In the summers when I was in high school, my sister and I would come to Garden of the Gods at dawn to run the three-mile loop around the park. We’d huff and puff up and down the hills, listening to animals rustle the leaves in the bushes along the road. After our run, we’d replace the calories we burned with giant cherry limeades from Sonic on the drive back home.

A few years later, on a sunny, spring morning, my dad took my engagement photos in those red rocks. My fiancé and I sheepishly cuddled and smooched in front of my parents as my dad snapped away.

After we were married, my husband and I would go for frequent drives through the park and up Rampart Range Road in our ’88 Jeep Wrangler. Our dog, Annie, could always be found riding in the backseat with a giant smile on her face on those off-roading trips.

I eventually moved away from Colorado but came back every few years to visit family and friends. Garden of the Gods was the place my dear friend and I would meet up for coffee and selfies whenever I came through Colorado Springs. We’d sip our drinks, catch up on life, dream about the future, and laugh at ourselves as we’d try to take photos together using the self-timer.

Making new memories at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, CO •
Making new memories at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, CO •

Today, after more than 15 years filled with special memories in this park, I meet long time friends for play dates with our little children. It warms my heart to watch a new generation make memories in a place that is so dear to me.