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It’s been an exciting 23 years since the Garden of the Gods Foundation was created and the Visitor & Nature Center opened its doors to the public. The Park was named #1 city park in the United States and the #2 park in the world, we’ve exceeded 1 million visitors a year for the last 3 years and the Foundation has contributed over $3.8 million to the City to maintain and improve the Garden of the Gods Park.

Before 1995, the Garden of the Gods Park had an outdated former residence as its “visitor center.”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 (a local philanthropist) and Nancy Lewis (City Parks Director) stepped up with their vision and commitment to create a public/private partnership and to build a world class Visitor & Nature Center. With Lyda’s generosity and Nancy’s commitment from the City, 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 $3.8 million to the City and other environmental organizations for the Park. Those funds have paid for trails, signs, staff salaries, facilities, invasive vegetation control, restrooms, shuttles 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!

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. And now, our many visitors 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 immersive HD movie describing the complex geology of our unique Park.

For local residents and tourists alike, a stop at the Visitor & Nature Center is a great way to learn about the history, geology and nature surrounding the park.  It will enhance your visit and make your stroll through our beautiful park even more enlightened.

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

In 2011, Lyda Hill generously donated the Visitor and Nature Center to the Garden of the Gods Foundation to help secure perpetual upkeep and maintenance of the center for people to enjoy for generations to come.

None of this would be possible without the contributions of the many friends and supporters of the Garden of the Gods Foundation. We so appreciate the tireless efforts of the director and staff of the Visitor & Nature Center; the many volunteers from the City, 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!

Jan Martin, President