Garden of the Gods Park is a registered National Natural Landmark with dramatic views of 300' towering sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak and blue skies. The visitor center has lots of exhibits, murals and hands on activities for families to enjoy.
The hours of the park vary from the hours of the visitor center. The visitor center hours are 9 am to 5 pm in the winter months and 8 am to 8 pm Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
Even though my family recently had a chance to enjoy some of the great National Parks including Bryce, Zion and the Grand Canyon, we didn't want to miss the opportunity to check out Garden of the Gods- a free park located in Colorado Springs. It is such a unique and beautiful area of red rock ridges, towering boulders balanced in ways that seem to defy gravity, and I knew my kids would love it!
Before beginning our driving tour, we stopped at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center to watch the movie that explains how this area was formed. This informative video certainly shaped how we saw the park, as we proceeded to drive through the Garden of the Gods, pulling over several times for photo opportunities and even once or twice to climb out scramble over some rocks.
And don't miss the Trading Post gift shop and restaurant while visiting Garden of the Gods. It's a great opportunity to purchase some local handicrafts including Native American jewelry and stones.
Garden of the Gods is a great local treasure that shouldn't be missed while visiting Colorado Springs!
We find ourselves visiting the Garden of the Gods at least once every couple of months. The views alone are worth the trip. We like to take a picnic with the kids and hike along the trails. You can drive through to see the views or you can park, take your time, and walk along the trails. Either way the trip is worth it!! BEAUTIFUL!
We took advantage of the cold weather reprieve and made the drive from Denver to Colorado Springs to explore the Garden of the Gods. It was well-worth the hour trip. We started our visit at the Visitor's Center where we learned more about the area and snapped the perfect picture of some of the rock formations and Pike's Peak in the background.
From there, we drove to the main parking lot where we parked and then followed the sidewalk past the different rock formations. We didn't stray too far from the sidewalk. We enjoyed watching an expert rock climber help two novice climbers scale one of the rocks. When we were finished with the sidewalk trail, we headed to the Siamese Twins Trail on the recommendation of someone at the Visitor Center.
The Siamese Twins Trail is a one mile loop that takes you up to the rock formation known by the same name. It offers some beautiful views and is just rugged enough (it is a dirt trail with some stairs and rocks that you have to climb...this is not as easy as the sidewalk trail) that my 6 and 8 year old thought they were quite the mountaineers.
Who could imagine that sandstone, aided by wind and water could turn into such a magnificent example of natural beauty (and such a great place for kids to run and explore)? Garden of the Gods is a naturally forming geographic feature caused by the uplift of the Colorado Rockies. Not to get too technical, but the same rocks that form Garden of the Gods are also found 2 miles beneath the city of Colorado Springs. That means when the Rockies were lifting and forming, they caused the sandstone layer known as Garden of the Gods to be pushed vertically as well.
For adults, it’s pretty fantastic; but for the kids in the group, just know there’s lots of stuff to see and do. We started our visit in the visitor’s center. It’s not actually in the Garden, but just across the street from it. From there, you get a pretty incredible vantage point of the landscape. At the visitor’s center, we learned more about the formation of the Garden, plus a look at some of the natural habitat that lives in and around the Garden. There’s a gift shop and restaurant/grill there on site (so you could grab a quick bite before you hiked or snag a souvenir).
Before we started out, we watched a short movie about the Garden’s history – both geological and recent. It’s a pretty interesting story. The Garden has long been revered by the Native Americans in the region as a sacred place. The land was purchased by Charles Elliot Perkins in 1879. After his death, Perkin’s children gave the land to the City of Colorado Springs. The movie was just long enough to give you a feel for the significance of the Garden, but short enough that my littlest weren’t running around causing a ruckus. Seating in the theatre is unique. Instead of chairs, there are raised platforms forming theatre style seating. Another unique feature of the space is a revolving display used to give dimension to the movie. It rotates to showcase various geographic features, as well as, give detail to the movie. When it first moved, it was creepy, but by the end it didn’t seem to faze my kids at all.
As we walked back to our car, we looked at what trail we might take in our hike through the Garden. There are several trails to choose from. Since we have people with little legs, we decided to take on of the less demanding paths around the rocks. Admission into the Garden is free, and it’s filled with folks driving through just to look at the scenery as well as those who are getting out to hike, bike, or trail ride. One of the most difficult things we had to do we find a parking spot. If you’re willing to drive a bit further down the trail, you can find ample parking; however, many people wanted to be at the first hiking area. We parked, liberally applied the sunscreen, grabbed our water bottles, and crossed the road. The main road within the Garden is one-way making crossing traffic much easier.
We climbed, pointed, and talked. It was especially nice to stretch our legs after the long drive we’d just completed. My husband’s a geologist, so especially nice to have conversations with our kids about the geological features beneath their feet. We stopped to take pictures and take a breather in a shaded area on the trail. We then decided to venture back to the parking lot and tackle a trail not directly around the sandstone rocks. We had so much fun. My oldest boy and I ran, and ran, and ran! The path was clear enough for running – and it was downhill! We rested while the rest of our family caught up to us, and then we ran uphill. If I lived in Colorado Springs, I know that the Garden would be a favorite running spot for me (even if I do run as slowly as molasses).
We really enjoyed the Garden. The natural beauty and free access to the spot is ideal for families with kids. If you can, try to go during the cool of the day or evening. It can get pretty warm (especially if you’re hiking and carrying a little one). Take a lunch, make sure you have plenty of water and sunscreen and get ready for a GREAT NAP TIME!
Disclaimer: Our admission to the Garden of the Gods movie was COMPLIMENTARY OF THE COLORADO SPRINGS CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU. THE OFFICE DID NOT STATE ANY REQUIREMENTS REGARDING MY REVIEWS. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.
Garden of Gods is one of the most photographed spots in Colorado Springs and it's no wonder at all. The whimsical red rock formations set against the Colorado blue skies dotted with green trees makes for a stunning scene. My 6 and 9 year-old boys immediately asked, “Did they film Star Wars here?” They were referring of course to the scenes of Tatooine. Indeed, the Garden of the Gods does feel otherworldly and I suppose that’s the reason that it was named as such, and that the Native American tribes from surround regions considered it a sacred site. From ancient times, this has been a place of gathering and peacemaking.
There are two entrances to the Garden of the Gods. One in Colorado Springs, and the other in Manitou Springs. A full loop around the park is only 7 miles long by car. However, you may also drive through from Colorado Springs to Manitou Springs. To get the most out of your visit, start off your exploration at the visitor’s center where you can watch the 14 minute film on how the Garden of the Gods was formed and the history of how people from as far back as 3000 years ago used this beautiful place.
Most people explore Garden of the Gods by driving through the park and doing a few short walks along the nicely paved trails. At the North Parking lot, there is a nature trail. For school age kids, pick up a Junior Ranger workbook with some fun activities that help kids to engage with the rich geological history of the park and it’s current inhabitants. Our boys were excited to get right to work starting at the North parking lot. Alternatively, you may explore the park on a Jeep tour that allows you to take full advantage of all the photo opportunities. The Jeeps do take car seats. Rock climbing sessions are also offered for adults and kids. Call ahead to schedule either or sign up at the visitor’s center.
A couple of practical tips: If you happen to visit on a hot summer day, I would recommend going early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the kind of dramatic melt down our 6 year-old had on his way back to the car. Also, make sure you lather on the sunscreen and bring along water for your hike. The elevation has a curious way of dehydrating you rapidly while the rocks radiate heat mercilessly. So even if you don’t plan to walk far, bring along some water for the stroll. Most of the main trails are paved and stroller/wheelchair friendly.
We were a little strapped for time when we visited. I wish we had planned for enough time to try some rock climbing at the Garden of the Gods. I know our boys would have loved it.
One of our stops along our 22 day cross country trip was in Colorado to visit with dear family friends.
They decided we could not leave Colorado without seeing Garden of the Gods and after arriving, I knew why.
It took our breath away.
The views were just beautiful...
We spent at least an hour walking along the beautiful trails, stopping to look at the wild life and the mountain climbers. (which fascinated all of the kids, and adults)
I'm sure we would've stayed much longer enjoying the views, but unfortunately there was a storm rolling in so we cut it short but definitely plan to one day return and pack a picnic lunch.
An amazing adventure for the entire family! Miles of trails that are stroller friendly with restrooms positioned throughout the park. Make sure to stop by the visitors center for a map, some neat animal displays, a quick snack in the cafe, or watch a video about the park for a nominal fee. Our child loved being able to run along the pathways and was in awe of the "red rock mountains". Bring the bikes for another fun adventure or a picnic lunch and spend the day. There isn't much shade, so make sure to bring sunglasses and sunscreen for the family.
