Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods plaque with view in background.

Garden of the Gods became a National Historic Site in 1971. We visited Garden of the Gods while in Colorado for Michael and Allie’s wedding. However, I also visited there in 1983 and in 1994. My mom visited there on her honeymoon in 1948. While the rocks haven’t changed much, some other things have changed through the years.

For one thing, one can now take an e-bike tour through the Garden. That’s what Dan, Danny, Jenn and I did when we visited. Actually, Danny and Jenn treated us to the e-bike tour as a wedding gift. Thank you, Danny and Jenn! It was a great gift!

Our tour started with lessons on how to ride the e-bike. Then we rode along the trails, through the people walking, to the first lookout over the main area of rocks. After that, we mostly road on roads, stopping at various lookouts and given a few minutes to explore each section. We even rode on a dirt/gravel road.

Jenn, Danny, Betty and Dan with bike helmets on and Garden of the Gods scenery in the background.

We rode about 9 miles, according to our guide. The tour was scheduled to last two and a half hours; although, our tour lasted a good 15 minutes longer, I’d say. It’s possible I may have slowed things down a bit when my bike got a bit out of control at one point and started going backwards or a bit later when my knee and elbow had a disagreement with some rocks.

What happened was our guide, who was great really, at one point showed us some tall boulders up high. “How’d ya like to stand on top of those rocks? It’s easy! Right on the other side are some natural steps, and you can climb right up to the top!” “Now, you don’t have to do it, but if you want an adventure I’ll wait right here with the bikes while you explore.”

I’d guess our guide was about 35 years younger than me with the fitness and agility that come with those years and with being an “outdoorsy” young male. His idea of “easy natural steps” and my idea of “easy natural steps” don’t quite match up. So, while looking for adventure, I took a tumble. But I got up, wiped off the blood, brushed off my pride, and then I made it higher on the rocks. I regret to say I did not make it to the very top of the boulders.

Danny and Jenn getting that selfie!
This is Dan.
He is saying, “Betty, come back down.”

Even without going to the top, like Danny and Jenn did, it was still great fun. The whole tour was fun.

Garden of the God also offers regular bikes, jeep and segway tours, and – for those really adventurous – front range climbing tours. Of course, you can always just park and walk or hike the area – which, I think, were the only options to explore when I visited in 1983 and 1994.

Michael in 1994.
2021
Danny and Jenn
in same spot.

The four of us had originally planned to ride the shuttle back to the rocks and explore more after our e-bike tour, but afterwards we decided to head back to Longmont. We felt we had explored a good amount, and even though we rode e-bikes, we were a bit tired after our adventure. Plus we didn’t want to eat dinner too late.

Our group and other groups at a lookout spot.

I don’t remember the Visitor Center being there on my previous visits. The other thing I don’t remember are the crowds. Or the shuttles to take people from the overflow parking area to the rocks or to the Visitor Center. I’ve been reading about the crowds at the national parks. We were part of the crowds, that day.

We were part of the crowds another day, too. A few days before, we drove from Longmont into Estes Park. We couldn’t get in to Rocky Mountain National Park as we didn’t sign up online months before in order to get a reservation.

As a side note, I was told one can enter without a reservation before 6 a.m.or later in the day (like after 3, 4 or 5 p.m.) based on the numbers. It’s posted on an electronic sign right outside the park. I wasn’t aware of this option, so we just walked around Estes Park.

Betty and Dan with creek in background.
Estes Park 2021

Now, I’ve been to the area twice before. I remember walking around the town back then and seeing moose walking about in the store parking lots. But this time, there were no moose. Only a river of people, police directing traffic on the main drag, and parking for which you had to pay by the hour. After which, you could walk by fudge shops, ice cream shops, souvenir shops, restaurants, and then repeat.

I enjoyed seeing Estes Park again. But honestly, I’m not in a hurry to go back. It’s too crowded. And while I enjoy fudge and ice cream, we can’t get together on a regular basis.

View at Garden of the Gods.

I’m not one that has to get out in rugged nature with no one else around but an eagle soaring in the sky. I’m somewhere in between that and the current crowds. Give me some nature, folks can be around – to pass on the trail or to chat a bit here and there. But at some point, when the crowds start to get large and stress begins to enter the picture, that’s my notice to exit.

I’m not sure the crowds are going to get smaller any time soon. I’ve been thinking of strategies. Maybe visit state parks instead? Stay away from the most popular national parks for now? We already have reservations for Yellowstone in August 2022, and we are not giving up that. We are changing our route to avoid the Sturgis Rally. It may come as a surprise to some, but I’m not really a motorcycle gal.

