Although I based much of my Colorado trip this summer in Boulder, I also went out to explore other parts of the state itself. One of them was none other than the Garden of the Gods, a public park located about two hours away from Boulder– my friend and I would spend a day there exploring the unique rock formations of the area, which would be a novel experience for me to check out.
My friend and I left around 9:00 to head over to Garden of the Gods, located in Colorado Springs. It was a long, but peaceful two-hour drive over, as we passed through mountainous landscapes that I hadn’t quite seen before, compared with road trips I’ve done in the desert and coastal parts of California, or perhaps the lush, green pine forests of the Pacific Northwest. All the same, they made for sweeping scenery that I feasted my eyes on, as means of passing time on the drive over.
We reached Garden of the Gods towards noon. By then, the parking lot to the start of the park was nearly full, and we were lucky even to find a spot to park the car. Once we parked, we headed into the visitor’s center to check out its geological and biological exhibitions on the types of rocks and ecological life supported, respectively. It was also a really warm day (mind you, it was August), so we also cooled off inside the visitor’s center, using the bathroom and also filling up our water bottles from the water fountain.
After taking a brief lunch break upon the terrace (with excellent views of some well-known rocks in the distance), my friend and I set out on-foot for a half-mile walk to the main site of all the rock formations in order to explore them. Our first stop was at White Rock which, as its name implies, is a large slab of chalk-colored rock. Made from white sandstone, it has a nearly-pure white color, which stands out greatly from the red-colored ones in the park.
Following that, we checked out the Tower of Babylon, the northernmost rock formation in the park. I don’t know much about how the ancient civilization of Babylon was itself, but I found the towering piece quite majestic in its stature. After that, my friend and I headed to what’s considered the “main site” of the Garden of the Gods, where the majority of the rock formations are situated. We checked out the Kissing Camels (one of my favorites), along with the Three Graces and South Gate Rocks.
Much of the path to see these various rock formations was incredibly well-paved, which made our visit more of a stroll than an actual hike. Still, the distance between each rock formation wasn’t necessarily short, so we did spend some time going from one to the other. Once we saw the main ones at the crossroads, we decided to take one of the unpaved paths to check out the “Sleeping Giant,” as well as views of the mesmerizing “Cathedral Spires ,” whose pointy looks really made them look like something out of a European Gothic architecture. Being city folks, my friend and I are definitely not hikers (let alone hikers), but still, we managed to make our way to the one of the summits near the “Sleeping Giant” for views of the main rock formations down below.
The Garden of the Gods might be a small public park, but there are, in fact, at least twenty different rock formations that one could check out. After seeing perhaps three-quarters of them on the main grounds, we headed back to the visitor’s center where our car was parked to take it to the next couple of stops in the park for more unique rock formations.
Although it’d been really warm, even sunny, when we’d first arrived towards mid-day, the weather turned for the dreary as gray clouds came in and blanketed the landscape, as if threatening rain. Unfortunately, it started to rain as we drove to another part of the park to see the “Siamese Twins” rock formation. All the same, we braved the torrential downpour sans umbrella to make the 0.5-mile loop to see the “Siamese Twins,” which remained stunning in the rain. After taking a couple of quick photos, we practically ran back to the car to take shelter, all the while make our way to the next and last stop of the day.
The “Siamese Twins” is considered one of the more-distinctive rock formations in the Garden of the Gods. However, other famous ones include the Steamboat Rock and, perhaps the most-well known of them all, the Balanced Rock. We visited those last two around mid-afternoon– fortunately, the rain had let up by the time we got there, and it made for a quick, but smooth visit. I got my touristic photo in with the Balanced Rock (i.e. pretending to hold it up to “prevent it” from falling) and, after some photos on its own, we headed out of the Garden of the Gods later in the day to make the long, two-hour drive back to Boulder. We spent the time chatting and enjoying the scenery on the road before we returned in the early evening. Although we were tired, nevertheless we had a fruitful time strolling and admiring the natural beauty of the park’s rock formations, which again was something I’d never seen before.
It was a long day trip from Boulder, but a worthwhile one. Whether or not you enjoy the great outdoors, Garden of the Gods is still worth checking out for its unique structures as carved by Mother Nature. As far as I see it, this public park is one of the best, small gems in Colorado and, should you visit the state, it’s worth visiting!
More of my adventures in Colorado to come soon. Next up: the Rocky Mountains!