Garden of the Gods
The second stop on our trip was Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Garden of the Gods is listed as a National Landmark, and rightly so.
We started at the Visitor's Center which wasn't terribly exciting, but it did have a great balcony that overlooked the park which was across the street. It allowed me to get some nice panoramic shots of the park with Pike's Peak in the background. The view was really quite beautiful. We'd seen the mountains on our way into Colorado, but they were always pretty hazy. Garden of the Gods provided our first clear view.
One of the nice things about the park is that all of the trails in the main park are paved. It made things really easy, especially for Janet who was fighting a borderline stress fracture in her foot.
There were quite a few people there considering it was only Wednesday, but the place was big enough that I didn't have any trouble taking pictures. Some places didn't have any people at all, which was nice. Sometimes it feels like I'm always in someone's way or they're in mine, especially when I'm using the tripod.
One of the most interesting features of the park was the giant plaque on the side of one of the formations. I can't find the actual dimensions anywhere, but it must have been at least 10 feet across.
It became pretty apparent early on that shadows were going to be an issue with my photographs, due essentially to big rock formations blocking out the sun. Following the sun became pretty important, and continued to plague me at some of the other parks as well. I think I did a pretty good job despite that hinderance. People probably thought it was weird that I was using a flash on a bright sunny day.
There were a lot of people climbing the formations which was surprising to us for some reason. When I think of rock climbers I tend to think about people climbing big mountains, not at the park. They did give me a great opportunity to try out my new 150 to 600mm lens.
After exploring the main park we moved on to explore some of the other parts of the park. We started with the Siamese Twins trail which was listed as an easy one mile trail, but didn't seem that way to us. There was a lot of uphill hiking over broken and uneven steps. The view from the top made it worth while though, and we felt pretty good about making it to the top and back down. It helped that we brought enough water along this time, and our hiking boots helped tremendously.
We ended our day at Balanced Rock which had people climbing all over it. I had to go around to the back and wait a while for it to clear off enough to get a decent picture of it.
Overall we had a great day, even though we were pretty tired. The following day we planned to drive to the top of Pike's Peak, but a big storm hit dropping a lot of snow on the mountain, making it too dangerous in our little car. Even downtown Colorado Springs got hit with so much hail that the streets looked like it had snowed. It was pretty weird for late May.
Next stop, Black Canyon of the Gunnison.