Sculpted by nature: A Red-Rock Garden for the Gods

'Garden of the Gods' is a natural outdoor geological museum, narrating stories of ancient rocks, and rivers that stretched out in the area millions of years ago. What is unique about this place is that what you get to see here are not mere chunks of red rocks. The rocks in this red rock wonderland come in very interesting shapes, sizes and shades.
Garden of the Gods

While I was charting out my trip to Colorado — a few years ago— I completely missed ‘The Garden of the Gods.’ To this day, I don’t know how that happened. Now that it’s in my ‘been-there-done-that-list,’ I’m glad I didn’t go all the way there only to have returned without walking by those red giants that make a prominent POI on Colorado Springs’ map.

When my BFF’s hubby suggested we go to the Garden of the Gods, little did I think it was going to be a garden of a thousand acres and then some, and what was preserved there were colossal red rock formations.

This garden is a natural outdoor geological museum, narrating stories of ancient rocks, and rivers that stretched out in the area millions of years ago. What is unique about this place is that what you get to see here are not mere chunks of red rocks. The rocks in this red rock wonderland come in very interesting shapes, sizes and shades. Adding to the strangeness of these rocks are the striations on some of them and the cavities on still others. All this can be attributed to the fact that these rocky structures have been treated by flowing streams, swift winds, precipitation and even tectonic activity that took place here, millions of years ago.

Just the other day, I was reading a book with my third grader — a book about mountains and we were talking about how tectonic plates sometimes collide against one another, causing one plate to overlap the other only to get all folded and lifted up to make mountains. The book went on to talk about how fossils of sea creatures that are formed within sediments on the sea floor sometimes end up on mountain peaks.

Now, Garden of the Gods would be a great place to see that sand that was once treated by the waters of the area can one day come to be tall upright-standing structures. This public park has a formation it calls Sentinel Rock, with two spires, each of a different kind of rock making a surprising new combination. While one part is made of red sandstone the part of it that stands in front of it is a lighter conglomerate-like looking rock. And the vertical markings on it show that they were carved by the ripples of ancient rivers and later tilted to a vertical position when major seismic changes came about in the area.

Sentinel Rock

Sentinel Rock

Sentinel Spires, Garden of the Gods.

Look at the rocks and the colors of the spires of Sentinel Rock.

In another part of the park, far from the Sentinal Rock is the Balanced rock that is another great exhibit that clearly marks out the different layers of rock, retelling the sedimentary history of the ancient Rocky Mountains. It is also a natural and fine specimen of the erosion that this place has been subjected to. This rock that is believed to be around 700 tons in weight, is held in place by a thin neck of shale that has been heavily eroded. The balancing act here is what gave this rock its name.

Balanced Rock, Garden of the Gods

Balanced Rock

That’s not all. Look at the rock formations and you will see all kinds of shapes in them; some of them looking like they were sculpted by human artists.

More rock formations in the Garden of the Gods:

Kissing Camels - 1

Do you see a couple of ‘Kissing Camels’ somewhere on the top of that rocky structure?

Kissing Camels - 2

Now, do you see them? A close up of the ‘Kissing Camels at The Garden of the Gods.

Signature Rock

Signature Rock

White Rock

White Rock

Cathedral Valley, Garden of the Gods.

Cathedral Valley

Steam Boat and Balanced Rock, Garden of the Gods

Steam Boat and Balanced Rock, formations at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado.

I didn’t catch all the names of the rock formations I saw and photographed that day. And I don’t seem to have pictures of a couple of popular rocks in the Garden of Gods. But there should still be a lot to see, here in this post. Would you like to look through and come up with names for them? Please share them in the comments; I would love to hear what shapes you see. 🙂

Cathedral Spires, The Garden of the Gods

These must be the Cathedral Spires

A result of wind erosion.

Why this park is called Garden of the Gods

According to the history of this park, two surveyors were up here exploring this red rock area in the late 1850s and one of them thought this place would make a great beer garden.  His companion, however, exclaimed it was a place that was fit for the Gods themselves. And the name stuck.

What do you think about the name of this red rock garden? Also, don’t forget to let us know what shapes you see in the rock formations above. I’ll be looking forward to them in the comments. 🙂

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48 Comments on this post.
  • Rajesh
    20 November 2017 at 7:48 pm
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    Amazing shots of rocky formations.

