Falling in love is figuring out that you are where you should and want to be. That’s how it is with falling in love with Colorado for the first time. So many other parts of the country seem to represent extremes; either dark, cold, gloomy winters, or hot, humid summers. Colorado IS different. Moving here from south Florida, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Colorado to me was a week skiing in Vail or Steamboat Springs. But it has been an awesome discovery; and I’m truly in love.
My life in Colorado started in the summer. I couldn’t wait to leave south Florida and its oppressive humidity. Getting off a plane there felt like water-boarding torture, as I imagined it. It was hard to breathe. Colorado was sublime in the summer. Wild flowers poked out of nooks and crannies everywhere. The air was warm, but dry and pleasant–it makes you want to go out and exercise. With the hundreds of miles of trails winding through greenbelt areas within housing developments going to Denver, the mountains, and beyond; what was not to like? And, if it ever got too warm for comfort, the mountains were only a short drive away, where several tended to be in the 40s even in the heat of summer.
But, perhaps the most fun is exploring. Visiting different towns, mountain areas, and attractions was like going on a mini vacation every weekend.
One of the first “must see”items on our agenda was, both seeing and attending a concert at, Red Rocks. Much like you are told about the Grand Canyon, it is difficult to imagine the scale of the natural wondrous red rocks unless you are actually there. The amphitheater is a wonder in itself, nestled between two mammouth prehistoric red rocks, jutting upwards to the sky, with spectacular natural acoustics not found in the most sophisticated concert halls. Open air, with the city of Denver glittering on the distant horizon; it would be hard to imagine not enjoying any venue playing there.
But, Red Rocks is not for the out of shape. Just the steep climb to your seat on the semicircular terraces, is a feat in itself. But it’s worth it.
Visiting it by day gives you an entirely different perspective. Exercising at Red Rocks is like training for an Ironman competition. People literally run up the 100+ steep steps, then run through each seating terrace making a steep zig-zag workout. It is a workout just to get up to the steps! Some unbelievable diehards run up the seats bottom to top, and then down again, creating their own seemingly impossible workout. These people will not be challenged by the ski moguls in the winter and would kill most of us. Just when you think you have seen every imaginable form of cheerful human endurance, a man in his 60s or 70s makes his way from the lower roads below the amphitheater, climbing all the way up to the stairs ON A UNICYCLE!! A guard smiles and waves, explaining that the same man does it every single day.
When worn out watching people doing superhuman feats, there is a lovely restaurant located in one of the two side rocks of the amphitheater, Ship Rock. It has a spectacular view of the red rocks. There is also a museum within the visitor’s center telling the fascinating history of the place, and the litany of people who performed there; most exclaiming that it was their favorite venue.
But the truly indescribable ethereal experience is listening to a concert in the almost always pleasant amphitheater. The acoustics, just as they have been for ages, are perfect. There is not a bad seat in the house, and you feel like you are on top of the world, under a perfect starry sky, with Denver twinkling in the distance. Unlike any other venue, anywhere in the world, just BEING there is a remarkable experience. This is echoed by nearly every group that has ever played this wonderful venue. Remarkably, the entry and exit process is orderly and nearly painless; also unlike any other venue we have ever attended.
The trailhead that begins at the Trading Post, is not difficult to negotiate, and gives you a wonderful perspective of the unparalleled scenery, not seen from your car. You wind in and among the red monoliths, and find that the hike as interesting as it gets. We like to come to view Red Rocks in the winter, as well. Dusted with snow gives an entirely different view of the colorful rocks and amphitheater. And, the wildlife seems more forthcoming. We have watched them bound over the railings onto the ramp leading from the Visitor’s Center to the parking areas.
We never get tired of Red Rocks, and it is the first place we take guests. I’ve never found anyone who didn’t like this marvel, which was once one of the wonders of the world.