What to Know About Red Rocks Amphitheater

So you’re visiting Red Rocks Amphitheater – lucky you! It’s truly the most beautiful music venue I have ever been to. I had a LOT of questions before going to my first show there, and found a lot of information in a lot of different places. So I wanted to lay it all out for you, in one place!

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DISTANCE FROM DENVER

Most people visiting Red Rocks stay in Denver. It’s about 17 miles away, which is about a 30-minute drive with moderate traffic.

HOW TO GET THERE

Driving – If you’re driving, pleeeaase make sure you have a designated driver. It’s easy to get carried away with drinking and legal marijuana. There are five parking lots at Red Rocks. While the lots closer to the stage may look more appealing, it is far easier to get out of the south lots at the end of the night. And don’t you worry, there is tailgating in every lot, and parking is free for most shows – but always double check.

Park as close to the parking lot EXIT as possible, with the nose of your car facing out. Trust me, you will get out hours before everyone else.

Shuttles – If you’re coming from Denver there are a number of shuttle services that will take you out there. Just know that you’re on a tighter schedule with this method. You will have to meet the shuttle at a certain time in Denver, and meet them at a certain time after the concert, or else you could get left behind. Most shuttles run around $25-40 round trip, and require reservations. Here are a few options!

BusToShow – $22-30. Ages 18+ or with parental consent. Alcohol allowed on board (no glass containers).

J2G Live – $40. 21+. Alcohol allowed on board (no glass containers). Cannabis allowed on private charters.

CID Colorado’s Shuttle to Red Rocks – $40. All ages.

Uber/Lyft – Of course, you can use a ride-sharing service, but be aware that there will be crazy surge pricing for big concerts. Getting back to Denver will likely be somewhere between $30-50ish. Not to mention, service is a little shotty out there, so I personally wouldn’t trust it.

Car2Go – If you are not familiar with Car2Go, it is an app where you can rent a car for short trips, paying by the minute. You can find one almost anywhere in Denver, and Red Rocks has a special Car2Go parking area. My problem with this method is the lack of guarantee. In theory, anyone can pick up that car, and if you don’t get there quick enough, you could be left without a car. You can reserve a Car2Go for thirty minutes, which would be smart to do while the concert is still happening, but again….the service out there is not so great.

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HOW EARLY TO GET THERE

I get this question a lot. And honestly, it depends! One important thing to know is that the parking lots open 2 hours before gates open, and gates open 90 minutes before show time. However, if there are no other events happening that day, you can get there whenever you want.

When we saw Gorillaz, we got there about four hours early because we wanted to hike the trails first, and of course do some tailgating. Honestly, I think that was the perfect amount of time for us. Maybe you want to skip the hiking, but still tailgate, in which case I would get there maybe two hours early. If you still need to get your tickets from will call, the box office opens four hours before show time.But no matter what, I would try to get there before gates open – which for most shows is 90 minutes before show time. You will need to find your parking spot, maybe go to the restroom which will inevitably have long lines, and just get settled. No need to feel rushed.

TAILGATING

First things first, technically, alcohol and marijuana are not allowed at red rocks. However. . .a lot of people ignore that. If you do plan on partaking, be discreet. Use red solo cups – and use a vape pen or edibles instead of bud.

All of the parking lots have tailgating, but most of it goes on in the Lower South Lot. The one big no-no is glass bottles – or glass of any kind. If you shatter glass in the parking lot, you WILL get a ticket. Also be sure to bring a trash bag for empty cans and cups! Don’t leave a mess, that’s just rude.

WHAT TO BRING

First of all, be extra sure to bring your tickets – duh. If you have an online ticket, make sure you screenshot it before you get there. Do I really need to bring up how bad the service is again?

Check the weather before you go. When we saw Gorillaz, it rained the entire time. Umbrellas are not allowed, but I wished I had brought a poncho. Luckily, we drove, and I had a change of clothes in the car. Changing into a pair of dry socks and a dry sweatshirt was beyond wonderful.

