Garden of the Gods Park and Visitor Center – Colorado Springs

Garden of the Gods Visitor Center-ViewA few years ago one of my nieces was here visiting from California and I wanted to see some natural beauty and do a little hiking.  Thus we decided to visit Garden of The Gods in Colorado Springs. I have been there a few times since moving here to Denver, but never knew how it got its name or why? I did a little research and this is what I found.

Garden of the Gods Visitor Center-Rocks1The area was first called Red Rock Corral. Then, in August 1859, two surveyors who helped to set up Colorado City explored the site. One of the surveyors, M. S. Beach, suggested that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden”. His companion, the young Rufus Cable, awestruck by the impressive rock formations, exclaimed, “Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.

Garden of the Gods Visitor Center-Rocks2Today, visitors from all 50 states and more than 60 countries discover the beauty and history of the 1,367-acre Garden of the Gods Park, which has been designated as a National Natural Landmark. The Park is a unique biological melting pot where the grasslands of the Great Plains meet the pinon-juniper woodlands characteristic of the American Southwest and merge with the mountain forest of the 14,115-foot Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain. The 300 million years of the geological history of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs reveal one of the most extensive pictures of earth history found anywhere in the United States.

Garden of the Gods Visitor Center-Cassidy and MeWhatever it’s named, or how it became known as Garden of the Gods, it is magnificent and a true geological wonder. Like I said earlier, my niece and I visited the park last week and decided the check out the exhibits in their visitor center, which opened on May 19, 1995. Besides their geology exhibits, they have a Flora & Fauna Gallery as well as a People & History gallery. There were so many amazing interactive exhibits. There was one room with a lot of animals on display which was my favorite. They also had an exhibit with furs from different animals to feel. So cool. Another one that was interesting was the different types of trees in the park. Definitely glad we stopped in before we hit the park.

Garden of the Gods Visitor Center-Animal RoomIt is a magnificent park with quite a few things to see and do. Hiking, biking, going horseback riding, bird watching, rock climbing, photography, and dog walking are just a few things to enjoy in the park. We drove around the park for a while then park at a trailhead and did a little hiking. It was so amazing and a perfect day.

Garden of the Gods Visitor Center-TrailWhile all the red rocks were amazing, there was something she really wanted to see, Balanced Rock.  According to a sign near Balance Rock, it was exposed more than 60 million years ago when the existing Rocky Mountains rose. To make its current shape, the soft, bottom layer of shale eroded much faster than the harder sandstone and conglomerate above. Amazing, the narrow pedestal supporting Balanced Rock has held the 700-ton weight for thousands of years. It was cool to compare it to the Balanced Rock in Twin Falls, Idaho. My niece had a great time running around and climbing a little to get some pictures. I think she really enjoyed herself. I admit, I had fun watching her, lol

Garden of the Gods Visitor Center-Balanced RockWe had a great time looking through the visitor center, shopping in the gift shop, hiking, and taking pictures all over the park.  I hadn’t been there for a while so it was great to visit again. I will not forget the most memorable time we were there. It was Valentines’ Day in 2014 and we were walking around with our dogs and saw a guy propose to his girlfriend. It had just started snowing and seemed so romantic. I loved how Gene purposed (check out my About Us page) but I think it would have been so cool for him to have popped the question up there. Again, I have to say, very romantic.

Garden of the Gods Visitor Center-Rocks3If you are ever in the Denver area and have a chance to head down to Colorado Springs I would highly suggest visiting this incredible park. Here is a link to their website.  If you have visited in the past, I would love to hear about your experience. Please feel free to share in the comments below. Happy travels! One last note, if natural parks are something you enjoy, make sure to check out my post about Craters of the Moon National Monument near Twin Falls, Idaho. It is also pretty amazing to see in person. Happy travels.

Garden of the Gods Visitor Information

Address:

1805 N. 30th St. Colorado Springs, CO, 80904

Phone:

719-634-6666

Hours:

Visitor & Nature Center : 9am – 3pm (Mon – Thurs), 9am – 5pm (Fri – Sun)
Park: 5 am – 10 pm

Price:

Both the Park and Visitor & Nature Center are FREE and open to the public.

Directions:

From I-25:

  • Take Exit #146 (Garden of the Gods Road)
  • Go West (towards the mountains) for 2.5 miles
  • Turn Left onto 30th Street
  • The Visitor & Nature Center will be on the left (a little over a mile)

Parking:

There are 336 parking spaces inside the Park.  Please be patient during busy times.

Park Rules: 

  • The park has unique and sensitive soil that is easily damaged.  Even one person off-trail can create decades of destruction.  Please help us protect the Park and stay on official trails.
  • Pets are welcome in the Park but must be on a leash at all times and all pet waste removed.  Doggie cleanup bags are available at the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center in the designated pet area.
  • The Rocks in the Park are easily damaged please Do not mark or carve on them.
  • Take only pictures.  Do not remove any of the Park’s natural features (rocks, plants, animals).
  • There are many camping areas nearby.  Stop by the Visitor & Nature Center for a list of locations where camping is allowed.  Please note there is no overnight camping allowed in the Park.
  • Rock Climbing Permit and safety gear are required for any rock climbing activities inside the Park.  You can get a permit online or at the information desk in the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center.
  • There are areas inside the Park for bouldering.  You must have a climbing permit and climbing safety pads are recommended. You can be fined up to $500 if you do not have the appropriate permit.
  • Please share the road and stay out of the pedestrian/bike lane. The speed limit throughout the park is 20 MPH.
  • Horseback rides on designated trails can be scheduled with Academy Riding Stables. If you bring your horse to the Park, ride only on designated trails.
  • The Garden of the Gods is a beautiful Park for video.  However, drones cannot be operated in the Garden of the Gods Park without proper permits and insurance.
  • Drone photography is not permitted in the park or at the Visitor Center, without proper permitting and insurance. For more information about commercial permits Click Here.

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