Red Rocks Amphitheater is one of the preeminent music venues in the United States, thanks to its unique outdoor stage and spectacular, distinctly western scenery. Acts as diverse as Jimmy Buffet, Ryan Adams, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals have recently graced the arena, which tops the to-visit lists of music lovers everywhere. Nestled in the heart of historic Morrison, Colorado, Red Rocks Park is easily accessible from nearby Denver and Colorado Springs.
While attending a concert at Red Rocks might be out of many travelers’ price range, the park’s scenic beauty can still be enjoyed from one of the many hiking trails.
On a stormy weekday afternoon in mid-August, I entered the park via Entrance One and parked in the small street-side parking lot at the Red Rocks Trail trail head. With the option to head either up or down on Red Rocks Trail, I of course selected up (always in search of excellent views!) and continued until the trail split into the Morrison Slide Trail, which we spontaneously decided to try for the first time. Dedicated hikers can trek along either of these two trails to neighboring Matthew/Winters Park, but Kevin and I stopped once we made it to the unofficial scenic overlook along the Morrison Slide Trail.
Now that I’ve explained our route – take note, visitors to Denver, as this is one incredible park – I can share a handful of the photos I took that afternoon. Believe you me, it was hard for me to narrow down the photographs I wanted to include in this piece. So many dramatic red rock formations and angry storm clouds, so little space!
This easy trek is perfect for those in search of a free hike from Denver to fill an afternoon. We only spent about fifty minutes on the trail, and that time includes each and every one of my many photo stops.
In my experience, Denver offers wonderful strenuous hikes for those who want to spend three to four hours on the trail, but sometimes, a quick fix during the week is in order.
And Red Rocks Park will perfectly fit the bill, and easy to complete before dinnertime. I appreciate that the hike leads to incredible, breathtaking views with minimal effort, making this a wonderful spot for travelers without the stamina to hit the trails for half a day.
The massive, jagged rock formation jutting up on the right in the above photo is, in fact, part of the much-heralded Red Rocks Amphitheater. Kevin and I live relatively close to Red Rocks Park, and I’ve had the privilege of visiting twice since Kevin and I moved to Denver in June 2016, but each time the amphitheater was closed to visitors. So, sadly, this is the only view I’m able to offer y’all of the venue.
An excuse to visit, am I right?
During the hike, the weather wavered between blue skies and dark clouds threatening thunder claps and a downpour. Luckily, we managed to avoid the latter, but the dramatic skies made for wonderful photo opportunities:
- Visitors are welcome to hike and bike at the park on evenings when concerts are taking place, although the stage will be closed. Simply tell the attendants at the front gate you’re merely at Red Rocks Park for recreation and they will point you towards one of the many places to park near a trail head.
- While the official park map is geared more towards visitors attending a concert, it does give hikers a basic layout of the land and marks places to park. Check it out here.
- Yes, visiting the park is free! No admission fee or park pass necessary. Neighboring Matthews/Winters Park, part of Jefferson County’s Open Space, is similarly free to visit.