Located an hour and twenty minutes south of Denver, in Colorado Springs, are enormous natural rock formations known as the Garden of the Gods. Its name originates back to 1859 when surveyor Rufus Cable exclaimed that this site was perfect, “for the Gods to assemble.” And so the name, Garden of the Gods, was born.
I must say, after being in awe of these rocks that have grown straight out of the earth, it is a fitting name. Their immensity and color are unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
The park itself is compact. There are 15 miles of trails, but they loop around the rocks and weave around to Balanced Rock, just south of the park. The trails are extremely easy and manageable.
There are paved sidewalks that surround the rock formations, so you can get up close and personal with them. From afar the rocks may not seem very impressive, but the closer you get the higher they loom above you.
My suggestion for hiking is to walk completely through the park. You can view all of these impressive formations. It’s called Central Garden Trail. It is the heart of the park and its accessible to everyone.
After strolling through the garden, head up the stairs located in the center of the park. This gives you an opportunity to climb on rocks and see views of the other formations, as well as the Rocky Mountains, including a view a Pike’s Peak! It is breath-taking, and a great place to sit and take in your surroundings.
From there, head back to the main parking lot to start on the Palmer Trail. This is the longest trail, a 3 mile hike. It will take you around the park to give you views from a distance, and eventually it will lead down to Balanced Rock.
Because this park is such a popular tourist destination, it can be hard to find a spot to park. There are many parking lots around the main park, but Balanced Rock has very few spots. My advice is to take the first parking spot you can find, and walk the rest of the way. The trail is an easy hike, the only thing to be cautious of is the rocky terrain.
You have the option to hike the park at your own leisure, or you can chose a guided tour. These are free, 30 minute tours that leave from the main parking lot at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day. This is a great option if you want to learn more about the history of the park, as well as the geography and geology of the park.
Plan a half day for this trip, and enjoy the sunshine. Happy exploring!