Garden of the Gods

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One of the area’s most beautiful attractions can be enjoyed for free.  The Garden of the Gods is a public park, donated to the city of Colorado Springs by the children of Charles Elliot Perkins, the head of the Burlington Railroad.  Perkins was committed to keeping the park open to the public, so when his children made the donation, they required the city to keep the park free.

rock outcroppings at Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

The Garden of the Gods is located near US Hwy. 24, at the east end of Manitou Springs.  You can access the south end of the park from US 24, or the northeast side of the park (and the visitor’s center) from I-25, exit 146.

rock outcroppings at Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

When surveyors first discovered the outcropping of giant red and white sandstone rock, back in 1859, one described the area as a fitting place for the Gods to assemble.  The name stuck.

rock outcroppings at Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

There are quite a few hiking trails that lead around and over the rock formations.  From some places, you can also see Pike’s Peak.  I could not, however, because of the cloudy weather.

plaque, rock outcroppings at Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

By far, the most popular trail at the Garden of the Gods takes you to the center of the rock formations.  The path is paved, and winds around the biggest rocks.  At the center you’ll find this plaque, reading:

The Garden of the Gods
Given to
The City of Colorado Springs
in 1909
by the children of
Charles Elliott Perkins
In fulfillment of his wish
that it be kept forever
free to the public.

rock outcroppings at Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

As you wander around the park you’ll marvel at the out-of-this-world formations…

rock outcroppings at Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

… although they would have been better backed by a little blue sky.

rock outcroppings at Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

The Garden of the Gods has a great gift shop, near the south end of the park.  The Trading Post is huge, and will take you at least a half-hour to browse. 

rock climbers, garden of the gods, colorado

The Garden of the Gods is popular with rock climbers, and no matter what day you visit, you’ll probably see someone scaling the rock walls.  You must obtain permission from the park, though, and climbing or scrambling up rocks by amateurs (or anyone without the proper equipment) is forbidden.

rock climbers, garden of the gods, colorado

rocks and trails at Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

If you take the long paved sidewalk out to the east side of the garden, then walk up the road a short distance…

rocks at Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

… you’ll find this shot, one of the best pictures I took in the park.  Of course, blue skies (and a view of Pike’s Peak) would have made it much nicer.

Because of the gloomy weather, I decided to head back to Denver for the final day of the trip.

Denver is less than an hour away from Colorado Springs, via Interstate 25.  You’ll find plenty of places to stay around the towns of Monument and Castle Rock. If you want to stay closer to downtown Denver, I found several reasonable motels around the CO Rte. 470 intersection. (Rte. 470 is Denver’s beltway). 

Note: This trip was first published in 2005.

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