Exploration in a Landscape of Red Rocks, Garden of the Gods
Views and landscapes so dramatic, so powerful, that it seems like only the gods could have created them. Sandstone rock formations that appear like towers set against a backdrop of white – heralding the stunning, snow-capped Pikes Peak. The skies are such a gorgeous hue of blue, you can only imagine what a sight it was to behold back in 1871, when the railroad man with a goal set foot upon the magnificent turf that would one day be called Garden of the Gods Hiking Park.
For most, whether it be hikers, skiers, or even artists, Colorado Springs is at the top of their list when asked what a true paradise would look like. But not many know about the incredible history that is as colorful and brilliant as the landscape, itself.
General William Jackson Palmer Settles in Garden of the Gods
The railroads had already moved forward into the West by 1871, when General William Jackson Palmer founded Colorado Springs, thereby extending the lines of his Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. It was the General who asked a friend by the name of Charles Perkins (the head of Burlington Railroad), to establish a home in the Garden and build his railroad from Chicago to Colorado Springs. Although the Burlington line never reached there directly, Perkins did purchase two-hundred-plus acres where he established a summer home. A true environmentalist, he bought even more property but never built anything on it; he wanted to leave the nature untouched so that people could come and enjoy the place.
It was Perkins’ children in 1909, who gave the four-hundred-eighty acres to the City of Colorado Springs, thus granting Perkins’ wish: The place would be known forever as the Garden of the Gods Park and would remain “free to the public…where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park.” Thankfully, this occurred, because for two-hundred-plus years the public has fallen in love with this area and an incredible amount of history has been found.
Garden of the Gods was Formed, a Geological Upheaval
Amongst these magnificent red rock formations, created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago, archaeological evidence proves that prehistoric people visited Garden of the Gods around 1330 BC. In approximately 250 BC, Native Americans camped in the Park, and many native cultures (from Apache to Cheyenne) have reported their connection to the place.
It was the Native American Indian Nation, the Utes, who speak of their creation here, citing the petroglyphs left inside the Park early on. It was the Old Ute Trail that led explorers through the area in the 16th century. In notes left behind, one spoke of how, “You wind among rocks of every conceivable and inconceivable shape and size…all bright red, all motionless and silent….” Words that truly show the magnificence of the area.
Ever since earning its name in 1859, when it was stated that this was a place “fit for the Gods to assemble,” this popular natural landmark has been a true gift. Wandering the trails, you’ll see the endless variety of wildlife and witness the formations up-close-and-personal, making it a “must-see” when it comes to great destinations.
Garden of the Gods is Voted Best City Park in America
Some little known data about the Garden includes the fact that it was voted the best city park in the country, and number two in the entire world. Not a surprise, considering the 1,334-acre park grows almost every year as more and more land is donated. Roughly two million visitors from across the globe come every year—100 times the number who visit the 200,000+ acres making up the Rocky Mountain National Park—which makes going in the off-season even more enjoyable.
In addition, humans are not the only “creatures” that like this area. Nearly 100 Bighorn Sheep make it their home. Being the state mammal of Colorado, they are elusive, yet can be seen by climbing the mountains all around, or even catching a glimpse of the herd at the nearby castle, Glen Eyrie.
Trails and Hikes in Garden of the Gods
Along some of the coolest trails in the world, you will be able to view five different ecosystems that include things like Cottonwood-willow, prairie-grassland, pinyon-juniper and Ponderosa Pine. Add in the cliffs, and you will witness scenery that changes in an instant, with new plant-life popping up around every corner on the trails you choose to explore, and wildlife that can range from hawks to deer to mountain lions.
Citing some of the most breathtaking trails available, you can start out on the easier 1½ mile roundtrip, Perkins Central Garden Trail. A concrete foot path, this incredible loop winds through the core of the Park and takes you to the base of the highest rock formations to be found. The more moderate Ridge Trail takes you amidst the rocks on a ½ mile loop. And, if you’re a true climber/hiker who wishes to go bigger, the Chambers/Bretag/Palmer Trail circles the entire Park, covering the rocky terrain. And there’s more. At the world-class Visitor & Nature Center (the most visited attraction in the region), you can pick up a full-color map offering a complete list of trails that you and yours can enjoy.
In the end, there’s so much to see and do that the only way to admire it all is to head out and explore every part of the Garden of the Gods for yourself. It is guaranteed…you will never forget it!
Garden of the Gods Photo Essay 2: Click Here
Garden of the Gods Photo Essay One: Click Here
Rainbow in Garden of the Gods; Click Here
Garden of the Gods Essay Four: Click Here
Follow the seasons in the Garden of the Gods; Click Here!
A Loop Hike in the Garden: Click Here!
Loop Hike Video Trail: Click Here
Loop Hike Video Trail Two: Click Here
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As a company, as individuals and a group, we are strong supporters of public land and can’t stress enough how everyone needs to get involved with a local conservation in your area and do all we can to save our “Wilderness Areas, Monuments, and other Public Lands”.
Don’t Let Our Government become very reckless with Nature and Our Public Lands!
Support Your Local Conservation Organizations!
Make sure to kick up a little trail dust on the Garden of the Gods Hiking such Siamese Twins Trail Garden of the Gods Loop Hike for a fun time in Colorado Springs, Colorado.