1912: Ute Indians Ride Through Garden of the Gods on old Ute Trail
The Garden of the Gods is a sacred place to the Ute Indians. The Mouache group used the area as a winter campground in the 19th century, roaming the rocks which legend said were great creatures killed in a flood and turned to stone.
The Bear Dance, one of the oldest Ute rituals, originated at the Garden of the Gods. The Utes never camped in the sacred central zone of the Garden, but instead set up teepees and made wikiups along Camp Creek and in the valleys to the southwest below Balanced Rock.
Ute elder Alden Naranjo says that little people/spirits called Istubabi live in the many holes in the sandstone cliffs, "These little people talked to the Utes so they didn't camp in the Garden of the Gods." This is one of my favorite Garden of the Gods photographs. It was taken in 1912 of a string of Utes on horseback following the Ute Trail below Gray Rock. The Ute Trail, one of the oldest known Native American trails, came across the plains to the east, passing through Templeton Gap, fording Monument Creek, climbing over the Mesa, and then threading through the Garden of the Gods, en route to the "boiling springs" in Manitou, Ute Pass, and the rich hunting grounds in South Park 60 miles to the west. The Garden has long been a sacred and holy place. It's a place that I go to almost every day...to hike, climb, and meditate at various power spots in the area...