Garden of the Gods Park is one of 10 Great Public Spaces for 2011.

It’s a designation given by the American Planning Association under the organization’s Great Places in America program.

City and park officials planned to be on hand at the Garden of the Gods this morning to celebrate the news.

“Colorado Springs residents and the 2 million people that visit each year already know Garden of the Gods is a great place,” Mayor Steve Bach said in the release. “This designation highlights the role the city and dedicated community members have played over the years in preserving the land where ancestors of the Ute Indians, lived many thousands of years ago.”

APA singled out Garden of the Gods Park for its 300 million years of geologic history, impressive array of dramatic rock formations and its use as a habitat by species as diverse as dinosaurs and honey ants.

Through Great Places in America, APA looks for unique and authentic characteristics found in three essential components of all communities – streets, neighborhoods and public spaces. APA Great Places provides a list of choices for where and how people work and live every day and are defined by many things including planning efforts, architectural styles, accessibility and community involvement.

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“Except for issues of ownership, Garden of the Gods would have been America’s second national park, a status it undoubtedly merited,” said Paul Farmer, APA chief executive officer. “Its most recent master plan – which incorporates Ian McHarg’s Design with Nature principles – has reduced the potential for degradation and deterioration, ensuring that this magnificent landscape will be enjoyed by future generations.”

The nine other APA 2011 Great Public Spaces are:

  • Fairmount Park, Riverside, Calif.
  • Monument Circle, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Gray’s Lake Park, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Rice Park, St. Paul, Minn.
  • Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Fair Park, Dallas, Texas
  • Maymont, Richmond, Va.
  • Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, Wash  and
  • Milwaukee RiverWalk, Milwaukee, Wis.

For more information about Garden of the Gods Park, visit