At the base of Pikes Peak lay the small town of Manitou Springs. Its streets are filled with quaint wooden shops and cafés, with a small spring winding throughout in the summer months. The place is like a scene out of Pleasantville, albeit with more homeless people.

Within a mile of the town, giant red rock formations emerge from the earth- The Garden of the Gods.

Most of the park can be seen in a half-day or so of hiking, but the majority of park goers opted for vehicle tours. Whether it was our happy-go-lucky free spirit, or the fact that the bus literally wasn’t allowed to take the winding road, we opted to hike.

The park offers well-paved and well horse-pooped trails between the points of interest. The trails allow for plenty of opportunities to detour on your own path, and ample obstacles for climbing, assuming you take park guidelines as “suggestions” more so than rules.

Technical rock climbing is legal, pending registration and equipment check at the Visitor’s Center. Technically, untechnical rock climbing is not.

The main road also leads directly to the points of interest, which is disappointing or a godsend depending on perspective. If you are outdoorsy in the sense that you like drinks on the patio, or a round of Top Golf to connect with nature, you’ll love the easy accessibility to the sights. If you are in the Garden of the Gods to hike, and to reflect peacefully on your thoughts in scenic landscapes, make sure to arrive early. It’s worth it.

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