Incarnate Art: Garden of the Gods

In my first Incarnate Art piece, I showed you a beautiful fairy tale castle on an island in France. In this installment I’m going to take you to a place carved by the hand of Nature instead of Man: The Garden of the Gods.

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Almost in the very middle of the United States, nestled on the edge of the Colorado Rocky Mountains is a place which looks as though it were frozen in time from Prehistory. With its massive scarlet rock formations, sharply carved out against a cerulean sky, the Garden of the Gods well deserves its ostentatious name.

gardenotgodsThe story of its name is quite amusing and, in my opinion, very American. In 1859, Messieurs M.S. Beach and Rufus Cable set out from the nearby city of Denver to explore the area. While about, they came upon a majestic and awe-inspiring landscape, with mountainous russet rocks and lush, verdant trees. Mr. Beach, in a most hilariously American train of thought, immediately put in what “A capital place for a beer garden!” the place would be. But Mr. Cable indignantly and heartily disagreed. With equally American enthusiasm and extravagance, he replied “Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.” And so it was.

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Indian petroglyphs at the park, believed to represent (left to right) the Sun, a deer, a buffalo head, and a tool, or perhaps even the thunderbird

This is one of the few locations you will see on this segment which I have actually had the honor of visiting. I was not joking when I said that it feels prehistoric. I recall my seven year old self walking through the park with my family and easily envisioning a Tyrannosaur or Velociraptor popping out to chase us at any moment (I was rather a fan of Jurassic Park). Indeed, geological study of the area revealed that the formations must have come about in the Pleistocene Ice Age. The area has also been admired for far longer than the times European American settlers discovered it. Many Native American tribes, including the Apache, Cheyenne, Comanche, Pawnee and more have stories passed through generations of the beautiful place and the Ute Tribe was still camping there until the 1870’s. Archaeologists still discover petroglyphs and the remains of Indian pottery and tools, evidence of the Native Americans’ ancient connection with the park.

The Garden of the Gods is not an often remembered site when people talk of American tourism, lost in the sea of more famous places like the Grand Canyon or the Redwood Forest. However this place, with its ancient and rustic beauty, is truly worth a visit. It is perfect for walks, hikes, and climbs for just you or the entire family. Perhaps it’s my memories talking, but I can think of almost no place in my homeland where I would rather go to appreciate the majesty of Nature.

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