During a travel conference in Denver, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for visiting Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. After years of hearing about its beauty, my husband Eddie and I embarked on a road trip to experience this captivating renowned attraction firsthand, joining the two million visitors who venture here each year.
The drive from Denver to Garden of the Gods took approximately 90 minutes. As we journeyed, we marveled at the scenic landscapes along the way, but the true marvel awaited us upon reaching the peak of the 6,400 feet mountain. This significant elevation can be quite drastic for those unaccustomed to it, so we advise referring to a comprehensive guide on high-altitude effects and tips.
Upon entering the Garden of the Gods park, we were left speechless by the breathtaking rock formations that enveloped us. The exquisite landscape and striking arrangements of jagged rocks provided us with a full 360° panorama that was truly extraordinary.
Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center
Upon arrival, Eddie and I promptly made our way to the Visitor and Nature Center, eager to delve into the intricate geology of this captivating attraction. The center offered a multitude of interactive exhibits and informative storyboards that truly brought the complex geology to life.
As we explored, we couldn’t resist visiting the delightful gift shop, which offered a diverse range of souvenirs to commemorate our visit. Additionally, the onsite restaurant, Bean Gateway Cafe, catered to all tastes and preferences.
Not only did it boast a charming selection of food creations that would undoubtedly delight the younger visitors, but it also provided adults with healthy smoothies, coffees, and delectable sandwiches and soups.
Inside the Visitor Center, a 15-minute video was screened every 20 minutes, providing invaluable insights into the park and its remarkable rock formations. This visual presentation greatly enhanced our understanding of what we were witnessing, further complemented by the concise yet informative signs scattered throughout the area.
As we continued our explorations, we heeded the advice to wear comfortable footwear and carry a jacket, as the weather often underwent sudden and drastic changes.
National Natural Landmark
Garden of the Gods earned its rightful designation as a registered National Natural Landmark back in 1971. Spanning an impressive 1,367 acres, this captivating site encompasses a diverse range of ecosystems, including wetlands and prairies.
As we marveled at the breathtaking scenery, the distant sight of the snow-capped Pikes Peak, the highest mountain in Colorado, added a touch of grandeur to the landscape.
In the words of the Colorado Springs Tourism board, “The Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs presents a remarkable tapestry of earth history, stretching back 300 million years. Its geological significance is unparalleled, making it a true wonder of nature within the United States.”
Garden of the Gods Adventures and Wildlife
The area is teeming with abundant wildlife, offering sightings of mule deer, Bighorn sheep, and hawks. Although my wishful thinking of spotting a black bear went unrealized, as a nature enthusiast, I wholeheartedly appreciated the vibrant wildflowers and the presence of cattails.
Notably, Garden of the Gods stands as a remarkable destination on the renowned Colorado Birding Trail, hosting up to 15 species of birds, including Western Tanager and Violet-Green Swallow.
Apart from indulging in the picturesque sights, visitors can engage in various outdoor activities within the natural park. With 15 miles of trails available, hiking, biking, and horseback riding are popular options. For rock climbing enthusiasts, proper permits and gear are required.
For added convenience, e-Bikes and standard mountain bikes can be rented within the park. Additionally, Adventures Out West offers Segway and Jeep tours for a unique exploration experience.
Mesmerizing Rock Formations
Prepare to be astounded by the incredible towering rock formations that dominate Garden of the Gods. Every corner of the park offers a spectacular photo opportunity that will leave you in awe. Personally, my favorite spot was Balanced Rock, an impressive configuration of 700 tons of sand mixed with iron oxide, resulting in its striking red hue.
Don’t miss the chance to capture the iconic photo of yourself holding up the Balanced Rock from beneath it – a bit cliché, yet undeniably fun.
Discover a total of 19 captivating rock formations as you continue your journey, and be sure to visit the adobe-style Trading Post, a must-see destination where you can explore and shop for Native American crafts and treasures.
Mexican Lunch at Amanda’s
After exploring the stunning beauty of the Garden of the Gods, I highly recommend including Amanda’s Cantina & Fonda in your lunch or dinner itinerary. This delightful local Mexican restaurant unquestionably stood out as one of our top choices throughout the entire state.
My husband Eddie and I delighted in indulging in their mouthwatering Queso Dip, accompanied by sliced radishes, as well as their delectable Chicken Flautas, served with sour cream and guacamole. The service provided was outstanding, and the gastronomic experience truly left a lasting impression.
Garden of the Gods For the Win!
The highlight of our Colorado travels was visiting the Garden of the Gods. Having witnessed breathtaking natural settings worldwide, none compare to the grandeur found in this remarkable geological wonder within our own country.
Make sure to add a visit to the Garden of the Gods to your Colorado trip for an unforgettable experience.
Please note that Garden of the Gods is open every day except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Additionally, I am glad to inform you that the park is accessible for individuals with disabilities.
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