Three monks, two Spanish priests and a solo travel girl step onto a trail in Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs…OK, I’m sure you’re expecting some witty punchline but, this is exactly what happened to me last month. I probably spent no more than 2 hours there yet, in that short period of time I was wowed and awed by Mother Nature and God’s work.
Worth the Drive
My visit to Garden of the Gods was kind of impromptu and admittedly, poorly planned yet it was worth the nearly 3.5 hour drive (traffic was a beast on I-70 from Keystone to Denver). I was in Keystone attending a travel blogging conference (TBEX) and wanted to see more of the Centennial State. The Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau had a suggested post-conference itinerary and recommended a visit to GoG.
After very little research, I was determined to head south following the conference, especially after speaking with (and finally meeting) Jason Hussong of Jason’s Travels who showed me stunning photos of the park. (If you’re interested in Colorado travel and beyond, check out Jason’s Facebook page and blog.)
Sadly, Colorado had to battle destructive fires in June and during my visit. The further south I drove along I-25, the more smoke I saw. I couldn’t smell it but off in the distance could see a smoky haze. It did not negatively impact my visit at all.
Yeah, It’s Jaw-Dropping
Arriving into the Gardens my mouth immediately dropped as I gasped at the beauty surrounding me. Towering around me were huge, 300-foot-tall red sandstone rocks which looked like giant ridges on an alligator’s back. As I walked down the trail – along with the monks, Spanish priests and other visitors – I was constantly looking upward and turning around in circles trying to take in as much of the gorgeous scenery before any type of light was gone. I just wasn’t looking at the scenery, I was smack dab in the middle of it and felt incredibly small.
I had arrived after the visitor center closed but the park was open until 11 p.m. so I had some time to walk the paved trail and drive the one-way scenic loop. Before heading to the Denver International Airport the next morning, I made a quick trip to GoG to drive the loop again. The warm morning light was radiant but the sun’s angle was not ideal for photography. I should have parked and walked a trail.
Garden of the Gods: What’s in a Name?
Seeing the monks and Spanish priests in such a peaceful and seemingly naturally spiritual place, I assumed Garden of the Gardens earned the name for some kind of religious purpose. Not so.
According to Friends of Garden of the Gods, the area earned its name from two surveyors laying out Colorado City, near the Park. Malancthon Beach said the area
“Would be a ‘capital place for a beer garden’,”
Rufus Cable replied,
“Beer Garden! Why it is a place fit for the gods to assemble. We will call it Garden of the Gods.”
As for the park’s history, the undeveloped land belonged to railroad man Charles Elliot Perkins who purchased the initial 240 acres in 1879 and kept it open to the public. After his death, his six children gave the 480 acres to Colorado Springs in 1909 with the provision Garden of the Gods would always be free to the public. Today, the park is 1,323 acres and worth the trip and a return visit.
Where to Stay
There’s plenty of lodging in and around Colorado Springs. I stayed at the Comfort Inn in Manitou Springs which was up-to-date, clean, and with its interior entry ways, safe for a solo travel gal.
Garden of the Gods
1805 N. 30th
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
May 1 – Oct 31 5 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Nov 1 – Apr 30 5 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Admission is free.
Garden of the Gods is just under a 90-minute drive south of Denver.