Garden of the Gods near Manitou Springs

Garden of the Gods


A trip to the state of Colorado would be incomplete without seeing the spectacle that is the Garden of the Gods. To this day, it has been an area of natural wonder and a place that’s free from the influence of human beings. The sand and limestone formations literally look like something from a different planet and it’s one of the most unique settings you will ever see.

Garden of the GodsWe misjudged the sporadic Colorado weather and arrived at the park on a cold and cloudy day. Just leaving the warm and cozy confines of his automobile for long periods of time was rather unpleasant due to the frigid 20-degree chill outside. However, the creators of the park have built a road that winds around so you can see the best rock formations from the comfort of your car. Even on a cloudy, cold day, the park is a fantastic place to bask in one of Mother Nature’s finest achievements!

Top Colorado Springs Tourist Attraction

Anyone sightseeing in Colorado should make time to visit the Garden of the Gods Park in Manitou Springs. Its breathtaking rock formations are worth the trip.

Garden of the Gods in Manitou Springs is a registered National Natural Landmark. A family could spend an entire day at the park and still have more to see and do. Best of all, admission to the park is free.

The Garden of the Gods Park

Garden of the Gods should probably be in the running for one of the natural wonders of the world. In fact, if the people who make those decisions didn’t even consider this place as a worthy candidate, I no longer find it a valid list! It’s located just outside of the ‘hippie part of Colorado Springs’ also known as Manitou Springs. The only buildings within just over 5 square miles of the national park are a couple of visitor centers.

Garden of Gods Road

Equestrians, rock climbers, runners, cyclists, hikers, and lazy adventures like me are drawn here by the millions every year to marvel and play alongside these magnificent wonders. One of the greatest features of Garden of the Gods is that it is and always will be free to visit. Charles Elliot Perkins originally owned the land and he was so impressed by the area his wish was to always make it a free place to visit for the public. His children donated the land to the City of Colorado Springs under the condition that admission would never be charged!

Colorado Springs Tourist Attraction Not Far Off the Beaten Path

Garden of the Gods is located in Manitou Springs, just minutes away from downtown Colorado Springs and near other local attractions. Visitors will be amazed at how the park is well removed from the city, yet the city is literally just minutes away.

The park does not charge admission. Anyone can enter and drive around or walk on any of the trails. The Visitors Center doesn’t charge admission either, and visitors can obtain a free map that lists all parking areas, rock formations, and trails. The Center also offers free “Nature Talks” and guided walks for those who don’t want to venture on a trail alone.

The Name

Picture this conversation…

“Hey man this would be great place for a beer garden.”

“A beer garden! This place is nice enough for the gods to hang out in. Let’s call it the Garden of the Gods”

This is almost the exact quote between two surveyors back in 1859 who were working in the area and impressed by how beautiful it was. Unfortunately, a beer garden was never created in this ideal spot, but the name caught on, and ever since it’s been called the Garden of the Gods.

Rock Formations

Garden of the Gods is best known for its rock formations. Sightseers can enjoy viewing the Balanced Rock, the Tower of Babel, and Cathedral Spires, among others. The formations are mostly beautiful red rock; these majestic, towering rocks, set up against the backdrop of Colorado’s clear blue skies, are a sight to behold.

IMG_0575Visitors would do well to park in designated areas and walk the trails to see some of the formations or to drive around the park, stopping at pullover areas to properly view all there is to see.

Natural Trails & Picnic Areas

Tourists can literally make a day of their visit. The park features several picnic areas, but even better are the various trails.

There are several trails in the park, from ones like the Perkins Central Garden Trail, which is a short, easy trail, paved and wheelchair accessible, to ones like the Chambers/Bretag/Palmer Trail, which offers a moderate path, three miles long. While the latter is certainly the most challenging, it offers one of the best, largest views of the park on foot.

Trading Post

There are several indoor attractions at the park, the first of which is the Trading Post. The Trading Post features the Balanced Rock Cafe, a coffee shop, books, and other tourist collectibles, including Native American gifts. The Trading Post states that Charles Stausenback built the structure in the 1920s, and it has been expanded several times.

The Visitor Center also features dining-its cafe offers “lunch with a view,” and the sights are phenomenal. Visitors are far enough away to see most of the largest rock formations against the horizon. The Visitor Center is also where one can find nature presentations and lots of information, including xeriscape gardens.

Ideal Colorado Springs Family Vacation Spot

Any family visiting Colorado should make sure to include the Garden of the Gods as one of their must-see attractions. It is inexpensive and offers lots to do to fill up a day or weekend.


Garden of the Gods is located slightly northeast of Manitou Springs in an area called West Colorado Springs.  You can arrive at the park from the north by taking N 30th St, or you can enter from the South on W Colorado Ave. Both directions allow full access to the park.

Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center
1805 N 30th St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904
Phone: (719) 634-6666