During the federal government shutdown, many visitors are learning that Garden of the Gods is as good as -- if not better than -- national parks that are closed.
Among national parks in Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park reopened Saturday but Sand Dunes National Park remained closed, as has Mesa Verde National Park and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
Visitors said Garden of the God's free admission, natural beauty and variety of activities make it an appealing option to national parks.
"Sometimes it's not very fun paying for a national park," said Austin Tucker, a Utah resident who visited Garden of the Gods for the first time on a rock-climbing trip. "You'll spend anywhere from $6 to $20 dollars a day. I've always wanted to come here. It's amazing."
However, even the park's majesty doesn't completely replace the desire to visit a national park.
"I planned to go to the Sand Dunes two days ago until I realized it was closed," said Chandler Carlson of Denver. "It's a bummer, but I'm out here enjoying this beauty instead."
Many visitors said they decided to visit Garden of the Gods for the first time after hearing that most national parks are closed due to the federal government shutdown.