Garden of the Gods
The Garden of the Gods is one of the most popular attractions in the Pikes Peak Colorado Springs area. It was dedicated in 1909 as a free city park. Throughout the Garden of the Gods Park, you will find an abundance of plant and animal life. Visitors will also be fascinated by the magnificent red sandstone rock formations, for which the Garden of the Gods is most famous. Many of these rock formations are over 300 million years old and have been sculpted throughout the years by erosion.
It contains numerous trails for hiking, walking, mountain biking and horseback riding. One of the most popular trails, named Perkins, has been paved in an effort to combat the erosion of the park's central garden caused by its numerous visitors. Visitors receive frequent reminders to watch out for rattlesnakes in the hot days of summer.
Because of the unusual and steep rock formations in the park, it is an attractive goal for rock climbers. Rock climbing is permitted, with annual permit obtained at the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center. The only requirements are reading the rules, proper equipment, climbing with a "buddy", and staying on established climbing routes. Due to the often unstable conditions of the sandstone—particularly after much precipitation—several fatalities have occurred over the years. This is a very popular bicycle-riding area because of the scenic views, safe one-way recently-paved roads, and healthy clean air.
The outstanding geologic features of the park are the ancient sedimentary beds of red, blue, purple, and white sandstones, conglomerates and limestone that were deposited horizontally, but have now been tilted vertically and faulted by the immense mountain building forces caused by the uplift of the Pikes Peak massif. Evidence of past ages; ancient seas, eroded remains of ancestral mountain ranges, alluvial fans, sandy beaches and great sand dune fields can be read in the rocks. A spectacular shear fault can be observed where the Tower of Babel (Lyons Sandstone) contacts the Fountain Formation. The name Colorado is said to come from the color of the sandstone. There are many fossils to be seen: marine forms, plant fossils, and some dinosaur fossils.
The hogbacks, so named because they resemble the backs and spines of a pig, are ridges of sandstone whose layers are tilted. Instead of lying horizontally, some layers are even vertically oriented. Each hogback can range up to several hundred feet long, and the tallest (called North Gateway Rock) rises to a height of 320 feet tall. A notable rock feature on this hogback, the Kissing Camels, appears to be two very large camels sitting face to face with their lips touching.
One of the most popular features in the park is a large balancing rock, known locally as Balanced Rock.
Charles Perkins, president of the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad, is the "godfather" of the Garden of the Gods, Colorado. He purchased much of the land upon which the park stands. After his death, his family honored his request and gave the land to the City of Colorado Springs to be used as a park, on the condition that it would remain free forever to all visitors.
Although there are a number of Colorado Springs hotels in the vicinity of the Garden of the Gods, you might consider staying at the Garden of the Gods Campground. The campsites at the Garden of the Gods campground are nestled amongst the trees. A bubbling mountain creek runs through the property. The campsite also offers full-hookup and pull-thru RV sites that fit even the largest RVs and trailer rigs, as well as motel rooms, camper cabins and camping sites for those who prefer to pitch a tent. Free Internet access is available at selected sites and in the check-in area. Wireless, high-speed and dial-up Internet connections are also available.
~ World Wide Interwebz