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Why Red Rocks is the Best Outdoor Music Venue

If you do a quick Google search for “best outdoor concert venue in the United States,” you’ll get a bunch of results that point to you to the Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Not only does the venue seat up to 9,000 people, it’s the only all-natural amphitheater on the planet. Visitors will be quick to notice the large, disc-shaped rock that sits behind the stage in addition to the large outward-angled vertical rock that sits stage right.

The venue has hosted a full range of blockbuster performers including The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull, U2, The Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews Band and many, many more.

A little bit of history

Red Rocks came to be during the early part of the 20th century, when a man by the name of John Brisben Walker envisioned creating a stage within what he saw as perfect acoustic surroundings.

He produced quite a few concerts on a temporary platform, between 1906 and 1910, and in 1927, the city of Denver bought the 728-acre venue from him for a whopping $54,133. (That translates to about $800,000 in today’s currency, which is still one heck of a steal.)

A local architect was commissioned to design the amphitheater in such a way that the natural beauty would be preserved. The plans were finalized in 1936; construction began shortly thereafter, and the amphitheater dedication ceremony took place during the summer of 1941.

The first annual Easter Sunday service took place in 1947, and the tradition has continued through today. Each year, thousands flock to Red Rocks to participate in the service, in which hundreds of white doves are released in celebration of the day.

National Landmark

What most people don’t realize, is that Red Rocks was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2015. The honorary award was presented to the amphitheater on its 75th anniversary.

Fun facts

  • Red Rocks is one of two Denver-area National Historic Landmarks—the other being Civic Center Park.
  • The recordholder for the most shows played at the venue is Widespread Panic. To date, the band has played more than 51 shows there.
  • In 1985, the record for the most consecutive shows at Red Rocks was held by Huey Lewis and the News.
  • Red Rocks was once listed among the 7 wonders of the geological world.
  • A riot broke out at Red Rocks in 1971 during a Jethro Tull concert. The concert was oversold by about 1,000 tickets, and while security initially tried to appease overflow concert goers by allowing them to occupy a space behind the sage, some overzealous fans decided to crash the gates. Police used tear gas to deter any further riot activity. The rest of the concerts for that month were cancelled.
  • The park is considered to be sacred by more than 30 American Indian tribes.
  • Red Rocks was once an ocean floor.

If you’ve never been to Red Rocks Amphitheatre, it’s something we recommend all Denver-area visitors make some time to do. And yes, we’ve listed many, many reasons why we feel it’s the best outdoor concert venue in the US, but don’t take our word for it.

We’re pretty confident you’ll come to that conclusion on your own.

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