the wandering chick
a National Natural Landmark
The beauty at Garden of the Gods is unsurpassed, but what makes it even more impressive - and unique - is that it's not a tourist trap. Other than a single Trading Post and a Visitor Center (that is actually outside the park), there is nothing commercial or man-made.
It is all natural. It has wonderful hiking trails throughout the park, but you can also stroll the paved paths to see the more well-known formations.
The best part of my stay in Colorado Springs were the mornings I'd take my coffee into the park and sit and stare at the rocks with Pike's Peak looming in the distance.
After my coffee, I'd take off on a two- or three-mile hike in the park. Life is good.
...Garden of the Gods
Many of the rock formations have been given names. This one is appropriately called the Kissing Camels. It is a massive rock that sits in the central garden area. A picture of it is to the below right. The Kissing Camels are at the very top.
Snakes DO roam the park. I think this one is a bullsnake, non-venomous.
Balanced Rock is definitely the most popular rock formation in the park. Kids love it.
Everybody takes the postcard picture shot of Pike's Peak through the window of the Siamese Twins.
Another much photographed rock formation is The Siamese Twins.
A path leading to the Siamese Tiwns
You may not understand my sense of humor, but when I saw this lady with only her hat popping up over the rocks, it tickled me. I couldn't help but wonder what she was doing. It's almost as if she was hiding from someone.
The Trading Post is the only bit of commercialism in the Garden of the Gods park. It has a souvenir shop and cafe/snack bar.
Above: A Spotted Towhee
Right: a Scrub Jay
A motorhome squeezes through the rock formations the Balanced Rock ( on its right) and the Steamboat Rock (left).
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I had a nice conversation with this kindly, gentle-faced man who must have been in his late 70s, maybe 80s. I was taking pictures at the High Point Overlook, the highest point in Garden of the Gods, and he had just walked up from Manitou Springs below, a 15-minute walk, he said. He walks it every morning.
I learned a lot about him as he told me about his grandchildren and his army life in Germany. He walked with a crooked old walking stick with a kelly green rubber tip on the bottom, and he'd use the stick to point to different locations that we were overlooking, such as Pike's Peak, Cheyenne Mountain and the burn area of Waldo Canyon. He spoke softly and with a cracked and shaky voice. "See that red roof right down there next to that RV? That's where I live," he said.
He retired to Manitou Springs with 'his bride.' I asked if she is still living, and he said yes, as he pointed to his house with his walking stick. But she is suffering from Alzheimer's he told me, and his expression became sad, and I could tell he was fighting back tears.
We shook hands upon our departure and wished each other well. He turned away and headed back down the mountain to his house... and his bride.
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Along the Scotsman Trail, a one-mile loop in the southern end of the park
On the Buckskin Charley/Old Colorado City Trail
Taken along the Central Garden Trail in the heart of the park
On the Scotsman Trail
This and the remaining shots were taken from the Bretag and Ute trails. I caught the Bretag Trail near the north parking lot and followed it east and south to the Ute Trail. The Ute Trail leads to the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, and from there you can return the way you came, or make your way into the park and return to the north parking lot.