GARDEN OF THE GODS

 

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO

 

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Although flora and fauna are well labeled and thoroughly described at the Visitorís Center, itís the huge sandstone formations that are the highlight of this geologic anomaly. The Garden Of the Gods looks like a cross between rugged mountain terrain and the abrupt relief of Wile E. Coyoteís desert. Trees are uncommon... exposing the rocky scenery of the earth itself.

The Garden Of The Gods Visitors Center is terrific. They have plenty of maps and information and a nice multimedia presentation (a possible wait). The staff was friendly and knowledgeable. They all seemed to truly enjoy their jobs. The Visitors Center has a very good, albeit expensive gift shop with unique GOTG souvenir items, as well as many other unrelated and unusual items. Several months after our visit, my daughter fondly recalls the free samples of watermelon fudge they provided. I know, that sounds disgusting, but it was actually quite tasty... and no, we didnít buy any. They have a good reasonably-priced little snack bar / restaurant at the Visitors Center... which produces a deliciously irresistible aroma (try the soup, they were featuring chili when we visited). Outdoors, the sidewalks are lined with the indigenous fauna, well labeled and well kept. Because the Visitors Center is built into the side of a hill, these plant specimens are near eye-level, making it possible for all to easily enjoy them. I also recall a young boy, maybe 8, who was mesmerized by the sight of hummingbirds zipping to and fro amongst the many hummingbird feeders. The best aspect of the Visitors Center is the amazing view. Clearly, the site of the building was chosen solely for this reason. Looking down upon the Garden, two gigantic red rock formations perfectly frame Pikes Peak. The terrace is designed to easily photograph the scene with or without human subjects. There are GOTG signs, petunia baskets, and other accouterments to assist creative photographers. The view is also visible from inside the center, as the entire front of the center is equipped with giant picture windows. This is an exceptional visitors center. It was well-planned, creatively-designed and is skillfully operated by a sincere staff. The Visitors Center is open daily from 8-8 June-August, 9-5 the rest of the year. Admission is free, but youíll be hard pressed not to spend any money. The show is $2 for adults and $1 for kids. Bus tours of the Garden Of The Gods are available, although we drove ourselves. Bus tours are $3.75 for adults and $2.50 for kids 5-12 (2002).

The Gardenís main loop is only about (going from memory here) 6 or 7 miles long. If I recall correctly, the speed limit is 15 mph and the traffic is even slower. Whatever the speed limit, be patient, and allow yourself at least 2 hours to drive and to enjoy the park. The road through the park is a narrow, 2-lane winding road punctuated by many small hills. Pulloffs and trailheads are numerous. We saw two brave rock climbers scaling the sheer cliffs of the larger formations. It was only upon seeing these daring fellows tiny silhouettes against the rock, that I appreciated the enormity of the sandstone formations. They donít look quite so big from the Visitors Center. The park is lined with several hiking trails, paved and unpaved, suitable for little kids as well as parents who may not exactly be in tip-top physical shape. One rock formation is called "Kissing Camels". When you see it, youíll know why. Another is called "Balanced Rock"...also aptly named. Appearing to defy gravity, this huge (~50 foot diameter) rock rests precariously upon a small contact point (8-10 feet) with the rock foundation below it. We literally waited in line to take novelty strong-man photos of us "lifting" this rock. Garden Of The Gods is a popular park, and the large crowds reflected its popularity.

The Garden Of The Gods is a remarkable attraction. Those who have developed and maintained the park have done an outstanding job of ensuring the park can be enjoyed by everyone... families with small kids, 80-year old grannies, rugged hikers and rock climbers, history buffs, gardeners, and on and on.

We visited between 11 and 1 PM on a Sunday in August, 2002 The weather was partly sunny with clouds and occasional light shower.

 

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GARDEN OF THE GODS PHOTOS (Click on thumbnail for larger photo):

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VIEW FROM VISITORS CENTER

KISSING CAMELS

 
 

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BALANCED ROCK

UNUSUAL FORMATION

KID ON THE ROCKS

 

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