    • dNambiar
      21 November 2017 at 9:12 am
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      Thank you, Rajesh.
      The place itself was truly amazing. 🙂

  • Pat
    20 November 2017 at 8:09 pm
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    I’ve visited the Garden of the Gods many times–it is truly a beautiful place! Your photos are amazing

    • dNambiar
      21 November 2017 at 9:13 am
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      I was so fascinated by the place. I’m so, so glad I didn’t miss it.
      Thank you so much, Pat. 🙂

  • Prasad Np
    20 November 2017 at 11:33 pm
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    Is this place for real? It could very well on one of the planets where Star Wars happen 🙂 Nature is so magnificent and given time creates her own masterpieces that leave us in awe

    • dNambiar
      21 November 2017 at 9:17 am
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      Right? 😀 😀
      Such a wonderland, this place.
      So true — it look looks like it could be on another planet. Nature sure is an amazing artist. 🙂

  • Lady Fi
    21 November 2017 at 9:10 am
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    Wow – stunning!

    • dNambiar
      21 November 2017 at 9:18 am
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      I was quite stunned seeing these red giants. 🙂
      Thank you for stopping by, Lady Fi. 🙂

      Happy Thanksgiving to you. 🙂

  • Ashwini anish
    21 November 2017 at 9:33 am
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    Woww.. Amazing captures and write up..

    • dNambiar
      21 November 2017 at 10:24 am
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      My, my, my!!
      Looks who’s here. <3 <3

      Thank you so, so much, Ashwini. (It feels so strange to call you that. 😉 😀 )

  • Ravish Mani
    22 November 2017 at 8:46 am
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    Wow! You can only make the rocks look awesome. Great clicks, Divya. Also, I like the way you differentiate the rocks 🙂

    • dNambiar
      24 November 2017 at 8:26 pm
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      Such an awesome sight, this place was! An absolute red-rock treat. If this place was anywhere close to where I lived. I’d have known every one of those rocks very personally.
      I’m so so glad I didn’t miss seeing the Garden of the Gods. 🙂

      It’s always great to hear from you, Ravish. I hope you are doing well. 🙂

      • Ravish Mani
        3 December 2017 at 7:06 pm
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        Oh, yes, I’m good and hope the same for you. 🙂

        • dNambiar
          7 December 2017 at 10:36 am
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          A big thumbs up. 🙂

  • J.Richard
    24 November 2017 at 9:12 am
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    Amazing soft creatives , mind blowing .

    • dNambiar
      24 November 2017 at 8:27 pm
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      Was that an auto correct? 😉 Never mind. 🙂
      True Richard, those are some mind-blowing rock formations.

  • Indrani
    3 December 2017 at 6:50 pm
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    Very interesting geographic formations. Reminds me of the geography lessons in school.
    Good you were able to visit.

    • dNambiar
      7 December 2017 at 10:35 am
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      Oh, so glad! 🙂
      I love rock formations. I remember how your Meteora posts spoke to me 😉 😀

  • Puru
    3 December 2017 at 8:17 pm
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    Wow ! Thats a geologist’s wonderland! A work of art that took millions of years to take shape and is still work in progress 🙂

    • dNambiar
      7 December 2017 at 10:39 am
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      Welcome back, Puru. Long time. 🙂

      A geologists wonderland indeed. 🙂
      True. I’m sure several years down the lane there would be some evident changes. I hope that Balanced Rock has a long life in that precarious position. It was an amazing sight.

  • Arti
    3 December 2017 at 9:36 pm
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    Splendid! Such a treasure, it’s difficult to take the eyes off this natural beauty. Thank you for sharing the information, the balanced rock is intriguing and it’s difficult to believe the picture of kissing camels is not sculpted by the hands of a human! In the twelfth image, I see a man with his mouth open looking towards the heavens as if waiting to drink in the gifts that pour from above.

    • dNambiar
      7 December 2017 at 10:44 am
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      I swear — it’s a geological treasure. I wonder why it’s not talked about like the other destinations here known for their rock formations.

      You are so welcome. Thank you for coming by and reading this post and leaving your feedback. Nice to know what you see in these formations. 🙂 It’s fun to just walk around and figure out what the rocks look like.

      The kissing camels are so amazing!! You look at them from any angle and they look like camels, kissing. 🙂

      Thanks again, Arti. 🙂

  • Yogi Saraswat
    3 December 2017 at 10:53 pm
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    Very interesting geographic formations, never seen before but disappointing thing is only that these are not in India 🙂

    • dNambiar
      7 December 2017 at 10:47 am
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      There are some interesting places in India too, Yogi. I know Karnataka coast has two amazing rock-formation-destinations, one of which I’ve visited. Sheeks! The post on that is long overdue. 🙂

  • pushpendra dwivedi
    4 December 2017 at 1:14 am
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    its amazing speechless picture

    • dNambiar
      7 December 2017 at 10:48 am
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      I’m not surprised that these rocks have left you speechless. It’s quite a sight.
      Thank you for visiting this site. Welcome here, Pushpendra.

