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Colorado Living | Garden of the Gods | 8 Tips

Colorado Living | Garden of the Gods | 8 Tips

I'm all about a good day trip.  Especially since we moved from Virginia to Colorado and we have so much to learn and see here!  We've been to Garden of the Gods a few times--it's under an hour away from our house and it feels like a Colorado staple.  The Texas BBQ joint we regularly haunt on our way back home may also play a small part in our regular visits.

Townes is our climber and there are plenty of places for beginner level climbing at Colorado's Garden of the Gods.  Tips on how to have a great visit to the park are on the blog! | | #gardenofthegods #coloradodaytrip #denver #unschooling #homeschool #daytrip #traveltips

Garden of the Gods' red rocks are the result of an upheaval on a fault line millions of years ago.  Many indian tribes camped and lived there, as well as prehistoric people dating back to the 1330 BC.  

Beautiful red rocks reach for the sky at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.  Top 8 tips on visiting the park are on the blog! | GettingUnschooled.jpg | #colorado #denver #coloradosprings #gardenofthegods #daytrip #unschool #homeschool #roadschool

NOTE:  The park has a paved path and is wheelchair and stroller-friendly.  You can make a quick visit (30-45 minutes), or an all-day visit.  Either way, it's a fun thing to do with the entire family!

Because Garden of the Gods is over 6,000 feet above sea level, it's usually about 10 degrees cooler than our house near Denver.  This makes it pretty cold in the winter, but when you're there in the summer in the middle of the day with the sun blazing down on you, that works against you.  My theory is that the rocks are absorbing a lot of that heat and then raising the temperature of the park.  Don't quote me on that.

On our most recent trip, we went on a chillier day--which I recommend.  Other tips for visiting Garden of the Gods:

8 Tips for Visiting Garden of the Gods

1.  Get there EARLY

Like, no later than 7:30/8am during the spring and summer months.  The first parking area you hit when you enter the park is the closest to the bathrooms and the main trail.  Parking further down the park requires a lengthy trek just to get to the main trails near the gorgeous rocks.  Doing that with kids and a dog taught me the hard way.  

We were all exhausted by the time we actually got to the rocks!  That's part of the fun and the point for some people, so you do you.  For us, we'll be getting our booties up a little early and on the road. 

Townes checks out the map for the nearest bathroom towards the end of our day trip to Garden of the Gods in Colorado.  Tips on how to have a great visit to the park are on the blog! | | #gardenofthegods #coloradodaytrip #denver #unschooling #homeschool #daytrip #traveltips

2.  Use the restroom near the park or at the entrance

There is only one restroom on the trails, so it's a good idea for you and especially the kids to try and go before you head out on your adventure.  Otherwise, you'll be staring at the park map hoping a restroom icon will materialize.  

Townes takes a water break during a hike at Garden of the Gods. Our top tips to visiting the park are on the blog. | | #unschooling #homeschool #colorado #denver #gardenofthegods #coloradosprings #daytrip #roadschooling

3.  Sunscreen and a hat are a must

Garden of the Gods is closer to the sun and you can feel it.  That's something I've noticed since moving to Denver.  The sun is intense.  I've been meaning to invest in some regular, day-to-day hats for running errands! 

During winter, it's not as blazing as it is in the summer, but I don't take any chances.  A hat and sunscreen are non-negotiable.  

The kids took a break for a snack during a recent visit to Garden of the Gods. Tips on how to have a great visit to the park are on the blog! | | #gardenofthegods #coloradodaytrip #denver #unschooling #homeschool #daytrip #traveltips

4.  Pack snacks and plenty of water

Most of the main part of the park is flat, but there are some hiking loops that have pretty good inclines.  You'll definitely get a good workout even if you are a casual visitor/hiker.  There are no water fountains or snack machines.  Plan ahead.

