The Garden of the Gods is a beautiful location, full of hiking trails and other adventures for anyone who enjoys the outdoors. Located in Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods has been used as a place of worship, a place of celebration and a place of adventure. This article provides a guide to the park.
Travelers will cross the globe to find a sense of the sacred, climbing mountains to spend just one moment communing with nature. But you don’t have to leave the continental United States to find those connections. The Garden of the Gods, located on the western edge of Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been a sacred place for thousands of years, with documented activity in the area by such Native American tribes as the Utes. As Colorado Springs settled around it, care was taken to preserve the Garden as a natural space among the hustle and bustle, to the point that churches and synagogues have been known to hold their religious services among the red rocks. The park is especially known for Easter services, held at dawn each year.
Reaching the Garden of the Gods is relatively simple: just exit 1-25 at Garden of the Gods Road and follow the signs into the park. At that point, though, the best thing you can do is diverge from the well-traveled path. Tourists on foot, bicycle and horseback tend to stick to Perkins Path, the best-known trail in the park. There’s a constant presence of locals getting in their morning walk, as well.
The Chambers Trail: Also known as the Bretag or the Palmer Trail at various points in the park, the Chambers Trail is the easiest way to see most of the park. It circles, managing to enclose most of the park, and it reaches parts of the Garden of the Gods that are well away from the normal traffic. It is also the most direct route to both the Tower of Babel and Kindergarten Rock, two of the sandstone formations for which the Garden of the Gods is famous.
The Upper Loop: This trail is a relatively short hike but offers access to some of the grandest rock formations in the park: the Three Graces, Keyhole Window and the Sleeping Giant.
The Buckskin Charlie Trail: Buckskin Charlie’s path through the park is also referred to as the Scotsman Trail. It offers some of the best hiking in the park and offers numerous scenic views. It intersects with the Upper Loop, as well, near the Sleeping Giant.
Rock Climbing: With a permit, rock climbing is permitted in the park, although certain types have been prohibited specifically — rock scrambling and sport rappelling are on that list. Furthermore, the use of chalk is not allowed within the Garden of the Gods, although a list of approved substitutes are available at the park’s visitor center. Over the years, there have been a number of fatalities among climbers in the park because of the dangerous nature of sandstone. The worst incidents have occurred when the rock is wet, because moisture weakens sandstone significantly.
Religious Events Easter services are held each year at dawn. For information about this year’s service, contact the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center. Native American groups often observe equinoxes in the park, as well. Not all of these observances are open to the public, but some opportunities exist.
Park Dangers: During the summer months, rattlesnakes are regularly seen in the park. The Garden of the Gods Visitor Center recommends precautions such as sturdy hiking boots and thick socks. Emergency services are relatively close in the event of a problem.
Eating: While the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center has a restaurant, it isn’t recommended for the average hiker. If you aren’t interested in packing a lunch, though, there are plenty of options just outside the park. The small town of Manitou Springs is on the west side of the park, and has a wide variety of lunch and dinner options, as well as grocery stores. The city of Colorado Springs also offers up plenty of culinary options.
Sleeping: While camping in the Garden of the Gods is officially prohibited, there are several campgrounds located on the edge of the park, including the aptly named Garden of the Gods Campground. There are also several state parks within driving distance that do allow camping. For those hikers who wish to deep in doors, there are a wide variety of motels and hotels in the area.
Travel: Colorado Springs’ public transportation leaves something to be desired, but you can get to the intersection of Garden of the Gods Road and Centennial Boulevard on Route 13, leaving a 2.5-mile walk to the park itself. However, if you plan to visit many of the other hiking destinations in the area, a car, or even a bicycle, will come in handy.
Nearby: There are many nearby areas with equally amazing vistas, hiking and climbing. Seven Falls is located in South Cheyenne Canyon — less than a ten-minute drive from the Garden of the Gods, and is often described as the “Grandest Mile of Scenery in Colorado”. The Royal Gorge, and its1,200-foot drop to the Arkansas River, is about 50 miles south of the Garden of the Gods, and offers white water rafting and hiking.
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