Red Rock Canyon Open Space

Colorado Springs

A former quarry and part of the sandstone vein that runs through the Garden of the Gods, this 787-acre park was nearly developed into a golf course and townhouses. Thanks to committed residents who fought the good fight, however, it's now a fabulous local park, where you can hike, mountain bike and rock climb, without all the tourist hoopla.

If you want to link up with a longer hike, the Section 16 trail leads out of the southwestern corner of the park on a nice 6-mile loop. Rock climbers have access to over 80 bolted climbing routes, but they must register at the Garden of the Gods visitor center first. The main access is off Hwy 24, west of Old Colorado City Historic District.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions