Saturday, May 9, 2020

Garden of the Gods

By Tiffany Amber Stockton

Last month, I shined the spotlight on the 10 Harvey House stations in Colorado. If you missed that post, you can read it here:

This month, it's time for the Garden of the Gods to take a step into the limelight.


view of the Park toward Pikes Peak
Would you believe me if I told you that Colorado used to be a tropical haven and an inland sea? No? It does sound rather outlandish, doesn't it? How in the world can a landlocked state with a semi-arid climate have been tropical or connected to the sea? The answer is geology.

horseback ride through the Park
During the time of the Great Flood and prior, the area that eventually became Colorado actually had dinosaurs who once grazed on the ferns and other tropical plants present in this area at the time. There are even some who have reported the rocks are evidence of a Saharan-scale desert that covered the region from Arizona to Montana a long time ago.

Sea serpents swam in shallow waters, and woolly mammoths trudged through deep snow in May. Of course, in some areas of this beautiful state, we still have that deep snow sometimes into June! The wonder and grandeur of the unique rock formations are the key to the secrets of ancient environments to those skilled and talented individuals who can understand the stories they tell.

Cathedral Spires - then
Cathedral Spires - now
I'm certainly not a geologist, but I've always been fascinated by the history of rocks. So, here's a brief summary. Molten rock cooled and created Pikes Peak granite and the Rocky Mountains. The mountains got worn down a bit by erosion. The tall orange sandstone rocks that are part of Garden of the Gods were once sand dunes! Today, the only sand dunes we have are a little further south at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. I'll cover that fascinating story in another post.

Balanced Rock - now
Balanced Rock - then
As is typical for mountain formation, the Pacific plate slammed into the North American plate. The mountains rose, and the overlying sedimentary rocks got bent upward. The softer rocks eroded, and valleys were created, leaving harder rocks standing as tall ridges in the Park. Siamese Twins, Kissing Camels, Cathedral Spires, The Three Graces, Balanced Rock...these are all found in the Park.

Back in 1859, a surveyor named Rufus Cable first saw the towering spires jutting over 300 feet into the air near Pikes Peak. He enthusiastically declared it was “a fit place for the gods to assemble!” From this excited outburst came the name Garden of the Gods. These distinct and unique formations attract millions of people annually who come to enjoy the beauty of the Park, and they have inspired thousands through various stories. I'm working on a few myself. (grins)

Gateway to the Rockies


* Have you ever visited Colorado or Colorado Springs? If so, when and why?

* What would YOUR reaction have been to seeing these rocks for the first time? If you HAVE seen them in person, what were your impressions?

* Do you have a gem like Garden of the Gods where YOU live? What is it?

* What did you like the most about today's post? What topics would you like to see covered in future posts?

Leave answers to these questions or any comments you have on the post below. Come back on the 9th of June for my next appearance.


Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those childhood skills to become an award-winning and best-selling author and speaker who is also an advocate for literacy as an educational consultant with Usborne Books. She loves to share life-changing products and ideas with others to help better their lives.

She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, along with their two children and two dogs in Colorado. She has sold twenty (23) books so far and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can find her on Facebook and GoodReads.


  1. Thanks for the interesting post, especially the pictures! It would be fun to see Balanced Rock in person. It looked like the Spires have broken down a little? In New Hampshire, we used to have the Old Man in the Mountain, but one day his face tumbled down and now there are just the memories!

    1. The pictures ARE amazing, aren't they? :) Balanced Rock is a high tourist attraction in the park. Almost everyone wants their chance to pose under the overhang and snap a photo of them "holding up the rock." Lol! As for the spires, I think it's just the camera angle, because there really isn't much change. Sorry to hear about the Old Man in the Mountain's face. Poor guy!