“ Location: An amphitheatre cut into the rocks of red rock park, west Colorado / Address: West Alameda Parkway, Morrison, CO 80465 „
A few years ago my husband and I had the luck of traveling all over Colorado. It's a very beautiful state to say the least it seems to have every thing you would need with the exception of the ocean. On our trip we were lucky enough to visit Red Rocks Amphitheater. We went on a nice summer day with the temps in the high 80's. Needless to say it was rather warm. As we left Denver heading toward Morrison I was taken with the picturesque small town that is Morrison. I realized that it was a place that I would want to get back to with its small town ambience but so close to a large city.
As we drove our way through the small roads to Red Rocks we were amazed with the formation of the rocks that are around the area. I am sure that they would make great rocks to climb on but there were signs posted every where to not climb and that climbing in the park was illegal. Not wanting to ruin our vacation we opted to for go the rock climbing in Red Rocks Park. We made our way to the parking area's there are several as this place also host some of the greatest bands during the summer and needs large area's to accommodate the masses that arrive to see them perform. Not wanting to walk all the distance from the bottom we opted to park in the top parking area. As we drove up the winding mountain road we noticed the huge red rock formations on either side of the road they were just amazing and beautiful. Being a parent that tries to make my kids have as much fun as I do I was very happy to see a small tunnel that had been dug out of the rocks that were in the area. As we drove through the tunnel my husband was sure to honk. I was scared that it may cause the rocks above it to fall down on us but that was not the case.
We parked and walked up to the top entrance to the amphitheater as we stopped at the top I was blown away it's so big and huge. Reading up about it we learned that it was one of the best natural theaters in the world and to listen to any band perform here is a good show. So we walked down to the stage not realizing that once your down you have to walk all the way back up the stairs you walked down. So here we are at the bottom looking up and realizing how huge it truly is. Then my husband says to me imagine you're an artist performing here and as you look up you see all the fans there to see you. Talk about an amazing time. I think that to be an artist that has the chance to perform at Red Rocks is the chance of a life time. So we are still standing at the bottom by the stage and my daughter has this idea that she wants to see if she can hear us from the top. So her being super filled with energy we let her run back up to the top as she got up to the top my husband and I started to yell and holler being silly to say the least. Needless to say my daughter at the top was able to hear every silly comment we made. It was amazing as we were not on any mics and it was just us being loud and silly but she was able to hear us just fine.
Being at the bottom and looking up we realized that no one was going to come down for us and we better start the walk back up to the top. We took our time thinking it was a lot worse than it really was. It was a good work out but nothing major. We were able to get to the top and were only slightly winded. As we made our way back to our car we noticed that we were not the only ones that were visiting and that the family that had just arrived told us about the trading post down the road always. So we loaded up into the car and made our way to the trading post.
Never having been in a trading post I was kind of expecting it to be more than what it was. It was just a gift shop with over priced items if you ask me. There were a few items that were reasonably priced but they were far and few between.
We left the trading post a bit disappointed but were happy with our day all in all. Visiting Red Rocks is a must however you can forgo the trading post. There are a million other stores that sell the same things for cheaper.
Several years ago I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to finally live out my otherwise suppressed hobo tendencies and back pack around the United States and parts of western Canada. Whilst I preferred to explore the road less traveled to gain a greater knowledge and understanding of the surrounding areas and those folk that inhabit them I also embarked on the popular tourist destinations as well and without any question Red Rocks was one of the most stunning areas I visited on my trip and to this day remains one of the most beautiful places on this vast planet that I luckily have had the opportunity of visiting. This review has provided me with a welcomed excuse to re-open my photo albums and unearth the dozens of tourist brochures and pamphlets that I had collected on my journey and kept as keepsakes and reminisce about my wonderful experiences in the USA by scanning my diary and margin notes.
Described as "a geological phenomenon - the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheatre in the world" Red Rocks is located approximately fifteen miles west of Denver city near a small town called Morrison (population, approximately 500 residents) in Red Rocks Park, Colorado, elevated 6,200 feet above sea level. The amphitheatre is simply the most stunning and unusual natural open air structure and bizarrely it was not even mentioned in either of my trusted travel guides (Lonely Planet and Baedeker's USA) and it was only by chance that I heard about the theatre through talking to Denver residents on a shopping trip to the Cherry Creek Mall the day I arrived in Denver!
Today, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre is considered one of the worlds premier outdoor music venues and has played host to some of the worlds biggest legendary musical performers including U2, The Rolling Stones, Sting and The Beatles to name just four but the Red Rocks hall of fame is literally crammed with headlining acts! The amphitheatre itself is set at the foothills of Red Rocks Park, part of the Denver Mountain Parks, an area consisting of in excess of fourteen thousand acres of outstanding natural beauty which includes mountain ranges and parkland's, owned by the city of Denver. The land on which the amphitheatre sits (originally known as garden of the angels) was formally acquired by the city in 1928. Already being used as an open air music venue with basic facilities, the natural arc shape in the rocks coupled with two formations of three hundred foot sandstone rocks that jut out either side of the arena (named Ship Rock and Creation Rock) provide naturally balanced acoustics which is what makes the amphitheatre so popular with performers and the stunning backdrop of the landscape provides a spectacular and awe inspiring backdrop for the 9450 music fans who attend the live performances. The actual design of the amphitheatre today is largely due to the careful consideration of the original architects who's emphasis of the construction of the arena was to work in harmony with natures landscape, preserving the natural shapes and beauty of the rocks. Construction of the amphitheatre lasted tweleve years with the majority being built through the American great depression.
