Crystal Park, Colorado
“Where the Mountains meet the sky” or a.k.a. “the gem of the Rockies”. Is a area and settlement nestled Pike’s Peak, Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, and Broadmoor Hotel. It is a settlement of over 2,000 privately owned acres of forest / mountain land. It’s named after the numerous quartz crystals and gemstones that litter its slopes. It was first discovered by the Ute Indians, then explored by English explorers, mined by gold prospectors, settled by rugged pioneers, charted by Ulysses S. Grant and General William J. Palmer, rooted by the logging community, and toured by millions of Americans as the “first scenic motor roadway ever built in the West” and deemed the Crookedest Road in North America by Robert L. Ripley. Today it is a private housing community. It was originally called Crystal Park for its abundance of smokey quartz, quartz, topaz, amazonite, and other gemstones. The Crystal Park area was purchased by Carl H. Rucker in 1951 for $75,000 with the intent to develope a winter sports facility and housing complex. He died in 1965 and never became part of that vision. A relatively flat and wooded terrace consisting of over 2,000 acres of wooded faerieland at an elevation of over 9,000 feet above sea level, Crystal Park is located on the eastern flanks of Pikes Peak (14,110 feet) just 2 miles above Manitou Springs and 6 miles west of Colorado Springs. It lies below the steep masses of Cameron Cone, Mount Aurthur, and Mount Garfield. The area possesses a mild climate, warm days, cool nights, low humidity, with a median temperature range of 28.8 F in January and a high of 71.2 F in July. The long twisting road is one of its most popular highlights next to the crystals. The toll road was completed in 1910 – starting at 6100 feet and ending at 9,000 feet near the lake, and once possessed a flowing spring in the middle of the journey up the mountain. The road had turntables to manually rotate the cars to change direction as the road was too narrow to make switchbacks. The toll road ended in the 1940s, but even so, still remains as one of the best well-maintained roads in the area. While the roads painfully scarred the mountain, and have been heavily criticized because of this. Atop the road is a natural basin that forms a pristine mountain lake. Several streams converge into the lake keeping it flowing and abundant with trout. The area is speckled with fascinating rock formations which are amongst the best highlights of the area. Some very well known formations are Pavilion, Derby, Tank, Sentinel, Devil’s Slide, Devil’s Kitchen, Gog and Magog, Sunrise, Snow Plow, Peanut, and Froggy Rocks. My short overnight visit to Crystal Park was phenomenal and awe-inspiring. An amazing place I hope to explore further in the future. Thank you Trisha for the discovery! A great article on the area is “First Order Changes in a Local Mountain Environment: Crystal Park, Colorado (1963-1997)” by Rebekah K. Nix (Nov. 15, 1997). Rating: 5 stars out of 5.