Garden of the Gods is one of the most popular attractions that Colorado Springs has to offer. With over 1300 acres of space, this park is a giant wilderness to explore. This national landmark displays red sandstone formations that tower 300 feet in the air, and also includes a visitor center and a trading post and cafe.
There is parking in a dirt lot just outside the park, and additional parking at various points inside the park. There are also a couple of pulloff points on the main road where you can get out and take pictures.
Sights to see at Garden of the Gods include Kissing Camels, Balanced Rock, the North and South Gateway Rocks, and Grey Rock.
The Main Park/Entrance
The main entrance/exit follows the red rocks on the right, and goes one way counterclockwise around the three large rock groups and circles back to the main entrance/exit. You are free to park at any of the many parking lots, and each of those lots will have at least one hiking trail.
There are many out of the way hiking spots that are not as popular, so they're great for getting yourself lost in!
Kissing Camels, Garden of the Gods
Kissing Camels in Garden of the Gods is one of the first things you'll see when you enter the park. The camel on the right used to have a hump also, but this broke off some years ago. Still, it's an easy to spot icon!
Balanced Rock, Garden of the Gods
Balanced Rock is the most photographed area of the Garden of the Gods park, aside from the red rocks from a distance. Expect it to be constantly busy with people, and with good reason. It's a really fun picture spot, and you can pretend you're holding up the rock while someone else gets a shot of it.
There are a few parking spots here, but not a lot, so count yourself lucky if you snag a spot here.
Garden of the Gods Trading Post/Gift Shop
As you take the main road counterclockwise around the park, at the south end you will come to the Garden of the Gods Trading Post, gift shop, and cafe. It is a rather large gift shop, which includes a coffee bar, cafe, and fudge station with free fudge and taffy samples.
At the gift shop, you'll find all sorts of things: mugs, windchimes, magnets, books, knick knacks, clothes, Native American handmade flutes, wall art, etc.
Among the items for sale at the trading post, I did spot something I haven't seen there before: Bigfoot!
I had no idea you could get Bigfoot as an action figure. My son would love one of these. It sells for $19.99 here, but I did find it on Amazon for 5 bucks less (paid link):
The Trading Post is a really good place to get your Colorado Springs souvenirs, although they are missing personalized cutting boards. I did find a good one on Amazon (paid link):
It's even shaped like the state!
Inside the Trading Post is also a coffee shop, and a cafe, as well as an open covered patio.
I haven't tried anything at the cafe yet, but it's on my list of things to do. It's constantly busy, so I'm hoping it's superb!
Best Way to See Garden of the Gods
The best way to see Garden of the Gods, in my opinion, is to start out going straight to the park, and park at the big parking lot that is right underneath the north rock (shortly after you drive into the park).
There will be a dirt parking lot right at the entrance, but skip that and go to the next parking lot. If you can't find parking there, at least you get to drive up close to the rocks. If you have to find parking elsewhere, keep stopping at every parking lot until you find a space.
You'll want to walk on the paved sidewalk that circles the big three rocks. Sure it's touristy, but that's why you came here, isn't it?
From there, go see Balanced Rock, and then if you're really into hiking, I would suggest exploring a little. With over 1300 acres, there's no way you can see it all in one day, so hit the highlights for your first trip and then go have fun!
Definitely stop by the Trading Post also and grab a bite to eat. If you have more time, you can visit the Visitor & Nature Center to get more scientific on how the rocks were formed, the wildlife around, and the overall history of the park. Plus, the best view is at the Center!
Best View of Garden of the Gods
The best view of Garden of the Gods is clearly at the Visitor & Nature Center. They built the Center based on the view. It's got the major rocks in the foreground, with Pikes Peak nestled between them. I took the above picture with the parking lot of the Center so that you can see what the whole view looks like, but you can angle your phone/camera to leave that out.
There's a wraparound balcony at the Center on the second floor where you can get a picture of just about any view of the mountain range. Definitely get some pictures from here.
Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center
The Visitor and Nature Center is across the street from the Garden of the Gods, and has two entrances/exits, so it's easy to get to. It also has its own gift shop, with many of the same items as from the Trading Post. The Center also has pre-packaged fudge from the Center, so you can grab and go.
Garden of the Gods Activities
At the Visitor and Nature Center is where you can register for the many activities at the park, such as tours, bike rentals, horseback riding, and rock climbing. If you would prefer to be driven around the park instead of doing your own driving, then come to the Visitor and Nature Center first to sign up.
Where can I hike at Garden of the Gods?
You make hike anywhere you like! There are paved walkways through the main part of the park, but there are also many offshoots of dirt hiking trails randomly throughout the park.
Is Garden of the Gods free? How much does it cost?
Yes, it is free to the public. There is no cost to get in.
What is Garden of the Gods?
It is a public park designated as a national landmark in 1971, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It is famous for its iconic red rock formations that tower vertically above the ground.
It's national landmark status means that the park cannot be modified or altered.
Can you drive through Garden of the Gods?
Yes! It's free, so come and go as you please. There are many parking areas and a few stops along the road where you can get out and take pictures.
What do you do at Garden of the Gods?
Garden of the Gods has hiking, walking, running, cycling, horseback, ziplines, trolley tours, jeep tours, segway tours, and rock climbing. There are also electric bike tours, and you can rent e-bikes and mountain bikes for use throughout the park.
Horseback riding is offered for 1 or 2 hour slots, for beginners to experts.
Why do they call it Garden of the Gods? How did it get its name?
The answer is actually a little disappointing. In 1859, two surveyors from Denver were scouting locations for a new town. As they came upon the red rock formations, one of them suggested that it would be a great place for a beer garden. The other man exclaimed that it would be a "fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it Garden of the Gods."
So it got its name from a couple of surveying beer lovers, as opposed to any Native American name you might have been thinking of.
Before it was named Garden of the Gods, early European explorers called it "Red Rock Corral."
How long does it take to tour Garden of the Gods?
If you see everything, walking through the park, and taking pictures, you should be there a good 2-3 hours.
Where should I stay when visiting Garden of the Gods?
Four good hotels near Garden of the Gods are the Garden of the Gods Club, the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, the Broadmoor, and the Cliff House at Pikes Peak.
Are dogs allowed at Garden of the Gods?
Yes, the park is dog friendly and pet friendly! The ordinance is that they must be on a leash, not longer than 6 feet. There is also an off leash area you can take them, which is between Rock Ledge Ranch and the main entrance, just south of Gateway Rd.
How did Garden of the Gods form? How did those red rocks get there?
The red rocks formed over millions of years due to erosion and upheaval of the earth's plates. The rocks themselves are made up of limestone, and white, pink, and red and sandstone.
The rocks you see now actually used to be sand dunes. About 65 million years ago, two major tectonic plates collided, showing up the sedimentary rock vertically over time. The softer rock eroded away over time as well, leaving the iconic red rocks you see now.
What is the elevation/altitude of Garden of the Gods?
Garden of the Gods sits at an elevation of 6,400 feet above sea level.
How tall are the rocks at Garden of the Gods?
About 300 feet.
Can you get married at Garden of the Gods?
You can go through official channels such as the Garden of the Gods Club to book weddings and events. If it's a small wedding, I suppose you could do it off the books, but you'll have people coming and going.
How far is Garden of the Gods from Denver?
70.9 miles by road.
What are the Visitor and Nature Center Hours?
Visitor & Nature Center Hours:
Memorial Day through Labor Day: 8AM-7PM
Labor Day through Memorial Day: 9AM-5PM
Both the Visitor and Nature Center and the park are free and open to the public.
They are closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
How long are the trails?
There are 15 miles of trails throughout the park. There is a 1.5 mile paved trail in the center of the park, called the Perkins Central Garden Trail. It is wheelchair and stroller accessible.
How big is Garden of the Gods?
Originally the donated land was 480 acres. Today, Garden of the Gods boasts 1,367 acres.
When is the best season to visit?
The park looks beautiful in all seasons! It is busiest from about the middle of May through Labor Day.
Do you have to drive all the way through the park to get to the gift shop?
No, you can visit the Visitor and Nature Center just before you enter the park, and there is also the Garden of the Gods Trading Post at the south end of the park.
Can I camp here?
Camping is not allowed inside the park. You can camp nearby at the Garden of the Gods Campground/RV Resort.
Is there transportation within the park?
Yes, there is a free shuttle that runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day that will take you from the Visitor Center to the main rock formations. You can also take a trolley from the Visitor and Nature Center for $18 a person that will drive you around the park.
Can you fly drones in the park?
No, drones are not allowed within the park.
Is it handicap/wheelchair accessible?
Yes, there are a couple specific handicap/disabled parking spots within the park.
Are there restrooms at the Garden of the Gods?
Yes, there are restrooms at the Visitor and Nature Center, at the main section of the park, and at the Trading Post. The main parking lot restroom was recently renovated from 4 lavatories to 13.
Is there a minimum age requirement to go rock climbing? How do I get permission?
You can get a free permit from their website or at the Visitor and Nature Center. The permit is so that they can identify you if you fall. I don't know of any age restrictions. You must bring your own climbing gear/equipment.
You can also climb on the smaller free standing rocks throughout the park without climbing gear, since they are not as tall.
Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is located at 1805 N 30th St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904.