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A beginner's guide to Red Rocks & Amphitheatre
Red Rocks is nickname to the world’s only acoustically perfect, naturally formed amphitheatre. Located in Colorado, USA, between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, sit 9,450 seats and a stage, nestled perfectly between two 160 million year old, 300 hundred foot monoliths. To say that it is a spectacular music venue is an understatement.
The first concerts took place way back in 1906, under the vision of John Brisbane Walker, but it wasn’t until 1941 that it officially opened as the amphitheatre you see today.
Seeing such big acts at a venue like this would, of course, be mind-blowing, but, depending on where you live, it can be a little far flung to follow your favourite band to. However, the good news is that any concert seen at Red Rocks is guaranteed to be amazing, simply due to the fact of being where it is. Think happy crowds swaying to beautifully amplified live music, a backdrop of towering, prehistoric rocks, their bright red hue glowing in the stage lights and off in the distance the glittering mass of Denver’s skyline. And with tickets varying depending on the artist, it won’t necessarily break the bank.
Music is not the only art form present on the rocks each night - if you go, be sure to seek out Scramble Campbell. This local legend is a man whose paintbrush has recreated the magic of red rocks thousands of times over. He is found among the crowds, at every concert, painting the bands that play with wild abandon, paint flying, paintbrush twirling and body dancing. Watching him work while watching a concert is a uniquely wonderfully highlight- within a highlight!
Not a big music fan? Don’t worry, seeing a concert is not the only event worth going to Red Rocks for. Film on the Rocks is now on its 14th season and wildly popular with people of all ages, with films ranging from teen classics like Mean Girls and cult classics such as the Rocky Horror show, for which people are encouraged to dress up! Grab a blanket, pack a cooler and relax with friends and family to enjoy a good film on a balmy summer night.
Red Rocks is not just about the evenings either. A fantastic introduction to the Rocks is to stroll up there in the day. From the entrance, just up the road from the small town of Morrison, you can take the very scenic Trading Post Trail all the way up through the park. At the top you’ll find a cute gift shop and if you continue up you’ll find your way into the amphitheatre. The venue is open to the public during the mornings before a show and there you’ll find people using the stands as a gym, picnic area and general hang out spot- they even organise Yoga on the Rocks! On the way back why not try out the Red Rocks Trail where you’ll be rewarded with views of Dinosaur Ridge, where dinosaur fossils have been found!
Another must do activity in the daylight hours is taking a backstage tour. Starting every day at 10am these tours will allow you to experience Red Rocks from the artists perspective and it’s not hard to see why it is one of the music worlds most beloved venues. You’ll be taken through luxurious dressing rooms built into the rock, bearing the untold secrets of what happens behind the scenes. You’ll discover signatures adorning not only the band photos but also the walls of a tunnel through to the power room, along with clever quips and sketches from the artists themselves. You’ll get to walk on stage and imagine the seats filled with thousands of people and you’ll see what happens if you get too wild at an event- imprisoned in Red Rocks jail! This is such a unique experience and at less than $10, it is so worth it.
With all these activities planned at the Rocks you won’t want to venture too far to rest your head. And you won’t have to. The lovely little town of Morrison, 25 minutes walk from the top of the Rocks, boasts one highly impressive hotel. Cliff House Lodge and Hot Tub Cottages stands as the oldest building in the town built by George Morrison himself and is bursting with charm. Each of the 8 themed cottages is beautifully decorated and has access to a private hot tub, with the price of the room including a home cooked breakfast. The lovely couple that run the property are incredibly knowledgeable about the area and will go out of their way to make your stay as amazing as possible. You may even spot them hanging out at an event with the Scramble Campbell, who is their good friend. And don’t forget to check out his artwork, which is all over the main house.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre truly is one of a kind and makes for an unforgettable trip in an already adventure loving state.
Further reading: With majestic mountains and verdant valleys, canyons and red stone as far as the eye can see, there’s surely no shortage of things to do in Colorado.