bruceWarr

A message from the president HEADER

Wow! 20 years have passed in a flash since the Garden of the Gods Foundation was created and the Visitor & Nature Center opened its doors to the public. And what a 20 years it has been…truly a reason for “Celebrating the Past, Experiencing the Future.”

A quick look back is in order.  Before 1995, the Garden of the Gods Park had an outdated former residence as its “visitor center.” At best, it was a make-do building in need of an overhaul. Fortunately, Lyda Hill stepped up with her vision and commitment to build a world class Visitor & Nature Center. It became a reality when she and the City agreed to move the visitor center – to better preserve the Park’s natural environment – to the Center’s present location outside the Park. With her generosity, our new gem of a building opened in May 1995 – a cutting edge educational facility for the millions of visitors who are drawn to the Park. At the same time, the Garden of the Gods Foundation was established to disburse funds generated by the Visitor & Nature Center to the City to help maintain and improve the Park.

Since that time, the Foundation has given more than $2,231,000 to the City and other environmental organizations for the Park. Those funds have paid for trails, signs, staff salaries, facilities, invasive vegetation control, and other important projects benefiting the Park. It’s no surprise that the Garden of the Gods Park is the # 1 city park in the United States and the # 2 in the world!

Now to the future. With more than 650,000 visitors passing through the doors of the Center each year and with the technology of museums and their exhibits moving at warp speed like everything else, the Center was in need of a make-over. So in 2013, thanks again to Lyda Hill’s generosity, planning was completed and construction began for new and better access, improved public areas, and cutting edge exhibits. Needless to say, it has been a challenge to keep the Center open for visitors while under construction over these past one and a half years. The Center was open with limited hours from January-March 2014 and closed in October 2014, yet the 2014 visitation dropped only to 454,000. What a tribute to our staff and the many volunteers who helped our guests understand, learn about, and appreciate the Park and its beauty… despite the dust.

And so here it is, May 2015, and you get to experience these exciting world-class changes. You’ll see wildlife that frequents our Park: big horn sheep, rock dove, black bear, wild turkey, bobcat, great horned owl, and more. You’ll see a life-sized “Theiophytalia kerri ” dinosaur, so named because its remains were discovered in the Park, and thus identified as “of the Gods.” You’ll see and learn about the many indigenous peoples who for millennia passed through, hunted, and camped in the Park, and, I’m sure, were as stunned as we by the beauty and spirituality of its towering red rock formations. You’ll walk through the Time Tunnel showing the evolution of this landscape and animals over millions of years, to arrive at our HD submersive movie describing the complex geology of our unique Park.

With some modesty, we can say that the rejuvenated Nature and Visitor Center is now the # 1 facility of its type, fitting for the # 1 city park in the country.

None of this would be possible without the contributions of the many friends and supporters of the Garden of the Gods Park. We so appreciate the tireless efforts of the director and staff of the Visitor & Nature Center; the many volunteers from Friends of Garden of the Gods (FOGG),and Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI); the dedicated employees of the Colorado Springs Parks, Recreational and Cultural Services Department; Lyda Hill, Nancy Lewis, and Donald Hare, whose vision, resources, and endless hours have assured that the Center is second to none; and the Board of Trustees of the Foundation. To all, a heart-felt thanks.

Finally, to our millions of visitors: welcome and thank you for being here and enjoying the Garden of the Gods Park. There’s nothing quite like it in the world!

Bruce N. Warren, President