Our Favorite Colorado Attraction
Garden of the Gods
Striking red monoliths rise into the air from the valley floor. Wildlife browse among the scrub. Over each vista, amazing views await. The Garden of the Gods lives up to its name.
We have lived in and traveled throughout Colorado. Picturesque scenes cover the Rocky Mountain State. Our favorite Colorado attraction is, without doubt, the Garden of the Gods.
The Garden of the Gods rests on the edge of the front range of the Rockies between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. The almost 1400 acre public park has over 15 miles of trails. The trails range from moderate difficulty to 1.5 miles of paved, wheelchair accessible.
Uniquely shaped, red, stone formations dot the park. These are the main draw. The “Kissing Camel” greets visitors as they enter the main entrance. The Siamese twins frames a spectacular view of nearby Pikes Peak. Hanging Rock defies gravity. Many more with names like Cathedral Spires, The Scotsman, and Tower of Babel reach to the sky.
Things to Do
A paved, two-lane road winds through the Garden of the Gods. Spots to pullover and take in the amazing sites conveniently line the road. From your car, you can view most, but not all of the rock formations.
Whatever your fitness level, you can get out of the car for a closer look. 1.5 miles of paved and relatively flat trails provide access for all. Other trails are rocky single and double track with inclines that are much more of a challenge.
Mule deer roam throughout the park year round. Rabbits, coyotes, raccoons, and fox can frequently be sited, too. If you are lucky, or not so lucky (!), then you might see a black bear or mountain lion. In winter, bighorn sheep come down from higher elevations. Birds like Scrub Jays, Magpies, Ravens, Says Phoebe, and Colorado’s State Bird, the Lark Bunting can all be found here.
At the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center, across 30th Street from the East entry to park, entertaining, educational opportunities await. Learn about the animals of the park. Can you identify an animal from its scat or footprint? You can learn it here. How did the rocks take their amazing shapes? Who lived here before white settlers? What is the history of the park? The answers to all of these are found in the Visitor Center.
The Garden of the Gods Visitor Center sells shirts, hats, jackets, and other clothing. Educational and coffee table books can be purchased. Toys, rocks, arts, crafts and more make wonderful souvenirs. The Garden of the Gods has free admission. Revenue from the Visitor Center helps fund the park.
The Garden of the Gods Trading Post, at the edge of the park near the south, Manitou Springs entrance, has more. You will find many similar things, but unique items, too. A large, art gallery displays local and regional paintings and prints that can be purchased. A huge collection of crafts catch the eye and imagination: wood carvings, stone creations, native art. The candy and sweets counter is our personal favorite. Better homemade fudge cannot be found!.
Both the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center and Trading Post house restaurants. The Cafe at the Garden at the Visitor Center has a traditional American menu, with a few twists: buffalo burgers, turkey burgers, and elk brats. Outdoor seating overlooks the Garden for a great setting.
The Balanced Rock Cafe at the Trading Post has a much more extensive menu. The food is better, too. Buffalo (bison) meat is transformed into familiar dishes that are delicious. I absolutely love the Buffalo Chili! Here, a cold beer or a hot Starbuck’s coffee compliment the meal. Locally made ice cream makes a great desert.
Picnic tables are scattered throughout the Garden of the Gods. Ask for your food to-go and find a picnic table.
Garden of the Gods does not disappoint. Any trip to Colorado should include a visit. You will see why Garden of the Gods is our favorite Colorado attraction.