Everyone knows that Red Rocks Amphitheater is a beautiful, world-famous concert venue. But did you know that Red Rocks Park has several scenic hiking and nature trails? There are four main trails in Red Rocks that can be combined with hikes in neighboring parks.
The trails around Red Rocks Park have so much to offer. You’ll see giant red sandstone rock formations that feel like a mini version of Garden of the Gods. Higher elevation points of the park will give you beautiful views of the foothills and Denver. You’ll be able to explore the famous amphitheater. There are even dinosaur bones and track sites in the neighboring Dinosaur Park.
Read on to see the 6 best hikes in and next to Red Rocks Park ranked. After your hike, check out one of these delicious restaurants near Red Rocks Park.
6. Mount Vernon Creek Trail Loop
Length: 2.3 miles
Average time to complete: 1 hour
Elevation Gain: 278 ft
The Mount Vernon Creek Trail Loop is the most accessible trail on this list. It has the lowest elevation and is nearly flat. That being said, it’s less scenic than the other trails in Red Rocks Park. It follows a creek at the base of Red Rocks Park. You’ll see many plants on this trail, including cacti, yucca, and brush.
Mount Vernon Creek is a good warm-up or nature trail. To make it more scenic and challenging, add on the Trading Post or Morrison Slide trails.
5. Geological Overlook Trail
Length: 1 mile
Average time to complete: 30 minutes
Elevation Gain: 311 ft
The Geological Overlook Trail is a short but steep walk from the Upper North Lot to the Panorama of the Front Range Foothills lookout point. It’s considered easy because of the short length, but keep in mind that it is steep with stairs. Don’t expect a leisurely nature walk. The trail leads to a geological marker with panoramic views of the foothills. When the weather is clear, you’ll also get great views of Denver!
*Note, if you want to visit the lookout point without doing most of the hike, drive to the parking lot at the top of Plains View Rd.
4. Red Rocks and Morrison Slide Trails
Length: 3 miles
Average time to complete: 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 679 ft
The Red Rocks trail is on the north side of the park. It’s relatively short, but the best way to hike it is to combine it with trails in Mathew/Winters and/or Dinosaur Park.
The Red Rocks and Morrison Slide Trail begins on the north end of Red Rocks Park. It takes you along the Morrison Slide loop in Mathew/Winters Park. You’ll get amazing views of Red Rocks amphitheater, large sandstone formations, the foothills, and Dinosaur Ridge. Remember that this is a popular trail and can get busy on weekends.
3. Red Rocks to Dakota Loop
Length: 6.4 miles
Average time to complete: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,338 ft
The Red Rocks to Dakota Loop is an extension of the Morrison Slide trail. It starts in Red Rocks Park, goes to Mathew/Winters Park, and then takes you across the top of Dinosaur Ridge. The Mathew/Winters Park section takes you on half of the Morrison Slide loop. If you want to hike the previous trail mentioned but make it longer, this is the trail for you.
You’ll see stunning sandstone Rock Formations, views of Denver and the front range, and the Morrison Slides. You can easily add on the dinosaur bones or track sites while passing along Dinosaur Ridge.
Although the Red Rocks and Morrison Slide trails are well maintained, the Dakota Ridge trail is rocky. One of the biggest cons of this trail is that you’ll be able to hear noise from the highway on parts of the trail because of its proximity.
2. Mount Morrison South Ridge Trail
Length: 3.6 miles
Average time to complete: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 2,014 ft
Mount Morrison has one of the most prominent peaks in Denver’s front range. It’s the tall peak just south of i70 with the tall radio poles at the top. This trail doesn’t exactly go through Red Rocks. The trailhead is at the south end of Red Rocks park, loops behind it, and takes you to the summit above Red Rocks Park.
This is by far the most challenging trail on this list. The route takes you to the summit of Mount Morrison. You’ll have to go through a class 2 scramble to get to the top, meaning you’ll have to use your hands. The soil is loose at points of the trail and is extra tricky when muddy.
These could all be pros or cons. It just depends on what you’re looking for in a hike! This can be a super fun hike for experienced hikers who are up for a challenge. If you need more practice or looking for something more leisurely, I would go for any other hike on this list.
