I recently returned from a trip to Manitou Springs, Colorado, where I visited Garden of the Gods, Pike's Peak, and the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. Luckily, I left before the Black Forest fire broke out.
I had wanted to see Garden of the Gods since 1992, when I saw it while driving up I-25. It is a beautiful area containing huge, jagged red sandstone spires. The Utes revered it as a sacred place, and it is easy to understand why.
Although Garden of the Gods has been a public park since 1909, some traces of Native use remain. Here, near the Ute trail, rests a large stone with a smooth top surface, suggesting use as a grinding slick.
The park also contains an impressive balanced rock, which looks like it was created mainly by erosion of the softer stone supporting the rock.
However, the most interesting site is at the Siamese Twins. Here a hole was eroded between two hoodoos.
The hole frames a view of Pike's Peak, which the Utes believed to be the home of the Sun. This view is to the west. The bearing from here to Pike's Peak is about 253 degrees, suggesting winter solstice sunset is visible over the summit of the Peak.
As I was walking around the site, I noticed this large propped boulder. From this angle, it looks a little like an animal head.