We’re coming down the home stretch of our trip. It’s rained, at least a bit, every evening, but for the most part the days have been reasonably clear. Bright, beautiful days. The locals consider it humid, but that’s only because they don’t live where we do. In much the same way that the boy never senses any humidity; probably as compared to having grown up on a tropical island, even the east coast isn’t that humid.
So anyway, we decided to head on down to Colorado Springs. Our first and longest stop was at Garden of the Gods. After a couple of hours in the car, we were pretty happy to climb out and get a look at the geological formations in this area. The introductory video (naturally, ending in one of the multiple gift shops) was very interesting. Having just read A Short History of Nearly Everything a lot of the plate tectonic stuff was fresh in my mind anyway, so that was pretty cool.
And, really, who wouldn’t be interested in seeing massive multicolored rock formations?
I voted for us to take the shortest hike in the park, which was a 1/2 mile loop right amid the rock formations. First off, it was near one of the only available parking spaces. Second, it was short. And third, it took us right in on a marked (mostly) but largely natural walkway. I’m sure had they been there, the girls would have loved it… it was more climby than the paved paths. Of course, they would have hated the trip down and back, so call that a wash. In retrospect, I can’t believe I took us on this particular path, considering that horrible creatures like to rest on warm rocks, particularly warm rocks in areas with less annoying human traffic.
Anyway, we made our way though that path, then headed back to the visitor’s center (restroom stop and checking for missed displays), then came back and fought for a parking spot near the paved paths.
I’m going to interject here to make a few suggestions for the good people at Garden of the Gods:
- If you’re going to number your parking lots as you drive up to them, you should consider also labeling them on the map. It’s the height of frustrating to have a map in hand that tells you NOTHING about where you are.
- You might also consider labeling the trails. For instance, there are something like 6 trails listed on the map, and they have dotted lines to show where they go. But when we’re walking through the park itself, we come across the starts and stops of trails that are not on the map. Or we’re on a path — or we were a minute ago — and have no idea now which way the path goes or where we are in the overall trek. Seriously, a little marker every so often to tell us “XYZ trail, 0.6/1.5 mi –>” or somesuch would be ever so helpful.
- You could probably consider adding parking to the visitor’s center and running shuttles to the park proper. That would help alleviate on-site parking issues, minimize risk to bikers and pedestrians, leave more of the park available to be open land, and even allow for park-site guidance along the trail. (Decided to hike a path that turned out to be a LOT longer than you could handle in this heat — particularly since nothing is well marked and you got a little lost? Looky-lou, a pickup site to get back to the visitor’s center.)
Anyway, despite the logistical improvements that could be implemented, we had a good time. We finished up there after a few hours and headed on to Manitou Springs, a cute little town at the foot of Pike’s Peak. We had lunch at the Stagecoach Inn and then perused the town proper, then drove up to see the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway depot. At 3+ hours round trip, and many hours back home again, we decided to forgo the climb itself.
Several hours later, through horrendous traffic and a fabulous view of lightning storms in the distance, we cruised back to Fort Collins.