We can try to visit areas during the good weather season, but perhaps stick to the beginning or the end – what some may call the fringe season. Once the borders open up, head up to Canada? I think I need to stop telling people about Michigan. Of course, I can tell my blog readers. No big crowds there.

In any case, we aren’t going to stop seeing this great land. This is the season in our lives to do so. The time is now. Like those e-bikes, I’m not going to let a few bumps in the road keep me off the road. We’ll figure it out somehow, someway.

What about you?

Perhaps we are
between a rock and a hard place.

30 comments

  1. Love your adventures! We leave Friday for WY and Montana. Yellowstone is a part of this trip along with Glacier NP. We have reservations for the Road to the Sun in Glacier and made those in March. Crazy how busy the parks are, but just returned from Utah where we visited 4 of the NP. We only had to wait going into Cayonland by car. We really didn’t encounter long lines anywhere else. I enjoy reading your blog and hope you continue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Margie! Those sound like great adventures. I have heard Glacier NP is fabulous. I am not sure when we will get there, but I hope to someday! I am glad you haven’t encountered many long lines. You are really racking up the NP’s. Good for you! Thanks for reading my blog. It is my retirement hobby as I enjoy writing. I blog to capture the memories but also, I hope to be a positive voice in the world. Maybe make someone’s day better, even if just a bit. Enjoy your adventures, and safe travels!

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  2. The rocks look like they are kissing. That makes me smile. Not sure when we will do our Canadian Rockies Road Trip, but it is still on the do do list. Enjoy your travels–you are having fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is a section known as “kissing camels.” You are very perceptive! I had seen a motel with the name “Kissing Camels” on the way to Garden of the Gods and was a bit perplexed! Hope you can get to the Canadian Rockies soon. That’s on our bucket list, too. Someday! But for now, I will enjoy today as best as I can. Hope you have great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved this post so very much. We go to Colorado every single year and have not been to Estes. Yet. Thanks for the info about needing advanced reservations just to visit RMNP. Looks like a wonderful trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad you loved this post. Thank you for telling me. That sounds pretty great to go to Colorado every year. It is so beautiful there. I have been to Colorado three times in my life, and I do hope to visit again. I also hope to find my way back to Van Briggle pottery where my mom went on her honeymoon. Thanks for reading, and have a great week ahead!

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  4. The picture of Dan talking you down from the boulders is priceless! And I already knew you weren’t a motorcycle gal, because I’m a regular reader of this here blog.🤠

    I find crowds at major attractions—especially one’s that God made—a bit of a distraction. Nancy and I prefer the off-season too. Say, if you ever head up to New England, the time to go is right after everything opens back up (Memorial Day). Down East Maine (Acadia National Park) isn’t too crowded in early June. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, while I don’t really want to admit it, Dan was probably right that I shouldn’t go any further. Especially since there weren’t any “natural handrails!” 🙂
      I totally agree with you and Nancy regarding crowds and God’s creations. I don’t like my awe and wonder interrupted. I will keep your suggestions in mind for New England and Maine. Those are areas I’ve never been. Blessing to you, too! Enjoy your evening!

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  5. I love this post! Especially since we were there last summer and I recognize where your photos were taken. We didn’t know about the bike tours but we saw the Segway Tours. We just , like you said, parked and walked around. It was crowded last year, even with COVID. The crowds are a big issue everywhere right now and they seem to be getting worse. We are trying to figure it out too. It’s a big country but everyone wants to see the same places. Happy days and safe travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am glad you loved this post! I went back and reread your post from your visit there a year ago. And yes, I recognize the picture spots, too. If we visit again – which may be awhile – I would just hike, like you did. I do have a picture from Garden of the Gods in 1983 where an artist had set up an easel, a lawn chair and a table and was painting the scenery. For some reason, I really like that picture; although, my picture is faded now. I am glad the Garden is forever free. Our St. Louis Zoo is like that, too. It’s good for families who may be on a tight budget – and for us retirees, too! I had forgotten about the Manitou Cliff Dwelling, but I have been to Mesa Verde twice. There are so many great places to see and experience. We are so blessed – even with the crowds. Safe travels and happy adventures!

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    • I love reading that you laughed out loud! That is a real compliment. It was a great adventure at a beautiful place. It is a treasure to me to read your blog and your comments and to think you are on the other side of the world, and somehow we’ve connected with our blogs and common interests. Enjoy your day in your beautiful home!

