"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

Oct. 29 - Garden of the Gods

“Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing.” ~Anonymous

After our long drive from the east coast we decided to spend the day outside enjoying an amazing fall day. We spent the morning hiking at the Garden of the Gods. We hiked three short trails in the park that gave us a chance to get close to the largest rock formations and also provided us with wonderful views of the surrounding area. We hiked a total of 4.5 miles today. 

The Garden of the Gods is a unique biological melting pot where the grasslands of the Great Plains meet the pinon-juniper woodlands of the American Southwest and merge with the mountain forest of Pikes Peak. The park’s famous red rocks formed millions of years ago due to upheavals in the earth’s surface and erosion. The rocks are conglomerates of red, pink, and white sandstones and limestone.  

The first European explorers referred to this site as Red Rock Corral. But, in 1859 a new group of surveyors explored the site and one gentleman remarked that the area would be a great location for a beer garden. His companion replied that this place of incredible beauty was suited for more than just a beer garden, that it was a place fit for gods to assemble. And that’s how “Garden of the Gods” got its name! 

In 1879 Charles Elliott Perkins purchased 480 acres of land that included a portion of the present Garden of the Gods. Upon Perkins death in 1909, his family gave the land to the city of Colorado Springs, with the provision that it would be a free public park.  

We started our visit to the park at the visitors center...wow what a great view they have.
North Gateway Rock
Our first hike was on the Central Garden Trail. The trail (paved path) takes you through the heart of the park at the base of the highest rock formations.

South and North Gateway Rocks
Can you see the moon through the Kissing Camels?
South Gateway Rock
The backside of North and South Gateway Rocks.
The Three Graces
The Cathedral Spires
Our second hike was on the Ridge Trail. It was more of a real trail that took us up and over rocks to the Sleeping Giant. It was a nice little hike with no one else on the trail. 
Our third hike took us to a formation called Siamese Twins. It offers spectacular views of the area and Pike's Peak.
A view of Pike's Peak from the window of the Siamese Twins
A beautiful view of the fall colors below.
Balanced Rock is at the southern end of the park and is one of the most photographed formations in the park. People have had their pictures taken here for centuries. 

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