Red Rocks is one of the Seven Wonders of Colorado. Actually, it was once listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World! Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains just west of Denver lies a natural amphitheater every rock star wants to perform at. When Ed Sheeran performed there for the first time in 2015, he said that every time he met someone from Colorado they asked him if he’d played Red Rocks yet. After finally performing there, he understood why.
The view is unparalleled, and the sound is amazing. From the 70th row of seating, you can see the Denver Skyline in the distance. The lights of the greater Denver area begin to twinkle as the sun dips below the horizon. Directly behind the stage bright green rolling hills contrast jagged red rock. The two rocks that jut upwards on either side of the seating area are taller than Niagara Falls. Named Ship Rock and the Creation Rock, these two massive monoliths allow the sound from the stage to bounce back and forth rather than just up and out.
With amazing sound and sweet views, there isn’t a bad seat at Red Rocks (so don’t pay extra for reserved seating).
While the first official concert season was held in 1941, the amphitheater saw its first concerts in 1906 organized by John Brisben Walker. Since then, the stage has seen the likes of Sting, U2, Phish, and even the Beatles (who incidentally didn’t sell out the 9,525-seat venue).
But Red Rocks is more than just music. It hosts comedians, radio shows (Garrison Keillor has performed there), movies, and even fitness events! The amphitheater is also surrounded by the 868-acre Red Rocks Park: a beautiful natural area with plenty of hiking trails, picnic areas, and drive-by sightseeing. You don’t have to see a rock concert to enjoy Red Rocks. There really is something for everyone there.
Unfortunately people are deterred from experiencing this world class venue because of crowds, getting there and parking, tickets, altitude, and noise.
Yes, a sold out show of nine thousand people is a lot, but once you’re in the venue it doesn’t feel that big. Everyone is super friendly, and you don’t end up packed in as tight as you’d think you’d be. The seating is spacious. Each row is about three and a half feet wide so there’s room to spread out and dance. The staff does a good job of making sure people are packed in enough that everyone has a seat, but not too much that you feel like you’re at a party in a sardine can.
Red Rocks is located in Morrison, CO which is conveniently located just off of I-70. From pretty much anywhere north of Lakewood, find your way onto I-70 and take Exit 259 to Morrison. Follow the signs (and line of cars) to the amphitheater. If you’re coming from anywhere south of the amphitheater, well, you know how to use Google Maps. 😉
Red Rocks has plenty of parking. They’d have to to accommodate nine thousand guests. With five different parking lots on the north and south side of the amphitheater and parking staff to help you find the nearest open spot, it’s easy to park. Just be prepared to walk uphill to the venue. Seriously, the whole walk from your car to your seat is uphill. At least you can skip leg day. And you’ve got a nice long downhill walk when the concert is over.
Anytime you leave a place the same time as nine thousand other people, traffic is a pain. You can always pull the leave-during-the-encore move and beat the massive rush. But if you can’t bear to pull yourself from the captivating performance, and who would blame you, the Red Rocks staff will be there to efficiently direct traffic and get you on your way home. Besides, do you really have somewhere to be at 11 p.m.?
Red Rocks partners with AXS in order for people to buy tickets online. Tickets are then emailed for printing. Alternatively, you can download the AXS app and pull your tickets up on your phone. If you’re into old-school physical tickets, you can purchase them at the Denver Coliseum for most shows. Tickets aren’t that hard to get a hold of either, even for the super big artists. Ed Sheeran’s concert sold out in minutes, and I was still able to get tickets without obsessively clicking refresh. All I had to do is join his fan club, and I had access to the tickets before the general on-sale. Most big name artists do something similar.
If you’re from sea level, Red Rocks isn’t the easiest venue to explore. Like I said, you’re going to be climbing a hill (and then some stairs) to get to your seats. But, it’s worth it. You and a thousand other out-of-staters can stop and catch your breath together. When you do get to the Upper Terrace and snap 103 Instagram worthy pictures, you’ll be glad you did it.
If you’re dead set on watching your favorite artist in the front row, then I don’t have a solution for you. Ear plugs maybe? However, if you don’t mind watching the concert from the 69th row (remember there’s no bad seat at Red Rocks), the sound level isn’t nearly as invasive. A number of people hang out by the bar on the Upper Terrace to listen to the music. The sound is just as good up there as it is in row 17.
If I haven’t convinced you by now, I’m not sure I ever will. Red Rocks is an amazing venue that every single Coloradoan must experience in their lifetime. If you’re not a Coloraodoan, I still highly recommend the trip. Words can’t adequately describe Red Rocks Park, so go check it out for yourself.