Lost in the Garden of Eden!
If you are in the Colorado Springs area, at least a short visit to the Garden of the Gods is a must. I first became aware of the garden in a Physical Geography class at NAU in which my professor showed a classic picture of the garden's upturned sedimentary rocks. My jawed dropped in awe and I knew I had go there someday.
The Perkins Central Garden Trail is the easiest and most popular hike in the Garden of the Gods. It is paved to allow handicap and stroller access, and also features interpretive signage. This trail is obviously very family friendly, constantly crowded, and not adventurous at all, but it is the best way to get up close and personal with the garden's vertically tilted red rocks (e.g. the Kissing Camels). It is quite amazing the pitch that these rocks sit at. Remember that sedimentary rocks are formed horizontally, so it must have taken an incredible amount of force to get these rocks into the position they are situated in. One only needs to look up 7,500 vertical feet to the lofty heights of Pike's Peak to find the face behind the force.
Despite the crowds and sidewalks, I still found this hike enjoyable. As I am very familiar with Sedona, the red sandstones didn't strike me with awe as they probably did with other visitors, but being a student of geology I have a great fascination with sedimentary rocks being mangled. Being at 6,500 feet, and basically within the city, this area is accessible year-round. It is a very photogenic area, and I imagine it to be even more spectacular when Pike's Peak is capped with fresh snow.
The park offers guided tours of the trail; stop by the park's excellent visitor's center for more information. The park has many other hiking trails at your disposal as well. The red rocks are also a rock climbing destination and the Perkins Central Garden Trail the #1 access route. Entrance to the Garden of the Gods Park is free.
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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