Garden of the Gods is such a beautiful and unique park. The red rock formations are like beautiful works of art, but, works of art that the kids can climb all over! So while you and you spouse can appreciate them for their beauty the kids can appreciate them as natures jungle gym! The walking paths are flat and totally BOB stroller friendly.
The views here are spectacular! HUGE rocks are just stacked one after the other, which sounds lame, but it is actually amazing! They were formed like that and weather conditions made them the way they are. Some look like they could fall over at any second. It really is a sight to see! My family got a lot of amazing photos next to rocks so big we look tiny. You can drive all over the place or walk in some areas.
Garden of the Gods is the perfect winter playground. Cold weather play can be a challenge in locales hit by winter. Colorado Springs sits below Pikes Peak on the east side of the Rocky Mountains. Snow doesn't stay on the ground for long, but strong and icy winds aren't ideal for outdoor activities. But they are possible in short spurts!
Suggested Activity for Cold or Warm Weather:
The Garden of the Gods Nature Center paired with a short walk among the red monoliths on the Central Garden Trail provide a little relief from the indoor blues. We start with a little exploration of the Visitor Center and maybe a giant hot pretzel and cocoa (or lemonade depending on the season) at the snack bar. Then we head across the street, by car, until the road dead ends. Turn right and wind around to the first main parking lot on your left. Park and walk into the park - as far as the weather allows. Bring your camera and watch for wildlife (often spot bighorn sheep on the rocks to the north of the main parking lot - opposite from the Central Garden). Partway down the path, the kids love to run rings around the circular stone site of the old chuckwagon suppers. From here, let the kids lead you on an exploration of their own.
Parking is free at the Visitor Center and inside the park.
Paved walkways criss-cross the center of the park.
Bathrooms in the Visitor Center and near the parking lot.
Picnic tables dot the park.
We love going to Garden of the Gods. Hiking around and seeing the different rock formations is wonderful. There is a great path for strollers and a large parking lot. We found several great photo opportunities and will keep those pictures forever! If you are coming to Colorado, make sure to add this to your list of things to see.
Garden of the Gods is definitely worth the visit. The beautiful rock formations are amazing to take in just by driving through the park. If you have time, though, stop and get out, let the kids climb (as long as you're close by them) and take some pictures of the beauty. We enjoy bringing a picnic lunch along too! LOVE this place, and love that it's FREE!!
Beautiful and free area to hike, sightsee or relax. Great place to let kids run around, ON THE PATH. Last time we were at Garden of the Gods my daughter, who is two, and her cousin who is one were sitting on some rocks just a reach off the path. This volunteer came up and said, "that is bouldering and there is a $500 fine for that". We apologized and he was very rude. Are you really going to fine a 1 and 2 year old. We were unaware, they were sitting on some rocks, thought harmless. There are people on belays rock climbing everywhere. Thought it could have been dealt with differently.
You must have a camera when you visit the garden of the gods. Its so beautiful. I would also recommend if you take your bicycles to cruise around on those. The best picture moment for kids is an area where a large boulder is held up by a smaller boulder so kids can stand under it and give the illusion they are holding this boulder on their shoulders. My brothers and I loved this. The last time we went to CO Springs was in the fall, October, and I would say that is one of the most beautiful times to go.
We took our infant daughter to the Garden of the Gods one summer. This was awesome and amazing! THe rocks are astounding -- enormous and it's fun to study the shapes and the formations' names. Lots of possibilities, depending on how much time you want to spend. Lots of room to roam.
It's FREE, it's beautiful, there's nothing like it anywhere but here, and you could spend anywhere from half an hour to half the day there just depending on how much walking and hiking and picnicking you want to do. If you prefer to not get out of the car at all you could go there for a scenic drive even. Plus there's lots of places to pull over and get a beautiful picture. It's one of my kids favorite places to go!
Garden of the Gods is a wonderful place to both drive through and take a stroll in. There are many simple paths and also some decent trails to walk. As someone from out of state, I was blown away by the wonder of such natural beauty. There are also some wild rams that hang out on the hills that are fun to catch a glimpse of.
This was one of my first dates with my boyfriend and wow! It is so amazing. I love to go here & walk around or even hike. Also an amazing place to take pictures! All of the different rock formations are breathtaking and in my opinion, a must see when you are in the Springs area. There is just something magical about this place. Any time I have family or friends visit this is the first place we go.
There are a lot of great trails that kids can easily access. The paved handicap accessible 'trails' are great and SUPER easy. The area is gorgeous but, other than hiking, there isn't much more to do in the park. The park is very well maintained and the park rangers always seem to be around to help.