Red Rocks Amphitheatre has long been a haven for musicians. Once known as the Garden of the Titans, early performers would stand on temporary platforms between Ship Rock and Creation Rock in Red Rocks Park to perform.

Millions of years, geologic forces, Civilian Conservation Corps laborers, the vision of Denver architect Burnham Hoyt and George Cranmer all combined into what we now recognize as Colorado venue.

The History of Red Rocks

Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver‘s metro area has been hosting music events since early 1900 when Renaissance man John Brisben Walker set up a stage amidst its massive sandstone formations. Since then, hundreds of musicians have taken the stage to entertain concert goers; and it remains an increasingly popular destination.

Initialy purchased by Leonard Eicholtz of railroad construction engineer fame and named Garden of Angels Park in 1872, these rocks were sold to Walker in 1905 as an amphitheater to use as his stage; Walker constructed his wooden stage at the base of Creation and Ship Rocks bowl formation for use as his stage.

Years of work through the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration programs (two Depression-era public work relief programs) eventually produced the Red Rocks Amphitheatre as it is today, offering concerts throughout summer nights at Red Rocks Amphitheatre as well as hosting other events like Yoga on the Rocks or an Easter sunrise service service.

The Amphitheatre’s Acoustics

Natural acoustics at this acclaimed venue add an extra dimension to performances, in ways standard theater buildings cannot. Massive rocks on both sides of the theater and behind its stage create soundwaves which head directly toward its audience.

Red Rocks stands out as an incredible venue because there is nothing that could obstruct its acoustics, says Red Rocks acoustician Nick Pierce. No roof, curtains, upholstery or railings to obscure its sound quality means its spectacular sound can only come through here, creating its unique sound experience.

The open-air theater seats 9,525 guests and is host to concerts of all genres from around the world, such as iconic acts like Jimi Hendrix and U2, jam bands, symphony orchestras and artists from throughout history.

While the amphitheater’s acoustics can be breathtaking, they can also work against performers. For instance, during Big Head Todd and the Monsters show at this legendary venue last spring, vocalist Nick Stocchero found his distinctive, high-pitched voice was easily audible without any muffled sounds to cover it up. Yet seeing a show here remains one of Colorado’s premier outdoor experiences.

The Geology of Red Rocks

Red Rocks has become an iconic concert venue since The Beatles played there 60 years ago, hosting concerts that draw music lovers together to experience its striking geological formations. Visitors can explore Trading Post Trail or Red Rocks Trail; climb to the top of Ship and Creation Rocks for breathtaking views; or join yoga sessions on its rocks.

Burke states that the amphitheater’s sandstone formations were formed through wind and rain erosion. Their smooth surfaces reflect sound rather than absorb it, producing perfect acoustics. Ship and Creation Rock are two tall tilted rock formations part of Fountain Formation–an impressive series of natural amphitheaters formed when earth plates pushed mud and sand through mountains onto nearby platforms, according to Burke.

John Brisben Walker set up a temporary stage at this site during the early 1900s and hosted concerts under the stars; later, an opera singer commented on its incredible acoustics; in 1936 Denver purchased it and construction began on an amphitheater using Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration workers from their New Deal efforts.

The Music of Red Rocks

Red Rocks’ world-famous natural acoustics transform concerts at Red Rocks into an unforgettable experience. Its towering rock formations reflect and echo sound through to the crowd – once you experience one at Red Rocks, all other venues seem inferior!

Since magazine publisher John Brisben Walker began hosting performances here in 1906, this rock amphitheater has become a world-class performance venue. Denver purchased it in 1927 and construction of the facility began shortly thereafter in 1936 under Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration services.

Red Rocks has hosted some iconic performances over its 64 years of operation, such as those by The Beatles (1964), Jimi Hendrix’s electrifying 1969 show and U2’s 1983 performance captured in Under a Blood Red Sky video. Additionally, this venue serves as an important gathering place for hikers, bikers, cultural enthusiasts and hikers; with geological marvels scattered amongst pine tree-filled meadows and dinosaur fossils dotting its 868 acres of parkland.