Don’t get me wrong. Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is lovely with sandstone “hogbacks,” ridges of stone that has been tilted from a horizontal layer to a vertical layer and then sticks up from the ground. It is free and available for anyone to use. And the trails are basic and often quite level.
In short, the park was teeming with people (although I can’t prove it with the lack of people in my photos). It is wonderful that so many people are out enjoying nature, but Garden of the Gods is a bit chaotic. There were so many people, which made the place more difficult to enjoy. And, sadly, I wasn’t that awed by any of the rocks I saw.
Have I already become a jaded traveler exploring the western United States?
With the influx of tourists and locals visiting Garden of the Gods, a lot of precautions have been enforced. There are fences and paved paths, as you can see in the first photo. Parts of the park have been overrun, so the fences were installed to allow areas to return to a more natural state.
I understand the need for actions like these, and it is hard to see something visitors have abused.
I have a new-found love for rocks like the ones at Garden of the Gods, and I am impressed by the fact that wind, rain, snow and other weather patterns, along with the movements of earth’s plates, have created something like this. I marvel at the creation of rocks like these.It’s just that I was more impressed with what I saw at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, where rocks are all shades of white, orange and everything in between, and the rocks are quite plentiful.
What is missing at Garden of the Gods is any variation in color. Garden of the Gods is a place to be at sunrise or sunset or on a cloudy or stormy day when the sky would create something to add depth to the rocks. Whereas I visited on a day with bright blue skies with a few wispy clouds and a powerful sun. The colors were blue, orange and green with little variation. Even so, I think Garden of the Gods is a worthwhile stop. It is an urban oasis, which is clearly evident by the number of visitors. And it is a park that is easily accessible.
If you are looking for a challenge, another park or forest area would likely be a better choice, and there are plenty of other options not too far away, seeing as the Rockies begin just west of Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak is visible from the park.
If you like rock climbing or bouldering, there are plenty of options at Garden of the Gods, too, and we saw a variety of people out in small groups and classes on the rocks.
After we finished the Perkins Central Garden Trail, which is the main trail area, returned to the car via the Chambers/Bretag/Palmer Trail where there were a couple of boulders for Jon to conquer.And if you are looking for somewhere to stay, book a hotel in advance because everything, even the cheap and somewhat scary motels were booked solid. If you are tent camping, like we were, there is a Garden of the Gods Campground, which is not at or linked to the park, where there are expensive and unmaintained campsites. If you are traveling with an RV, that campground is built for you. The second night we camped in Colorado Springs, we headed up Rampart Range Road, which switchbacks up the mountains behind Balanced Rock inside the park, and found a campsite in Pikes National Forest land.