Guide to Garden of the Gods, Colorado
By Carrie Willink
Planning a trip to Garden of the Gods? Here’s our guide to Garden of the Gods, including hikes to go on and things to see.
Garden of the Gods is just one beautiful view and amazing rock formation after another! It’s about an hour away from Escape Campervan’s Denver rental depot. We were thrilled to have time to just soak in the sites and also let our littles out of the hiking packs for some hiking of their own. The visitor center has a very clear map and they do a great job of keeping everything up so spiffy! We were sad to not be able to spend more hours hiking around even more, but we were trying to make it into Rocky Mountain National Park before a snow storm.
Where did Garden of the Gods get its name?
From the Garden of the Gods website:
It was August of 1859 when two surveyors started out from Denver City exploring nearby locations, they came upon a beautiful area of sandstone formations. M. S. Beach suggested that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden” when the country grew up. His companion, Rufus Cable, a “young and poetic man”, exclaimed, “Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.” It has been so called ever since.
I have to say that this not what I thought it meant… but now we know the truth 🙂 There are many different opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, guided tours, and more. With a couple little ones in our packs, we stuck with self-guided hiking trails. There are many more beautiful hikes, but if you just have a few hours like us, here’s what to do.
Garden of the Gods Welcome Center
We stopped by the welcome center, which was a four-year-old’s dream. Learning about dinosaurs, the history of the place and more it was so fun for her! If you are interested in tours, this would be a great place to take one.
Gateway Garden Trail
First stop, we hit this beautiful paved 1.5-mile hike. Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s not totally worth it. From this trail, you can see many of the famous rocks such as White Rock, Signature Rock, Gateway Rock and of course the infamous Kissing Camels.
As we walked along, we noticed a stairway off of the pathway that led to a beautiful viewpoint at the top of South Gateway rock. This is a .7-mile hike up. The views from the top were unbelievable. If you have kiddos, be sure and let out a “holllaa!” Our girls loved yelling and hearing the echoes!
After watching some rock climbers and reading some more interesting facts, we headed back to our campervan. Driving slowly through this landscape and soaking in all of the sites is the best part of your trip to Garden of the Gods! The layers, textures are some of the coolest ever.
Our last stop was at the beautiful Balanced Rock! Not surprisingly, this is one of the most photographed rocks in the world and some even recognize it unofficially as the 8th world wonder. It was such a fun place for the girls to climb around and check out on their own. Perfect place to stop for a picnic as there is a nice parking lot for the pull off. Just remember to Leave No Trace!
Hopefully, this guide to Garden of the Gods was helpful. If you want to see Garden of the Gods and other Colorado landmarks, consider booking a campervan for your next road trip.