“Too often. . .I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen.” – Louis L’Amour
Instead of our usual Sunday trips to the high Rockies, we decided to mix things up a bit and head down to the city of Colorado Springs to check out The Valley of the Gods.
The park, located on the western side of the city is full of unique rock formations jutting into the sky, where the Rocky Mountains meet the plains and make for an interesting day trip in the region.
Most of the jagged monoliths are red in color, but also present are pink and white, most made of sandstone. Lain horizontally, these deposits were tilted vertically by the same tremendous forces that created the Rocky Mountains to create the unique finger-like projections into the sky.
Contributing to the beauty of the area is the massive 14,115 foot Pike’s Peak rising and dominating the landscape just beyond as well as beautiful pinon-juniper woodlands on the western edge of the park. The red rock alongside the snow of Pike’s Peak and the green of the trees makes for a beautiful presentation.
Starting at the main parking lot, it seemed besides us, the entirety of Colorado decided to spend the day at the park! So, after a quick look at the formations in the center park area, we quickly headed to some of the trails that run around the edges and perimeter of the park.
From the central area, we headed out on the Palmer trail, and hiked parallel to one of the roadways crisscrossing the park until we came upon the Siamese Twins formation and the trail with the same name until its termination near the extremely crowded Balanced Rock formation. In my view, there were way too many people, cars and development in general to properly appreciate the uniqueness of this formation, so we quickly went on our way.
Trying our best to avoid the roadways and vehicles as well as the hoards, we headed along an unnamed trail before taking up the Strausenback trail, which delivered good views of the formations from the south.
After working out the tangle of roads and trails, we headed up the Scottsman and Buckskin Charlie trails before finally turning onto the Ute trail, which was desolate and very scenic, providing fantastic views from the tall grassland terrain. This was the trail we used to get back to the central garden area and sure enough, as we approached the intersection, the masses of yelling people, cars zooming and general chaos resumed.
The Garden of the Gods, being both scenic and highly accessible is worth a day trip for a few hours if you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t travel here as a destination unto itself. There are plenty of destinations in the more remote parts of the state that fit that bill much more.