The Garden is located right by the base of Pike’s Peak — the tallest of the Southern Rockies. This means that the Garden has a lot to offer: view of the mountains, wildlife, and hiking trails. (So make sure your camera has enough space for all the pictures you’re about to take.) First time visitors would have a hard time deciding how to best use their time there, so we thought we’d weigh in with a few tips.
Pre-plan your meals
Pikes Peak region has lots of dining options both on and off the Gardens. The on-site options are the Garden of the Gods Market (which is quite fancy) and the Garden’s Cafe (which has more basic lunch dishes). Another on-site option is the Balanced Rock Cafe at the Garden’s Trading Post. The numerous off-site dining options include anything from fast-food chains like Chick-Fil-A to one-of-a-kind eateries such as the Caspian Cafe Mediterranean.
Get your info and start early
The Garden of the Gods has so many hiking trails it can easily make your head spin. It’s important to remember that there are different levels of difficulty that may not be suited for everyone. Do your homework to see which trails fit your level of experience and if hiking them requires any special equipment or preparation. After you decide on a trail, check the weather, and make sure you have the right clothes and shoes for it. No matter which trail you go with, start your journey early in the day so you’re not caught in the lightning storms that tend to hit the area around the afternoon. Oh, and don’t forget water. Water supply is hard to come by around the area so it’s best to bring your own.
There is more than one balanced rock
One of the mandatory pictures taken by visitors of the Garden of the Gods is that of the balanced rock. The landmark is essentially a red sandstone formation that appears to defy the laws of physics, staying balanced on a downhill slope. Lots of people stop and take gag pictures with it, which makes is quite the crowd magnet. But it’s actually not the only one in the area. Keep up with your hiking trail and you’ll find more that are much less crowded.
Give outdoor rock climbing a try
If you’ve always wanted to try some outdoor rock climbing and your arms are up for the challenge, the Garden of the Gods is the place for you. The park has designated climbing areas where you can safely test your abilities.