For a full list of what’s allowed and NOT allowed inside the theatre, check here!

WHERE TO SIT (GA)

Red Rock’s seating can be confusing if you have general admission tickets. I say ‘confusing’ because it changes show to show. I will include a couple example of different seating charts for two different shows so you see what I mean:

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There are trees all up and down the sides, which is where we staked out. It was raining, so we were covered, plus we had a great view, and we were not far from concessions.

The seating chart will be available on the Red Rocks website prior to the show. But if you get there and you’re still confused, ask one of the super helpful staff members.

HIKING

We figured we were there for the concert anyway, so we may as well do a little hiking beforehand rather than making a second trip out there. There are a number of trail entrances accessible from the parking lots. Click here for the trail maps! The trails are pretty easy – beginner level even – but so beautiful. Give yourself lots of time to hike, you don’t want to be rushing back right before the show starts. And of course, bring water!

DEALING WITH THE ALTITUDE

The altitude at Red Rocks is 6,450 feet – my hometown is 614 for reference. I didn’t get altitude sickness, but I could definitely feel a difference. For example, I ran out of breath much quicker, so I took it extra slow when hiking. Just read your body – don’t push it.

Give yourself a day or two to adjust. I wouldn’t try hiking red rocks on your first day there. Your body DOES adjust, it just takes a little time. If you’re really worried about it, a surprising amount of shops in Denver sold Oxygen pills or Liquid Oxygen, which will help with adjusting to the altitude, and avoiding altitude sickness.

The thing I heard over and over was to take it easy with the alcohol. Because of the altitude, the lower oxygen level in your blood makes it harder for your body to metabolize alcohol. One beer feels more like three. We were doing one beer, one bottle of water, repeat. The water helps slow down your drinking, and also combats the altitude-induced dehydration.

WHERE TO STAY

Camping – We ended up staying in Denver and taking a car in. But we did consider camping before we realized how cold and rainy it would be that weekend. You can’t actually camp in Red Rocks, there are only options nearby. All of these options require reservations.

Contentment Camping and Glamping (2.6 miles away)

Colorado State Parks Reservation Line (4.8 miles away)

Bear Creek Lake Park (5.2 miles away)

Hotels – Maybe the drive from Denver is a little far, and you want to stay in the area. Well, there aren’t a ton of hotels in the immediate area, since it is part of a large park system. But here are a few of the closest options!

Cliff House Lodge (1.8 miles away)

Origin Hotel Red Rocks (3.3 miles away)

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Golden – Denver Area (5.4 miles away)

Hampton Inn Denver-West/Golden (5.4 miles away)

 
 

Now that you have all the information you need, go and enjoy the show! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Have any other tips for Red Rocks? Leave them in the comments!

 
 

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31 Comments

  1. I haven’t been to Red Rocks yet. I have an extended family member who recently moved out into the Denver area…so it looks like I’ll be paying it a visit sometime in the near future! Thanks for the breakdown!

  2. I have never heard of this place before. Looks interesting with the hiking part. Thanks for all the information, you have presented it nicely!

  3. Marvi

    Great guide! I like how you’ve included tips on where to sit. Having a great seat while attending a concert is a plus to make you enjoy it more!

  4. Leanne Wong

    Wow, i’ve never heard of Red Rocks before, but this looks really interesting. What a detailed guide – love that you included the map and how to get there. Thanks for sharing this!

  5. I’ve always wanted to go here, thanks for providing such a helpful guide!! I would love to do yoga on the rocks or see a concert, I’ll have to check the schedule!

  6. I love how thorough this post is! I lived in Colorado for 5 years but unfortunately never had the opportunity to go to red rocks! I still really want to though!

    • I tried to be as thorough as possible lol. When I went, I had to find all of this information from a dozen different websites. Like, I just want it all written down in one place! lol.

  7. Thanks for all the tips, especially about alcohol and marijuana related things.. unfortunately there are still many issues related to that, so thanks for bringing it up! Definitely will refer to this article if going to Red Rocks 🙂

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