Garden of the Gods

Trip Start Jun 14, 2007
Trip End Jun 12, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Friday, April 4, 2008

Hey hey, so it didn't snow overnight but it sure as hell is making up for it now! Left Fort Collins under a cloudy, overcast sky and I promptly fall asleep, awakening somewhere just before Loveland, Co. Apparently Loveland is pretty famous in the States for its name, thousands of people send Valentine cards here every year so local residents with nothing better to do can readdress the cards and send them on (am I being harsh), baring the postage stamp of Loveland. With that in mind we expected a funky little town with a cool hippy air about it, it's actually a bit grim and with nothing going on, a big surprise after Fort Collins. I was a bit peeved to think that Colorado could be just like the other States after all, with just a couple of lively towns/areas.

Just 17 miles south of Loveland my faith in Colorado was restored thanks to Longmont, which is instantly more easy on the eye and tempting to stroll. Not as bustling as Fort Collins nevertheless the Downtown district is walkable, shopable and livable.  We did plan on passing through Lafayette but sitting at traffic lights at every block on the 287 was soul destroying. Further south we passed through Castle Rock, which if nothing else allowed us some great views of the area.  As you approach Castle Rock, further south, the land begins to change subtly, Colorado is a fantastic expanse of land but little pockets of it stand out even more than the others. With the Rampart Range to the west and the plains to the east, Castle Rock itself looms over the town atop its own little earthen pedestal.  For those who don't know Castle Rock takes its name from a mighty lump of red rock which stands testament to the erosion of the millenia gone by and is of course crowned with an illuminated star at night.

Colorado Springs wasn't exactly what we expected, being the second largest populated area in Colorado we thought it would be a cross between Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins, turns out its more like Loveland. I confess, I'm being harsh as we haven't really had chance to see it properly due to the freezing snow (honestly this is colder than cold stuff and unlike previous snow we've encountered here in the States). Our first stop, once we'd secured accommodation for the evening (sometimes there is nothing worse than seeing the people who have booked the room above you, especially when they're a couple of monk haired lumps with beards and insist on revving their engine unnecessarily and pumping the fumes into your room). Anyway I digress, our first trip was to the Garden of the Gods - we had intended to visit Manitou Springs, just out of town but unfortunately signage isn't considered important in Colorado Springs.

Garden of the Gods is wonderful and a fabulous contrast to Colorado Springs and a welcome sight, despite being steeped in a heavy snow cloud. The Garden of the Gods is a mini National Park all in itself, I'd love to state how big it is but I just can't find the information! Full of fabulous natural red rock formations jutting out of the earth at fantastic angles, with such names as Siamese Twins; Sleeping Giant and Kissing Camels - some imagination needed. Unfortunately the snow was getting heavier and thicker so all thoughts of exploring the area have been put on hold until tomorrow. At one point we stopped the car to check out Balanced Rock, we had sat in the car for a minute when I was treated to a genuine zombie moment as I turned to my left to see a group of 3 overweight Americans grimacing and walking slowly towards the car wearing t.shirts and baseball caps. Time to lock the car me thinks.

After passing through the park we accidentally stumbled upon a sign for Manitou Springs, which was just down the road. I cannot stress enough how anyone passing through the area should take the time to stop by here. Its a lovely little town, set in amongst the foothills of Pike's Peak, with a beautiful historic downtown. Boosting nine natural springs (which apparently have their own distinct flavours) which are fed from Pike's Peak the place has a great earthy feel to it. We didn't try out the natural springs as they're an expensive do and the one in town was flowing but too cold. There is a wonderful artisan feel to the place but also surprisingly a slice of Blackpool by way of hidden away arcade hall which had spilled out into the street and knackered kids ride. Maybe people thought this was authentic. We left town just as the snow storm really broke and started to stick. Back to our grim room, out of date wheat beer and Gav's guff and a fantastically comfortable bed as the snow continues to fall and stick, leaving us to block the inch gap under the door with our sleeping bags.
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