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  6. Your writing style is always fun, informative, and entertaining, Betty. I look forward to your posts. I’ve never tried an e-bike. It sounds like they have a bit of a learning curve. Our provincial parks are booked the tightest they’ve ever been this summer. I believe Covid had a lot to do with that (more people staying closer to home). Our National Parks are just as busy. We also have a Regional Park system here in Saskatchewan, so we’re hoping that between those and small town campgrounds we can avoid crowds. Thanks again for another great read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are welcome! Well, I guess my plan to head north to Canada to avoid the crowds wasn’t a very good plan! It just looks so big up there! 🙂 I still want to travel in Canada in the future as it looks so beautiful. I had ridden an e-bike twice before with no issues – in Hawaii (Maui) and in Red Rocks (near Vegas). However, it was more crowded at Garden of the Gods, and I think that made me a bit nervous with all the people and cars. E-bikes are great when there are hills. For now though, I am sticking with my traditional bike because I get more exercise with it. It’s all fun. I can’t wait to read about your travels. It will be an education for me as I really don’t know much about Canada. Thanks for reading and your comment, and enjoy your day!

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    • Wow! We were at Garden of the Gods on Sunday, the 20th. We arrived in Longmont on the 17th and headed home on the 21st. We just drove down to Garden of the Gods for the day. It would have been so fun to see you! How was your trip? What did you do? Were you in a travel trailer? I hope everything is going well for you!

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  7. We arrived in Colorado Springs on the 19th and stayed in The Lone Duck campground. We upgraded the hybrid to a 28′ pull behind. The Lone Duck was good for the kids, but very tight spaces. It was difficult to back the camper in, but Jeff did it! While at the Duck, we visited Pike’s Peak, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Garden of the Gods, and the Royal Gorge. We visited Paint Mines Interpretive Park on our way into Colorado Springs. We then relocated to Lothrop State Park outside of Walsenburg. The views were spectacular and more my style compared to the Duck. Walsenburg is an ancestral city for me, so we visited the graves of my great grandparents. Sadly, a lot was closed in Walsenburg due to COVID. We then took a road trip to the Tri-State Monument for Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico which was an adventure in itself. We returned to St. Louis on the 27th in the rain. It was a great trip, especially the lack of humidity!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sounds like a fabulous trip! Sometimes the spaces are so tight, it doesn’t seem mathematically possible to fit – much less back in! Good for Jeff! And 28′, too! I haven’t ever tried, not do I want to. I haven’t ever heard of Walsenburg, but bigger spots and spectacular views sounds like my style, too. I am glad to hear you are making adventures and memories. I hope you have a great rest of the summer!

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  8. We stayed in Estes Park several years ago during a visit to Colorado. That, of course, was pre-pandemic so we went to Rocky Mountain National Park almost every day. We visited Yellowstone, Glacier, and a few other parks in July 2019 and thanks to the crowds at Glacier, learned a few things along the way. We stayed just outside the west gate of Yellowstone. We would enter the park between 7am and 8am and stay until around 11:30am when the crowds showed up. We’d leave the park and re-enter around 5pm. By 5pm the crowds were leaving and the sun sets so late we’d still have 3-4 hours to explore. In the future, we’re going to plan our national park trips either in April/May or September/October in hopes of avoiding some of the crowds since the kids will be back in school.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really like your idea to visit national parks in April/May or September/October. June is usually a great weather month for us here in St. Charles, so that’s a good time to stay home or close to home (i.e. camp local during the week.) Garden of the Gods was much less crowded when we left about 4:30, but they do stay open later, so your idea would work well. You have good strategies. It seems more important than ever to be a planner when it comes to RV traveling. I can tell you are a planner. I am, too, and it seems, I am always learning! Enjoy your day, and safe travels!

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  9. Another one to add to the bucket list of places to visit. So you couldn’t climb them rocks like you guide! I don’t think I would have even tried it. Wonderful blog that really “took” me there. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am glad you got to visit Garden of the Gods- without the crowds! Well, our guide made it sound so easy – just walk up the “natural steps.” LoL. I always think, I may not be here again, so I want to try. Basically, I try to follow your advice – live life to the fullest! Just have to be a bit more careful about it at this point. Thanks for catching up with my blog. It wasn’t necessary, but I appreciate it. 🙂

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  10. What a glorious place 🙂
    Did you know, we have a location here, in South Africa, called God’s Window 🙂
    I’ll try to do a blog post about it and about its legend 😉

    Thank you for the view! Breathtaking.
    Happy retirement and best wishes,
    Pat

    Liked by 1 person

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