The Garden of the Gods
[Colorado Springs, CO, Jul 5, 2018]
I spent four days in Colorado Springs last weekend for my friend May’s one-year wedding anniversary. May moved to Colorado about two years ago from LA. She is an avid picture taker/selfie queen, so in that time, we’ve observed all the fabulous places Colorado Springs has to offer thanks to her photos. I met May through my friend Olivia, and in the three years since I’ve known her, the three of us have run hundreds of miles together along with my three other friends, Laura, Lena and Laurie. This is why the six us call ourselves The Running Girls. We were all coming in for the celebration, and we looked forward to the reunion. I was the second person from our group to fly in; Laura had already flown to Colorado to spend a few days in Denver, where she’s from, and she had spent a couple of days in Colorado Springs by the time a got there on Thursday.
Colorado Springs is about an hour and a half South of Denver. It’s cheaper to fly into Denver, but Colorado Springs’ airport is small and very close to town. I wanted to make the most of my time, so flying into Springs made more sense. By the time I got there, May and Laura had just finished an 18-mile run trail run. We met up at May’s house, where her mom, also in town from LA for the celebration, made us some yummy chow mein for lunch. I got to see her house for the first time and also met her new dog, Book. After some rest, we headed out to one of the most visited attractions in Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods Park.
The park was given its name by a pair of surveyors in 1859. One of them thought the park would be a great place for a beer garden. The other thought a beer garden would not give the park justice and said it would be better suited for a place where gods assemble. Ever since, the park has been called the Garden of the Gods. The original 480 acres of the park were private land from 1879 to 1909, when the owners donated it to the city of Colorado Springs. The city acquired surrounding land and the park grew to over 1300 acres. It became a National Natural Landmark in 1971.
The Garden of the Gods is popular for hiking, technical mountain climbing and mountain biking. There are 15 miles of trails as well as a 1.5-mile paved, wheel-chair accessible trail running through the heart of the park. That’s the trail we did. You can pick up a map of the park at the visitor center on the other side of the park entrance.
The geological features of the park consist of pink, red and white sandstone, conglomerates and limestone. They were originally deposited horizontally, but then the forces that lifted the Rocky Mountains and the Pike’s Peak range tilted them vertically into “fins.” The subsequent ice age caused erosion and glaciation of the rock, which created rocks in many different shapes. The one below, for example, is known as the Three Graces.
We took lots of pictures on the paved trail. Each turn resulted in a seemingly new perspective.
Leaving the paved trail, we climbed a little to an overlook. We could look back at the formations we had just walked by from this vantage point.
Because we arrived so late in the afternoon, the place was pretty busy.
We were still able to get some photos with no people in them, although that required a lot of patience and some waiting around.
Up here, there was a section of the trail with chain support, which reminded me a ton of Angel’s Landing trail in Zion National Park. Although they look rather similar in the photos, Angel’s Landing is much more precarious! What you don’t see in the Zion photo is the 1000-foot drop off my side.
After hiking the main loop, we drove to an overlook that also provided great views of the park.
A little further down the road, we reached another famous formation called Balanced Rock, which made for great pictures. You can see the selfie queen in action in the bottom right photo 🙂
As you can see from the photos, a storm was quickly approaching. We parted ways with May, who headed home to spend time with family, while Laura and I drove in a torrential downpour to a brewery for some much needed nourishment. I am so thankful they both agreed to this excursion despite having run 18 miles in the morning!