Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre sits just outside of Denver, Colorado, and features a true one-of-a-kind experience. With this park, you not only get the classic hiking and biking but also the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheater. The 868-acre park sits between the great plains and the Rocky Mountains.
Red Rocks is located in Morrison, CO, but it is owned and maintained by the city of Denver. Furthermore, it is listed as a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The site was once considered sacred by many Native American tribes, and understandably so. It’s a unique site of endless beauty that has met in harmony with modern entertainment and is a must travel for anyone who loves nature and music.
A Brief History of Red Rocks Amphitheatre
The monolithic 300-foot iconic sandstone walls of rock rose up millions of years ago from a prehistoric ocean floor. Similar structures are located around Colorado in Garden of the Gods and the Flatirons near Boulder.
Marion Burts became the first registered owner of the Red Rocks Park and once called it “Garden of the Angels.” It was later sold to Leonard H. Eicholtz, a railroad engineer from Pennsylvania, who added roads, trails, steps, and ladders so that visitors could easily get around the park and enjoy the scenery. In 1905, the park was sold to Brisben Walker, who renamed the park “Garden of the Titans” and began to develop the park more by adding a stage at the bottom of the natural acoustic bowl. Over several decades, the park was slowly sold to Denver in stages.
In 1933, George Cranmer saw an opportunity during the Franklin administration’s effort to conserve the nation’s natural resources and worked to convert the Red Rocks Park into a formal amphitheater. He appointed Burnham F. Hoyt, who designed the amphitheater’s continental seating. It allows visitors to easily get to each row without the need for a center aisle. The new amphitheater was opened to the public officially on June 15, 1941. It was started by Helen Jepson of New York’s Metropolitan Opera singing “Ave Maria.”
Since the theater opened, the amphitheater has attracted legendary music acts including Nat King Cole, Santana, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, the Eagles, Willie Nelson, Journey, Grateful Dead, Stevie Nicks, Kiss, Sting, B. B. King, Duran Duran, and Bon Jovi and continues to attract popular acts today.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Red Rocks Amphitheatre never ceases to amaze people and visitors from all around the world. This award-winning music venue consistently ranks at the top of travel lists; Giant sandstone monoliths produce amazing natural acoustics.
Learn about the rich history by visiting the designated Visitors Center; The center features educational displays and a performers Hall of Fame to see all who have performed.
Interesting Things to Do in Red Rocks (That Isn’t a Concert)
Workout on the Steps of the Amphitheatre
Red Rocks amphitheater is open to the public, and many utilize the 194 steps from the bottom to the top to get in a rigorous calisthenics workout. Combine that with the steep walk from the parking lot, and your heart is sure to be pumping.
Take a Guided Tour
Red Rocks Staff offers guided tours in the mornings but is only offered if at least 15 people are there with a maximum of 50. Learn about the park’s geology, rich history, and the performers who have taken the stage at the amphitheater from the people who know it best.
Visit Both Music Hall of Fames
Colorado has two music halls of fame. The Colorado Hall of Fame is located in Denver and features inductees such as John Denver and Dan Fogelberg. The second Hall of Fame is located at Red Rocks Visitor Center and showcases the talents that have performed at Red Rocks.
Film on the Rocks
Check out Film on the Rocks, which happens over nine nights every summer. The event features the viewing of many cult classic films and is followed by a musical performance and a comedian act. You get a three-part show in one night. It’s hard to say no to that.
Yoga on the Rocks
Yoga on the Rocks is a popular event that sells out fast where you perform Yoga at Red Rocks in the serene landscapes that is sure to invoke a spiritual experience. There’s a major difference between practicing Yoga in a studio versus the great natural beauty and warmth of the outdoors.
Red Rocks Trading Post
Visit the trading post, also known as Red Rocks Pueblo, and shop for souvenirs and memorabilia. The Trading post is a small visitor center and museum of sorts and offers educational material on the history of Red Rocks through the shop through artifacts and exhibits. The Trailhead for the Trading Post Trail begins on the back porch and is a perfect starting point.
All About the Park and Hiking Trails
Red Rocks Park, while famous for its amphitheater, has a wide selection of gorgeous scenic trails perfect for hiking and biking. From the park, you can view a 200-mile panoramic view of Denver and the plans. On the clearest days, you may even catch a glimpse of the tent-like domes of the Denver International Airport.
The Park spans over 868 acres and features geological wonders, scenic views, and a plethora of local flora and fauna. The Park is a transitional zone between the plains and the Rocky Mountains, so you are sure to see a wide variety of plants, birds, and small animals that are local to both regions.
Hikes are bike one of the trails to see dramatic views that stretch for miles and miles. Pack sunscreen and a lot of water as there is not a lot of shade for these trails.
Trading Post Trail
The Trading Post Trail begins at The Trading Post and is a 1.5 pedestrian-only trail that is an easy one for anyone of any age to take in the sweeping views. You’ll be able to enjoy 10 of the park’s giant monolithic rock formations, pass through valleys and meadows before looping back to the Trading Post. Because of the ease of this trail, this is one of the more popular and surer to be heavily trafficked, so be prepared for crowds.
Geologic Overlook Trail
Take in the views on this 1-mile trail that allows expansive views of the rust-colored rock formations and sandstone cliffs. Learn about the unique geology of the area by the Geological Marker located on this trail. This trail is known for its ease of spotting wildlife in addition to the great views.
Red Rocks Trail
Red Rocks trail expands 5.8 miles into the Red Rock wilderness. This trail works its way through steep rocky terrain and is best suited for experienced hikers, but it’s well worth it to view the picture-worthy tunnel and cave along the way.
Dakota Ridge Trail
Bikers and hikers are allowed on this 2.4-mile trail through Red Rocks. The trail is steep and rocky and is tough for even the most experienced hikers. Take in the sweeping views of the landscape and the cityscape of Denver when you get to the top.
Getting to Red Rocks
Red Rocks is a stone’s throw from Denver and has many transportation options available. The Park is 15 miles west of Denver. If you’re driving, you’ll want to take I-70 West from downtown Denver and take exit 259. Turn left, turn left at the bottom of the Morrison exit ramp, and cruise for about 1.5 miles to the entrance of Red Rocks.
Traveling from South Denver, you’ll want to take C-470 to the Morrison exit. Afterward, turn west and follow the signs to the park entrances.
Denver offers a variety of shuttle services to get you to and from Red Rocks and back to Denver. Red Rocks has a few listed drop points for rideshares like Uber and Lyft.
For those special concert events, treat yourself to a decadent ride to Red Rocks by hiring a private luxury ride service. Mayflower Limo provides transportation in style to all over Colorado. Choose from a shuttle or a luxury SUV and relax in comfort and style on your way to the main event.
Red Rocks is an amazing one-of-a-kind experience that you should keep on your list. Be sure to check out performers’ dates and see the concert of a lifetime. Or if you’re in the area during the summer, check out the Film on the Rocks and get a show, a concert, and a comedy act all in one night. Red Rocks is truly a unique experience and is great for people of all ages.