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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?