Before it was named Garden of the Gods by white settlers, Native American tribes made annual pilgrimages to the area of beautiful red rocks that stand up so distinctly against the green mountain slopes. By 1871, Colorado Springs  was being laid out nearby as a resort destination.
The Garden of the Gods (1805 N. 30th St., 719/634-6666, www.gardenofgods.com ) remains the top tourist attraction around, with an estimated two million visitors each year.
Like many other sensational natural wonders in the area, Garden of the Gods has been tinkered with too much and has a heavy theme-park atmosphere that can be a big turn-off. There are bus tours, not one but three gift shops, and Native American dances for lunchtime entertainment.
That said, you can take a number of easy hiking trails and escape the crowds (some trails also allow mountain biking and horseback riding) and appreciate the 1,350-acre park.
Stop in at the Visitor Center and Nature Center (Memorial Weekend–Labor Day daily 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Labor Day–Memorial Weekend daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m.)to learn more about the geology of the rocks and the plants and critters that dwell here. Visiting the park is free year-round, but there is a fee for guided tours and special programs.