Web site touts Garden of the Gods

by Jesse Byrnes jesse.byrnes@gazette.com - Published: June 26, 2013 | 4:05 pm 0

For visitors, the intermingling red sandstone that towers over trails, diverse wildlife and a living-history museum is nothing short of majestic.

Garden of the Gods, arguably the city's greatest attraction, has been ranked the second best park in the nation and the third best in the world on TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Attractions list, the travel site announced Tuesday.

New York City's Central Park came in first nationally, and only Stanley Park in Vancouver bested the two in the world rankings.

"It's good that other people are recognizing it," said Bret Tennis, the city's program coordinator for Garden of the Gods. Tennis points to the park's status as a National Natural Landmark as well as its diverse number of plants, animals and activities for helping set it apart.

"When people get here, the beauty - the scenario - is outstanding. It blows people away," Tennis said, noting that the park sees an estimated 1.7-2 million visitors each year. "We don't get that many people for nothing," he added.

The rankings are based on 1,963 traveler reviews and descriptions of Garden of the Gods. TripAdvisor recognized the 1,319.12-acre Colorado Springs park for its rock formations, views of Pikes Peak, hiking trails, vegetation, wildlife and rock climbing.

TripAdvisor also looked at landmarks, museums, amusement and water parks, and ranked attractions in each based on the quantity and quality of reviews on its site.

"These awards are not just given based on some random factor," said Chelsy Murphy, director of communications with the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Murphy said that area fires have been a challenge in maintaining the city's attraction for visitors. "With fires and the visuals is very easy for national and international media to sensationalize that," she said. "It's so far from the truth."

Earlier this month Garden of the Gods was nominated for the "8th Wonder of the World" by VirtualTourist.com, a travel research web site also part of TripAdvisor Media Group. TripAdvisor is the world's largest travel website and boasts more than 100 million worldwide reviews and opinions on attractions, restaurants and accommodations, according to its website.

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