Sentinel Rock is, to me, the very heart of the Garden of the Gods. It’s not the biggest formation but it’s superbly likable. Location location location. I like to think of this spot as "Sentinel Plaza." There’s a lovely little wall to sit on, whether in the sun on a brisk day or in the shade during the heat of the summer. The scent of pine drifts to you on the breeze from the Ponderosa Pine overhead.
And from here, you can often watch climbers on Sentinel Rock itself. The climbers are so close that you can really get a feel for what each partner is doing. This formation is known to the climbing community as Red and White Twin Spires.
There’s even a crawly-cubby here perfect for the little ones.
Sentinel Rock is also a favorite spot for portraits. This photo was taken several years ago on the South side of this formation. Our latest photo was taken on the North side.
The North side of this formation is also a geological showcase, so to speak. As you’re facing the rocks from the North, on the left side, you can run your hand along the conglomerate rock, formed from sandstone, quartz and other sedimentary rock. Yet as you move to your right, the rock becomes smoother - that’s sandstone. Keep moving to your right and you’ll see a great example of the layers that formed before the continental shift and the rocks stood up.
One day, on one of my nature and history walks through the garden, I came to this spot with my fairly large group. As I began pointing out the “layers” as you see them in this picture, a gentleman (clearly with WAY more geological knowledge than I have) began talking. Mostly what I heard was “blah blah blah, not layers, blah blah blah.” Okay, so they maybe aren’t called layers in the geo business, but to me - they’re layers.
[And another truly irrelevant fact - when I think of layers, I can’t help hear Donkey’s voice telling Shrek that parfaits have layers.]
On the West side of Sentinel Rock, you can even make out waves of sorts in the surface of the rock that, they tell me, are there from when the rock was under water. I'm also told they are called riffles and that this shot of them is somewhat unusual. Guess the lighting was really perfect when I took it.
West of this formation lies the Central Garden. Once upon a time it was nearly treeless. But in the 1930’s the Civilian Conservation Corps planted Rocky Mountain Junipers here. Though not native to this region of Colorado, they’ve done well, wouldn’t you say. Male trees have single yellowish cones at the tips of branches. Female trees have dark blue or bluish-purple cones that look like berries. Gold star to anyone who can tell me what they make from these blue berries.
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Do you have a great story about the Garden. Maybe your first time here? Did you try to push over the Balanced Rock? Did your kids see a bear? What about selfies with a dinosaur? Or some nice photos?
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