July 10, 2018
There are city parks and then there is “Garden of the Gods”. It is hard to believe this is actually a city park but in actuality it is a National Natural Landmark right in the middle of Colorado Springs, managed and maintained by the city and free to the public, how lucky can the citizens of Colorado Springs be!
There is archeological evidence that shows prehistoric people visited the area about 1300 B.C. About 250 B.C. Native Americans camped in the park including Apache, Cheyenne , Comanche, Kiowa, Lakota, Pawnee, Shoshone and Ute people.
Here’s a little bit of modern history of the park right from the park’s website. I thought they really said it better than I could.
“ By the 1870’s, the railroads had forged their way west. In 1871, General William Jackson Palmer founded Colorado Springs while extending the lines of his Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. In 1879, General Palmer repeatedly urged his friend, Charles Elliott Perkins, the head of the Burlington Railroad, to establish a home in the Garden of the Gods and to build his railroad from Chicago to Colorado Springs. Although the Burlington never reached Colorado Springs directly, Perkins did purchase two-hundred and forty acres in the Garden of the Gods for a summer home in 1879. He later added to the property but never built on it, preferring to leave his wonderland in its natural state for the enjoyment of the public. Perkins died in 1907 before he made arrangements for the land to become a public park, although, it had been open to the public for years. In 1909, Perkins’ children, knowing their father’s feeling for the Garden of the Gods, conveyed his four-hundred eighty acres to the City of Colorado Springs. It would be known forever as the Garden of the Gods “where it shall remain free to the public, where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold, or dispensed, where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park.”
They have adhered to this promise by keeping the park extremely accessible to everyone. You can drive through the park, hike it’s numerous trails, ride your bike, take a Segway tour, or even join an electric bike tour! From the visitor center you have access to all these activities, we decided to hike the park.
There are inter-connecting trails throughout the park. We started from the visitor center on the Gateway Trail towards the Upper Loop Trail where you can see a variety of “red rock” formations. These sandstone formation have distinct shapes and are named aptly such as Balanced Rock, Cathedral Spire, Keyhole Window, Siamese twins and many other descriptive names. The park to us looked liked a miniature replica of Sedona, or as Leo mentioned, if Disney designed a park to mimic the beauty of the mountains and red rocks of the US western states, Garden of the Gods would be the end product.
We made a grand loop through the central gardens and connected with the Scotsman’s Trail , where evidence of horse back riders was everywhere, even though we didn’t see any horses. The trail led us to the Siamese twins rock where there is a ”window” in the pair of (Siamese) rocks where Pike’s Peak is perfectly centered far off in the distance. Here we found a delightful shaded spot for lunch (which we had brought with us). A lot of other people had the same idea though, so competition for shade was fierce. The park offers picnic areas and tables but unfortunately most are exposed to the sun and given the choice, we hunted and found a rocky and shaded perch right by the Siamese Twins which was most welcomed given the temperatures at noon were approaching 100F.
We hiked over 6 miles in total and decided to return to our (air conditioned) Jeep and drive the grand loop around the park where you get a completely different perspective than from our hike. This is actually a very nice way to (quickly) see the park. You can drive and park along the way for short access trails to the different and famous rock formations.
This was a delightful day which we will return to if we are in the area of Colorado Springs. Next time we’ll take our ebikes on the grand loop that would be grand indeed. 👍
On the drive home we stopped by the town of Manitou Springs. A delightful village with numerous art galleries, restaurants and specialty shops. This is just my kind of place. We shopped and quenched our thirst with a beer at one of the local breweries. Overall a wonderful end to a fabulous day 😄