Explore Colorado / Explore The Outdoors

Why Workouts “Rock” at Red Rocks

It’s one of the most legendary places in the world in the a concert.  You could also say workouts hit legendary status at the iconic Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre.  Run the stairs and I bet you feel like Rocky Balboa when you hit the top….if you can still breathe at over 6,400 feet above sea level.


There is nothing like this geologically formed, open-air venue in the world.  Ship Rock and Creation, two 300-foot monoliths, create the only naturally-occurring acoustically perfect amphitheatre in the world.  Everyone from The Beatles to U2 to Sting to Kenny Chesney have performed at Red Rocks, with a seating capacity just over 9,500.  One of my favorite concerts was the night I got to catch fellow University of South Carolina Gamecock Darius Rucker perform.

While filming a behind-the-scenes “Explore Colorado” piece a couple of years ago, even I took the stage….to way less fans.  Those poor folks who had to listen to me belt out a few notes while they were working out!

Red Rocks is also one of the most inspirational places I’ve been to on Easter Morning.  The annual non-denominational service is a must if you find yourself in Denver on Easter.

You may not know, but there’s more to Red Rocks than just the amphitheatre.  It’s a magical, almost spiritual experience watching a concert at Red Rocks….and so are the workouts.  It’s a mecca for athletes and athlete wannabes.  You will push your limits at altitude.  If you run or walk all of the 69 rows of seats, you cover about 2.5 miles.  There’s a 100-foot difference in elevation from the stage to the top row.  If you go from the lower parking lot to the upper concession level, you’ll climb 380 steps.  Yes, it’s stairs for days, but it’s worth the climb.

Top of Red Rocks!

Working out with my cousin Elizabeth.

If a heart pumping, get completely winded workout isn’t your thing, you can also find your zen in the summer.  One of my favorite annual events is Yoga on the Rocks.  Whether you’re a first-timer or a yogi with decades of practice, your namaste hits a whole new level at Yoga on the Rocks in June, July and August.

Whether you’re doing sun salutations, running the stairs, or jamming to a concert, they rocks tell a story many years in the making.  The sandstone, including the giant monoliths, are a geological record book.  When you hike around Red Rocks, you literally are walking in the footsteps of dinosaurs of the Jurassic period 160 million years ago.  The geological story dates even farther back than that – Red Rocks tells the story of animal and plant life in the area for the past 250 million  years.  Red Rocks Park covers 738 acres filled with geological wonders and spectacular vista views.

I’ve worked out at Red Rocks more times than I can count.  When I crave a quick hike, but don’t have time to head into the mountains, Red Rocks is my outdoor gym of choice.  My favorite trail is Morrison Slide.  It’s short and steep.  Trust me – it’s worth the effort for the view.

After a travel day, I really needed a workout and was craving some trail time at Red Rocks.  Luckily for me, I have cousins living in Morrison.  So I took off from their house heading for the top of the amphitheatre.  As I connected to the Trading Post Trail (1.4 miles), I came upon deer, not unusual at Red Rocks.  It was dinner time for them.  So I made sure they knew I was there, passed through and continued on up the trail.

There’s something magical about being at Red Rocks at dusk, especially as fall transitioning to winter.

From the Trading Post, I headed up the winding ramp that takes you to stage level of the amphitheatre.  From there, with music blaring in my ears, it was a sprint up the stairs, just so I could taking in the magic of sunset at Red Rocks….and feel the exhilaration of working out at over 6,400 feet above sea level.

So when you stand at the top of amphitheatre taking in the panoramic view out towards Denver, a little over 15 miles away,  you’re also soaking in the geological tales of prehistoric times.  Enjoy the view, the geology, the music, and the workout.  It’s even more magical at sunset.