On my first trip to Red Rocks in 2009 we had no clue what we are doing. We stayed in a dinky hotel near Red Rocks and took turns staying sober to drive to Red Rocks every night. Silly!
After five(+) years in Denver and too many trips to Red Rocks to count, I am now an expert on how to get to and from the show, what to bring and how to get around the venue like a pro. If you are making the pilgrimage across the country for a show or even if you live nearby, this guide is for you!
To and From the Show:
Bus To Show – These converted school buses have been taking concertgoers to shows for years. Round trip is super cheap at $25 a head. Buses pick up in Denver, Ft. Collins, and Boulder.
CID Shuttle to Red Rocks – When purchasing your tickets you may see the option to buy a shuttle pass from CID. These buses pick up from Boulder, Downtown, and Capitol Hill. They also have a good option for a smaller, private 14-passenger van.
J2G Bus – J2G buses only run for specific shows so you will have to check their websites for information. Buses include beer from a local brewery and other special discounts at bars and dispensaries around town. Some shows may include a before and after party as well.
It is super easy to get Uber or Lyft to Red Rocks. towards the end of the show, I would suggest starting checking your app. Service can sometimes suck inside of Red Rocks so it may take a while to schedule a pickup up. There will be plenty of Ubers and Lyfts in the area so it may just take some time. The designated pickup area for ride shares is in the Bus Lot, you cant miss it.
You can cab and there is a cab line near the post office for those who want to take one… but this is probably your most expensive option.
If you are driving to the show, go early to park in the Upper North Lot. This is my favorite spot to park because you can enter the venue at the top or bottom. Top being the easiest on your legs and lungs. Plus, you get to drive through a tunnel that is super awesome.
Act like a local and know the names of the various parking lots so you can find your way around.
Upper North: This lot does fill up fast so it’s for the early birds. Why is this lot so awesome? One, you get to drive through a tunnel. Two, you can access the venue from the top or bottom. It’s WAY easier to enter from the top, then walk down to your seat. This is also where you will find limousine parking.
Upper South: Been to this lot once in my entire life. Entering the venue from here will rap you around the venue on a raised walkway and funnel you in and out like cows. Be sure to moo!
Lower North: If Upper North is full, you will be directed to this lot. You can easily walk to Upper North from the north side of the lot or walk downhill and you will see a cut through to Upper North. This used to be a super steep hill that people would scale up and down until a few years ago when they added stairs. Continue walking and you will see a stairway on your right leading into the venue. This is my preferred entrance and exit.
Lower South: This lot is also one of the first to fill up and home to Shakedown Street. Find beer, water, grilled cheese, posters and heady crystals here. Aka this is where vendors set up.
Bus Lot/Lower South Lot 2: South of Lower South is where you will find the buses.
Can’t find a spot? Totally cool to park on the road! Best to flip around and park facing the opposite way for an easy exit.
Box Office/Will Call: Will call can be easily accessed by the first two entrances from I70 (1 & 2 on the map) not so easy from Morrison (3 & 4 on map). Most buses enter from I70 and will stop at Will Call for riders to grab their tickets. If you come from the Morrison entrance, unfortunately, you may have a walk to the Box Office.
In the Venue
If you are coming from the Bus Lots, Lower South/Shakedown, I highly suggest entering from the Lower South entrance (the dotted line next to Upper South lot on the above map). Walk up the road, passing the Trading Post on your left, until you see a big staircase. This is the easiest way in and out of the venue. Seriously. Always enter and exit this way. The exit is larger than the other, therefore it moves faster. So when you are in the venue looking at the stage, exit bottom left!
From top to bottom, Red Rocks is a 100-foot elevation gain and you’re already at 6,450 feet above sea level so you will feel it walking up and down the stairs. Take your time!
Finding Your Seat
If the show is general admission, it’s a complete free for all. You can go early and get in line to claim your spot. If the show has reserved seating, typically the very bottom and top are GA and the middle reserved.
A few choice words on the standing room: If you are in the lower part of the venue, you will most likely be two deep to a row. One person on the wooden ledge, one person back. This is totally normal. The higher up you are, the more room you will have. If you need space and want to be up close, get VIP. If it’s a reserved show, you will find people in your seats. Just kindly ask them to move. They probably have no clue it’s reserved seating.
