Famous Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison. Editorial credit: Radomir Rezny / Shutterstock.com

Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Colorado

Red Rocks Amphitheater is an outdoor performance venue in Morrison, Colorado, built into a rock formation (only 20 miles from Denver). The arena, made almost entirely of red rocks, can hold up to 10,000 people. It is famous for being one of the world's most beautiful outdoor music venues. Because of its near-perfect acoustic surroundings, this venue is a favorite among many musicians. According to Billboard's Box score, Red Rocks Amphitheatre has been voted the country's biggest and most-attended concert venue for 2021. The previous high for shows-per-season at Red Rocks was 168 in 2019. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre has a rich history that includes many significant personalities and events that have contributed to its status as one of the Denver area's most recognizable cultural and natural icons. 

Geography Of The Red Rocks Amphitheater 

Red rocks amphitheater
Visitors enjoy the ambiance at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. aEditorial credit: Jim Lambert / Shutterstock.com

The highest row of the amphitheater is approximately 6,450 feet (1,965 meters) above sea level between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, and Red Rocks Park encompasses 868 acres (1.4 sq mi; 3.5 km2). Red Rocks' towering 300-foot sandstone walls emerged millions of years ago from a historic ocean floor. Red Rocks Park, just west of Denver, is home to 738 acres of hiking trails, geological marvels, and beautiful sights. On the north and south sides of the amphitheater, the two tallest walls, "Ship Rock" and "Creation Rock," rise over the remainder of Red Rocks Park. After being shuttered due to Covid 19, Red Rocks reopened on Thursday, April 22, 2021, with a capacity of 2,500 people, then doubled up to 6,300 in May. Red Rocks is now fully operational, with a capacity of 10,000 people. During its 80th anniversary season in 2021, Red Rocks set a season record by hosting 233 scheduled paid performances, including 177 concerts, 20 yoga/fitness activities, and 36 movies in the Film on the Rocks series. The venue has surpassed its record for most paid events in a year, going from 73 in 2010 to 155 in 2016. 


In the winter, the weather in Red Rocks is bitterly cold. The weather is in the 20s, and the summer is warm with temperatures in the 60s. July is the hottest month of the year, with daily temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit in comparison to the United States, which is slightly higher. During the twelve-month timeframe, January is the coldest month. The minimum temperature is 9 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. During the summer, with a temperature differential that can approach 35 degrees Fahrenheit, and during the winter, with an average difference of 34 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature difference between night and day is relatively substantial. Snowfall peaks at over 9 inches in March, then drops to 0 inches from June to August before rising to over 5 inches from September to February.

History Of The Red Rocks Amphitheater

Red Rocks amphitheater
Denver, Colorado, downtown skyline viewed from Red Rocks at dawn.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress devised a series of measures in 1933 to help the country recover from the Great Depression. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was one of these initiatives, which enlisted young men to assist in maintaining the nation's natural resources. The manager of Denver Parks, George Cranmer, saw a possibility to use the CCC to carry out his great idea to transform Red Rocks Park into a classical outdoor theater. The city and county of Denver selected Burnham F. Hoyt as the lead architect when the amphitheater construction was approved. The Red Rocks Amphitheatre was not built until 1936, when the project was approved by US Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes. The amphitheater was said to be one of the most difficult constructions the CCC constructed. Red Rocks held a special screening for local leaders, including Fire Chief John F. Healy, on the afternoon of June 8, 1941. The new amphitheater at Red Rocks officially opened to the public on June 15, 1941, with a performance by Helen Jepson of the New York Metropolitan Opera singing "Ave Maria." Some of the rocks are reddish because they contain iron oxides, which are minerals composed of iron and oxygen. Hematite can be found in rocks as well as in a lot of the clay used to produce bricks. When exposed to oxygen and water, the iron in hematite rusts.

Performances At The Red Rock Amphitheater

Red Rock Amphitheater
Setting up for a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Park.

Since its inception, Red Rocks has established itself as a top concert venue. On the Red Rocks stage, great performers have appeared, including John Denver (1973), Judy Collins (1973), Big Head Todd and the Monsters (1994), Earth, Wind & Fire (2002), The Fray (2006), and DeVotchKa (2008). The Beatles, who performed there on August 26, 1964, were perhaps the most iconic musicians to take the stage. Moreover, in 1971, British rock band Jethro Tull performed there, and it was probably the most contentious event in the venue's history. Thousands of people who didn't have tickets went up to the sold-out event to listen from the surrounding neighborhood. And when they tried to break through the gates, the resulting brawl with the on-duty cops ended in a riot and what is possibly Colorado's most famous musical incident. This has led to a five-year ban on concerts. The Red Rocks music program for 2022 is constantly expanding, with some shows being postponed from 2020.

Movies And Music Videos Filmed At The Red Rock Amphitheater

At Red Rocks, a scene from the 1990 film The Adventures of Ford Fairlane was shot. The fictional rock band "Black Plague" is featured in the opening sequences performing at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where lead singer Bobby Black (Vince Neil) makes a big entrance swinging from the rock face of the iconic red rocks above the audience via zipline. Other movies and music videos include The Amazing Race, The Bachelor, B.o.B. - Don't Let Me Fall, Dave Matthews Band – Recently, and Gary Allan – Watching Airplanes. 

The Red Rocks Amphitheater have a magical quality about them. As you enter this spiritual wonderland, you may sense the soul of a thousand years. The colors are bold and inviting, and they welcome you from every direction. Red Rocks Amphitheatre's sharply tiered rows of seats allow fantastic, unobstructed views from every level of the amphitheater. Furthermore, at 6,450 feet above sea level, you get some of the region's most spectacular views. Views of the Rocky Mountain Foothills, monumental red rock formations, and the Denver skyline are all available.


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