My grandparents live across the street (or rather, mesa) from Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Not only does this mean that their neighborhood has great views, but it also means I have a fantastic natural playground at my disposal whenever I visit them. The Garden of the Gods' 480 acres were gifted to the City of Colorado Springs in 1909 by the children of former owner Charles Elliott Perkins. It has remained open to the public ever since as a park "where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold, or dispensed, where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park." This is ironic considering the park was considered in 1859 to be a "capital place for a beer garden".
The last two times my family has visited my grandparents, we've reserved an entire day for hiking and adventure fun among the red rocks of the Garden.
My favorite part about the park is the rock climbing. I've never rock climbed outside of my university's rec center but I always think it'd be a really fun hobby, if I could get over the whole danger aspect. By no means to I have any interest in hiking Everest, however. I recently read Into Thin Air (Krakauer) and was amazed by the amount of pain and torture that those climbers willingly put themselves through for months on end in order to reach the summit. I'd rather stick with sunny warm rocks like these.
ITo see more of the park (and avoid as many of the Memorial Day weekenders as possible), my family opted for the less-traveled dirt paths through the park. This yielded fewer encounters with other visitors, but more horse droppings. It was a fair trade-off.
Top rock formations:
- North Gateway Rock (first picture)
- Cathedral Spires
- Three Graces (1)
- Tower of Babel
- Balanced Rock (2)
- Siamese Twins (3)
- Scotsman Trail
- Siamese Twins Trail
Every visitor to Garden of the Gods must:
- Pose for a Christmas card-worthy portrait (or three)
- Stop to soak up the natural splendor surrounding you
- Pick your favorite rock souvenir and try to take it home with you (okay, that's really frowned upon)
- Pose for a new profile pic
Every time I visit the Garden, I bring my camera (if you couldn't already tell). Sometimes, it seems difficult to capture the vivid colors and overall grandeur of the place through a lens. But that's part of why I like returning as often as possible. My semi-annual returns to the park have become a sort of milestone in my journey as a photographer. Every new set of photos feels like an improvement from the previous visit.
I look forward to returning to Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods soon. Maybe next time we'll hike Pikes Peak!