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10 Tips for Visiting the Garden of the Gods

    garden of the gods


    An hour and a half south of Denver, Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs makes for a great day trip with kids. The National Natural Landmark is free to visit and without hiking can be covered in a two-hour visit. Here are our 10 tips for visiting the Garden of the Gods with kids.

    1. Stop at the Visitor’s Center

    Make sure you grab a map at the visitors’ center so you know the names of all the 17 formations.  There are 16 parking lots to stop and enjoy the scenery.

    2. Enjoy Lunch with a View

    The visitor center houses Bean Sprouts, a cafe with great choices including sandwiches, soups, salads, and pizza. Eat inside beside the huge windows or out on the patio to enjoy views of the park.

    To cut costs further, pack a lunch and eat at the available picnic tables outside.

    3. Explore the Museum

    Learn about the area’s geology, ecology, and cultural history through hands-on interactive exhibits at the visitor & nature center.

    garden of gods visitor center

    4. Junior Ranger Program

    Children ages 7 to 12 can participate in the Garden of the Gods Junior Ranger program. By completing an activity booklet (available for $2 at the information desk), they can earn a badge and certificate. Upon completion of the booklet, they will be introduced over the PA system as Junior Rangers.

    garden of gods red rocks

    5. Book a bike or electronic bike tour, rental, or ride.

    Explore the park on a bike through a tour or on your own. Want to relax instead? Book a Jeep excursion, Segway adventure, or Trolley Tour.

    balanced rock at garden of gods

    6. Pack water and sunscreen

    The dry Colorado climate and high elevation mean that plenty of water to stay hydrated and sunscreen (reapply!) are a must.

    7. Take a hike

    There are 21 miles of trails to explore. The paved Perkins Central Garden Trail is only half a mile while the Chambers/Bretag/Palmer Trail clocks in at around 3 miles. 

    8. Watch out for Rattlesnakes

    Rattlesnakes are known in the area, be sure your kids are on the alert. Don’t step where you can’t see and if you come across a rattlesnake, give it plenty of room.

    9. Take a Guided Walk

    Tour the park on a naturalist-led walk with a knowledgeable park volunteer (charge and reservation needed). Walks are 45-60 minutes and a little over one mile in length on a paved trail.

    garden of gods gift shop

    10. Hit the Gift Shop

    At the back of the park is the Trading Post.  Don’t let the size of the building fool you, it’s huge inside, with every knick-knack available under the sun.  They have pottery, Navajo rugs, caps, t-shirts, moccasins, books, cups, glassware, toys, home decor, and that’s just what’s listed on the flier!  There is also another cafe- the Balanced Rock Cafe.  We did notice that the prices here were a little more than at the visitors’ center cafe.

    The Trading Post also included a creekside patio and Gemstone Mine.  For $6 a bucket you could sift through a bucket of dirt for gems.  My oldest daughter said she “thought they were tricking us because you don’t know if there are any gemstones in there or not”!  So we skipped that one.

    You can visit the park as part of a weekend in Colorado Springs or part of a Southwest Colorado Road Trip Loop.

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    Theresa Jorgensen

    Theresa Jorgensen

    Theresa Jorgensen is a mother to four children including twins. She recognized the necessity for a comprehensive resource of hotels that cater to big families with rooms and suites for 5, 6, 7, or 8 people in a single room while traveling with her own family. In 2008, she established SixSuitcaseTravel to compile a database of such hotels. Over time, the website has grown to include travel advice, itineraries, road trip suggestions, national park guides, and more. Theresa takes pleasure in assisting other big families in creating unforgettable travel experiences.