Garden of the Gods is a majestic National Natural Landmark located in Colorado Springs. Garden of the Gods was created along a natural fault line, resulting in magnificent red rock formations. In addition to these rock formations, the park boasts beautiful views and plenty of trails giving visitors the opportunity to see the park up close.
In August 1859 two surveyors, M.S. Beach and Rufus Cable, from Denver, traveled to what would later become Colorado Springs, and came upon the stunning rock formations. Cable declared that it was “a place fit for the Gods to assemble,” and “we will call it the Garden of the Gods.” The park has been called Garden of the Gods since.
Charles Elliott Perkins purchased 240 acres for a summer home in 1879 with the encouragement of his friend, General William Jackson Palmer, founder of Colorado Springs. Perkins later purchased 40 more acres, but never built his summer home; he wanted to enjoy the splendor of the area in its natural state and wanted the public to be able to enjoy it as well. His children gifted Perkins’ 280 acres to the City of Colorado Springs in 1909.
Check out the Visitor and Nature Center prior to exploring Garden of the Gods. The Center sits outside the main entrance to the park and offers information about the park and 30 educational exhibits. These is also a short video that runs every twenty minutes about how the rocks of Garden of the Gods were formed.
The Garden of the Gods Trading Post was built in 1929 and is on the southwest edge of the park. This adobe styled building features regional art, jewelry, crafts, and food. It also holds the title of largest gift shop in Colorado, so you don’t want to miss it.
The red rock formations of Garden of the Gods are a well-known background for wedding, proposal, family, and senior photos. The most popular photo location is Balanced Rock. It’s so popular it’s almost impossible to photograph without other people in the frame.
Another widely photographed area is Sentinel Spires. While there are usually people here, too, it’s a little easier to photograph.
There are several recreation options at Garden of the Gods in addition to being a gorgeous backdrop for photos. Hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and rock climbing are the most prevalent activities.
The park has many trails for hiking. The main trail, Perkins Central Garden Trail, is 1.5 miles long and paved, making it wheelchair accessible. It starts in the main parking lot and winds through the middle of the largest, most scenic of the famous red rocks.
Mountain biking in Garden of the Gods is a great way to get some exercise while taking in the beautiful sights. There are designated mountain biking trails throughout the park. These trails are also used by hikers and horseback tours.
Guided tours on horseback are available from Academy Riding Stables. You can take a one hour or two-hour tour, and beginners are always welcome.
Technical rock climbing is allowed, but climbers must secure a permit each year from the City of Colorado Springs. Rock climbers always need to use proper safety equipment and climb in groups of two or more.
Mr. Perkins loved the beauty and peacefulness of Garden of the Gods and wanted to turn the land into a park, free to the public. Over a hundred years later Garden of the Gods is still free to the public, but donations are welcome.
Location: Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO.