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Explore Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs

Discover what this Colorado city lives and breathes-- red rock formations, mountain views, and historic grounds.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Colorado, known for its river canyons and snow-capped mountains, is a well-loved state by outdoor enthusiasts. The diverse terrain and stunning landscape is a recreator’s dream. Colorado Springs earned a No. 7 ranking on the list of the world’s top 25 emerging destinations in 2021 by TripAdvisor and it’s no surprise why.

Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is one of the state’s most glorious gems-- a park fit for the gods (and for you)! It’s a registered National Natural Landmark that features 300-foot breathtaking sandstone red rock formations and views of Pikes Peak. You’ll be reminded of Earth’s greatness as you gaze at the layers of rock that spring directly from the ground, some of which emerged up to 275 million years ago. And, there's no cost to appreciate all this park has to offer. Since it’s a city park, it’s free and open to the public. There’s no reason not to pay this natural wonder a visit to get going on over 15 miles of its trails. If you decide Colorado Springs is worth the visit for your next adventure, we've got you covered on some prime things to do within and near Garden of the Gods. 

Photo: Sarah Mytych

The Palmer Trail

This 2.5 mile moderately rated loop hike is the perfect way to take in panoramic views of the terrain and some of the most famous rock formations in the park. Traveling along the western edge of the park, you’ll see rising rocks to the east with the plains beyond them and mountain views to the west. The trail itself isn’t too long, but you can certainly extend your hike by exploring side trails that stem off of the loop. Bring water, your camera or phone for pictures, and sturdy shoes. You can even bring your dog along for the fun as long as they're kept leashed. Admire the wildlife and desert dwelling plants like yucca and cacti along the way. This trail is well worth it and tends to be a less-traveled route by tourists.

Photo: Rock Ledge Ranch

Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site

Travel back in time while visiting this history museum and ranch located right in the park. You can see what it was like to live in the Pikes Peak region during four different time periods in four different restored historic buildings. These households and time periods include: Teepee, American Indian life (1775), Log Cabin, Galloway Homestead (1860s), Farm House, Chambers Home and Ranch (1870s), and a Mansion, Edwardian Country Estate (1907). The Ranch was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1979. 

While visiting any area, we encourage ancestral land acknowledgement. Who lived and thrived here before colonization? The Pikes region was home to the Ute Native Americans who appreciated the abundant water and diverse plant life this area has to offer. Many Utes became skilled horsemen after acquiring horses from the Spanish around 1630. Each household on this historic site typically has museum guides in period appropriate attire, depicting life as it was. Due to the pandemic, these sites are not currently open for daily tours, but private programs can be made by reservation. Check out their website for further updates on tours and events.

Photo: Haley Baker

Upper Loop Trail

This is a quick trail just under half a mile long. It’s perfect for all skill levels, well-marked, and easy to follow, making it ideal for a family outing. It’s a bit more tourist-y, but at any given point you’ll get to take in stunning views of rock formations and the entire Gardens at the top, which makes it worth the extra traffic. Definitely bring a sufficient supply of water, especially if you do this hike during one of the hot summer months.

Photo: United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum

US Olympic and Paralympic Museum

Recently opened in July of 2020, this 60,000 square foot architecturally compelling building has something for everyone-- athletes, families, architects, and historians alike! This museum was ranked as the nation’s Best New Attraction in 2020 by USA Today. It houses 12 interactive galleries using cutting-edge technology that guide visitors through Team USA’s progression through history that is sure to leave you filled with inspiration and pride. 

The museum prioritizes accessibility and inclusivity, including accessible media, audio descriptions, wheelchair accessibility, open captioning and American Sign Language across all video content. Measures have also been taken to ensure a safe contactless environment. After taking your time absorbing each gallery, check out the Museum Shop and Flame Café.

Photo: Pikes Peak Region

Old Colorado City Historic District

After a long day of hiking around the park, head into this Historic District to grab a bite to eat and pop into some stores. The main street is lined with historic buildings that house both restaurants, shops and a library over a century old. Enjoy artisan breads and pastries baked fresh every day at La Baguette or some classic American comfort food at Thunder and Buttons. And don’t forget about dessert! Check out the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for chocolates, fudge, and caramels galore!

Photo: The Broadmoor

Seven Falls

A trip to Colorado Springs will not disappoint when it comes to the natural wonders you have access to. View immaculate rock formations at Garden of the Gods and then check out one of Colorado’s most enchanting series of waterfalls situated in a 1,250 foot-wall box canyon between the towering Pillars of Hercules. You’ll first climb 224 steps to the hiking trails and the free-flowing streams that lead into the 181-foot magnificent drop of cascading water. 

If hiking doesn’t appeal to you, why not try soaring instead? You can sign up for a zip line course directly above Seven Falls with Broadmoor Soaring Adventures. Visit at night to see the falls illuminated by eco-friendly LED lights for a sight you’ve never seen before! Please be sure to stay up to date on COVID restrictions for visitation and adventure bookings.

Photo: Eric Schuette

Adventure Tours in the Park

Make the very most of your visit to Garden of the Gods by exploring the park in more than one way. After routing and doing your own hikes, keep the adventure going by signing up for one or more of the many tours offered in the park. Take a trip to the Visitor and Nature Center to book a spot for a rock climbing adventure, segway or open air Jeep tour, or bike and electric bike rentals. Each offers a fun and adrenaline inducing experience that you’ll want to take advantage of when surrounded by the park’s captivating natural wonders.

Cover photo: Eric Schuette 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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