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Old 10-01-2011, 12:49 PM
 
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Hi,
When my best friend visits at the end of October, I would like to take her to Garden of the Gods and then Pike's Peak, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to do it. We would be going on a Monday or Friday, and Pike's Peak only has a noon train those days - we'd have to be there by 11:30 am! So I have a few questions.

1) How long do we need to tour Garden of the Gods? We both enjoy hiking and want to see all the good parts.

2) The Garden of the Gods Web site says it opens at 9am, but I've been told the sunrises there are amazing. Is there anything that prevents us from touring it at dawn, even if the visitor's center isn't open?

3) What are some good places for lunch in the area? We'd be eating after the Pike's Peak tour, I guess.

4) Is there anything else in that immediate vicinity that we should see? It's about 90 minutes from where I live, so I'd love to take in a few more sights while we're there.
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Old 10-01-2011, 02:19 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
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Garden of the Gods is one of my favorite places. I drive down to Colo Spgs all the time just to hike there. If you just want a quick tour of Garden of the Gods, you can do the park in an hour. You can walk the whole paved central garden area in 1/2 an hour plus give some time to drive around to different spots. If you really want to "soak in it" and do some of the fun dirt hiking trails in the park, you could easily spend 3 or more hours at the park. I know the "trading post" in the park has a restaurant, not sure if it's any good though. There are a handful of restaurants in Old Colorado City, and Manitou Springs of course has a lot of touristy stuff. You'll be driving through Manitou Spgs to and from Pike's Peak, so might as well get off the highway and check it out.

Re the park hours, I'm pretty sure the 9am opening is for the visitors center building (which is not actually in the park), not the park itself. It's a free Colorado Springs city park; I'd assume it would be open at sunrise, but you should call the CS recreation department yourself to find out first hand. (719) 385-5940

You would probably get more responses if you posted this on the Colo Spgs forum instead of the Denver forum.
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Old 10-02-2011, 09:04 AM
 
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We were there recently. If you like hiking, I'd give it 2-3 hours. Of course, you can just drive to the highlights and do it in an hour.

The park is open around the clock. It's the visitors center (really an unnecessary stop) that opens at 9.
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Old 10-02-2011, 09:20 AM
 
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I've relocated this from the Denver forum to the Colorado Springs forum as GotG is WITHIN the city of COLO SPGS.

The park is free. I'd be there when it opens at 9AM, see it for 2 hours or so. Before the gate opens at 9AM, you can view it from the parking lot of the visitor center in the 1800 block of 30th Street or from higher up along Mesa Blvd. About 11AM you start heading on over to the cog railway. When the train gets to the top, get some of their donuts, which are awesome for some reason.

When you get back down, eat in Manitou and then walk around the town which is full of shops. A favorite with many are the Adams Mountain Cafe or the Cliff House, but there are so many to choose from, some quite pricey.
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Old 10-02-2011, 10:39 AM
 
Location: Colorado
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Garden of the Gods is open from 5a.m. to 11p.m during the summer and 5a.m. to 9p.m. in the winter. City of Colorado Springs - Park Hours & Rules

That said, there aren't gates to stop you.

How long it takes depends on what you want to do. If you want to just do the central garden, it can be done in an hour or so. I like the Palmer trail that gives you nice views of the park from different angles. If you are really into hiking you can take that all the way to other trails in the southern end of the park. I usually do Palmer to the Central Garden trail, then get in my car to the Siamese Twins Trail, then back in the car to see Balanced Rock, and drive around some of the other scenic places. I also hike with my daughter, so four miles is about our limit.

A very good hike if you want to spend many many hours is Palmer trail to Scotsman to Central Garden.

You can see more trails and the rock formation highlights at Garden of the Gods - Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Visitor's Center is neat, but it isn't completely necessary. Do go to the Trading Post though. Mike's comment to eat in Manitou is spot on. Take the exit from the park from Balanced Rock into Manitou. I personally love the Loop. Adam's Mountain Cafe is excellent.
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Old 10-02-2011, 11:00 AM
 
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The GofG page I referenced says 9AM to 5PM, and upon further look that seems to be the hours of the Visitors Center.

The City Parks page that Hug referenced says 5AM to 9PM and certainly seems more reasonable.
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Last edited by Mike from back east; 10-02-2011 at 11:09 AM..
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Old 10-02-2011, 11:06 AM
 
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Garden of the Gods is pretty; it isn't really a "hiking" place per se, more of a "walking" place, at least in my book. But the "walking" should take at least a few hours, especially if you've never been there and want to take some pictures, etc. If you're really looking for true "hiking", there are better places to go. If you want to see the Garden and that is your main purpose, a combination of on-foot and driving would maximize your viewing.
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Old 10-02-2011, 11:45 AM
 
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I want to put in a word for the Visitor's Center. To me it is much easier for a first time visitor to get a handle on the place after going to the Visitor's Center. Even if you have little interest in geology, it really helps to understand what you are seeing if you can get a little understanding of the forces behind it all.

If I wanted to make the cog railway by 11:30, I'd be at the park by 8:00 am, drive the main loops, then be at the Visitor's Center when they open. You can "do" the Center in 20 - 30 minutes. Then go back and take a look at what particularly interests you.

I should think you would want lunch before leaving on the train - I know I would. It does not get back until well after 3:00 pm. There are picnic spots throughout the park. I think my favorite is behind the Trading Post, which is strange for me as I usually prefer more secluded locations.
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Old 10-02-2011, 12:20 PM
 
Location: Sun City West, Arizona
22,438 posts, read 10,385,168 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vegaspilgrim View Post
Garden of the Gods is one of my favorite places. I drive down to Colo Spgs all the time just to hike there. If you just want a quick tour of Garden of the Gods, you can do the park in an hour. You can walk the whole paved central garden area in 1/2 an hour plus give some time to drive around to different spots. If you really want to "soak in it" and do some of the fun dirt hiking trails in the park, you could easily spend 3 or more hours at the park. I know the "trading post" in the park has a restaurant, not sure if it's any good though. There are a handful of restaurants in Old Colorado City, and Manitou Springs of course has a lot of touristy stuff. You'll be driving through Manitou Spgs to and from Pike's Peak, so might as well get off the highway and check it out.

Re the park hours, I'm pretty sure the 9am opening is for the visitors center building (which is not actually in the park), not the park itself. It's a free Colorado Springs city park; I'd assume it would be open at sunrise, but you should call the CS recreation department yourself to find out first hand. (719) 385-5940

You would probably get more responses if you posted this on the Colo Spgs forum instead of the Denver forum.
Vegas, you've summed it up perfectly.

The restaurant in the Trading Post is fast food, but good fast food. I am in a monthly lunch group, and in good weather we often go there to enjoy sitting outside and having lunch.
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Old 10-04-2011, 07:16 AM
 
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One of my favorite things to do is to pack a lunch and have a picnic up on one of the rocks there- that'd be a fun lunch.
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