Garden of the Gods. Geological Feature in Colorado, United States

Garden of the Gods

Geological Feature in Colorado, United States

Garden of the Gods Photo © John Fowler

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Garden of the Gods

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Garden of the Gods - Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods - Garden of the Gods. Photo by Casey Reynolds
The Garden of the Gods is an area with towering red rock formations near Colorado City in Colorado. It is both a public park and a United States National Natural Landmark. Covering 1,367 acres, the park combines several different biological and geological features, such as the Great Plains (Wikipedia Article) grasslands and the pine covered foothills of Pikes Peak and the rest of the Rocky Mountains.

The area is owned by the city of Colorado Springs and consists of imposing sandstone pillars and formations, paved and unpaved walking trails, a living history museum, the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, and a free Visitor and Nature Center. The amazing Garden of the Gods is free to anyone and is open every single day of the year.

History

The geological history of the park dates back 300 million years. The first archaeological evidence of the presence of humans dates back to approximately 1330 BC, and it is known that Native American people used to camp in the area in 250 BC. Petroglyphs found in the park are typical of the early Ute people (Wikipedia Article). Other tribes that have connection to the Garden of the Gods include the Comanche, Apache, Lakota, and Cheyenne.

The area was known among the first European explorers as ‘Red Rock Corral’. Its current name was given in 1859 by two surveyors who had helped to establish Colorado City. One of them proclaimed that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden”. The other one said that it looked more like a place where the gods would assemble and called it the “Garden of the Gods”.

In 1879, the railroad magnate Charles Elliott Perkins bought 240 acres of land in the Garden of the Gods to build a summer home. He purchased another 240 acres twenty years later, but never build on it, preferring to keep everything in its original state. After his death, his children fulfilled his wish to donate the area to the city of Colorado Springs and keep it open and free to the public.

Garden of the Gods Sunset View - Garden
	of the Gods
Garden of the Gods Sunset View. Photo by Bo Insogna,...

Geology and Ecology

The rock formations in the park were created many millions of years ago as a result of a geological upheaval along a fault line. The remarkable features that can be seen today are the former beds of rivers or floodplains, eroded by glaciation during the ice ages and by weather forces. The sedimentary rock consists of white, pink and red sandstone, limestone and conglomerates, and has been uplifted vertically when the majestic Rocky Mountains were formed.

The current rock formations have all kinds of shapes imaginable, from towers and pillars to domes and balanced rocks. Notable formations are the Tower of Babel, the Three Graces, Balanced Rock and Gateway Rock.

A dinosaur species was found in the park. Living animals that call the park home are foxes, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and about 130 bird species. The area is sometimes considered to provide the most striking contrast between mountains and plains in all of North America.

Garden of the Gods
	- Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods - Garden of the Gods. Photo by Bo Insogna,...

Visiting the Garden of the Gods

A visit to the Garden of the Gods should be started at the free Visitor and Nature Center. It has tons of information on hiking and biking trails, maps, history, etcetera. There’s a café as well, which offers some of the best views in the entire park. The Visitor and Nature Center is open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. in winter, and between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. in summer. There are more than two dozen exhibitions and a 14-minute video that shows how the rock formations got there. The center also organizes guided naturalist tours, which provide visitors with more information on the park’s fauna and flora.

As a free public park, the Garden of the Gods is a very popular place for hiking, biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and so on. It attracts more than two million visitors every year, making it Colorado Springs’ most visited park. Fifteen miles of trails crisscross the park, the most popular of which is the 1.1-mile wheelchair accessible Perkins Central Garden Trail that loops past the most scenic rocks. The park is open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. from November through April, and from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. from May through October.

How to Get There

The Garden of the Gods is located in Colorado City and can easily be reached by car. When driving on Interstate 25, take exit 146 onto the Gardens of the Gods Road. Follow that road for about 4.0 kilometers in the direction of the mountains and then turn left onto 30th Street. After a mile, the Visitor and Nature Center will appear on the left.

Similar and Nearby Landmarks

Major attractions in and around Colorado Springs include Pikes Peak, The Broadmoor and the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. Other geological landmarks in the state of Colorado are the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Dinosaur Ridge, and Dinosaur National Monument.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Feb 11, 2015

Pictures of Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods View - Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods View - Photo by John B. Kalla

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