The stunning red sandstone of Colorado's Garden of the Gods forms the backdrop for a fabulous natural wonderland, with hiking trails to explore throughout the park while experienced rock climbers combat the intricate sandstone formations. Located just 70 miles south of Denver, it's the perfect place to escape the city and enjoy the great outdoors.
The dramatic sandstone spires of the Garden of the Gods are lit up in a magical golden light at dawn and dusk, making it a popular spot for photographers. Spectacular spots include the Three Graces, the Kissing Camels and the Tower of Babel.
Keep reading to find out where to take the most impressive pictures in the magical Garden of the Gods, how to get there, and when to visit to capture the best pictures of this unforgettable landscape.
|1. East Entrance
|The stunning gateway to the park provides a promising introduction to the natural wonders that lie ahead
|2. The Siamese Twins
|Provides a natural frame through which you can photograph Pikes Peak, creating a well-framed photo
|3. Mesa Overlook
|Perched at a vantage point, this overlook offers expansive views of the park and the surrounding areas
|4. Kissing Camels
|One of the most famous formations in the Garden of the Gods, where two rock formations appear to be kissing
|5. Balanced Rock
|Popular spot for taking pictures where people often pretend to hold up the rock in a forced perspective shot
|6. Central Garden Trail
|Relatively flat trail, taking you through the heart of the park for close-up views of iconic rock formations
|7. High Point Overlook
|Positioned at one of the highest points in the park, providing panoramic views of the entire area
|8. Three Graces
|A trio of tall, slender rock formations standing together, offering a picture of elegance and grace
|9. Tower of Babel
|Tall, steep rock formation stands imposingly and is a perfect subject for photography
Please see the map below to see where our photo spots fall along the Garden of the Gods:
1. East Entrance
What makes this photo spot special: Off North 30th Street, you'll find the entrance to the Garden of the Gods. This is where you'll find the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center, which is a great place to stop for hiking information.
You can also visit the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site which depicts farm life dating as far back as 1775.
How to get there: From Garden of the Gods Road, turn onto North 30th Street. The Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center is well-signposted on the left. If you're visiting the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, take a right just a little further along the road.
Best time to visit: The Visitor Center is open from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM in winter and 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM in the summer months.
Because the Rock Ledge Ranch is an old-fashioned building you can take good photos throughout the day and has similar opening times to the Visitor Center.
Where to park: There are two parking lots next to the Visitor Center. If these are full, there's also parking more off Gateway Road by the Ranch.
2. The Siamese Twins
What makes this photo spot special: The Siamese Twins is a rock formation comprising two towering sandstone pillars, which are connected at the top. The gap between the rocks creates the perfect natural frame for visitors to pose inside for photos.
How to get there: After taking Juniper Way Loop from the main parking lot, turn onto Garden Drive where the road divides then take the right fork to continue along the one-way system. Take a right turn onto Spring Canyon Height Drive, following the signpost for the Siamese Twins Trail Head.
Best time to visit: This is a beautiful early morning photo spot - come just after sunrise to take advantage of the soft warm light which casts a distinct golden light on the rocks. Weekdays will offer a serene photo opportunity without crowds.
If you're looking for some color, visit in spring or fall, when you'll be able to photograph the more vibrant foliage in the area around the rocks.
Where to park: You'll find Garden of the Gods Siamese Twins Parking Lot (P14) at the end of Spring Canyon Height Drive. However, once you've parked up you'll still need to hike the 0.7-mile round trip to the Siamese Twins.
3. Mesa Overlook
What makes this photo spot special: The Mesa Overlook offers visitors a look at the Garden of the Gods' red rocks and surrounding landscapes from a roadside vantage point.
How to get there: Mesa Overlook is on the periphery of the park. If you're approaching from the interstate, follow Garden of the Gods Road towards the park the turn left onto North 30th Street before taking the left fork onto Mesa Road.
Best time to visit: Come at sunset, which is a popular time to capture a romantic and picturesque photo.
Mesa Overlook is accessible year-round.
Where to park: There's a small parking lot on the right-hand side of the road, catering for around 12 vehicles.
4. Kissing Camels
What makes this photo spot special: The Kissing Camels is perhaps the most famous attraction in the Garden of the Gods, and are considered a must-see when you visit the park. As its name suggests, the huge rock formation resembles two camel heads kissing.
How to get there: From the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center head into the park on Gateway Road then take a right to join the Juniper Way Loop. This will take you to the Main Parking Lot (P2), which is the best place to stop to see the Kissing Camels.
Best time to visit: When night falls, the Kissing Camels are illuminated by spotlights, which makes for a striking photograph.
