Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre’s reputation may precede it, but there’s no replacement for experiencing this acoustically impeccable, naturally stunning marvel of ochre sandstone yourself. Recently designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service and Department of the Interior, the amphitheater is a top destination for Colorado residents and tourists from around the world. It’s just 15 miles from Denver and the Red Rocks Shuttle starts the experience with food and drink specials at the Thirsty Lion, offering round-trip options departing from Union Station. Shuttle riders can also be picked up at two Illegal Pete’s locations in either Capitol Hill or on Pearl Street in Boulder. So make plans to see a concert, watch a film, hike, dine or geek out on history. We dare you not to fall for its rare beauty.
Concertgoer Tip: Getting from your parking spot to your seat is part of the adventure. Wear comfortable shoes and expect a bit of light hiking with some amazing views along the way. (Though it’s easy to arrange to be dropped at the top entrance if you’re unable to make the trek by foot.)
2. GET YOUR HEART PUMPING
Red Rocks is also a park, owned by the city of Denver, that is open to visitors one hour before sunrise through one hour after sunset. Just being here will quicken your pulse, but if that’s not enough, consider hiking Trading Post Trail or hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding Red Rocks Trail. Both trails explore the park’s dramatic geology, pines, wildflowers, wildlife and views. Another option is to join ambitious locals who come to run up and down the stone steps of the amphitheater for a real thigh-burner. Or attend Yoga on the Rocks for the most inspiring downward dog view ever.
3. DELVE INTO RED ROCKS’ HISTORY
The giant sandstone outcroppings that form the walls of Red Rocks Amphitheatre are higher than Niagara Falls and are part of the geological Fountain Formation, deposited approximately 280 million years ago. Believe it or not, the Rolling Stones weren’t around yet, and in fact, Red Rocks didn’t get its start as a music venue until the early 1900s, when Renaissance man John Brisben Walker set up a makeshift stage among the rocks. A famous opera singer came to perform and declared it “acoustically perfect,” and it has been revered by musicians ever since. Learn more about Red Rocks’ human and geological history at the Visitor Center, which has educational displays, a short documentary and a Performer’s Hall of Fame.
4. SEE A FILM ON THE ROCKS
Kick back and take in some classic and cult-favorite films on the big-big-big screen at Red Rocks. Great cinema is just the start of the entertainment on movie nights. Each Film On The Rocks event features an opening comedian or band and fun, audience participation contests.
Filmgoer Tip: Picnics are welcome, so pack some goodies and sealed, nonalcoholic bevies. And don’t forget to bring a few blankets to cuddle up with during the suspenseful scenes.
5. GRAB A BITE AND DRINK UP THE VIEW
Built around two giant slabs of red sandstone, Red Rock’s Ship Rock Grill is worth a visit for the view alone. Better yet, grab a seat on the patio to dine at the edge of a mountainous panorama and order up some inventive Colorado-themed dishes like buffalo tamales smothered in house-made green chile or elk sliders with a side of crispy fries.
Want something to remember your Red Rocks visit by? Stop by the Trading Post, which sells cozy sweatshirts, memorabilia, books, CDs and more.