(GARDEN OF THE GODS) – Following another record year of visitors to the Garden of the Gods, changes are in the works to protect the park and continue to let people to enjoy one of Colorado Springs’ most beautiful attractions.
“We have seen over the last several years, a significant increase in visitors in garden of the gods park,” commented Kim King, Colorado Springs Parks and Cultural Services manager.
According to the city, about 5.8 millions visitors came through the park in 2017. About 8,000 vehicles traveled through the park each day, carrying an average of 2.5 people, equaling out to around 20,000 visitors every day.
Even so, there are only 758 parking spots available at the visitor center. This created a shortage of 450 to 600 parking spots per day through the year.
“What we started to see was a lot of queuing and backups, a lot of people having to circle around parking lots; just trying to find a spot where they could park and enjoy the park,” stated King.
In order to find possible solutions, the city hired a firm and conducted a survey. The city determined that the following projects might mitigate traffic, improve visit quality, and help preserve the park:
- Renovate an existing “ADA accessible trail alongside the north side of Gateway Road”
- “Expand the parking at Rock Ledge Ranch”
- “Establish a shuttle service”
- Create specific times that would be vehicle free
“We had an open house in March of this year where we had these options laid out, invited the public to come in, hear the highlights of the report, and also have an opportunity to vote on what really intrigued them and what might be best,” King continued.
The city said people reacted positively to renovating a trail off of Gateway Road and establishing a shuttle service. There were mixed reactions to expanding parking at Rock Ledge Ranch and vehicle-free days.
Taking into account these opinions, the City of Colorado Springs hopes to accomplish the following:
- Begin renovating the ADA accessible trail this summer
- Attempt a pilot shuttle program this year
- Host a motorless morning in the park this coming Earth Day
- Try out some low impact parking lot expansion
“We are really trying to balance the needs and desires of our local residents and our tourists while protecting the park itself. So hopefully this is a way to try some things out and see what works,” King said.