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We love getting out in nature. As fortune has it, we were lucky enough to get to Colorado last summer. We covered our trip to Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain in a previous post. Today we are going to stroll down memory lane and recall all of the amazing fun that we had in Colorado Springs – Garden of the Gods. We will talk a bit about the history of the site, and cover some of the amenities and attractions that the site has to offer. If you are interested in an amazing outdoor adventure that won’t cost your family a dime, then keep reading!!
History – Garden of the Gods
As we mentioned previously, Garden of the Gods is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The two-hundred and eighty acre site was originally purchased to be a summer home for the head of the Burlington Railroad, Charles Elliott Perkins. Thankfully, he preferred the splendor and beauty of the land he purchased and chose not to build his summer home on the property itself. Instead, before he passed, he arranged for the land to become a public park. The land was conveyed to Colorado Springs in 1909 by the Perkins Children on behalf of their fathers wishes, with a few stipulations.
Perkins insisted in his grant that the park was to remain free to the public, forever. In addition, Perkins wanted to create a family-friendly attraction, so he allowed no alcohol to be manufactured, sold or dispensed on the site. Lastly, to preserve all of the natural beauty of the land, he included a clause that no buildings or other structures can be built unless they are for the care of the property.
Garden of the Gods still adhere to these stipulations today. The Garden does have a rather impressive Visitors and Nature Center, which are located across the street from the site itself. Inside you can view interactive exhibits on geology including a new dinosaur species. You can also familiarize yourself with local flora and fauna. They even have a display filled with taxidermized local wildlife. Lastly, you can learn more about the history and people of the indigenous tribes through an exhibit that guides you through the life of the Red Rock People and early American explorers. Keira loved getting her picture taken while she sat on top of the metal bison in the local wildlife display.
In addition to the exhibits the Visitors and Nature center, there is a small café and gift shop. The café offers healthy and exciting lunch options for children and adults. I can’t wait to go back for their Chicken Pesto Chango! We’ve visited a TON of gift shops during our Colorado adventures and Garden of the God’s is by far the best gift shop. If you intend to take home a little something for your family and friends this is the place to get it. The American Indian pottery and jewelry displays alone are worth the venture into the gift shop.
Getting Around – Trolley Ride
You can sign up and pay for all of your adventuring at the Visitor’s Center in Garden of the Gods. They host various different adventure programs where you can enjoy rock climbing, photography classes, and guided hikes through the park. They also offer bike rentals, electric bike rentals, Segway tours, Jeep tours and Trolley Tours. Of course, you are free to bring your own non-gas-powered modes of transportation. You can also walk, but the site is rather expansive. For the cost and convenience, we picked the Trolley tour. Lost was our tour guide, and she was amazing. We were impressed by how energetic she was and her stories were funny and relevant. She was full of knowledge and she had a unique Colorado style about her. Her take on Garden of the Gods definitely made the whole process fun and her energy was contagious.
Getting Around – Hiking
After the trolley tour with Lost we ventured down the hiking trails. There is a large section of paved trails that break off into dirt paths. The rock formations along the paths are incredible! Seeing the rocks from the trolley is impressive, but when you are standing next to them, you get a deep appreciation for just how massive these formations are. Climbing on top and posing for pictures is a popular activity on and around the rocks.
During our trail hike we went back to some of the rock formations that Lost discussed during her tour. How these rocks stay balanced and their interesting formations was fascinating. The rocks look like they could tip over at any minute… but they don’t because they have been in this position for ages. In addition to the rock formations, you can explore small staged cliff dwellings that reproduce the way people lived in ancient times.
If you plan on spending any time around the rocks, bring a good first-aid kit. The chances of skinned knees and elbows are very high. Also, make sure you bring lots of water. Hydration in high desert is not a joke… It does not take long to dry out at that elevation. Lastly, make sure you have everyone slathered in sunscreen and that everyone is wearing a good hat. The sun is closer than you think, so things get hot quickly! Also, sturdy walking shoes are a must. Pro-tip: We recommend taking a park map with you when you venture down the paths. There are park guides and rangers traveling around to assist if you become lost. To avoid this issue, you should remain on the paths at all times.
Visit the Garden of the Gods website to find out more. While you are there, check out their calendar of events and plan your trip. Garden of the Gods remains free to the public and is one of our favorite places to climb amazing rocks!