Garden of the Gods
- For the mythical location, see Garden of the gods (Sumerian paradise). For the Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois, see Garden of the Gods Wilderness. For Hawaii, see Lanai.
|Garden of the Gods|
Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado
|Location||El Paso County, Colorado, USA|
|Nearest city||Colorado Springs, Colorado|
|Area||3,300 acres (1,300 ha)|
|Governing body||Colorado Springs, Colorado|
Genesis of the park 
Great American Place 
Garden of the Gods Park has been designated as a Great American Public Place of 2011 by the American Planning Association. The Great American Places are defined by many criteria, including architectural features, accessibility, functionality, and community involvement.
Recreational opportunities 
The Garden of the Gods Park is popular for hiking, technical rock climbing, road and mountain biking and horseback riding. It attracts more than two million visitors a year and becomes the city’s most visited park. There are more than 15 miles of trails with a 1.5 mile trail running through the heart of the park that is paved and wheelchair accessible. Annual events including two summer running races, recreational bike rides and Pro Cycling Challenge Prologue also take place in this park.
It contains numerous trails for hiking, walking, mountain biking and horseback riding. One of the most popular trails, named Perkins, has been paved in an effort to combat the erosion of the park's central garden caused by its numerous visitors. Visitors receive frequent reminders to watch out for rattlesnakes in the hot days of summer.
Because of the unusual and steep rock formations in the park, it is an attractive goal for rock climbers. Rock climbing is permitted, with annual permit obtained at the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center. The only requirements are reading the rules, proper equipment, climbing with a "buddy", and staying on established climbing routes. Due to the often unstable conditions of the sandstone—particularly after much precipitation—several fatalities have occurred over the years. This is a very popular bicycle-riding area because of the scenic views, safe one-way recently paved roads, and healthy clean air.
Geological formations 
The outstanding geologic features of the park are the ancient sedimentary beds of red, blue, purple, and white sandstones, conglomerates and limestone that were deposited horizontally, but have now been tilted vertically and faulted by the immense mountain building forces caused by the uplift of the Pikes Peak massif. Evidence of past ages; ancient seas, eroded remains of ancestral mountain ranges, alluvial fans, sandy beaches and great sand dune fields can be read in the rocks. A spectacular shear fault can be observed where the Tower of Babel (Lyons Sandstone) contacts the Fountain Formation. There are many fossils to be seen: marine forms, plant fossils, and some dinosaur fossils.
The hogbacks, so named because they resemble the backs and spines of a pig, are ridges of sandstone whose layers are tilted. Instead of lying horizontally, some layers are even vertically oriented. Each hogback can range up to several hundred feet long, and the tallest (called North Gateway Rock) rises to a height of 320 feet (98 m) tall. A notable rock feature on this hogback, the Kissing Camels, appears to be two very large camels sitting face to face with their lips touching.
One of the most popular features in the park is a large balancing rock, known locally as Balanced Rock.
On one occasion during the nineteenth century, Dr. George Frederick Kunz, vice-president of and "gem expert" of Tiffany & Co., wrote about a “specimen of obsidian” he was shown from the Garden of the Gods in Colorado. “A friend recently made a trip through parts of Colorado, and knowing our desire to obtain materials suitable for cutting into gems, he purchased at a pavilion, near the gateway of the Garden of the Gods, a specimen of what the dealer called “obsidian.” It was carefully packed and carried thousands of miles, and was handed to us with the ceremony befitting an elegant gift. We received it with much delight, and after removing yards of tissue paper, held it before a lamp light, and saw a transparent mass of about 4x4" of pure bottle green- glass.”
Ecological history and information 
The Garden of the Gods Park is a rich ecological resource. Retired biology professor Richard Beidleman notes that the park is "the most striking contrast between plains and mountains in North America" with respect to biology, geology, climate, and scenery. Dinosaur species Theiophytalia kerri was found in the park in 1878, and studies of the skull in 2006 reveal it to be a new species. A honey ant never before recorded was also discovered in 1879 and named for the park. Mule deer, bighorn sheep, and fox abound in this area. The park is also home to more than 130 species of birds including white-throated swifts, swallows and canyon wrens.
Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center 
The Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center is located near the park entrance and offers free nature presentations daily. Natural history exhibits include minerals, geology, plants and local wildlife, as well as Native American culture. Programs include nature hikes, a Junior Ranger program, narrated bus tours, movies and special programs. Proceeds from the center support the Garden of the Gods Park. The visitors center also has space available for meetings and conferences. The center provides useful information for the experienced hiker as well as the armchair tourist.
The name of the park dates back to August 1859 when two surveyors helping to set up nearby Colorado City were exploring the nearby 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, the young Rufus Cable, 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." The beer garden never materialized, but the name stuck.
In 2006 a dinosaur species discovered there, was named after the park: Theiophytalia kerri.
Photo gallery 
The entrance to Garden of the Gods with Pikes Peak in the background
Photochrom of the Cathedral Spires (center), ca. 1900
A view of Cathedral Valley showing some of its unusual hogback formations
Balanced Rock presents a popular photo opportunity
See also 
- Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, immediately adjacent to Garden of the Gods
- "National Natural Landmark". National Park Service. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- Great American Place
- Garden Of The Gods Park | Recreational Hotspot
- Garden of the Gods – Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Garden of the Gods
- Kunz, George Frederick. The Mineral Collector. Volume II, number 6, August 1895, page 97.
- Garden Of The Gods Park | Ecological and cultural history
- Garden Of The Gods | Education | Park History
- Garden of the Gods – Photography
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2007)|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Garden of the Gods|
- Official Garden of the Gods website
- National Natural Landmark
- Garden of the Gods at "Only In Colorado"
- Virtual Tour – Roundus
- Great American Place – American Planning Association