It’s OK to feel like a tourist. It’s especially OK here in Colorado Springs, where we have the Garden of the Gods.
Yes, so many visitors flock to the National Natural Landmark in summer that land managers have established parking in the once-open field at the main entrance from 30th Street. During the season, a shuttle runs from there into the central part of the Garden. The idea is for people to take a ride rather than try to park in the first available lot, smack dab in what is arguably the Garden’s most scenic area. Knowing that hassle, some locals talk about the park as if it’s a trap. And that is no way to talk about this paradise.
Take advantage in the winter, when that first parking lot can be found with spots aplenty on any given weekend. The beauty is accentuated by the snow that settles on the red rock marvels — glistening powder across the high nooks and crannies that casts a new, humbling perspective.
The sidewalk is referred to as the Central Trail or the Perkins Trail for Charles Perkins, who donated the land to the public. Throughout the region, is there a prettier stretch of pavement? (All right, the road to Pikes Peak is pretty good). No, the Garden does not discriminate against people in wheelchairs and moms with strollers. For about a mile loop, they can delight in the legendary landscape, weaving between those initial monoliths known as North and South Gateway Rocks, the formation called Three Graces and other sets of spires and the soaring Tower of Babel. We found the path plowed after a recent snowstorm, though ice clung in shaded spots. You’ll want traction if you plan to take any of the short, dirt spurs, such as the trail marked as the upper loop.
Getting there: Off 30th Street, across from the nature and visitor center, take Gateway Road into the park, turning right at the looping road to the first parking lot.
FYI: Park hours: 5 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 1-April 30; 5 a.m.-10 p.m. May 1-Oct. 31. Gates close after hours. Walking traffic only on Central/Perkins trail. Dogs on leash.
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