Reserved seating is typically rows 10 to 60-ish. So the middle sections with GA are at the very top or very bottom.
The higher up you go the windier it can potentially be which sometimes really affects the sound. But damn! Your view will be good. If you’re only going one night I suggest watching part of the show from down low and going up at least once to take in the view from the top.
At the top of the venue is an amazing museum on the history of the venue and a must do! The museum gives a history of Red Rocks from its geological formation to present day. Did you know the very steps you sit on were first built in by a New Deal Project? Pretty Crazy. The museum also features a musical history of the venue with a plaque for every show played. The Southwest Heart of the Rock Theatre room contains memorabilia’s from some of Red Rocks most famous performers. This room often has a rotating exhibit of either artwork or maybe a movie. This is a great place to escape the rain and cold too. You will also find two concession stands and two sets of bathrooms.
There are bathrooms in all four corners of the venue. At the very top of the venue is two handicapped single stall bathrooms. There are large bathrooms with hardly any lines behind you in the museum. Walk to the back and look for the staircases.
If you are looking at the venue and close to the left side (Mike side), there are actually two sets of bathrooms. Walk all the way down to the stage then right to the concession stands. Looking to your left you will see a small staircase with a restroom signing pointing down. You have now found the secret bathroom. Congratulations! There is almost never a line here.
Red Rocks food is actually dynamite. You can find delicious pizza, Philly cheesesteaks, hot dogs and more. This year, 2018, Red Rocks are adding even more great food vendors by partnering with local restaurants – read more here. The top of the venue has the largest variety of food to choose from.
VIP Red Rocks
So you shelled out the big bucks for VIP? Congrats! You get some pretty cool perks. You will get to dance the night away in a roped off area typically next to “Front of House”. And you will get to enjoy the VIP room in the tower. Looking at the stage, on your left, will be the door to side stage, waltz through here to the very top of the tower and enjoy! You really can’t enjoy the show from here but it’s a great escape from the rain and has a private bathroom. Now for the very special, with an all-access pass and probably a bestie running lights or sound, you may get the chance to walk the tunnel. Underneath the stage is where all the crew and artists reside. For the crew to get from backstage to front of house, there is a very special tunnel. Every artist who has ever played Red Rocks signs the walls of the tunnel!
It will 90 percent of the time rain at Red Rocks. BRING YOUR JACKET!
When checking the weather for Red Rocks, check the weather for Morrison, not Denver. Denver is a good 25 minutes drive and since Red Rocks are in the foothills, it has completely different weather patterns. The sun will set and you will get a chill so bring a jacket. Actually, bring a rain jacket.
I cannot stress this enough, bring a rain jacket! Ninety percent of the time it’s going to rain and if it doesn’t rain it will probably be windy and you will wish you had a jacket. If you forget a rain jacket and there is a monsoon, they do sell ponchos at the concession stands. However, if it’s super stormy they will shut down the venue and there is basically no shelter so you won’t be able to get a poncho until it clears up. So bring your jacket!
My first Red Rocks show in ’09 had a two-hour rain delay. I have twice been on my way into a show and the venue has closed due to bad weather. Both times we were closer to the entrance than our bus so we rode out the rain in line. I have bought multiple long sleeve shirts at shows to stay warm when I have forgotten a jacket, so just bring it. You can stuff it under your seat during the show!
What to bring to Red Rocks
- Rain Jacket
- Refillable water bottle
- Rain Jacket
- Rain Jacket
- Comfortable Shoes
- Extra Charger
- Rain Jacket
Not sure what to wear – layers! But check out my What to Wear to festival and concert guides for ideas
Where to Stay
You can really stay anywhere but I recommend Downtown Denver. You will be steps away from all the food, shopping and drinking you need. I prefer to Airbnb but for hotels check out the Teatro, Monaco or Crawford Hotel (in Union Station)
If you have friends in the Wash Park Area, the closest hotel to them is The Marriott Cherry Creek.
Now what we have gotten the logistics nailed down its time to plan the rest of your trip!
Red Rocks adventures – as you can see – always bring your rain jacket