Garden of the Gods

Wojciech Dabrowski

Joined December 2010

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Garden of the Gods has been many things: a tropical haven; an inland sea; a field of sand dunes; and, even a vast swampy floodplain. Dinosaurs once grazed on the ferns and other tropical plants. Sea serpents swam in shallow waters and mammoths trudged through deep snow in May. The rocks reveal secrets of ancient environments to those who know their language.

A billion years ago, molten rock cooled to create Pikes Peak granite and the Ancestral Rockies. Approximately 310-270 million years ago, the ancestral Rockies were worn down bit by bit. About 250 million years ago, Garden of the Gods had sandy beaches and an inland sea. The 300 foot orange sandstone rocks in the Garden of the Gods were once sand dunes. They may have looked similar to those at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument in southern Colorado. An inland sea once again covered Colorado about 225 million years ago. Around 155 million years ago (the Jurassic period), dinosaurs roamed the Garden of the Gods.

About 65 million years ago, mountains rose and tipped the rocks that today we see today vertical and beyond. This was an intense period of mountain building caused by the old Pacific plate slamming into the North American plate. As the Front Range Mountains rose, the overlying sedimentary rocks were bent upward. Over time, the softer rocks eroded and valleys were created leaving harder rocks standing as the tall ridges in the Park. These distinctive formations draw millions of people annually who come to enjoy the beauty of the Park and learn the secrets of this unique place.

The human history of the Garden of the Gods commences many centuries before our present time. Stone hearths and fire rings found in the Garden dating over 3,000 years ago indicate the presence of early inhabitants, According to Ute traditions, their people have always lived in this area, not having any stories of migration from elsewhere. The Utes were known to winter in the Garden of the Gods prior to removal to reservations in southwestern Colorado and northeastern Utah.

Dramatic views, towering cliffs, balanced rocks, snowcapped mountains in the distance and more than two million visitors a year. . . A description of one of America’s famous National Parks? It could be, but that description also fits the Garden of the Gods Park, a city park of extraordinary natural beauty.

Taken with Canon 5D Mark II and Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

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