Good response for GoG Visitor Center's temporary parking-lot outpostEarly reports are enthusiastic on the temporary outpost for the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center by the Gateway Trail near the North Main Parking Lot.
Visitors by the hundreds are finding their way to the outdoor site, where volunteers at a table under a pavilion are offering maps and information, according to Lloyd Mitchell, the assistant director of the center. “People seem to be finding us OK,” he said.
However, Mitchell said, “we didn't want people to drive up and all they'd see is that we're closed.”
So a plan was developed to set up in the main lot, which gets the most traffic and is close to two trails, including the Gateway Trail through the Central Garden. Signs have been placed at the three main accesses to the Visitor Center, telling people what's going on, Mitchell said.
The information table is in place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, he said.
In case of precipitation, the pavilion only has beams for a “roof,” but a tarp has been spread out over them to provide some relief.
Questions during a brief span recently involved trails, what types of wildlife there are, whether the berries on nearby bushes are edible (they aren't) and how long it takes to drive up Pikes Peak.
To help people find the remote “center,” one volunteer stands next to the Gateway Trail, about 20 feet from the pavilion, and lets people know that park information is available nearby.
Jerry Gasko, one such greeter, said most people seem appreciative of the help. His wife Jane is filling that role too.
Mitchell said the response from the the public has been so encouraging overall that consideration is being given to continuing such a service during the summer months. He said that could be a useful extra service, considering that the free-admission Garden gets an estimated 2 million visitors a year.
The Visitor Center was created in 1995 by philanthropist Lyda Hill. She has since given the facility to the Garden of the Gods Foundation, which runs it with the help of hired staff and a volunteer organization, Friends of Garden of the Gods (FOGG). The center donates a portion of its proceeds to the city for park upkeep. The renovation project is timed for the celebration of the center's 20th anniversary in 2015.
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