Garden Of The Gods, Colorado

Colorado, a landlocked state in the Western United States, is an all-year-round destination due to its natural beauty and dramatic landscape. The state’s attractions range from the rolling hills to the towering Rocky Mountains, long rivers, lakes, and the high desert. The state is a popular destination for mountain, hikers, skiers, and any outdoor enthusiast. Colorado Spring, a city on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains’ Front Range, is one of the most visited places in North America. Besides the gold rush of the 1890s, several natural attractions surround the city, including the Garden of the Gods.

Where Is The Garden Of The Gods?

Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods Park East Entrance at Colorado Springs.

The Garden of the Gods is a public and recreational park located six miles from Colorado Springs in the US state of Colorado. The park is located at the base of Pikes Peak, the southern Front Range’s highest peak. It is bordered to the north by Ute Valley Park, southwest by Manitou Springs, west by the Rainbow Falls, and southeast by Monument Valley Park. This park is approximately 16 minutes drive from the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park.

Why Is It Called So?

Garden of Gods at sunrise
Garden of Gods at sunrise.

Before it was named the “Garden of the Gods,” the Europeans referred to this park area as Red Rock Corrals. In 1859, two surveyors, tasked with setting up Colorado City, came across the towering rock fins while exploring the site. MS Beach, one of the surveyors, suggested that the area should be a “beer garden capital.” However, Rufus Cable, his companion, amazed by the rock formations, which jutted over 300 feet into the sky, was surprised that Beach considered the place only fit for a beer garden. He enthusiastically proclaimed that the area was “a fit place for the gods to assemble.” From Rufus’ excitement came the name “Garden of the Gods.”

The name “Garden of the Gods” is also used to refer to parts of Iverson Movie Ranch, Chatsworth. This section also has similar rock formations as the park in Colorado and was named so by a film producer during Hollywood’s early days.

Description

Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods Park with Pikes Peak soaring in the background, taken from the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center.

The Garden of Gods, dating back 300 million years, is a true geological masterpiece established in 1909 and inscribed as a National Natural Landmark in 1971. The public park is a famous mountain and road biking, technical rock climbing, and hiking destination in Colorado Springs. It attracts over 2 million visitors annually from all 50 states and internationally, making it one of the most visited places in the state, alongside the nearby Pikes Peak. The park features steep rock formations, jutting over 300 feet into the sky. These rocks are suitable for rock climbing, with climbers required to adhere to the park’s Technical Climbing Guidelines and Regulations. Besides the rock formations, the park also features 21 trails and hosts annual events such as Pro Cycling Challenge and summer running races, museum exhibits, and picnic areas.

Rock Formations

Garden of the Gods
Balanced Rock of the famous Garden of the Gods at Manitou Springs, Colorado. Editorial credit: Kit Leong / Shutterstock.com

The spires (rock formations) are, perhaps, the park’s most scenic attraction, with most visitors eager to know how the majestic sedimentary rocks formed. The deep-red, white, and pink sandstone, limestone, and conglomerate rocks date back millions of years ago when the Garden area hosted “The ancient Rockies” (named so because they formed in the same way as the modern-day Rocky Mountains). With time, the Ancient Rockies wore away, leaving behind low hills and sediment rocks, and creating the majestic rock formations present in the area today. These rocks contain evidence of great dunes, ancient seas, alluvial fans, and mountain ranges.

Mountain climbing on a sunny day in the Garden of the Gods.

The rock features different shapes, heights, and compositions. Some rocks are overturned, while others are either toppled, slanted, or stood up. Some of the largest rock formations are Gray Rock, South Gateway, North Gateway, Sleeping Giant, and White Rock. These major rocks are mainly composed of Lyon Formations (rocks made of fine dunes and sand). Although the Lyons were deposited horizontally, great forces associated with the rise of the Rocky Mountains deformed and caused them to tilt, especially near the main faults.

Park Activities

Garden of the Gods
Mountain Climbing on a sunny day in the Garden of the Gods.

The Garden of Gods is both a geological wonder and a recreational park full of fun and activities. Although admission to the pack is free, visitors are required to pay for certain activities, including Yoga in the Garden and Forest Bathing. The park has 21 trails, totaling approximately 15 miles. The Perkins Central Garden Trail is about 11.5 miles and is accessible by strollers and wheelchairs. The Visitors & Nature Center offers free maps containing all the trails.

The Amp’d Adventures provide rent out electric bikes and provide guided bike tours around the Garden. However, mountain biking is restricted to specific trails. Besides biking and hiking, park visitors also get to enjoy a 1-2-hour guided horse ride. The Academy Riding Stable provides riding services suitable for experts and beginners. Rock climbing is also permitted, but climbers must abide by all regulations. Other activities in the Garden are birding and a fun run.

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