Check conditions before hiking
Remember that the trail sometimes gets icy, including the scrambling part. This happens from early fall to late spring. Keep an eye on comments in the AllTrails app to stay up to date on trail conditions. Whether or not you try it in icy conditions is up to your personal skill and comfort level!
I have yet to get to this trail, but I hope to soon! As of writing this, conditions are icy, and I’m not comfortable hiking this trail in snowy conditions. Hopefully, I’ll get to it sometime soon! I’ll add photos after 🙂
1. The Trading Post Trail
Length: 1.5 miles
Average time to complete: 1 hour
Elevation Gain: 357 ft (around 550-600 ft if you add on the Amphitheater)
The Trading Post Trail is my go-to hike at Red Rocks. It’s a beautiful loop that takes you through large sandstone rock formations. It feels like a mini-version of Garden of the Gods.
There are several spots to start this hike. I usually park at the first small dirt parking lot on Red Rocks Park Road after going through entrance 3. It’s on the park’s south end, next to downtown Morrison. I like this spot because it’s the lowest elevation point on the trail.
It’s easy to add the Amphitheater to this trail as well. Once you get to the Trading Post, head north to the stairs. They will take you up to the top of the Amphitheater. The views from the top are AMAZING. However, it does make the hike significantly harder. You’ll likely be feeling the burn in your legs. This could be a good or a bad thing, depending on what you’re looking for!
Bonus: The Amphitheater
The Red Rocks Amphitheater itself doesn’t have a named trail. However, it’s an essential place to explore in Red Rocks Park. In fact, walking the large flight of stairs up to the amphitheater is quite the workout. Some of the park’s best views can also be found here.
Start at Red Rocks Trading Post and walk to the top if you’re up for a workout. The walkway from the lower part of the amphitheater to the upper north is also gorgeous. The best views are undoubtedly at the top of the amphitheater. You’ll be able to see the amphitheater, the surrounding park, and the foothills. When the weather is clear, you’ll be able to see downtown Denver too.
If you want a more leisurely walk to the top of the amphitheater, park at the upper north lot and go through the visitors center/Ship Rock Grill entrance. *Note: It’s currently closed for construction but should reopen by the time the 2023 concert season begins.
Red Rocks FAQ
Where is Red Rocks located?
Red Rocks Park is right next to downtown Morrison. It’s in the foothills, south of i70 on the other side of Dinosaur Ridge.
From downtown Denver, it’s about a 25-minute drive. You can take i70 and/or highway 6 to exit 259 towards Morrison and Red Rocks.
Does it cost to visit Red Rocks?
Visiting Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater during non-event hours is free. This includes:
- Exploring the park
- Seeing the Amphitheater (when there aren’t any events or event prep happening)
- Visiting the Colorado Music Hall of Fame
The only time you have to pay to visit Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater is to attend an event. Prices vary by show. See a complete list of upcoming events on the official Red Rocks Amphitheater website.
What is parking like?
Parking at Red Rocks is easy on non-event days. Keep in mind that it does get pretty hectic at Red Rocks and Morrison on event days, particularly in the hours leading up to the show.
There are places to park throughout, including small lots scattered throughout the park. The Visitors Center, Trading Post, and Colorado Music Hall of Fame have their own parking lots. There are also upper and lower parking lots around the Amphitheater.
If you only want to see the views from the top of the Amphitheater, park at the upper lot. Walking to the top of the Amphitheater can be strenuous, especially for older folks or anyone with a physical disability.
What is the weather like?
The weather in Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater is generally mild, but it can get cold and snowy during the winter and pretty hot during the summer. It aligns pretty well with the weather in Denver at the time. Check here for a detailed breakdown of the current and upcoming weather conditions at Red Rocks.
What are the park hours?
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater opens one hour before sunrise every day. On non-event days, the park closes one hour after sunset. On event days, the Amphitheater usually closes to the public around 2pm. However, this can vary by event. The rare full-day event at Red Rocks could cause it to be closed for the entire day. The rest of the park will still be accessible to non-ticket holders during events. However, parking and traffic get WILD. I recommend avoiding the area during events if you’re not attending.
The Visitors Center, Trading Post, and Music Hall of Fame hours vary by season. They typically stick pretty close to standard business hours. For up-to-date hours, visit this page on the official Red Rocks site.