Townes walks on one of the trails at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.  Tips on how to have a great visit to the park are on the blog! | | #gardenofthegods #coloradodaytrip #denver #unschooling #homeschool #daytrip #traveltips

5.  Don't wear your brand new white sneakers

There are a lot of opportunities to go 'off trail' and the red dirt is messy.  It's fun to climb and explore in these amateur/beginner areas.  There are a lot of places for climbers with licenses and appropriate experience, too.  It's always fun to see someone high up on these rocks.  It gives you a good idea as to just how tall they are. 

We always tell Townes that he'll probably be back to climb here one day. 

Amateur/beginning rock climbing spots are all over the place at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Tips on how to have a great visit to the park are on the blog! | | #gardenofthegods #coloradodaytrip #denver #unschooling #homeschool #daytrip #traveltips

6.  Keep Your Dogs on a Leash

Dogs are welcome at the park as long as they are leashed and you have poop bags.  We've taken our big dog there twice, but there are usually so many other dogs that it ends up making the visit a little too stressful.  We've opted to leave our dogs home the past two visits and it made the trip a lot more smooth.

Kate used her binoculars to hunt birds at our recent hike at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Tips on how to have a great visit to the park are on the blog! | | #gardenofthegods #coloradodaytrip #denver #unschooling #homeschool #daytrip #traveltips

7.  Watch Out for Rattlesnakes

No joke.  There are signs everywhere for this, but I didn't take it seriously until there was a rattlesnake ON THE PAVED TRAIL two visits ago.  It was crazy!  That's why you should always follow the directions and read the signs posted around the park.  

Townes is in there somewhere!  The amazing rock formations at Garden of the Gods are a sight to see.  Tips on how to have a great visit to the park are on the blog! | | #gardenofthegods #coloradodaytrip #denver #unschooling #homeschool #daytrip #traveltips

8.  Make Time for the Visitor's Center

The rocks themselves are stunning, but make time for the visitor's center--it's like a mini-museum.  It has a lot to offer, including 30 exhibits, a brief film, lookout binoculars, and a gift shop.  We loved it and it's a nice reprieve from the hot rocks if you go in the summer.  

Bonus Tip: Save Room for Awesome BBQ

Garden of the Gods is a really fun half-day or full-day trip depending on how far you drive.  And if you like good ol' Texas BBQ, make sure you swing by Rudy's Country Store and BBQ (at a gas station). 

A snapshot of our favorite barbecue joint around Denver (in Colorado Springs): Rudy's.  We always stop by for a to-go order after a visit to Garden of the Gods in Colorado. | Tips on how to have a great visit to the park are on the blog! | | #gardenofthegods #coloradodaytrip #denver #unschooling #homeschool #daytrip #traveltips

Yep, it's a barbeque joint at a gas station that started in Texas, just north of San Antonio, and it's so darn good that they've spread them around the Southwest. 

Lucky for us, they opened one up here in Colorado Springs.  (I hear that there are a lot of Texas transplants in Colorado, but I've met more New York and Chicago people.  Who knows?) 

I know lots of Denver residents who make the drive down to Colorado Springs just for some Rudy's BBQ.  It's really that good.  Plus, it's a little place from home for Joe.  It always reminds me of his family--especially his grandparents.  When they were still alive, we ate there a couple of times in Austin, so I always think of them.

I get my brisket 'moist' with side of coleslaw and I have my own bottle of their "Sissy Sause" stashed at the house.  Their brisket is almost as good as Joe's...but with none of the effort!

Rudy's BBQ has the best brisket and their house made barbeque sauce is so good.  We always make a pit-stop there on our way home from Garden of the Gods.  More tips on visiting the Garden of the Gods park on the blog! | | #homeschool #unschool #roadschool #colorado #denver #daytrip #travelwithkids

(image: Rudy's)

UPDATE:  I just noticed that there is a second Colorado location of Rudy's in Greely, near Loveland.  Loveland is our go-to for a day of skiing and I think I might know where we'll now be eating when we go there :) 

OUr top 8 tips when visiting Colorado's Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.  | | #roadschooling #unschooling #homeschooling #denver #colorado

Enjoy your visit to Garden of the Gods--it really is a sight to see!


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