Garden of the Pods? Download adds to walk

       Picture yourself walking along in the Garden of the Gods. You might hear birds singing, a horse neighing, a train chugging, a gold miner hammering…

Julie Smith of City Public Communications is prepared for a modern hike in the Garden of the Gods - with a Garden map and an MP3 player.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Well, OK, maybe not the last two. Not unless you have a portable listening device and a headset and have taken advantage of the free 25-minute “podcast” that Colorado Springs Parks has created.
       Described as a “walking tour,” the program features a recorded voice - with a background of music and yes, various historic or outdoorsy sounds - summarizes various features of the 1,300-acre city park.
       Here is the opening line of the recording by narrator Sheila Green: “With its vertical red rocks and views of Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods Park is recognized worldwide as an iconic landmark of the American West. Three of America's major ecosystems converge within the park's boundaries, and its varied rock formations reveal one of the most extensive displays of earth history found anywhere.”
       The recording is divided into chapters, and people can use their listening devices to skip from one chapter to another, as desired, the voice explains. Julie Smith of Colorado Springs Public Communications organized the text, with the help of existing materials from City Parks, and Bill Beagle and Joel Smith of Springs TV finalized the audio product.
       The word “podcast” dis erived from the Apple iPod device. IPod users can only obtain the walking tour through the iTunes program or the online iTunes Music Store. People with MP3 players or other devices can download it directly from the city website, www.springsgov.com. (Click on “SpringsTV on Demand” under the Quick Links section, then click on “Podcasts.” This site also provides a direct link to the podcast on the iTunes Music Store.)
       Part of the walking tour refers to places on a map of the Garden of the Gods. The map itself is also available for free - digitally on the city website or physically at the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center, 1805 W. 30th St.
       Points discussed in the recording include trail preservation efforts in the Garden, features about each of the main designated trails, technical climbing rules and safety, history of the rock formations, the unique dinosaur whose remains were found within the Garden's boundaries, early human life and the American Indians, the settlers in the 1800s, the Charles Elliot Perkins family gift of the park to the city 100 years ago, the neighboring Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, wild animals that might be seen, Pikes Peak views and the Garden of the Gods Foundation that donates a percentage of all Visitor Center proceeds to park improvements.
       The city plans to create podcasts for other city open space/park areas in the future, including Red Rock Canyon Open Space, Smith said.

Westside Pioneer/press release