Sunday, April 17, 2011

Garden of the Gods

As per doctor’s orders, we tried to take it easy today.  I’m not sure we achieved what the doctor had in mind, but we certainly didn’t over exert ourselves.

Our big outing for the day was a visit to Garden of the Gods, a 1350 acre city park in Colorado Springs.  Our first stop was the Visitor and Nature Center where I found a new coffee mug.

From there we headed across the street and into the park.  The road makes a loop around the huge red sandstone rock formations.  To get up close and personal with the rock, there are numerous multi-use trails for hikers, bicyclists, and horses.  From the main parking lot there is a paved trail which meanders amongst the largest rock formations.

We knew I wouldn’t be able to do any hiking today, but a short walk along the paved trail seemed harmless enough.  We didn’t go very far and we spent more time making pictures than we spent walking.

Our only regret was that we went on the weekend.  This was a beautiful spring day in Colorado and, like this type day anywhere else, folks wanted to be outside.  Over the course of the afternoon, we drove around the loop road four times and never found a parking spot at the main parking lot.  We pulled off the road at a couple of pull-outs and we were able to find parking spaces at Balanced Rock and at the South Parking Lot, but traffic was unbelievable.  We even saw a couple tour buses.

We really wanted to get to the paved trail so we could walk around in the big rocks.  We finally found a spot large enough for our little car at a pull-out near one of the dirt trails.  That dirt trail led to the paved trail within a short distance.  Once on the paved trail, we were able to get a much better perspective of just how huge these rock formations are.

On the southwestern side of the park is Garden of the Gods Trading Post.  This original trading post built in the Pueblo style was established in 1900.  During the 1950s Native American artisans worked at the Trading Post creating and selling their pottery, jewelry, and baskets. Over the years, the building has been expanded several times and it now claims to be Colorado’s largest gift shop.

Without question, it’s a very large gift shop including a small snack bar with outdoor seating.  For the most part, the gift shop is a typical souvenir shop with t-shirts, polished rocks, and shot glasses, but if you wade through all that stuff and make your way to the back of the store, there is a large area of high quality handcrafted items.

If we have the opportunity, we’ll go back to Garden of the Gods during the week.   It is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for tagging along.

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