An easy day trip for any Denverite looking to get out of the city confines is Red Rocks Amphitheater, just 15 miles west of Denver in Morrison, Colorado. The only naturally occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world, it’s well worth the price tag to see your favorite musician jam out under the stars. What’s more is that Red Rocks Park has 868 acres of land to hike and explore.
My sister and I took the short, pleasant drive from Denver to Red Rocks this past Saturday to do some hiking. It’s open everyday of the week, the trails opening an hour before sunrise and closing an hour after sunset, giving you ample time to explore this unique geological region. It’s at 6,450 feet elevation, so be prepared to be a little short of breath when hiking and to drink plenty of water while you acclimate. After you’ve caught your breath due to the thinning air, you’ll have to catch it again as the sight of the magnificent rock formations come into view.
After parking, we decided to check out the amphitheater itself, where “all the magic happens,” so to speak. After climbing up what seemed like hundreds of stairs, the music venue took shape. We were between two giant monoliths, Ship Rock and Creation Rock. Whilst taking in the view, I was nearly bowled over a few times by hustling work-out fanatics. Red Rocks Amphitheater is an outdoor enthusiasts dream: fitness buffs jogged up and down the stairs, frog jumping up the bleachers and doing push ups in any space they could find. There must have been over 100 people getting their daily workout on, but it hardly felt THAT crowded. The open air and scenic view made the space feel infinite.
We decided to hike the 1.4 mile loop trail called Trading Post Trail. Red Rocks park is unique because it’s comprised of two different zones simultaneously: the great plains and the high mountains. Hiking along the trails, observing the beautiful red sandstone rock formations, you are greeted by dry, arid conditions and cacti, but round the corner and you hear a bubbling stream and observe verdant, rolling hills in the background.
There is no lying: in the hot, midday sun with the elevation and rocky conditions, this hike is moderate. After hiking for about 2 hours around Red Rocks park, my sister and I were beat. It’s not for the faint of heart and you have to be in good physical condition to hike the surrounding area. The views and the fresh mountain air are worth the trek.
Red Rocks Park is completely free. On days of concerts, the park closes down in the early afternoon, so plan accordingly. I want to go back around sunrise or sunset to see the way the light refracts off the red rocks. On a clear day, you can see Denver’s Downtown skyline, so keep your eyes peeled!
Bring plenty of water
Wear hiking shoes or gym shoes. The terrain gets slippery with broken rock shards.
If you bring your furry four-legged friend (as I did), they have to remain on the leash at all times.
It’s a pretty high traffic area on the weekends, so don’t expect to “escape it all.” You’ll be taking plenty of tourists’ photos, but the good news is, you’ll have someone to snap yours!
Don’t forget your camera
And oh yes…have a great time!