Many photographers head to the park to try to capture the full moon when it aligns above the Kissing Camels, creating a distinct and unforgettable picture opportunity. Come before sunset if you want to pick the best spot to set up your tripod.
Where to park: The Main Parking Lot (P2) is clearly signposted off Juniper Way Loop.
5. Balanced Rock
What makes this photo spot special: At 35-feet tall and weighing in at 1.4 million pounds, the Balanced Rock is a true natural wonder. As its name suggests, this huge roadside boulder is balanced on a tiny base, creating the ultimate photo opportunity for professionals and social media alike.
It's one of those classic 'holding the rock' photo opportunities, so make sure you have a photographer on hand to get a shot of you in action.
How to get there: Enter the park from the south, taking a right turn off Manitou Avenue onto Beckers Lane. At the Garden of the Gods Trading Post join Garden Lane then turn left onto Garden Drive, following the one-way system. Use the pullout on the right to park when you see the signpost for Balanced Rock.
Best time to visit: As you might expect, this is a popular spot for people to grab photos for social media, so we'd recommend visiting early to avoid the crowds. Come when the park opens if you can, and avoid summer weekends so that you can capture unobstructed photos.
Where to park: There's a small pullout just before the Balanced Rock.
6. Central Garden Trail
What makes this photo spot special: Central Garden Trail, often called the Perkins Central Garden Trail, is a 1.5-mile round trip hike through the epicenter of the park.
You'll stroll past the bases of some of the highest formations in the park, giving you a unique view of these stunning natural monuments.
How to get there: From the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center, enter the park on Gateway Road, then take a right at the intersection onto Juniper Way Loop. Follow the road around and you'll reach the Main Parking Lot (P2).
Best time to visit: As this is a popular trail, it's best to arrive first thing to avoid the crowds, especially if you're visiting in the summer months or on holiday weekends.
For a different view of the Garden of the Gods, follow the trail in winter. Not only is this a quiet time to visit, meaning you'll be able to enjoy some solitude as you admire the rocks, but it snows an average of 29 days each year. The contrast between the red rocks and the white snow makes for a distinctive picture.
Where to park: Use the Main Parking Lot (P2) off the Juniper Way Loop Road to access the trailhead.
7. High Point Overlook
What makes this photo spot special: This is a vantage point for not only views of the Garden of the Gods but the whole Colorado Springs landscape. It's a great spot for capturing panoramic pictures.
How to get there: Exit Highway 24 onto Ridge Road then take a left turn onto Colorado Avenue. Turn right when you reach South 36th Street and after a short distance turn right onto West Pikes Peak Avenue. Finally, turn onto Ridge Road and continue straight ahead until you see the parking lot on your left.
Best time to visit: The ‘Golden Hours' are a really special time to visit High Point Overlook. Just after sunrise and just before sunset, you'll see a glow lighting effect on the red rocks which opens up the opportunity for some magical photographs.
To avoid the crowds, come in spring or fall.
Where to park: Park at Garden of the Gods Overlook Parking Lot, which you'll find just off Ridge Road.
8. Three Graces
What makes this photo spot special: The three vertical spires of the Three Graces are another popular landmark in the Garden of the Gods. Rising up close together from the surrounding red rock, their symmetry and unity make for a classic photo.
How to get there: Enter from the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center and follow Gateway Road. Join the Juniper Way Loop past the Main Parking Lot (P2) then continue along the Loop until you reach the parking area for the Three Graces on the left-hand side.
Best time to visit: If you can get here in the early morning, not only will you avoid the crowds but the soft light makes for beautiful photos. Avoid the summer months if you want some time to set up you photo without interruptions.
You'll probably have seen pictures of the Three Graces standing proud in front of a vivid blue sky, but overcast days will minimize shadows and allow you to capture the nuances of the Three Graces more precisely.
Where to park: There's a small parking lot for 7 vehicles on Juniper Way Loop. From here you'll have to hike the remainder of the way to the Three Graces.
9. Tower of Babel
What makes this photo spot special: The photogenic Tower of Babel is known for its unusual shape. The collection of columns each with contrasting colors makes for an interesting photo subject.
How to get there: From the Garden of the Gods visitor Center, follow Gateway Road and join the Juniper Loop. Use the Main Parking Lot (PL2) and hike the Siamese Twins trail, which also leads you to a viewpoint for the Tower of Babel.
Best time to visit: The warm light at sunrise and sunset will add depth to your photos and let you experiment with the vivid color of the red rocks.
In spring and fall, the hike to the overlook is likely to be much less crowded than during the peak summer months.
Where to park: Use the Main Parking Lot (PL2) and use the Siamese Twins Trail.