While much of Colorado offers stunning beauty, the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado will simply take your breath away. Garden of the Gods is a collection of supernatural red rock formations creating an impressive and unique park about one hour away from Denver, CO with the Rocky Mountains as the back drop.
Garden of the Gods History
Originally intended as an endpoint to the Burlington Railroad, the land that is now the Garden of the Gods was purchased in 1879 by Charles Elliott Perkins, the head of the Burlington Railroad.
Perkins purchased 240 acres in Colorado Springs for a summer home. Preferring to leave the land in its natural state for his enjoyment and for the public as well, that summer home was never built.
Before his death in 1907, Perkins officially made arrangements for the land to become a public park.
This plaque is displayed prominently along the Central Garden Trail close to the Main Parking Area.
“The Garden of the Gods given to the city of Colorado Springs in 1909 by the children of Charles Elliott Perkins in fulfilment of his wish that it be kept forever free to the public.”
How the Garden of the Gods Got its Name
In August of 1859, two surveyors, M.S. Beach and Rufus Cable, set out to begin a new townsite outside of Denver, CO. In their exploration, they came upon an area with amazing sandstone rock formations.
M.S. Beach related that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden” as the area grew. Rufus, a “young and poetic man” proclaimed, “Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it Garden of the Gods.” And thus it has been known ever since.
What is so amazing about the Garden of the Gods?
Whether you enjoy the challenge of hiking, rock climbing, exploring, or enjoying the day with your family, Garden of the Gods has a little bit of something for everyone. In fact, there are over 21 miles of trails to discover within the park.
Start your exploration at the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center. Here you will find knowledgeable guides, naturalists, and employees to help you plan your hikes and adventures in the park.
As this park is FREE and open to the public, you will not need to have a park pass to enter.
If you plan to hike at Garden of the Gods, be sure to pick up a FREE color map listing all of the trails within the park while at the Visitor Center. You can also check out an online map of Garden of the Gods.
There are 336 parking spaces within the park and during the peak busy summer months, these spaces may all be occupied from early in the day to late in the evening. Please be patient and park only within the designated parking areas.
Hours for Visiting the Park
5:00 am – 9:00 pm November 1 – April 30
5:00 am – 10:00 pm May 1 – October 31
Visitor and Nature Center Hours
9:00 am – 5:00 pm Off Season
9:00 am – 6:00 pm Memorial Day Weekend – Labor Day
Guided Activities Within the Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods offers a variety of guided activities that are especially informative and interesting for guests of all ages to the park—whether it is your first visit to the park or your fifteenth!
- Join 45-minute nature walks guided by Park Naturalists (twice daily)
- Listen to nature talks and short interpretive programs
- Take the Living History Tour from Rock Ledge Ranch
- Sign up for a rock climbing class. Note * ALL climbers must fill out a rock climbing permit before climbing within the park. Failure to do so may result in a fine of up to $500 and a loss of climbing privileges for up to 12 months.
- Rent and join a bike/electric bike tour
- Become a Junior Ranger
- Enjoy a jeep, trolley, or Segway tour
- Explore Rock Ledge Ranch
- Participate in the weekly 5k Fun Run—Gallop in the Garden
Check out the Garden of the Gods Calendar of Events for even more options: Photography Workshops, Kids Indoor Scavenger Hunt at the Visitor Center, and Wellness Walks every Wednesday during the summer.
Really, there is something for everyone!
Great hikes in the Garden of the Gods
Hiking in Colorado offers unique and stunning scenery. The hikes within the Garden of the Gods are amazing as well.
You’ll find a number of hikes that vary in their difficulty depending on your skill level.
There is something for everyone, so if you simply want to wander along the Central Garden Trail from the Main Parking Lot, this is an option too. This path and the restrooms here are wheelchair accessible and stroller friendly.
You can access the Main Parking Lot on the north end of the park via Juniper Way, less than a half mile from the entrance at Gateway Road. Here’s a sampling of a few of the easier hikes in the park.
Perkins Central Garden Trail
If you visit Garden of the Gods, this trail is a must. It is an accessible, paved 1.5 mile loop that shows off the natural wonder of the rock formations within Garden of the Gods. This trail is family friendly and your kids will LOVE climbing on the rocks and in the nooks and crannies. It makes for pretty amazing photo opportunities too.
You may even spot rock climbers scaling the rocks. Many other trails spur off of this trail, so if the path gets a little too busy for your liking, veer off onto other trails. It may add distance to your hike, but you’ll love the views.
Ridge Loop Trail
If you are hiking with kids who love to scramble up and over and around, this hike is perfect. It is only 0.4 miles in length. You may also consider this as a warm-up hike to some of the longer more strenuous hikes in the Garden of the Gods. If you are from out-of-state, warming up is particularly important as you may find it difficult acclimating to the higher elevation in Colorado.
Siamese Twins Loop Trail
At only 0.5 miles long, this trail is popular. Be patient if you are waiting for parking as people are often coming and going from the trailhead. If you want to avoid the crowds, get an early start to your day.
The Siamese Twins rock formations make for some fun photos. Be patient as everyone else thinks so too! You may or may not be able to capture a tourist-free photo.
Tips for Hiking in Colorado
Tips for Hiking in Colorado following the 10 Essentials for Your Best Day Hikes
- Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat
- Have access to maps. You can pick up a map of Garden of the Gods at the Visitor Center, download the online map of Garden of the Gods to your phone, or access the AllTrails App and discover their top 31 trails in the park
- Bring plenty of water and stay hydrated throughout the day
- Bring snacks (especially if you are traveling with kids!)
- Dress in layers and be prepared for changes in the weather. Colorado is famous for having four seasons all in one day!
Be prepared with the hiking essentials that you will need: camera or phone for taking amazing pictures, sunscreen, sunglasses, Camelbak hydration pack, snacks, Built Bar protein bars, backpack, shirt with built-in UV protection, hiking boots, socks, hats, and rain jackets… just to name a few.
At the end of your day of hiking, drive to the south end of the Garden of the Gods to check out Balanced Rock. It will be busy, but it sure does make for some fun pictures and more climbing opportunities for kids. Balanced Rock may even impress your teenagers!
Do you love to shop for souvenirs and fudge? The Trading Post, also at the south end of the Garden of the Gods, is worth a stop.
Balanced Rock Restaurant inside the Trading Post is an option if your family is getting hungry at this point. If you have brought a picnic lunch to enjoy while in the park, there are plenty of picnic areas throughout the park.
After a full day or two or three visiting the Garden of the Gods, it will still be one of the places where you will stare with wonder and amazement at the scene before you.
Hey, Jolayne here from simplyjolayne.com. I am all about discovering the world through travel—one adventure, one photo, one inspirational moment at a time. I hope to inspire you to dream big travel dreams while taking pictures every step of the way.