The Ultimate Guide To Garden of the Gods
A scenery so sublime, it can only be the Garden of the Gods!
Garden of the Gods is home to some of the most unique and awe-inspiring sandstone rock formations in the US!
Located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Garden of the Gods is a geological wonder and a National Natural Landmark. Towering red sandstone rock formations of different shapes and sizes shapes the landscape at the Garden of the Gods.
The otherworldly fin-shaped rock formations at Garden of the Gods, made of sandstone, were formed several million years ago, during an uplifting event on earth’s crust that pushed the sandstones to rise above the ground. The same geological upheaval also created Pikes Peak, which is made of lava.
However, the Garden of Gods area was an ancient seabed with large sandstone deposits along the natural fault line. Thus the uplifting event caused the sandstones to rise above the ground and tilt as they were along the natural fault line. Since then, wind and water erosion have shaped and polished these unique tilted spires at the Garden of Gods!
The name Garden of the Gods was coined by an early explorer of the area, who, upon seeing the area, said that a garden so remarkable is only fit for Gods, and hence the name Garden of Gods. Legends and archeological evidence shows that the Garden of Gods was considered a sacred place by the tribes residing in the area.
Garden of the Gods is one of the most visited landmarks in the US, with several exciting ways to explore this natural wonder!
To add to the experience, there are several ways to explore the Garden of the Gods, including well-narrated guided jeep, segway, and horseback ride tours, and of course, you could drive yourself and do a self-guided tour. Hiking and rock climbing are two very popular activities in the Garden of the Gods. However, rock climbing requires registration, proper equipment, and adherence to other rock climbing rules in Garden of the Gods.
Rock climbing without registration and safety gear is a punishable offense in Garden of the Gods.
Here is my ultimate guide to Garden of the Gods, featuring various ways to explore the park, activities, and things to do in Garden of the Gods, along with recommendations on hotels and restaurants near Garden of the Gods.
Getting To Garden of the Gods
The best way to get to the Garden of the Gods is by flying into Colorado Springs or Denver International Airport!
Garden of the Gods is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Colorado Springs is located about 70 miles south of Denver and is also home to Colorado Springs Airport (COS), a domestic airport in Colorado served by several major airlines. Garden of the Gods Address: 1805 N 30th St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904.
Airports Near Garden of the Gods: Colorado Springs Airport (COS), Colorado Springs, Colorado, located just 16 miles from Garden of the Gods, is the closest major domestic airport to Garden of the Gods, which’s serviced by several major Airlines.
Located about 85 miles north of Garden of the Gods, the Denver International Airport (DEN), Denver, Colorado, is the closest international airport to Garden of the Gods.
You could fly into one of these Colorado airports, rent a car and then drive to Garden of the Gods.
Train Services To Garden of the Gods: While there’re no direct train services to Garden of the Gods, you could either take a direct Amtrak train to Denver Union Station. Or use Amtrak’s train-bus mixed services to get to Colorado Springs, which is the closest Amtrak station to Garden of the Gods.
Bus Services To Garden of the Gods: Like Amtrak train services, Greyhound also connects several US cities to many Colorado cities, including Denver and Colorado Springs.
Upon reaching, you could either rent a car, hire a taxi, or use one of the ride-hailing services like Uber/Lyft to get to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.
Things To Do In Garden of the Gods
The park offers several fun ways to tour the Garden of the Gods and a few adventures like hiking and rock climbing!
The other great thing about the Garden of the Gods is its accessibility! You can spend as little as an hour in the park and still cover the significant attractions in the park. On the other hand, you could spend an entire day hiking and rock climbing in the park.
No matter how you tour the park, you must visit the Visitor and Nature Center at the Garden of the Gods!
The Visitor and Nature Cente at Garden of the Gods is a great place to start your Garden of the Gods venture. The visitor center provides in-depth knowledge about the area’s geology through several interactive displays in its museum and a short movie that’s played in its state of the art Geo-Trekker theater.
The visitor center is also the starting point of the guided tours in the park and has a viewing platform offering great views of the Garden of the Gods with Pikes Peak rising in the background. The park’s only restaurant, the Bean Sprouts Cafe, is also located in the visitor center and offers some delicious and healthy food choices with great views of the Garden of the Gods.
You could drive yourself and do a self-guided tour of Garden of the Gods, but I highly recommend the guided tours to all first-time visitors. Several rock formations and hidden places in the park are best explored and identified via guided tours.
Self-Guided Tour of Garden of the Gods: The self-guided tour is the best option if you’re short on time. The drive is through a well-paved road, about a seven-mile loop through the park, with several viewing areas, and takes about 40 minutes considering you just make brief stops at some of the viewing areas. Most of the rock formations are visible from the road, but you could also park at designated parking areas and walk to some rock formations to see them up close.
There’re two entrances to the Garden of the Gods – (1) Main Entrance, located right across the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center & (2) South Entrance located off of Highway 24. You can get a map of the Garden of the Gods area from the Visitor & Nature Center or from the Garden of the Gods Trading Post located close to the park’s south entrance.
Guided Tours of Garden of the Gods: The park offers several guided tours of Garden of the Gods and is highly recommended for all first-time visitors. The guided tour options are quite fun and are a great way to learn in-depth about the park and see some of the hidden features and rock formations in the garden, which otherwise are difficult to locate.
The guided tours start at the Visitor & Nature Center, and you can also buy your tour tickets at the activity desk in the visitor center. Reservations can be made only for the guided bike tours, but the rest of the guided tours are offered on a first-come-first-served basis.
Guided Jeep & Trolly Tours: The guided jeep and trolly tours are the best option if you’re short on time but still wish to do a guided tour of Garden of the Gods. The open-air trolleys and jeeps provide great views of the park, and a knowledgeable tour guide drives you through the park, telling you facts and showing you some of the hidden gems in the park.
The trolley tour takes about 45 minutes, and there’re several choices for the jeep tours ranging from 90 minutes – 120 minutes. The jeep and trolley tour departs and ends at Nature & Visitor Center, but advance reservations are not available for the jeep and trolley tours. You have to purchase them from the activity desk at the Visitor & Nature Center. I recommend buying your tour tickets upon arriving at the visitor center, and if seats are available, hop on the trolley or jeep tour and later come back and explore the visitor center. However, if tours aren’t available immediately, you can still purchase the tickets and spend time touring and exploring the Visitor & Nature Center until it’s time for your tour.
Guided Bike Tours: This is a cool way to explore the Garden of the Gods park on an electric bike along with a park guide. There are several different bike tour options ranging from 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours, and this is the only tour that you can reserve online or by calling in advance on Amp’d Adventures website. You could also bring and ride your own bikes in the park but be sure to check-in at the activity desk and follow the Garden of the Gods Biking Regulations.
Guided Segway Tours: The slow-paced guided segway tours are a fun way to explore the park along with a knowledgeable ranger. The segway tour begins from the visitor center, and before the tour, every rider must undergo a training session followed by an evaluation.
Guided Nature Walks: If you wish to further slow down the pace and simply stroll in the park and still be able to explore the park in detail, the Guided Nature Walks are for you. The one hour long guided nature walk starts from outside the visitor center, and you can register for the walks at the activity center inside the visitor center.
Hiking & Rock Climbing In Garden of the Gods
Whether you hike or drive, make it a point to locate a few of the park’s unique rock formations!
There’re numerous sandstone rock formations in the Garden of the Gods, and a few happen to have a shape so unique that they have been named after their looks. Here’re the most popular rock formations in the Garden of the Gods you must try and spot on your trip.
Garden of the Gods Map
Hiking In Garden of the Gods: Hiking is a prevalent activity in Garden of the Gods park. There are several easy and moderate hiking trails in the park, letting visitors enjoy up-close views of some of the red sandstone rock formations and a few trails leading to viewing platforms offering sweeping views of the surrounding valley and the Pikes Peak. There’re parking lots available near the trailheads, but it might be challenging to find parking near the popular trailheads and rock formations during the busy summer months. However, the park’s not that massive, and you could park at a nearby parking lot and return to the trailhead.
Central Garden Trail: The Central Garden Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in the park, with a paved trail that’s wheelchair and stroller friendly. The Central Garden Trail is an easy 1.1 miles loop that takes around 1 hour 30 minutes. On this trail, you will see some of the famous rock formations in the park, including North Gateway Rock, Tower of Babel, Kissing Camels, Sentinel Rock, Three Graces, and Pulpit Rock. The Central Garden Trail is also the starting point of a few other hiking trails in the park.
The Ridge Trail: The Ridge Trail, located on the southeastern part of the park, is an easy 0.5 miles roundtrip hike and takes about 45 minutes – 1 hour. The Ridge Trail offers great views of the Garden of the Gods Park, Pikes Peak, and a close-up view of the Sleeping Giant rock formation.
The Siamese Twins Trail: This short and easy hike, 0.5 miles roundtrip, leads to the popular Siamese Twins rock formation in the park. The hike takes about 45 minutes, and as you climb up, you’re greeted with spectacular views of Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods park.
