The moment has finally arrived. Gone are the days of having a portable baby who loved being carted around in her carrier. Welcome to the world of having an independent toddler, who wants to walks everywhere even it will take twenty years to get there. You live and die by schedules and a complete meltdown will ensue the minute you don’t let them eat that rock. HOW DARE YOU!! As your little tot develops that doesn’t mean vacationing needs to be limited to staycations. There are plenty of great destinations that are toddler-friendly. Our recent visit to Colorado Springs showed that the city was not only full of breath-taking landscape but also accommodating to a toddler. One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to Garden of the Gods. Here are our tips for visiting the Garden of the Gods with a toddler in tow.
Garden of the Gods
As you bask in the glory of the majestic formations it humbles the soul. Time slows down because you are experiencing a moment that you want to capture in your memory forever. The timeless beauty of mountainous landscapes paired with striking arrangements of monstrous red rocks makes for a photographers dream. A scenic motor trail paired with a paved walking trail throughout the park makes for a family with a toddlers dream!
Your adventure should begin at the visitor/ nature center. The interactive exhibits are enthralling to the littlest explorers and their collection of taxidermy animals could rival a small zoo. Rangers are readily available to distribute up to date information on park trails, accessibility, and happenings. There is a kid-friendly cafe that is loaded with healthy options. Upon prying all family members from the gift shop and ensuring everyone has used the facilities it is finally time to venture into the park.
The motor trail loops through the entire park with many pull-offs and areas to park. Honestly, there isn’t that much parking to meet the demand of visitors. Instead of getting frustrated remember that parkland would have to be destroyed to make more parking, which would take away from the beauty of the park. Patience is a virtue here as there are people coming and going all the time. The longest we waited for a spot was ten minutes, with other folks snagging spot after spot. Bad timing I guess.
The other options are to follow the motor trail in the continuous loop and hit your desired area later on. We had to take this option because our little one finally fell asleep after fighting a nap all morning. It was nice to see the whole park, develop a game plan and capture a few jaw-dropping photos before she awoke.
Perkins Garden Trail
We opted to do the Perkins Garden Trail since it is wheelchair and stroller friendly. The parking lot can be intimidating as this a popular area in the park. There are free shuttles from the visitor center that drop you off at the trailhead. Restrooms are available at the start of the trail from the parking lot and detailed maps to assist you.
The paved trail is an easy 1 1/2 miles long that winds you through a majority of the highest peaks in the park. The trail is even with little to no incline and does not have any steep drop-offs. Children and adults alike gasp at the rock climbers as they carefully maneuver their footing and ropes just right. There are opportunities for visitors to get up close and touch a few of the formations. Kids loved to imagine they were the rock climbers as they scrambled to get a few inches off the ground.
You will find all walks of life here. From strollers to wheelchairs and everything in between. A few tips to take into consideration is there is little to no shade in the park so dress and pack accordingly. Sunscreen and water are essentials. Benches are located sporadically along the trail that can give little hikers a respite.
Utilize the map you obtained at the visitor center to ensure that you see all the formations you desire. A few formations will require you take additional trails. The Siamese Twins trail is an easy 1 miles loop that can be managed with a toddler in tow. It all depends on their state of being after the Perkins Garden Tour. This part of the park is not paved, however, the trails are well maintained.
Other Tips For Visiting Garden of the Gods With a Toddler:
- Picnics: There are picnic areas throughout the park, but they are not shaded. The sun can be brutally hot which can make for a miserable picnic. I would recommend bringing a canopy or umbrella.
- Make sure you have plenty of snacks available for your little one. All that hiking and sightseeing will be sure to work up an appetite. Hanger is usually the number one culprit when my little one starts to act out.
- Dogs are welcome at the park as long as they are leashed.
- Bring a carrier/stroller even if you think your little one can walk the entire time.
My final piece of advice is don’t push your little one’s limit. Depending on what time of year you go, it is likely going to be hot. The heat can wear them out faster and can likely lead to a meltdown. Plan on doing one big thing and see how it goes. You may need to take a break, go home or cool off at the Trading Post with ice cream.
Learn more about Garden of the Gods here: https://www.gardenofgods.com/
Looking for more to do in Colorado check out our posts on the RMNP!