The Garden of the Gods is an incredibly beautiful 1,367 acre State park in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was designated as a National Landmark in 1971. Aside from the awesome beauty one of the cool thins is tourists are allowed to climb on the rocks, and with a permit, are even allowed to scale the rocks with harnessing gear. It’s extremely well kept and offers a lot of great paved walking paths. Because of this, the park is usually bustling with people, but I was fortunate enough to capture this shot when very few people were around.
There is roughly 15 miles of walkway all throughout the park. When you combine that with the altitude, it’s certainly a good workout for just about anyone. There are lots of steps leading up to higher spots that overlook the towering rocks. Nothing too steep, though.
In the 300 million year old sandstone rock faces are tons of holes that white-throated swifts, swallows, canyon wrens and other birds like to dwell in. Over 130 different bird species have been observed in the park, many of them constantly circling overhead. I’ve only been in the daytime, but I image there are bats nestled in there too. I wouldn’t wander too far off the path to find out, as there are rattlesnakes in the area.
The best time to go is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. This is the “golden hour” for photography when the sun is low on the horizon, which casts a beautiful orange hue over the already red sandstone. It’s also a bit cooler. It can get quite toasty in the park during the summer months.
There’s a very well known rock formation within the park called balancing rock. Shaped by erosion, predominantly wind, it looks like a big boulder balancing atop another rock formation. It’s very hard to get a picture of it as people are constantly checking it out. I may have to take a drive down there on a really cold day when no one else wants to to be there and see if I can get a picture.
While viewing the rock formations up close is a must do, it’s worth it to drive a little way up the side of the front range and look at the whole area from a distance. It allows you to get perspective on how out-of-place the Garden of the Gods is in relation to its surroundings.
Just a little bit more on the photography. All the post-processing for these photographs was done in Adobe Lightroom Version 6 (CC). I exclusively shoot RAW. They make for the best post-processing as they contain way more data than the JPEGs that come from your camera, which have already been post-processed. Although most digital camera’s do a pretty good job these days, nothing beats some quality time spent tweaking the photos on a computer. Inevitably, touch-ups are required, as is often the case in Garden of the Gods with all the birds flying around. They appear as small black specs, which can be mistaken for dust.
When photographing landscapes and large structures like this, a wide-angle focal length, or even an ultra-wide angle lens is a must. Capturing the grandness of these structures with even a 35mm lens would be difficult at best. If way off in the distance, it is possible to capture some great shots using a telephoto lens, but the spots from which to photograph from are very limited. There’s only a couple spots that look down upon the park that also provide good perspective.
There are lots of well maintained paths to walk all throughout the park. It’s a good idea to stay on them too, because there are snakes in the area. It’s also extremely harmful to walk on what little vegetation there is. It can take years for a small patch to grow back.
If in the park, patience will be required. Find a spot, sit, enjoy the surroundings, and wait until there’s a break in the crowd of people walking by.