Garden of the Gods - A Spiritual Connection
|Garden of the Gods, Colorado
"Once upon a time there was a great flood which covered all but the top of Manitou's Mountain. When the water subsided, the Great Spirit turned the floating carcasses of the drowned animals into sandstone, and rolled them down into a garden valley below where they remained as mute evidences of the Great Flood." ~ Indian Legend
Down in Colorado Springs, beneath Pikes Peak, the site of that supernatural catastrophe can still be seen. In this special valley you'll discover 300 million-year-old rock formations with names like Balanced Rock, Cathedral Spires and the Kissing Camels. It's known as the Garden of the Gods but to the Southern Ute Indian tribe it's the Garden of Eden. They believe the creation of their people occurred at this sacred place.
Great White Mountain (Pikes Peak) was the center of the Ute's world. They believed that on the summit of the thunderous peak stood the Western Gates of Heaven and there dwelt the supreme Manitou. The holy garden below inspired reverence and the Ute's formed a spiritual connection with the reddish, sandstone formations.
In late fall, family units came down out of the mountains, gathered at the Garden of the Gods and camped there during the winter. It was a joyful occasion. Large herds of elk on the nearby mesa were hunted for food. There were lots of festivities, storytelling and marriage arrangements. Come spring, the separate families dispersed until reuniting again the next winter. It was an annual migration pattern that had been followed for centuries.
Then, in the 1870s European settlers flooded into the Front Range by foot, horseback, covered wagon and railroad. The Ute Indians considered the whole of Colorado their home so they resented the white man for pilfering their hunting grounds. Colorado earned its statehood in 1876 and newspapers of the day demanded the removal of Utes off of land that could be mined, farmed or ranched.
The situation escalated into the Meeker Massacre of 1879 at the White River Indian Reserve. Shortly thereafter, all Ute people were forcibly placed on reservations in Utah and Southern Colorado. That same year railroad magnate, Charles Elliott Perkins, purchased the Garden of the Gods with the intent to build a summer home on the property. After seeing the magical place, he was inspired to leave the land in its natural state and preserve it for future generations.
Upon Perkins death, his children deeded the property to the City of Colorado Springs in 1909 with the provisions that "it shall remain free to the public, where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold or dispensed, where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park."
|Garden of the Gods is in Colorado Springs
|Reddish sandstone formations
|The Kissing Camels
|The park was dedicated in 1909
|300 million-year-old rock formations
|The garden is a magical place
|Southern Ute Indians wintered here for centuries
|The landscape is otherworldly
|A spiritual connection with the rocks
|The garden inspires reverence
|The park shall remain free to the public
|Pikes Peak was the center of their world