The next bi-annual Hafla Annuitants Reunion has been slated for September 2020 at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Among the many exciting nearby attractions is the magical Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center, an eight-mile drive north from the resort. Annuitants could easily spend their entire free time at the Hafla exploring the wonders of the Garden of the Gods, considered by many the #1 city park in all of America.
[Reunion organizers are working with Grey Line Tours to provide a unique, guided tour of Garden of the Gods. More details to follow.]
“Explore Colorado Springs’ paradise in one magical stop,” the park’s website tells us. “Imagine dramatic views, 300’ towering sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak and brilliant blue skies. This world-class Visitor & Nature Center and Museum is the most visited attraction in the region with all-new interactive exhibits. … Delight in one of Colorado’s most photographed views while eating in our glass-enclosed café or from our terrace overlooking Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. Where else can you eat inside a postcard?”
According to legend, the park got its name back in 1859 when two surveyors exploring nearby locations came upon a beautiful area of sandstone formations. One of them suggested that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden.” “Beer Garden!” his companion retorted. “Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.”
The Garden of the Gods offers visitors a wide choice of dazzling exhibits to choose from featuring Colorado’s geological wonders, the region’s distinctive flora and fauna, and the rich history of its people beginning with Native Americans, continuing with early explorers, and extending on through its raucous Wild West and mining days.
Every 20 minutes, the park’s Geo-Trekker Theater presents the short film “How Did Those Red Rocks Get There?” taking viewers on a one billion year trip through time. “Plunge deep into hot magma. See dinosaurs, ancient sea monsters, and more. Soar high above Garden of the Gods and see some of the most awe-inspiring aerial footage in the world.”
If hiking’s your thing, there are 21 miles of trails to choose from at every level of difficulty from casual to challenging. Explore the park on your own or take one of the free guided nature walks offered.
On the easy end of the scale, the mile-and-a-half long Perkins Central Garden Trail winds through the heart of the park at the foot of some of its most stunning rock formations with only a 30-foot rise in elevation. On a moderate level, the Ridge Trail is a one-half mile loop with a 100-foot elevation that takes you directly into the rocks themselves. Other still-moderate-but-more-challenging trails feature 150- and 250-foot rises.
If you prefer to bike rather than walk, the park offers options catering to all fitness levels. You can join organized bike or electric bike tours, or you can bring your own bike. All the one-way roads in the park feature clearly-designated bike lanes.
“Feel like you are a kid again,” the park says of its electric bike tours. “Our popular guided tours enable almost everyone to enjoy the beauty and thrill of a bike ride through this incredible park—without concern for the hills and elevation!
“Whether young or old, whether in great physical condition, (or if you wish you were)—you can take advantage of this amazing new technology to help you easily cruise up and down the hills, feeling the breeze in your face and enjoying the splendor of bike riding through Garden of the Gods. A friendly and knowledgeable guide will lead you to awe-inspiring views, explain interesting park features and history, and maybe even tell a tale or two, just to keep you on your toes!”
Other mobile viewing options include Jeep excursions, Segway adventures, and trolley tours.
Narrated Jeep tours run either 90 or 120 minutes in length. The shorter tour takes you to the Garden of the Gods Park, while the longer tour takes you off-road through Cheyenne Canyon with its waterfalls and stunning views.
The guided Adventure Level Segway Tours offer visitors unobstructed views of the park at a leisurely, effortless pace “sprinkled with geology, flora, fauna and stories of the early days in the park.” The park advises that its Segway tours “take place on city streets and bike lanes, and are considered moderate to advanced. All guests will receive training and rider evaluation” prior to embarking on the 90-to-120 minute tour.
The 1909 Trolley Tour takes visitors back in time to the early years of the 20th century when the Garden of the Gods first became a city park.
Aramcons are famous for their love of photography. If this describes you, be sure to pack your camera and photography gear, for “Garden of the Gods Park is a paradise of creative opportunities.” Three recommended locations ideal for picture taking are the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center terrace, the North Main or Balanced Rock parking lots, and the Siamese Twins Trail with its “unique view of Pikes Peak framed by this beautiful rock formation.”
For the truly adventurous souls among our readership—those of you who are fond of rock climbing and thirsting for your next great rappelling adventure—the Garden of the Gods offers several different climbing options to choose from, two of them touted as “family friendly.” “If you’re looking for the best climbing routes to suit your needs,” the park says, “in one of the worlds most historic climbing venues, then Garden of the Gods Park is the place for you.”
[ For more information on the Garden of the Gods Park, visit its website: gardenofgods.com. ]
Directly across the street from the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center is the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site where “an exciting living history adventure opens before you when you step back in time.”
“Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site’s story begins with the American Indians,” according to the RLR website. “The Ute’s oral tradition says that Colorado is their homeland and they have no migration story. After the Ute people acquired horses from the Spanish around 1630, they became skilled horsemen. Camp Creek Valley, which today includes Rock Ledge Ranch, provided the Ute a temporary home or base camp where they found abundant water and diverse plant life.”
For over three centuries, the Rock Ledge Ranch site went through a series of dramatic changes, some for the better, some not, until 1993, when the preservation and total restoration of what is known today as the Rock Ledge House was undertaken “to preserve, protect, restore, and maintain the natural and historic integrity of the site. As a living history museum, the Ranch provides a safe, educational and experiential program that interprets the social, agricultural, and economic development of the Pikes Peak region.”
[ For more information on Rock Ledge Ranch, visit its website: www.rockledgeranch.com. ]
Are you interested in volunteering to help with the 2020 Hafla annuitants reunion? The reunion organizers are seeking volunteers. If you are interested, please complete this brief survey: