Kali and I began our 2014 Colorado getaway in Colorado Springs. The most frequently visited attraction in the city is Garden of the Gods, a large city park with impressive red sandstone formation. The "garden," which contains the most photogenic rock formations, is actually a fairly small part of the park, which encompasses a valley in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. There are red rock exposures on both sides of the valley, but the more interestingly eroded fins and spires are on the eastern side of the valley.
The park is very heavily visited. Kali and I arrived about ten, but but the time we left there were hundreds of people swarming over the grounds. The trails through the most interesting formations are paved, and visitors are confined to the paved trails by attractive post-and rail-fencing. If the trails weren't paved, the crush of visitors long ago would have eroded the walkways into unsightly, dusty ruts.
|A rock climber (in the crack on the lower right)|
|Prairie Falcon adult (perched on the rocky knob dead center)|
After we toured the "garden," we decided that we wanted a hike away from the crush of people, so we walked the 0.75-mile Gateway Trail to the Visitor Center. There was almost no one on this trail, and we had an opportunity to enjoy some nice vistas and wildflowers. We would have liked to walk more of the park's trails, but by the time time we had walked to and returned from the Visitor Center, it was early afternoon and very hot (our hottest day in Colorado), so we decided against additional exploration.
|A meadow alongside the Gateway Trail|
|Pike's Peak, 33rd highest of Colorado's 14ers (14,000+ foot high mountains)|
|Another view of Pike's Peak, with the western wall of the Garden of the Gods valley|