Outdoor Corner: Garden of the Gods

Lyle Johnson

On our first visit to Colorado Springs in 2015, one of the places we decided to visit was the Garden of the Gods. It’s probably one of the biggest tourist draws, as well as a place plenty of locals visit on a regular basis.

At the top/middle you can see the rock formation of a pair Kissing Camels.

The Garden lies in the shadows of Pikes Peak, which is the 31st highest peak out of 54 Colorado peaks. Garden of the Gods is very visitor friendly as it can be driven around and easily walked through. The trek around on foot is great self-guided, but guided tours are available. Guided Nature Walks led by professional Park Interpreters are available by reservation only ($5 a person).

The guides will point out details along the Gateway Trail as they lead you to the Central Garden Trail. Walks are approximately 45 to 60 minutes and are a little over one mile in length along a paved trail.

Another shot of the beautiful formations in the Garden of the Gods.

For those who are a little more adventurous, rock climbing is available as well. There is an hour and a half climb available along with a four-hour “Vertical Limit” climbing trip that offers lots of climbing and is tailored to any skill level for beginner through advanced climbers.

There are not many (if any) rocks to climb in Louisiana, so here you can learn basic rock-climbing skills, including equipment, knots, belaying, descending and climbing movement.

It took vision from someone to preserve this beautiful place. By the 1870s, the railroads had forged their way west. In 1871, General William Jackson Palmer founded Colorado Springs while he was extending the lines of his Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.

In 1879, General Palmer repeatedly urged his friend, Charles Elliott Perkins, the head of the Burlington Railroad, to establish a home in the Garden of the Gods and to build his railroad from Chicago to Colorado Springs. Although the Burlington never reached Colorado Springs directly, Perkins did purchase 240 acres in the Garden of the Gods for a summer home in 1879.

Perkins died in 1907 before he made arrangements for the land to become a public park, although it had been open to the public for years. In 1909, Perkins' children, knowing their father's feeling for the Garden of the Gods, conveyed his 480 acres to the City of Colorado Springs.

It would be known forever as the Garden of the Gods "where it shall remain free to the public, where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold, or dispensed, where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park."

It was August of 1859 when two surveyors started out from Denver City to begin a townsite, soon to be called Colorado City. While exploring nearby locations, they came upon a beautiful area of sandstone formations.

Rufus Cable, a "young and poetic man," exclaimed, " Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods." It has been so called ever since and it is a very appropriate title.

A fishing trip is always part of the agenda when we’re in Colorado. Having never fished in Colorado Springs, a little research is always a good thing to do. The web is the best place to start, but any local info can be a big help as well.

There were lots of choices that were close by, so after talking to my daughter and her husband, Monument Lake was the choice. They’d been there before. That, along with the information on its website, made me a little confident I could have some success there.

After making a 25-minute drive, I arrived at the town of Monument. I made my way through the downtown area (which is very pretty) to the lake, parked the car and got the spinning rod ready and made my way to the lake shore.

One of the five rainbow trout caught at Monument Lake.

There was already one angler fishing off of the pier, so I decided to head down the beach and begin my quest to catch a fish. The lake has rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, cutbow trout (a hybrid of cutthroat and rainbow), catfish, perch, blue gill, pike and small mouth bass. 

The possibility of catching a small mouth bass really got my attention, as it’s one of my bucket list species yet unfulfilled. Alas, fishing is fishing, so after about an hour of casting and switching baits all my efforts were fruitless. I had made it to the end of the developed shoreline.

My decision was to retrace my steps fishing or attempting to find a way through a marshy area to a spot I could see to fish along the shoreline. Fortunately, a man and his female companion were walking past to go where I was undecided to try.

I struck up a short conversation with the pair to get the scoop. They informed me that there was a way to get through the marshy area to the shoreline I was interested in. He mentioned the word “honey hole,” which is music to any anglers’ ears.

This flock of geese were my companions during my fishing trip to Monument Lake.

I watched their path until they got to the spot. So, I headed through the pathway and made my way to the “honey hole.” After short conversation, I headed down the shore to give it a try again.

After a few casts, I almost had my rod knocked out of my hand with a ferocious strike but didn’t hook up. A few casts later I landed my first rainbow trout. An hour and a half later I’d landed my fifth one and decided to make my way back to the car.

As I was heading back, another pair of anglers (a mom and her grown son) had made their way to that spot. We struck up a conversation and they hadn’t had any luck, so I showed them where I’d caught my fish and gave them my bait that caught the most fish.

As I got about halfway back to the car, a scream came from the area I’d left and the mom hooked and landed a fish. That gave me more satisfaction than catching the fish. Until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you!

Outdoor Calendar

  • East Ascension Sportsman’s League Meeting: 7 p.m third Monday each month in the meeting room upstairs at Cabela’s. Supper will be served. No dues will be accepted at this time until 2022. warrenh3@eatel.net 
  • Hunter Education Program: Hunter education classes have resumed. Classroom; online with a field shooting day and online for students 16 years or older. Website: https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/hunter-and-trapper-education
  • Squirrel and Rabbit Season: Through Feb. 28. Daily bag limit eight; possession 24.
  • Deer/Archery: Through Jan. 31, State Deer Areas 1, 2 and 4. Through Feb. 15, State Deer Areas 5, 6 and 9. Through Jan. 15, State Deer areas 3, 7, 8 and 10.
  • Duck Hunting: East Zone: Dec. 18 - Jan. 30, Feb. 5 (youth and veterans only). West Zone: Dec. 18 - Jan. 2, Jan. 10-30.

Need an event publicized? Contact Lyle at reelman@eatel.net