Photo courtesy of Garden of the God’s Trading Post.
Native Americans once made their homes in the shadows of the Garden of the Gods. By the late 1800s, most had been relocated to reservations in the Four Corners area. Many tourists and people who came to Colorado Springs for tuberculosis cures were interested in the area’s somewhat exotic past.
The pueblo-style trading post was built in 1924. Photo courtesy of Garden of the God’s Trading Post
In 1924, Charles E. Strausenback opened the Garden of the Gods Trading Post. Strausenback, of German descent, moved from Mexico to Colorado Springs when he was a boy. As a teen, the enterprising young man set up a stand at the Garden's East Gateway Rock and sold gypsum carvings he’d made. Strausenback built the Post’s original adobe-style building, designed to resemble trading posts found on pueblos and reservations throughout the southwest, by hand.
Navajo rugs and other Native American traditional crafts have been sold at the post since it opened. Photo by Don Nadeau, BidOnTravel.
As a young man, Strausenback went to live and trade on the Navajo Reservation in western New Mexico. While there he made friends with Navajo families living in the area. When he opened the Garden of the Gods Trading Post on private land adjacent to the southwest corner of the Garden of the Gods Park, members of some of the Navajo families he’d befriended would come to the post in summer and make their traditional crafts to sell to visiting tourists. Some of the original pieces of jewelry that they made here are displayed in the shop. They also performed traditional dances. The Navajo families returned to the Trading Post summers through the mid-1950s.
Native American sand paintings and other art adorn the walls. Photo by Don Nadeau, BidOnTravel.
Today, the Garden of the Gods Trading Post is the largest art gallery and gift shop in Colorado. Visitors will find both traditional and contemporary Native American art and hand-crafted items including jewelry, Navajo weavings, sand paintings and pueblo pottery. They also carry a selection of Colorado handcrafted items, Colorado souvenir items including a collection of hot sauces and gift items from around the world.
The Trading Post offers selections of hot sauces and made in Colorado foods. Photo by Don Nadeau, BidOnTravel.
According to BidOnTravel’s Don Nadeau, an ardent traveler, “The Post emphasizes items of considerable taste and quality far more than is usually the case at souvenir places.” He feels that they have a good mix of high end and moderately priced items.
Children can sluice for semi-precious stones to get a feel for mining in bygone days. Photo courtesy of Garden of the God’s Trading Post.
While there, enjoy a casual lunch at the Balanced Rock Café.
The outdoor patio at the Balanced Rock Café is open in warm weather. Photo courtesy of Garden of the God’s Trading Post.
The Garden of the Gods Trading Post is open year round. In winter hours are from 9am-5pm; in summer, they’re open from 8am-8pm.
The water tank supplies water to the sluicing operation. Photo courtesy of Garden of the God’s Trading Post.
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