Should I plan a trip around a concert at Red Rocks amphiteater?
June 23, 2022 5:37 AM   Subscribe

I've always had this vague idea that I'd like to see a concert at Red Rocks amphitheater. There's no one currently scheduled that I'm desperate to see but I've been thinking that when they release dates for the next concert season, if there's anyone that I'm really keen on, that I might plan a trip. Should I?

I've always thought it looks amazing in concert films and some of my best music experiences have been at outdoor venues - Nina Simone at Chastain Amphitheatre in Atlanta, for example. Looking at recent-ish past shows at Red Rocks, the ones I would time travel to would probably be Gillian Welch + David Rawlings or Jason Isbell.

The main reason I hesitate is that it's a long way to travel (from the UK currently) and I'm not sure if there's much else to do in the Denver area that would interest me. I don't mind a walk if the weather is nice but I'm not otherwise super outdoorsy. I'm mainly a bookstores-and-museums-and relaxation sort of traveler.

Is a concert there really as amazing as I'm imagining? Is it a hassle to get there if you're staying in central Denver? Is there any kind of public transport that goes there (I do drive and always hire a car in the states, but it would be cool to be able to have a few drinks)? And is there anything else about Denver that would make the trip worthwhile?
posted by cilantro to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bus To Show or RRX Shuttles will take you to Red Rocks and back to Denver. There are also taxis/Uber/Lyft.
posted by Monochrome at 6:01 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


It sounds like I'm a similar kind of tourist to you, and I find a lot to like in Denver.

Tattered Cover (a small chain) and Printed Page (a co-op) are both pretty good bookstores in Denver, and there's a science museum and quite a few art museums, including one focused on Western art (as in 'the American West'), the Meow Wolf installation, and the excellent Denver Art Museum.

The food and craft brew/cocktail/etc. scenes are pretty great, too.
posted by box at 6:12 AM on June 23 [3 favorites]


If you want to do it, do it!

Denver has reasonable bookstores and museums and relaxation. Take a look at the Denver Art Museum, Botanic Gardens, Museum of the Black American West, Museum of Nature and Science. The Tattered Cover.

And there's legal pot if that's your scene.
posted by medusa at 6:18 AM on June 23 [3 favorites]


Also if you have even a remote interest in fossils, Dinosaur Ridge is extraordinary.
posted by medusa at 6:21 AM on June 23 [5 favorites]


I have seen about 5 shows there. I live on the East Coast in NY. Well worth the trip. Never had a bad show, even the one that rained a bit was fun as heck. I saw jam bands. Phish, etc. The location is beautiful. Plenty to do in the area. Hiking, bars, architecture and more. There is alos a venue in Morrison, CO (nearby) that has shows. Could possibly do one at each venue.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:25 AM on June 23 [3 favorites]


(Remember that the drinks can really hit you quickly at that elevation so looking into transport other than driving is a great idea!
posted by raccoon409 at 6:48 AM on June 23 [5 favorites]


Best answer: I was at a Red Rocks concert last night. I think shows there have a special quality because it’s such a meaningful venue for many musicians and there really is something special watching the sun set over the vista. Last night I sat pretty far back so I could see the whole Red Rocks atmosphere, and it definitely enhanced a concert I was otherwise meh about. I’ve also sat in the second row several times to see my favorite bands, and those were absolutely amazing concerts — but because I was so close to the stage, not because of the venue. The closer you are the less Red Rocks-y it feels. You don’t get the views, and you don’t turn around more than a few times to look at the big rocks.

So consider the type of concert experience you’re looking for: if you strongly prefer being up at the front so you can catch everything on stage, that’s quite a long way to travel for a better-than-average concert experience. If Red Rocks itself is the draw, you’ll want to sit pretty far back (rows 55-70) and the tradeoff is the stage itself is smaller. Bands sometimes do something unique for Red Rocks shows (last year I saw a favorite band with a full orchestra), and those are worth it at any place in the venue.

Make sure you prepare adequately for an outdoor mountain venue as well. Bring water (there are bottle fillers in the museum at the top/back of the venue… the museum is worth some time!). Budget extra time for stairs: even if you exercise regularly, the altitude will affect you and there are a LOT of stairs everywhere. Your alcohol tolerance will be lower thanks to the altitude. If you see a show that starts mid-day, the altitude also means you’ll sunburn faster. (You will be fine for evening shows.) If you drive there, wear good shoes for the traipse back to the car in darkness. Colorado summers often have rainstorms around 3:00-4:00, but they blow over quick. Concerts will play through light rain, and they’ll delay for heavy rain. There is always some wind, and even in summer nights can get chilly. Some of the most physically miserable shows I’ve been to were at Red Rocks in October because it was so cold — and that’s entirely on me, I didn’t prepare the right gear. (Several times.) You’ll have a glorious time even at the end of the season if you bundle up correctly.
posted by lilac girl at 6:51 AM on June 23 [10 favorites]


I had low expectations for the Denver area before I visited a friend there, and found it surprisingly cool. Even if you don't go for a hike, driving through the mountains is pretty stunning. The city itself has good restaurants and bars and shops and people are out and about and friendly. I say go for it!
posted by greta simone at 7:17 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


I might recommend Tyler Childers, Wilco, My Morning Jacket or The National as shows to target. Tyler Childers especially if you run more Jason Isbell musically.

But yeah. Destination shows, especially if you love the chance to see more amazing outdoor sights as Denver offers is I think totally worth it. I’ve heard nothing but good things from people who have been to that venue and it’s on my list once I have the time and funds to do it.
posted by glaucon at 7:31 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


I mean, the very first time I went to England, I pretty much only went to see David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing on the West End, so intercontinental travel just to see performances isn't that weird to me.

I've not been to Denver personally, but from the look of things there are several museums in town that may be of interest - proper art museums as others have mentioned, and weird things like a historic park on the site of an old stagecoach stop and a museum devoted to the irreverent hijinks on one specific street.

There is also a bus running between Denver and Boulder which looks like it only takes an hour; Boulder has a similar assortment of cultural and historic museums. So if you have your fill of Denver you could easily do a day trip to Boulder.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:43 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


You may want to enjoy some of Colorado Springs/Manitou Springs, which has Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak. The Red Rocks area is bigger than the amphitheater if you are into hiking, but also as mentioned above, it’s high desert, so pack water. There is an altitude change, (Denver is literally called the mile-high city, with a marker on the state house steps) so you might want to give yourself a day or two to adjust if your homeostasis is much closer to sea level.
posted by childofTethys at 8:30 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


I'm a food and travel writer based in Denver and ... you should come! Red Rocks is an AMAZING experience (catch local fave Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats if you can). Shuttle is great, but I also often take the light rail to the last station in Golden and then get a Lyft from there to reduce costs, then Lyft back. Feel free to DM me for recs. Cheers!
posted by cyndigo at 1:33 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]


if you do ga, get there early early to pick good seats.

protip 1: the planters on the stage right side are great for preshow picnic and hanging out of the sun. good stage views too.

protip 2: the rear upper doors are best - you walk down to seats, not up. there's a free shuttle from the trading post area to the top. hmu for detailed parking maps.

protip3: at least once, walk the perimeter of the entire venue. so. beautiful.

what show? we could meet up. i might have xtras for tedeschi trucks this july.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:55 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


I've absolutely used shows as an organizing principle to go someplace far.
posted by rhizome at 8:09 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


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