Garden of the Gods is a remarkable and beautiful red rock public park located just minutes from downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado. It is one of the most magnificent places that one can visit in Colorado Springs. One of the most amazing experiences is just driving there. As you move towards the Garden of the Gods, you are surrounded by hills with grasses and trees and then out of nowhere you drive around a curve and come across massive red rock structures. It offers admission to some unforgettable scenery featuring unique and unusual sandstone rock formations which are about 300 feet high and stand silhouetted against the deep blue sky.
The history of this park dates back to millions of years ago. These red rock formations were created during a geological disruption along a natural fault line. Archaeological evidence shows that prehistoric people visited Garden of the Gods about 1330 BC. This area was first called as Red Rock Corral. Later in 1859, two surveyors who helped to set up the Colorado City explored this place and named it as The Garden of the Gods by which it is famous today. Charles Perkin is known as the Godfather of the Garden of Gods who bought 480 acres of land which included the portion of the Garden of the Gods and upon his death his family gave away this land to the City of Colorado Springs with the condition that it would remain a free public place for people to visit forever. Having purchased additional surrounding land by the city, this park is now spread over 1,364 acres of land.
Your first stop when you arrive at the park should be the Visitor and Nature Center which is directly across the street from the Main Entrance. At this place, you will get your orientation as to what needs to be done and seen first at the park. You can also pick up a free visitor’s guide and map which will help you to keep a track of the places that you visit. Also, you will be shown a wonderful 12 minute short video about this beautiful national monument at the centre. The park hours for the months of May to October are 5 am to 11 pm whereas in the month of November to April it is from 5 am to 9 pm. The park also has various programmes for the visitors like Nature walk, Living history tours and nature talk sessions.
The Garden of the Gods Park is popular for hiking, walking, rock climbing, road and mountain biking and horseback riding. It contains numerous trails for people including the handicapped. One of the most popular trails of the park is called the ‘Perkins’ which has been paved in an effort to combat the erosion of the park’s central garden caused by its many visitors. Because of the unusual and steep rock formations in the park, it is an attention grabber for the rock climbers. Rock climbing is permitted for the visitors with annual permit obtained at the Visitor and Nature Centre. The requirements for rock climbing are following the “Technical Climbing Regulations and Guidelines” using proper equipment, climbing with a buddy and staying on established climbing routes. Precipitation makes rocks unstable and so climbing is restricted when the rocks are wet or icy. Certain annual events also take place in this park which includes two summer running races, Pro Cycling Challenge Prologue and bike rides.
Of particular interest here are the scenic views of red sandstone formations, which include a balancing rock and kissing camels. Also the fantastic view of Pikes Peak is visible from here. The various scenic views of rock that are visible in the park are The Balanced rock, the sleeping giant, Kissing camels, three graces, cathedral spires, Steamboat rock, Siamese Twins, Tower of Babel. The Balanced Rock, one of the most famous sites was exposed for more than 60 million years ago when the existing Rocky Mountains rose. To obtain this current shape, the soft bottom layer of shale worn off much faster than the harder sandstone above. Astonishingly, narrow pedestal supporting Balanced Rock has held the 700 ton weight for thousands of years now.
Now moving on to the landscape here, it has a wide amount of vegetation, cliffs and different types of rock formations. Some of the particular type of vegetation found here are native grasses, bushes, ponderosa pine trees, cactus and yucca. The cliffs and rock formations include both red and white sandstone. Certain rocks also have pine tree growing on them near the top of the rocks. There are also many wild animals found here which include the mule deer, bighorn sheep and fox. There are about 130 species of birds including the white throated swifts, canyon wrens and swallows.
The Garden of Gods is in fact a magnificent place. Just like the name suggests, one can imagine that the Gods would come down to this place and rejoice themselves in these gorgeous surroundings where the handicraft of Nature makes you realize how wonderful these unique places really are. This place is a must visit for everyone to see the beautiful creations of nature.