The actual amphitheatre and surrounding park area were originally under water and formed part of the seabed, some 250 million years or so ago. The area is of great historical significance with the Red Rock Park being home to several preserved 160 million year old dinosaur footprints as well as countless dinosaur skeletons and fossils. The area was also sacred to the native Americans who inhabited the lands before the amphitheatre was constructed and whom used the area for tribal ceremonies, on arrival it is clear why they worshiped and held such high regard for the land. Even the approach is magnificent if not a little nerve racking. Our coach driver managed to negotiate some tricky bends as we climbed round the mountains, passing some quaint log cabins and slowing once to grab quick view of a black bear. Now I have no spatial awareness which is what puts me in the category of a stereo typical female driver but I am fairly certain that at times, traveling that fairly narrow road we were dangerously close to the edge! Several car parks are located at various points along the route to the amphitheatre, so unless you are on a coach tour be prepared to walk a short distance upwards.
A museum is located at the site which (I am sure has been greatly updated since my visit) provides the visitor with a hall of fame of past performers, in depth history of the Red Rocks Park and amphitheatre construction (I could not be certain but if memory serves me I think the museum is carved into the rocks) A gift shop called The Trading Post serves visitors with the usual over priced souvenirs along with postcards, photos and music and area history books. Their are also dining facilities which I never utilized as I took a picnic!
I actually visited the amphitheatre on an organised day excursion that first took us to Red Rocks and then onto the resting place and museum of William. F. Cody (aka Buffalo Bill) situated in Lookout Mountain Park, Colorado which offers unparalleled views of the great plains and Rocky Mountains. It was at the Buffalo Bill museum that I sampled, reluctantly, my first (and last) ever buffalo burger which I have to be honest was rather tasty! Certainly this museum is worth a visit, view points offer again, spectacular views of the landscape aswell as hiking and bike trails. The tour departed from the Cherry Creek shopping mall. The tour itinerary has changed slightly, as has the price- since I visited but was booked through Grey Line and is currently $40 for a four hour excursion, details can be found on their website under the title Denver Mountain Parks. Other attractions near by include guided tours to the Coors brewery and Bandimere Speedway.
Popular with hikers, the surrounding area offers some of the most spectacular scenery along the designated trails which, if you decide to, take the walker up and through the rocks with amazing views over the park, amphitheatre and panoramic views of the towering mountain formations which are simply breathtaking. The trails are not for the faint hearted or those with a nervous disposition as you are high up and vulnerable to the Colorado elements. Parts of the trails take you along sharp drop offs and in some areas paths are incredibly narrow posing a challenge to the walker. I participated in a trail that was around approximately two miles long but it felt longer in ther Colorado heat. At the time I was an avid walker and regarded myself fairly fit but even I struggled at times. I think I made the mistake of participating in a pre organised trail the day after I arrived in Denver (I had pre booked a guided walking tour before I arrived in the city) and I don't think my body had fully acclimatized to the altitude and at times I felt slightly sick but the views alone more than made the walk worth while.
Denver itself, the mile high city and capital of the state of Colorado offers visitors a wide range of activities (particularly good for outdoor pursuits. Horse riding, hiking, climbing to name a few) and there are several landmarks that are worth a visit. The pace seemed slower here than other cities I visited and the city in general had a really nice, casual vibe. Nestled in the heart of the rockies to the west and the high plains to the east both of which provide a stunning back drop of the city. The main high street (the Broadway) is served by a tram/s that travel the length of the street, which is otherwise padestrianised and I seem to remember that the service is free to use. Streets that branched off from Broadway had some wonderful names such as Arapaho (named after the native Americans who lived on the Colorado plains), which is fitting considering the location. The main shopping precinct is the Cherry Creek Mall, located on 1st Street in the heart of Denver and easily accessible for those on foot. Cherry Creek is a large, fairly standard shopping center teeming with high street stores and dining facilities.
I arrived in Denver, as I did all the destinations I visited via Greyhound, a reasonably cheap but not always pleasant mode of transportation, particularly boring on longer journeys with endless rest stops that seemed to only consist of restaurants selling burgers. My journey took me from Las Vegas to Denver and cost $99.00. The dirve lasted twelve hours stopping off at Parowan, Green River, Grand Junction and Eagle. The Greyhound terminal is located at 1055 19th Street (downtown Denver) a few minutes walk from the Melbourne Hotel And International Hostel where I stayed. It's budget accommodation. My room comprised of nothing more than a double bed. Shared bathroom, separate shower room and a shared kitchen. Ample facilities for a back packer but better accommodation out there for those that prefer luxuries.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre has a website which details full visitor information regarding nature trails, other local attractions, forthcoming events and concerts as well as details of local hotels, eateries and maps. There is a full photo gallery and guided virtual tour but to be honest I don't think the photos included on the site really give the theatre or the surrounding area justice. Personally I have happened upon much better photos scouting the net.
The amphitheatre is open all year, with exceptions of public holidays. Open May to September 8am-7pm and October to April 9am-4pm. On concert days the amphitheatre is closed early so best to check their events calendar before you arrive. Best of all the amphitheatre is totally free admission!
For anyone taking a holiday to Denver the amphitheatre is one day trip that really should not be missed. The Red Rocks park offers beautiful panoramic views, which from the highest point in the amphitheatre are simply awesome. I would advise wearing sturdy shoes as the rocky terrian is not always gentle on the foot, particulary if you are taking one of the designated trails. Denver weather is fairly stable, temperatures as high as 90 degrees in August but with fairly low humidity so bareable, however as a word of caution, temperatures can fluctuate in the mountains so if visiting in later afternoon take a cardigan or jumper ust incase.