The Ultimate Guide to Colorado’s Garden of the Gods Park

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Balanced Rock Garden of the Gods Colorado

The US state of Colorado is renowned for its wild, natural beauty. But the Colorado Springs area (also known as the Pikes Peak region) is home to some of the state’s best natural wonders. Including the expansive Garden of the Gods Park.

What is Garden of the Gods?

Just outside Manitou Springs, Garden of the Gods is a 1,350-acre city park featuring soaring red sandstone rock formations that date back more than 300 million years. The unique formations were sculpted through time by the forces of nature and have been given descriptive names like “Kissing Camels” and “Balanced Rock.” 

The park offers many trails for hiking enthusiasts and rock climbers alike. It’s also an ideal spot for picnicking, horseback riding, mountain biking or just awe-inspiring photography. 

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to book through these links, I receive a small commission, which I will undoubtedly blow on more flights (it’s a vicious cycle).  All of this internet voodoo takes place at no additional cost to you. 

If you’re looking to explore interesting rock formations or just take in breathtaking scenery, Garden of the Gods is the place for you!

And it’s an absolute must-see if you’re planning a visit to Colorado Springs. Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of your visit to the Garden of the Gods Park. Let’s start with the basics:

Need to Know Info

Garden of the Gods Colorado Springs
Garden of the Gods Park

Where is Garden of the Gods?

1805 N. 30th Street

Colorado Spring, CO 80904

(719) 634-6666

Garden of the Gods from Denver

If you’re in Colorado Springs, visiting this national natural landmark is a no-brainer. But it’s also an easy trip from Denver via I-25, the drive takes about 90 minutes. If you don’t want to drive, there are plenty of terrific day trip options from Denver and some include Pikes Peak as well which is a great way to see both Colorado Springs’ attractions in a single day. 

This is one of my favorites:

MY Pick
Garden of the Gods Colorado Tour from Denver

Tour of Pikes Peak & Garden of the Gods from Denver

This 8-hour small group tour is the perfect way to see Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, and Manitou Springs in one stress-free day from Denver.

Is Garden of the Gods free?

Yes, it’s totally free! In 1879, Charles Elliott Perkins purchased the land that included a portion of where the park sits today. Upon his death in 1909, his family gave the land to the city of Colorado Springs with the provision that the land always remain a free public park.

So yes, today Garden of the Gods Park is one of the most spectacular free sights in the United States.

Garden of the Gods Hours

The park is open daily as follows:

Summer Hours (May 1 – October 31)

Park: 5:00am – 10:00pm 

Nature & Visitor Center: 8:00am – 7:00pm

Winter Hours (November 1 – April 30)

Park: 5:00am – 9:00pm

Nature & Visitor Center: 9:00am – 5:00pm 

Note: The Nature & Visitor Center is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Garden of the Gods Parking

Parking at the Visitor Center Parking Lot is free. However, this lot has less than 200 spaces and often fills up, especially in the popular summer months. Fortunately, there are overflow parking areas nearby complete with a free shuttle. Here’s the information on how to find the Overflow Lot and take the free shuttle.

What’s the best time of day to visit?

You may have seen Garden of the Gods pictures with an amazing sunset in the background. To enjoy views like that, plan your visit for late afternoon when the sun casts its golden rays over these red sandstone formations and creates an awe-inspiring scene.

Sunrise is another fantastic time to visit for more vibrant red rocks. The best times to visit are early morning or late afternoon. During these times you’ll get a chance to experience the park with the most brilliant colors and the fewest crowds.

The Visitor & Nature Center

Once you arrive, your first stop should be the fabulous Visitor & Nature Center. Inside you’ll find informative exhibits, the Geo Trekker Theater, and a fun gift shop. Plus restrooms, water bottle refilling stations, and a cafe with great views of the park. And it’s all for a good cause! Purchases here benefit public education and conservation of the Park. 

A stop at the Visitor & Nature Center is the best way to get your bearings. You can also pick up one of the free park maps to help guide your visit. 

Things to do at Garden of the Gods 

Trying to decide what to do at Garden of the Gods? In addition to hiking the many trails, rock climbing, and horseback riding, you can also book Jeep Tours, e-bike tours, and Segway Tours around the park. So if you’re interested in one of those more creative ways to explore the park, here are the three best tours:

1. Jeep Tour – Foothills & Garden of the Gods

2. E-bike Tour: Garden of the Gods

3. Garden of the Gods Segway Tour through Juniper Loop

How long of a walk is Garden of the Gods?

With 21 miles of trails to explore, there’s something for every fitness level so the walk can be as long or as short as you’d like. 

