When you think of hiking in the mountains, you typically think of waking up at 6 in the morning, packing all of your most rugged mountain equipment, and trekking out into the great unknown. This may discourage many people to go on a hiking expedition, as it appears intimidating and time-consuming. Fortunately, there is an easier alternative that the less hardcore hikers can embark on right outside of Denver.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is one of Metro Denver’s best kept local secrets and yet has been host to some of the most famous people in the world. This paradox, combined with some of the most unusual and beautiful scenery in Colorado, becomes an exciting and astounding hiking spot that many city slickers can enjoy without having to don any specialty hiking gear.
Red Rocks gets its name from the unique geologic feature of the area, which began during prehistoric times when the region was covered in ocean. The current location of Red Rocks used to be part of a vast ocean floor, and the movements of the earth eventually raised the bedrock, composed to sandstone, into large protrusions that show great diagonal grooves like pieces of hardened red pancakes stacked on top of one another.
The raised formations are taller than Niagara Falls and jut out in different directions. Geologists have found fragments and dinosaur tracks that date back to the Jurassic period around 160 million years ago. Needless to say, these rocks are oldies but goodies—the breathtaking scenery is sure to make all hikers pause for effect, and not just to catch their breath.
The easiest hiking trail is a one and a half mile loop around these rock formations, and both people and pets are known to use it as an easy morning or afternoon workout among the slabs of prehistoric rock punctuated by valleys and meadows. If hikers are looking for a more difficult trail or enjoy biking, they can use the longer, six mile loop that takes them all the way to Dinosaur Ridge, another enjoyable and beautiful region famous for its dinosaur footprints and bones. The trails are 6,280 feet above sea level, so the effect of high altitude can be felt, even if the hike is not a true mountain hike.
When the trail is over and done, hungry hikers can catch their breath and relax at the restaurant, or peruse the Red Rocks Ampitheatre Museum, which is truly a hike in its own. Red Rocks is most famous for its Ampitheatre, once known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The ampitheatre is nestled within the red rock formations, creating a concert hall that is not only perfectly acoustic but also utterly incredible to see.
Constructed in 1927, the outdoor arena is surrounded on all three sides by the majestic rock, and concert goers often feel as though they are witnessing a concert in the middle of a prehistoric period under a starlit sky. The Ampitheatre has hosted the likes of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Jimi Hendrix, Carole King, the Beatles, 50 Cent, Ben Harper, and Mariah Carey since its opening in 1943, and hundreds more of the finest musicians and performers can be named as part of its repertoire.
Visitors can stroll through the museum at the ampitheatre, which features videos of performances, signed guitars and photographs, and a wall of every year with each performer’s name and visit, and thousands of other paraphernalia of star-studded guests who have written about the honor of getting to perform at Red Rocks.
No need to worry should you never attend a concert: during times when performers are not at the scene, many enthusiastic joggers and work-out addicts will run up and down the over two hundred stairs of the always open ampitheatre. Aspiring performers can also jump on the stage and see how it feels to be facing the crowd, and explore the set at a leisurely pace.
Whatever the reason, Red Rocks is a sight worth seeing, and a place you will never be tired of returning to, over and over again.
Red Rocks, you are tickle city!