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Garden of the Gods to ban cars for part of Earth Day

April 5, 2018 Updated: April 21, 2018 at 10:24 am
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Colorado Springs cyclist Katie Compton poses for a picture in Garden of the Gods Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2107, Compton will race for the ISCORP team during the first stage of the Colorado Classic race Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. The stage will race through Garden of the Gods, Old Colorado City and downtown Colorado Springs. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Colorado Springs parks planners have decided to try something at Garden of the Gods that has long intrigued outdoor enthusiasts.

Vehicles will not be allowed for five hours starting at 5 a.m. April 22 in what the city is calling a "Motorless Morning" on Earth Day. Hikers and cyclists will have full reign of the Garden.

The parks department is asking drivers to park at the visitor and nature center or Rock Ledge Ranch while roads to the Garden's lots are barred until 10 a.m.

Timmy Duggan of the Liquigas-Cannondale team trains in Garden of the Gods Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in preparation for the USA Pro Challenge Aug. 20-26, 2012. Stage 5, Aug. 24, will travel through the park and finish in downtown Colorado Springs. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Timmy Duggan of the Liquigas-Cannondale team trains in Garden of the Gods Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in preparation for the USA Pro Challenge Aug. 20-26, 2012. Stage 5, Aug. 24, will travel through the park and finish in downtown Colorado Springs. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

The concept of no-vehicle times in the park was well received at a March 12 open house focused on future transportation in the park, which advocates and officials fear is being "loved to death" by summer tourists.

Sites around the country have responded to that fear and the demand for more wild escapes by banning motorists at times. Shenandoah National Park celebrated a "Car-Free Day" last April, modeling fellow national parks including Glacier and Crater.

Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, a city contractor, recommended officials consider "motorless" hours or days. To relieve summer congestion in the park, Volpe also recommended the city establish a 400-spot parking lot on the Rock Ledge Ranch field near the main entrance off 30th Street and offer a shuttle into the Garden from there. A pilot program could be tried this summer.

As many as 8,000 vehicles come through the park on a summer day, Volpe found.

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