COLORADO SPRINGS — The number of visitors this year at the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center is way down because of COVID-19. "Right now,d we are down about 64% of our normal visits,” said Director of Operations, Christina Hayward, “So of course that is effecting us here at the visitor center."
The Nature and Visitor Center had to close for several months shortly after the start of the pandemic. “We spent really the month of May planning on how we could safety reopen,” said Hayward. Now, for COVID-19 social distancing, the number of visitors in the building is limited.
The park itself is owned by the City of Colorado Springs. The visitor center compliments the park, but it stands alone and operates separately as non-profit foundation. The Garden of the Gods Foundation was created to support the treasured park. Its mission is two-fold. “For education and to provide a continuous stream of revenue for the park.” Said Hayward.
The education portion of the center is free with no admission fee. Revenue for the center to operate and support the park happens with optional amenities. "For a t-shirt, or a tour, or a sandwich at the cafe, helps us in return to donate proceeds to the park." Nearly 65% fewer people looking for a keepsake or snack equates with a significant hit to the bottom-line. "Visitation drives revenue and revenue drives what we can then donate to the park."
The beloved park also gets help from many generous donors. Leaders at the non-profit are hopeful, it will off-set some of this year’s revenue short-fall.