The Central Garden Trail is a moderate, one-mile round-trip loop. It is paved and wheelchair accessible. This trail will take you between the towering Gateway Rocks into the heart of Garden of the Gods Park. Along the way you will have the opportunity to learn the stories behind the unique scenery.
Please stay on the trail. Beware of rattlesnakes, which are active in the warmer months. Help preserve the Park's fragile native vegetation.
Climbing on the rocks without technical climbing equipment is illegal, and it can be deadly. Many injuries and even deaths have occurred when visitors failed to heed this warning. Violations of the rock climbing ordinance can result in a fine of up to $500.
Technical rock climbers are required to register at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center.
Right Before Your Eyes
What's so interesting about a rock? Rocks contain the clues that allow scientists to piece together the geologic story of life as it occured over millions of years. The ridges of rock stretched out before you represent chapters of the Earth's history of changing life and landscapes.
1) These ridges and cliffs began as horizontal sediments that were deposited as streambeds, sand dunes, beaches and sea floors as the environment changed over the past 300 million years.
2) About 65 million years ago, stresses within the Earth gradually pushed up the Pikes Peak Granite underlying Garden of the Gods.
3) Tremendous pressure caused by this mountain-building bent, broke and tilted the overlying sedimentary rocks into vertical positions. The once deeply buried granite now forms the mountains west of the Park.4) Over thousands of years, summer rains along with spring's cycle of freezing water and expanding ice have weathered and eroded the upturned rocks into the shapes you see today. These forces continue to slowly sculpt the landscape.
Life Among the Rocks
This park is an intersection, or crossroads, of wildlife and plants from the Rock Mountains, the prairie grasslands and the southwestern desert, all converging to form a unique living landscape. Several factors contribute to the Park's great variety of organisms. The Garden of the Gods has milder winters than the mountains to the west and receives more moisture than the short grass prairies to the east. These red rocks provide protection from sun and storm. Finally, a variety of soils nurture a diversity of hardy plants that in turn support and shelter wildlife.
Bighorn Sheep can sometimes be spotted on the rocky hillsides just to the north (behind where you are standing). It takes a sharp eye to pick out the gray-and-white sheep among the rocks!
The Local herd of bighorns graze higher up in the mountains during the summer and move down to lower elevations near the Park for winter. Preservation of natural habitat in the sheep's winter range is critical for these animals. This is especially true today, as homes and other developments continue to expand into bighorn territory.
The Garden's Human History
The tall spites of this area have served as a landmark to uncounted travelers. Evidence discovered by archaeologists indicate that people have hunted in what is now the Park for over three thousand years.
This rock garden was a traditional camping place for the Ute and other American Indians, who found plentiful game, useful wild plants and nearby water. Beginning in the early 1800's, U.S. explorers and adventurers spread word of the scenic wonders in this part of the Rocky Mountains. The 1850's and '60's brought goldseekers and then settlers who farmed and grazed cattle in the valleys bordering the red rocks. With the coming of the railroad in the 1870s, the first tourists came to view these unusual sandstone formations.
Today, this Colorado Springs City Park is visited by people from many nations. We honor the people in the Garden's past by preserving the Park's unique natural and historical legacy.