  • rupam { xhobdo }
    4 December 2017 at 3:10 am
    Leave a Reply

    Wow truly amazing.

    • dNambiar
      7 December 2017 at 10:48 am
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      Is it not? 🙂
      Thank you, Rupam. 🙂

  • umashankar
    4 December 2017 at 7:00 am
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    Millions of years of solidification and erosion manifest in the rock formations provide much food for thought to the pygmies that humans are. Thank you for transporting those structures to my computer in vivid details.

    • dNambiar
      7 December 2017 at 10:51 am
      Leave a Reply

      It’s places like this that remind us about how small we really are.
      You are so welcome, USP. Thank YOU for stopping by and leaving a comment. 🙂

  • Shrinidhi Hande
    4 December 2017 at 3:23 pm
    Leave a Reply

    Thanks for bringing these upclose pics… seeing them for the first time on your blog

    • dNambiar
      7 December 2017 at 10:53 am
      Leave a Reply

      Thank you, Shrinidhi.
      There are a few such posts on the blog — you’ll find them on the Volcanic Sites and Lithic Landscape tabs. 🙂

      And there’s more coming. 🙂

  • Jyotirmoy Sarkar
    4 December 2017 at 7:49 pm
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    Perfect title for the post, the place is outstanding, nature has so much of beauty and secrets !!!!!! though we know it and can guess but still when we see such places it always makes us surprised with nature’s “karishma”. Captures are awesome as usual.

    • dNambiar
      7 December 2017 at 10:56 am
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      Perfect name for the place, too huh?! 🙂
      This was such a pleasant surprise, this place. 🙂

      Thank you so much, Jyotirmoy. 🙂

  • Ranjana Shankar
    4 December 2017 at 11:11 pm
    Leave a Reply

    WOW! Really these look like sculptures!

    • dNambiar
      7 December 2017 at 10:58 am
      Leave a Reply

      See, I told ya… 😀
      See, nature is quite like you — very artistic. 🙂

      Thank you for coming this way, dear Ranjana. 🙂

  • Rahul Bhatia
    6 December 2017 at 9:38 pm
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    Always a treat to read your blog and get bowled over by stunning pics, Divya:)

    • dNambiar
      7 December 2017 at 11:00 am
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      And it’s always nice to hear from you after you’ve been through the post, Mr. Bhatia.
      Thank you so, so much for your kind words.

  • Mridula
    11 December 2017 at 3:38 am
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    The name does justice to the place! Lovely pictures.

    • dNambiar
      17 December 2017 at 5:11 pm
      Leave a Reply

      It sure does.
      Thank you, Mridula. 🙂

  • Somali
    28 December 2017 at 1:01 am
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    Awesome capture of the formations, Dee. They look like needles shooting up to the sky. Your descriptions of the sentinel, balanced rock and kissing camels make an interesting read.

    • dNambiar
      28 December 2017 at 8:19 pm
      Leave a Reply

      Hey Somali,
      Long time!! I hope you are doing well. 🙂
      Thank you so much. It was a very fascinating place.

      Happy New year to you. 🙂

  • Sapna Dhyani Devrani
    15 January 2018 at 1:02 am
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    Beautiful pictures. These rocks look almost majestic.

    • dNambiar
      15 January 2018 at 9:08 pm
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      Thank you, Sapna.
      Those rocks and their shapes were so unbelievable.

  • Deepa Gopal Sunil
    23 January 2018 at 9:13 am
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    I am in AWE!!! So surreal! Love love love the hues and the textures here…what beautiful rock formations!!! The place is haunting!!! 😀

    • dNambiar
      23 January 2018 at 9:30 am
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      I know what you mean, Deepa. 😀
      I was awed too! This place seemed unbelievable.
      I’m so glad I didn’t miss Garden of the Gods on that trip that side.

  • karan tirki
    7 February 2018 at 2:39 am
    Leave a Reply

    stunning your all pictures and article too really nice thanks for sharing n keep it up thanks a lot…!

    • dNambiar
      7 February 2018 at 12:38 pm
      Leave a Reply

      Thank you, Karan.
      Thank you also for visiting here.
      Welcome to Tipsy from the TRIP.

    Leave a Reply



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