An easy 1-mile round trip trail in the Garden of the Gods State Park near Colorado Springs, Colorado leads to the well known rock formation – Siamese Twins. A popular hike, as the trail is well maintained, so you are likely to encounter a fair amount of people (and pets) on the trail to and from the formation. In the distance is one of the iconic peaks of the Colorado Rockies – Pike’s Peak. Pike’s Peak stands at over 14,000 feet (one of 52 peaks in Colorado to reach that height) but is pretty accessible to most of the public via a 13-mile (one way) hiking trail (called the Barr Trail) which also contributes to how dangerous it is. Gaining nearly 8,000 feet in elevation it is exposed to lightning throughout much of the trip up and down. Often, as I saw when I hiked to the top of Hallet’s Peak in August, storms come out of nowhere in the summer months in the mountains. A cloudless morning can quickly turn into a heavy storm by 11 AM and most hikers are not aware of the dangers that an exposed peak brings as there is no cover from deadly lightning strikes.
I spent a few days at the Garden of the Gods State Park while in Colorado last November. It was a quick trip where I was out there for only a day but the weather was perfect as I think it was in the low 70s/high 60s and the wind was fairly calm. I hiked a number of the trails and drove around exploring much of the park in the one day I was there. For anyone who hasn’t been out that way I’d highly recommend spending a few hours checking out the main sites (balanced rock, twin sisters, big toe) which are all just short and easy hikes from major parking lots.
The Garden of the Gods at Dusk
The Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado about an hour south of Denver but a world away when it comes to the red rock formations scattered throughout the area. There are a number of relatively easy hikes (all one to three miles round trip) that I was able to knock out in half-a-day or so since they are also relatively close to one another. I’m sure there are more challenging hikes but the park is set up to really be family friendly and this would make a nice stop for someone visiting Denver and looking to get a quick day trip done (of course Estes Park – the home of Rocky Mountain National Park – is also only about 90 minutes away and I’d favor that over Garden of the Gods if I had to choose just one).
Photo of the Day – The Window of the Gods
Pikes Peak in the Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountain Range is visible through a rock window on the Siamese Twin trail in Garden of the Gods. A quick, well-marked trail takes you to this spot with duel rock formations with views onto the Continental Divide in the distance. Positioning yourself perfectly allows you to clearly see Pikes Peak in the distance. This was a terrific fall day in Colorado – one could really get used to living out amongst all this beauty. Each time I visit I’m really jealous of those lucky enough to live in the Denver area.
I was in Colorado this week for work and spent an afternoon at the Garden of the Gods State Park. It isn’t nearly as large as Rocky Mountain State Park but there are plenty of hiking trails and views to keep you occupied for an afternoon. I’m not sure you’d want to visit for multiple days but for a few hours I found myself plenty entertained. The views are fantastic and really the just doing the drive around the park will give you plenty of different perspectives on these rock formations just jutting out of a relatively flat area of land. You don’t see this sort of stuff in the Midwest – our area is pretty flat. We are (relatively) immune from earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons, etc… although as I’m sure many have seen in the news during the past week we do have our fair share of tornadoes which can get nasty.
Photo of the Day – The Gods in the Garden
This is the first real view point when you drive into the park. You go around a few curves, pass the main parking lot and then see this from the first turnout. I think it is the best view of the rock formations in the entire park. In other locations all of these varying rocks get jumbled together and you can’t really see that they are separated from one another. I took this about an hour before sunset – unfortunately, as has seemed to be the case recently I was snakebiten with the weather and didn’t get much color in the sky. I was going to wake up early the next morning to re-shoot some of these angles but a last minute conference call came up that forced me to be at my hotel shortly after sunrise. Still I liked the texture of the clouds in the sky even if the colors weren’t great which is why I decided to put a little faded action on it.