The Balanced Rock Trail: It’s not necessary to hike to get to the Balanced Rock formation in the park, as it’s located just off the road. However, a lot of hikers do take this nature trail to the Balanced Rocks. The Balanced Rock trail is an easy one-mile hike that takes about 45 minutes – 1 hour. The trailhead is located at the Spring Canyon Picnic Area. The Balanced Rock trail is also interconnected with a few other hiking courses in the park, including Cabin Canon, Siamese Twins, and Strausenback trails.
The Palmer Trail: This is one of the longest and challenging trails in Garden of the Gods and is recommended for professional hikers. The Palmer Trail is 6 miles roundtrip and almost traverses the entire park offering great views of the Red Rocks Canyon Park and Garden of the Gods Park.
The Scotsman / Buckskin Charlie Loops: These are two different trails often hiked together; the Scotsman trail is a 1-mile loop, and the Buckskin Charlie Loop, branching off of the southern part of the Scotsman trail, is another 1-mile loop, making the total hike a 2 miles loop. The hike looping through the park offers some great distant views of the Garden of the Gods Park, but the hike is quite challenging and recommended for seasoned hikers.
Garden of the Gods is a paradise for rock climbers! The several rock spires of different shapes and sizes jutting out of the grounds at Garden of the Gods offers several rock climbing opportunities ranging from easy to extremely high rock climbing routes.
Rock climbing in Garden of the Gods requires proper registration and usage of protective gear. Any rock climbing attempt without a permit and violating any of the Rock Climbing Rules of Garden of the Gods is a severe and punishable offense.
The Front Range Climbing Co. offers guided rock climbing tours in the Garden of the Gods. You can find more details about rock climbing in the park and book your tours online on the Garden of the Gods website.
Lodging & Dining Near Garden of the Gods
Colorado Springs is a great place to stay when visiting the Garden of the Gods!
Colorado Springs is a major city in Colorado and home to several attractions, including Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Broadmoor Seven Falls, Pikes Peak, and more. Being a popular tourist destination in Colorado, Colorado Springs has several excellent lodging options, including resorts, boutique hotels, and other chain hotels.
Lodging Options Near Garden of the Gods
The Broadmoor: The Broadmoor is a resort and a private club in Colorado Springs. The expansive lakeside resort with golf-courses, SPA services, onsite shops and galleries, and several dining options is a great place to stay near the Garden of the Gods. Find more details and reserve online on The Broadmoor website.
Cheyenne Mountain Colorado Springs: Located just 8 miles from the Garden of the Gods, the Cheyenne Mountain Colorado Springs is a luxury retreat in the mountains with great views, service, and amenities, including many swimming pools, a man-made sand beach, golf courses, tennis courts, SPA services and more.
Garden of the Gods Resort & Club: Located within a few miles from Garden of the Gods, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and Pikes Peak, the Garden of the Gods Resort & Club is a luxury resort in Colorado Springs with great views of Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. The resort features indoor and outdoor tennis courts, wellness SPA and saloon, the Kissing Camels Golf Course, the Infinity pool with spectacular views of Pikes Peak, indoor and outdoor dining options.
Antlers Hotel: The Antlers Hotel part of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, located in the city center, Colorado Springs, is a luxurious hotel with contemporary decor, great views, an indoor pool, and a few great dining options.
Dining Options In Garden of the Gods Park
The dining options within Garden of the Gods Park is limited to the park’s only cafe located in the visitor center, but you will find several dining options in the nearby city of Colorado Springs. Below I have listed a few of my favorite places to dine near Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.
Dining Options Inside The Park’s Visitor Center: The park’s only restaurant, the Bean Sprouts Cafe, is located in the Visitor & Nature Center of Garden of the Gods. The cafe serves some delicious and healthy food with great views of the Garden of the Gods through its glass walls.
Lake Terrace Dining Room: The Lake Terrace Dining Room in The Broadmoor resort, with an elegant dining room and a great menu, is a great place to dine whether or not you’re staying in The Broadmoor resort! Lake Terrace Dining Room’s Sunday brunch is very popular among locals and a must-try if you’re in Colorado Springs on a Sunday.
Edelweiss German Restaurant: The Edelweiss German Restaurant in Colorado Springs is a great place to try European delicacies in a lively setting with live music.
Paravicini’s Italian Bistro: This is a great place for classic Italian food in a rustic and lively environment.
Pepper Tree Restaurant: The Pepper Tree Restaurant, known for its table-side food preparation, is one of the best fine dining options in Colorado Springs.
Crave Real Burgers: The best burger joint in Colorado Springs! The gourmet burgers, shakes, and unique appetizers served here are some of the best in town.
Other Colorado Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Garden of the Gods, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to the Garden of the Gods. You will find several other Colorado attractions in my Colorado Travel Guide.
Happy feeding your soul!
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