 miles of maintained trails. The Perkins Central Garden Trail is a paved path that leads from the main parking area through the most scenic part of the rock formations. This trail is seen in the photo below.
Other trails in the park are natural trail paths but still easy to hike. An example of these trails is shown in the photo below.
If your time is limited the park can still be enjoyed on the auto scenic drive which can take around 20 minutes but you may be tempted to stop frequently which will make your visit last longer.
In addition to hiking the park has some trails open to horse riding and rock climbing is permitted. The park is recognized as having some of the most easily accessed climbing sites in Colorado and has over 100 named climbing routes.
Of course, the best park of the park is just enjoying the natural beauty of seeing the red rock formations alongside the deep green of the native trees. I liked it so much that I have included a few more photos.
The Garden of the Gods Park is a beautiful natural environment that showcases towering red rock formations that can be enjoyed using the full range of activity levels. The scenic drive allows for almost effortless enjoyment, hiking can be as easy as walking on sidewalk paths or more challenging dirt trails and adventure seekers can test their skills by rock climbing on the climbing routes.
The park is a beautiful natural setting but don’t expect to have it to yourself. It is estimated that about 6 million visitors enjoy the park each year although most of them stay on the main paved path. Take a hike on the dirt hiking trails if you want to break away from the crowd.
Enjoying nature doesn’t always require getting away from civilization and hiking on rugged trails. Sometimes it is as easy as walking on the sidewalk.
Spending time in nature is some of my most enjoyable parts of my travels. Don’t overlook nature opportunities on your travels.