Garden of the Gods Colorado Hiking Trails
Hiking Trails – Garden of the Gods Park

Hike one (or several) of the many trails to take in the park’s spectacular views. From short hikes for beginners or more challenging trails designed for experienced hikers, Garden of the Gods has something for everyone. Even if you just have an hour to spare in your day, you can still enjoy the park’s best highlights.

Here are the primary Garden of the Gods trails to explore, from easy hikes to the more challenging:

For an easy stroll suitable for all skill levels, try these trails:

  • Perkins Central Garden Trail (Easy) – This paved and relatively flat 1.5 mile roundtrip path takes you through the heart of the Park at the base of the highest rock formations.
  • Siamese Twins Trail (Easy) -This 1-mile roundtrip trail has less than a 150-foot rise. Along the path, don’t miss the unique photo opportunity of Pikes Peak through the natural window of the twins.
  • Ridge Trail (Easy/Moderate) – 1/2 mile loop, with less than 100-foot rise in elevation. This path leads to the foot of The Sleeping Giant rock formation and back.

For a more challenging workout:

  • Chambers/Bretag/Palmer Trail (Moderate) – This 3-mile hike has less than a 250-foot rise. Circling nearly the entire Park, this trail rolls through rocky terrain away from the traffic.
  • Scotsman/Buckskin Charlie Trail (Moderate) – This 2-mile rocky and rolling loop features distant views of the Central Garden formations.

Must See Garden of the Gods Rock Formations

The park is full of fascinating things to see but these two rock formations are not to be missed:

Balanced Rock

The park’s most famous rock formation, Balanced Rock can be seen from many different points in the park. It’s easy to visit by car or hiking trail and is a popular photo opportunity with visitors. 

Keep your eye out while you’re walking around because there are other great rocks close by!

Balanced Rock Garden of the Gods Colorado
Balanced Rock – Garden of the Gods, Colorado

The Kissing Camels

The Kissing Camels rock formation is one of the most popular sites in Garden of the Gods. It’s named for its two “camel” rocks that are positioned so they look like they’re kissing each other. The Kissing Camels can be easily viewed from several of the trails through the park.

Kissing Camels Garden of the Gods Park Colorado Springs
Kissing Camels – Garden of the Gods Park

Best hotel near Garden of the Gods

After all that hiking you’ll need somewhere to relax and recharge for the night. Luckily, there are plenty of terrific hotel options for every budget in the Colorado Springs area.

But for amazing park views, this one is my favorite:

#1 Top Pick
Garden of the Gods Resort and Club

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Garden of the Gods Resort & Club

✅ Full-Service Spa

✅ 18-Hole Golf Course

For killer views of Garden of the Gods Park, you can’t beat this resort-style property. Just 15 minutes from the park, the resort features a full-service spa, golf course, and spacious rooms (many with decadent soaking tubs – a personal favorite!). 

Don’t Miss: The Garden of the Gods Trading Post

Built in 1929, the Trading Post is the largest and oldest gift shop in all of Colorado.

At the Trading Post, you can shop for the perfect souvenir to remember your visit or just refuel after your hike with a bison burger or homemade fudge. There’s even a hidden entrance to the park favored by locals looking to avoid the summer tourist crowds.

More Awesome Things to Do Near Garden of the Gods

There’s so much to see in the Colorado Springs area, you could spend weeks trying to see it all! But if you only have a few days, after you hike the Garden of the Gods, here are my other top 3 must-sees:

  1. Pikes Peak – Known as America’s Mountain, Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains’ southern Front Range. On a clear day, five states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Kansas) are visible from the summit’s viewing areas. 
  2. Manitou Cliff Dwellings – One of America’s most unique archaeological sites, these Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings were relocated from the Four Corners area in 1904. The fascinating museum and preserve has been open to visitors since 1907.
  3. The Air Force Academy – Home to as many as 4,000 exceptional men and women (depending on the time of year), the US Air Force Academy is the youngest of the 5 military service academies. There’s plenty to see and do here from hiking trails to IMAX movies in the Planetarium. And the best part? It’s all free.  

Read More: 7 Best Summer Things to Do in Colorado Springs (2024)

And there you have it!

Everything you need to know to plan your day at one of America’s most incredible parks with (bonus!) free admission. Not only is Garden of the Gods one of Colorado’s most famous attractions it’s also a must-visit for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.

With amazing rock formations, a legendary gift shop, and a variety of trails and hikes that are perfect for the whole family, a visit to Garden of the Gods Colorado Springs is a must on your trip to Colorado!