Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheater Concert Experience

It is possibly the most amazing setting to enjoy music. Any music. Rock, Pop, Country, Jazz, Classical, Hip Hop, no matter the style, it is the venue to play when in Colorado. Originally built as an outdoor chamber music amphitheater the natural rock formations of “Ship Rock” and “Creation Rock” make for amazing acoustics at this wonder of engineering and of mother nature.

Land owner George Brisben Walker talked the City of Denver into buying the 816 acres in 1927 and building a park and amphitheater there. Burnham Hoyt designed the amphitheater area without disturbing much of the natural beauty of the park. Enlisting the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Work Projects Administration, the construction began.

The dedication of Red Rocks was on June 15, 1941, but the first event at the park wasn’t held until Easter Sunday of 1947 when the first annual Easter Sunday Sunrise Service was held. The layout of the park places the sunrise directly behind the stage and makes for a spectacular view from the grandstand seating.

Since those early days the stage at Red Rocks has grown from a tiny wooden platform to a steel raised stage to the current concrete and steel covered structure that can handle the biggest of stage sets. The seating at Red Rocks is as basic and rustic as can be, wooden bench bleachers, while not great for the spine, they are wide enough to spread out and not by cramped by the person next to you. Seat numbers are marked but only as a suggestion for the most part as each “seat” is big enough for two.

When you walk into the amphitheater from the top entrance your breath is stolen by the view then you can almost hear the echos of all the acts that have been there over the years. From The Beatles to the Moody Blues, U2 to ZZ Top, B.B. King to Eric Clapton, the list is a “who’s who” of music and performance. Ballets, symphonies, comedians, choirs and even high school graduations have called the stage home at one time or another.

The U2 album “Live Under A Blood Red Sky” captured Red Rocks on a night with rain, mist and fog. The amphitheater and band melted together to make a magical night. The Moody Blues started a trend of live performances with symphonies when the played “On The Rocks” with the Colorado Symphony. On several Sunday mornings each summer you can go to the park at sunrise and hear a musician playing alone to the rocks, guitarists, saxophonists, even accordion players have added to the lore.

The Easter Sunday Sunrise Service has only been cancelled once several years ago due to a spring blizzard that crippled the city. One great tourist tradition is to walk down to the stage and whisper to family and friends standing at the top, as the acoustics make it very easy to hear even the slightest whisper. (NOTE: the hike back up the stairs is a doozy!!!) A new visitor’s center and parking improvements have helped Red Rocks evolve into a modern yet still rustic venue.

Overall, Red Rocks is simply incredible! A must on any visitors list and a favorite for plenty of residents.

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