Native tribes, including Apache, Commanche and Ute, have camped on this land using the rock formations for shelter. It was purchased in 1879 - well, 480 acres of it - and was given to the City of Colorado Springs in 1909 with the provision that it would become -and remain- a free public park.
The visitor center is located directly across the street from the park entrance and should be your first stop. There is a information desk and exhibit about the park on the first floor and then the gift shop, snack bar and interactive map on the second - with elevators for those who cannot climb stairs. Best of all, is the postcard perfect scene from the outdoor deck - don't forget to get a photo from here!
The rock formations in the park have names - especially the more iconic ones like Balancing Rock. In the 1890's the Goerke family started charging 25 cents to have your photo taken with Balancing Rock (they took and processed the photo there in a photography shop they set up) and eventually purchased it, and Steamboat Rock. They put a fence up around it to charge admission. When the fence was finally taken down, and the city took possession, there was a crowd assembled to cheer the dismantling of their empire.
I think my favorite part of the park is the fantastic view looking over the city of Colorado Springs, the Manitou Incline and Pikes Peak. Drive up Ridge Road to "High Point" to see some beautiful scenery.
If you're near Colorado Springs, head to Garden of the Gods for a pretty place for a hike, or a walk, or just to enjoy a picnic lunch. (You can also rock climb - you must obtain a permit at the Visitors Center - and horseback ride for a fee) It's easy to get to and you can take as long as you like - an hour or a day. And it's FREE.
This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond, Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner and Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute!