Historically customized passenger tour bus to offer rides in Garden of the Gods
The ride will take the form of an open-air, 14-passenger jitney, built to resemble a park trolley from 1909. People seeking the 25-minute, $12-a-person experience - including a driver providing park facts and the occasional tall tale - can step on board at the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center, 1805 N. 30th St. Departure times will be every 45 minutes between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., with the route taking in Gateway Road and the Juniper Way Loop.
The vehicle was built over the past year and a half by Greg Wellens, owner of Adventures out West, a local company that also offers jeep, van and segway rides
“We're building on the area's history,” Wellens said. “There are so many things that have been done on the Westside for tourism.” With the new/old vehicle, “we're pulling from the past as an inspiration for the future.”
A photo of a 1909 Garden sightseeing bus was used as a model as Wellens and Eckert fashioned a roughly 18-foot-long housing onto a 2005 Ford full-size van chassis. The final product bears close resemblance to the 1909 version, including the style, high ceiling, wood side steps and wheels which - while lacking the original's wood spokes - are painted to look that way. An extra feature, possibly not available in 1909, is padded seats.
Wellens prefers not to publicize how much the job cost. “It was just fun,” he summarized. “I like making stuff that's different. The more unique, the better.”
The tour starts and finishes by going through the limited-access vehicle/pedestrian tunnel under 30th Street. The tunnel height is 12 feet; the
During a recent Garden test drive, including Wellens, Eckert and Visitor Center officials, the vehicle drew long glances from various early-season tourists along the park roads.
According to Dolores Davis, a Visitor Center employee writing in the recent edition of FOGGHorn - the newsletter for the Friends of Garden of the Gods (FOGG) - the 1909 photo “shows Edwardian-era travelers in their dapper outfits driving through the park.” The photo is part of the “Fit for the Gods” historic photo exhibit at the Visitor Center (to which admission is free).
Adventures Out West has a ticket counter inside the Visitor Center. The company has offered Garden Segway and Jeep tours from that location since 2009 and, in doing so, helps “support the center's mission to generate revenue for the park,” according to Davis. She added that “the park tour vehicle will surely be a spectacular new way to experience the grandeur of Garden of the Gods Park.”
Westside Pioneer article