Garden of the Gods and the History of the Name
The Garden of the Gods is a public park located in Colorado Springs. It is a mountainous and hilly region known for containing many sandstone “hogback” formations similar to the Red Rocks west of Denver. The name Colorado is said to come from the color of this sandstone itself.
The hogbacks, which get their name because of how they resemble the backs and spines of a pig, are ridges of sandstone whose layers are tilted at various angles as a result of tectonic shift. Instead of lying horizontally, some layers are diagonally or even vertically oriented. Each hogback can range up to several hundred feet long, and the tallest, known as “The Kissing Camels” rises to a height of three hundred and twenty feet.
Garden of the Gods has an interesting name, and one that has led to much speculation about whether or not it is originally of native origin. The fact is that the name is a very recent one, only having been applied in the last hundred and fifty years.
In August of 1859 two surveyors who were helping to set up nearby Colorado City were exploring the surrounding areas. Upon discovering the site, one of the surveyors, M. S. Beach, suggested that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden.” His companion Mr. Rufus Cable, who was awestruck by the impressive rock formations, exclaimed, “Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.”
Although no beer garden was every constructed, the name has stuck around to this day. It is a very fitting name indeed, considering the incredible appearance of the hogback formations as they jut upwards into the sky. It is this appearance that has led to the current popularity of the Garden of the Gods as a tourist attraction.
Planning a Trip
When visiting Colorado, stopping by the Garden of the Gods would be a great addition to any itinerary. It’s a place that the entire family can enjoy, with activities suitable to all ages and physical conditions. Entrance to the park is free according to the wish of Charles Elliott Perkins, whose children donated the land to the city of Colorado Springs in 1909. It contains numerous trails for hiking, walking, mountain biking and horseback riding.
The nearby Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center allows guests to learn more about the history of the area, including information detailing the plant and animal species living nearby. All proceeds from this center go to maintaining the Garden of the Gods itself.
Fun and Exciting Things to Do
As listed above, there are a number of activities that one can enjoy at the Garden of the Gods. Each of these can make a great addition to your day:
· Mountain biking – Mountain biking is allowed on designated mountain biking trails in the Garden of the Gods Park. Remember that you will be sharing these trails with equestrian users and hikers, so exercise caution. In addition, all one-way roads in the Park have paved biked lanes.
· Horseback riding – Guided horseback tours of Garden of the Gods can be arranged through Academy Riding Stables. Private horse trailers can be parked and unloaded at South Spring Canyon Picnic area. Get a trail map from the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center for trails open to horseback riding.
· Walking tours – A feature of Garden of the Gods are free thirty-minute, naturalist-led walks held daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Highlights of these walks include presenting fascinating fact and lore regarding wildflowers, rattlesnakes, gold-seekers as well as many other Colorado-themed topics.
· Hiking – Free full-color trail maps are available at the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center information desk. By following these maps you can plan out elaborate and interesting day hikes for your family. The Garden of the Gods boasts over fifteen kilometers of trails for active people to enjoy.
· Mountain Climbing – Because of the unusual and steep rock formations in the park, it is an attractive goal for amateur and expert rock climbers. Rock climbing is permitted, with annual permits obtained at the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center. The only requirements are reading the rules, having proper equipment, climbing with a friend and staying on established routes.
By keeping in mind these facts, you will find that this park is a great place to spend the day with your friends and family. Combining a tour here with other gardens around the area can be a real treat for gardening and botany buffs as well as animal lovers. Remember to follow safety procedures when enjoying any strenuous activity to ensure maximum enjoyment from the experience.
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