A Garden fit for the Gods
While we spent most of our time in Creede, we also enjoyed a few weeks in Colorado Springs. A highlight of our visit was Garden of the Gods.
What I found most interesting about the Garden is that it is located smack-dab in the center of the city. In fact, some of the nearby residents have incorporated the red rock formations in their yards. Despite its central location, however, the area exudes a feeling of peace and quiet. And I’m sure that is of comfort to the gentlemen who made it possible: General William Jackson Palmer and his friend, Charles Elliott Perkins.
In 1871, Palmer founded Colorado Springs while extending the lines of his Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. He repeatedly urged Perkins, the head of the Burlington Railroad, to establish a home in the Garden of the Gods and to build his railroad from Chicago to Colorado Springs. Although the Burlington rail line never reached Colorado Springs directly, Perkins did purchase 240 acres in the Garden of the Gods for a summer home. He later extended his holdings to 480 acres but never built on it, preferring to leave the property in its natural state for the public’s enjoyment.
Perkins died in 1907 and two years later, his children, knowing of their father’s feeling for the Garden of the Gods, conveyed his acreage to the City of Colorado Springs. Having purchased additional surrounding land, the City dedicated 1,364 acres to park use. It was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1991, and in 1995 the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center opened just outside the park boundaries.
According to park literature, the Garden hosts more than two million visitors each year.
While one can drive the roads that meander through the park, the most interesting formations are best seen on foot. Walking down the trail adjacent to the Juniper Way Loop, we saw red rock monoliths and although I was unable to capture them in a good photo, a family of falcons that had made this area home.
We quickly noted that the Garden is a popular place for perfecting one’s mountain climbing skills. We saw several groups of climbers, all with instructors, scaling up the rock formations.
This formation is known as The Three Graces.
My favorite was the Siamese Twins.
In this shot, you can see Pike’s Peak framed between the two Twins.
As we took a short break to catch our breath, we were surprised to see a group on horseback come up the trail. As it turns out, there is a nearby stable that offers trail rides through the park.
While reading about this National Natural Landmark, I was amused by tales of how it got its name. In 1859, two surveyors left Denver to begin a town site soon to be called Colorado City. While exploring nearby locations, they came upon the sandstone formations. One of the surveyors, M. S. Beach, suggested that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden” when the country “grew up.” His companion, Rufus Cable, who was known as a “young and poetic man,” exclaimed “Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.”
And after visiting this beautiful place, that makes perfect sense to me.