Trail: Perkins Central Garden Trail
Park Location: From I-25 in Colorado Springs take Exit #146 (Garden of the Gods Road) and go west (towards the mountains) for 2.5 miles. Turn Left onto 30th Street. The Visitor & Nature Center will be on the left (a little over a mile)
On Labor Day Weekend, Lisa and I decided to head down to the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs on Sunday afternoon. We hadn’t been down there in years so we thought it would be fun to check out the park, trails, and rock formations.
History of the Park
In 1859 two surveyors started out from Denver City to begin a townsite, soon to be called Colorado City. While exploring nearby locations, they came upon a beautiful area of sandstone formations. M. S. Beach, who related this incident, suggested that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden” when the country grew up. His companion, Rufus Cable, a “young and poetic man”, exclaimed, “Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.”
In 1879, Charles Elliott Perkins, the head of the Burlington Railroad, purchased two-hundred and forty acres in the Garden of the Gods for a summer home. He later added to the property but never built on it, preferring to leave his wonderland in its natural state for the enjoyment of the public. Perkins died in 1907 before he arranged for the land to become a public park, although it had been open to the public for years. In 1909, Perkins’ children, knowing their father’s feeling for the Garden of the Gods, conveyed his four-hundred eighty acres to the City of Colorado Springs. It would be known forever as the Garden of the Gods “where it shall remain free to the public, where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold, or dispensed, where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park.”
We did not arrive at the park until around 3:00pm. We figured we would have time to hike several of the trails in the park and get some late afternoon/evening shots of the sun setting in the park. Late afternoon would provide some good lighting in the park to bring out the red color of the sandstone rock formations. However, when we arrived at the park, the sky was overcast and the weather didn’t look promising. We stopped at the visitor center and looked around a bit.
Here’s a shot from the visitor center deck.
A close-up of the rock formation known as the “kissing camels”. Can you see the camels?
We left the visitor center to drive into the park just as it started to rain. We drove through viewing the park from the car but passed by all of the hiking trails, hoping the weather would clear up and we could come back later to hike. After driving through the park, we headed through the historic town of Manitou Springs. As it was still raining, we didn’t get out but just enjoyed a car tour of the town.
We headed back into the Garden of the Gods and drove up to a look out area on the Juniper Way Loop. There were great views of Pikes Peak, Manitou Springs, and the surrounding area from here although the weather was still not cooperating.
Another view from this look out area.
We stayed at this area for quite a while taking in the view from the car and watching the skies, hoping the rain would break. A little after 6:00pm we decided to head on, trying to decide if we should go get some dinner and then head back to the park later. As we were nearing the exit of the park, we actually did see some patches of blue sky and it did look like it was going to clear up for the evening. We decided to skip dinner for now and head back around the one-way loop in the park and over to the main parking area and the Perkins Central Garden Trail. It looked like we were finally going to be able to get out and do a little hiking in the park.
Some more shots of the rock formations in the central part of the park.
We continued around the loop, taking in more of the rock formations.
An interesting tree root along the trail.
Remnants of the rain we had all day in the park.
A couple of final shots around 7:30pm as the sun was setting in the park.
It was time to head out of the park and go grab a quick dinner before heading back to Littleton. The weather wasn’t ideal for our trip to the Garden of the Gods, but we still enjoyed getting out for the afternoon/evening and making the most of the day anyway.