Sunrise at the Garden of the Gods, in front of Pike’s Peak
That’s right, Colorado Springs. That’s where I was last weekend. The reason for me being in such an unexpected place was a good friend’s wedding, and I have to admit I did no research and knew nothing about that place except for the fact that I couldn’t go snowboarding this time of year. Once there though, the view above is what I discovered right outside my hotel room door! What? I know right? Insane!!
Three Graces formation
In the foreground of that 1st pic is the Garden of the Gods National Natural landmark public park, home to the Three Graces formation. This is where I was fortunate enough to spend National Public Lands Day. How I lucked into this I have no idea!! This wasn’t an official NPL Day site, but it was still great to be out enjoying public lands in a spectacular new (to me) environment. Being more of an aquatic person, I really don’t know much about all the really cool land formations out west (it’s sooo dry and un-humid out there!), so I had no idea that right outside this park was where I would be spending last weekend. Did y’all know about this place? So cool!!
Siamese Twins formation
The park is easily accessible for all and is comprised of a road that winds through, trails-some paved and some more mountain trail like, and is full of these red rock formations jutting up out of the earth. It said humans have been visiting this place since 1330 BCE. Some historic Native people even have their creation stories originating here, I can see why! These formations jut right out of the land and signal the ending of the plains and the beginning of the Rocky Mountains.
Balanced Rock formation
Many of these formations were horizontal long ago and the emergence of the Rocky Mountains forced them vertical, which left some in seemingly gravity defying balanced positions. These rocks are made from sandstone, limestone, and conglomerations. The red color is caused by the mineral hematite and creates a striking contrast against the deep cerulean skies and evergreens. The region’s geological history can be read in these rocks and they the tell stories of ancient seas, mountains, sand dunes, and beaches.
I am not sure but this sure looks like a coreopsis to me.Can anyone tell me if this is a member of that family?
I really liked the botany that has adapted so beautifully to this dry and rugged climate. I saw some familiar looking plants like prickly pear and others I hadn’t met before and still don’t know their names!
See the tiny heads in the bottom left? See how huge the trees and the rocks are!
So green and so beautiful! And so fragrant!!! The crystalized sap on this cone sparkling in the sun was brilliant! Look at how the tree below survives and grows right out of the rock formation! This is common behavior for the Ponderosa Pines and Douglas Firs that grow in the park. Their seeds are dropped by birds into crevices in the rock and wedge their roots deeper and deeper into the sandstone.The fact that the full grown evergreen looks so small growing from the top of the formation really shows how huge these rocks are.
Share where you spent national Public Lands Day below! And can anyone help me identify a few pics I have of plants I discovered in the park?
Seeds to Sprout:
Learn more about National Public Lands Day
If you are in the area, check out these Garden of the Gods education programs
Check out these free K-12 lesson plans from The Geological Society of America on earthquakes to paleontology to tectonics to climate and more!
All very cool, but remember, primary experience is always better than books, videos, and online info. We want the children to love nature not be bored by too much information without experiential foundations! You don’t need giant rock formations to make geology exciting. Children love collecting and researching the rocks they find right outside their door just as much.
The warm morning sun on the already red rock is spectacular!
I made it!