Friday, January 16, 2015

Garden of the Gods

Forever Free to the Public

What can you say about a place too beautiful to:
A. Capture with photographs?
B. Exist within a city?
C. Actually be a city park?
Well, the answer is "never enough".

Lots of places for climbers to enjoy and birds to live
From near the original park visitor center, looking north
That's the Kissing Camels rock formation above

Garden of the Gods was one of the first places we visited as a couple touring Colorado the first time in 1989.  There have been many changes since then, mostly with improvements in the arrangement of traffic flow through the park.  The city park is a National Natural Landmark and you will see why the first time you visit.  The Visitor and Nature Center is a museum of geology with an HD film about "How Did Those Red Rocks Get There".  You can eat with a view of geologic time and explore the shop, all without braving the weather outside.

View from near the Visitor Center (From Garden of the Gods website)
The gap near the Forever Free sign above
The nice paved trails offer outstanding views
Juniper berries feed the plethora of birds here
Many different kinds of rocks are on display

By the way, this is all free of charge.  You have to pay for your food and gifts, but you can walk, bike, picnic and take all the pictures you want, even visit the Nature Center for free.  The park is only closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years days.

The Three Graces
Just past the Kissing Camels formation
The Trading Post

Once you have your bearings you can drive through the park, or mountain bike or hike the available trails.  There are classes in rock climbing, geology and park history.  A paved trail leads you to many of the rock formations like the Three Graces.  There are picnic areas to spend time with family and friends, many with tables and views.  Visit Rock Ledge Ranch.  Pikes Peak rises above it all.  There is even a very rare dinosaur skull that was found here.  Do check out the balancing rock and visit the Trading Post.
Most of all, relax.  The views here are outstanding, the breezes are cool, birds circle above you in the rocks.  Your camera can never convey the spiritual feeling here, much less show the scale or detail of the rock.  This is a place to be peaceful.  Enjoy it.
Directions are easy.  The route is well marked.  From I-25 in Colorado Springs, Exit onto Garden of the Gods road.  Drive west until the road ends, turning left onto 30th street at the sign.  Follow about a half mile and turn left into the visitor center to enjoy your day.
(Map courtesy Garden of the Gods website)

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