While an outdoors concert venue may not traditionally fall under “experiencing the great outdoors,” the lack of information about going to a concert at Red Rocks led me to write this after my first concert last night. Hope this helps, future concert-goers!
Step 1 – Get There Early
Head down to the town of Morrison to wine and dine yourself (or in my case, margarita and queso myself) before the show. The concert started at 6:00 p.m., and we left the Capitol Hill area of Denver at 2:00. We drove into Morrison and hit our favorite Mexican restaurant, Morrison Inn (so Mexican sounding!), to enjoy some margaritas and things covered with queso.
I was SHOCKED that the restaurant was not even busy, and we could still find street parking without an issue. If you’re in the mood for something else besides Mexican, there’s an Italian place across the street that is always packed, so I’m assuming it’s good. Sidenote: I just looked up Morrison Inn on Yelp and the fact that it only has three stars should be considered a crime against humanity. One of the complaints was that the chips were covered in salt, so obviously they’re not of a sound mental state if they think there is a thing as too much salt on chips.
Morrison Inn not only has white queso but also has delicious food (we usually have a quesadilla and chicken nachos) and awesome margaritas in a ton of flavors. The watermelon marg is really good…it has just the right amount of flavoring without giving you the feeling that you might develop diabetes after drinking it.
Enjoy dinner, then make the drive back up to Red Rocks. We left Morrison around 3:30 and again, I thought traffic would already be really bad, but we just drove right in.
Step 2 – Do Not Trust The AXS Mobile Ticketing App
Before we left the house, we checked to see if we needed to print out our tickets or just see if we could bring them up on our phone. Download the app, AXS said. Display your tickets on your phone, AXS said. OOPS JUST KIDDING, now that you’re at the venue and have no way of printing, you can’t use mobile tickets, AXS SAID.
Yes, as we drove in, the app began claiming that “mobile tickets are not accepted at this venue,” despite saying just the opposite an hour before. We re-routed to the box office, where they can print your tickets for you if you have your order number or the credit card that you bought the tickets with. The girls at the box office mentioned this was not the first time this situation had happened.
Once you’re down at the box office, you get stuck being routed into the south parking lots (where you do not want to park), so we drove all the way out of the south entrance, back through Morrison, and back up to Entrance 1. Avoid all of this hassle by just printing your tickets at home.
Step 3 – Use Entrance 1 And Park On The Road
The main reason to get to Red Rocks early is so you can find a spot on the road close to Entrance 1, which is right off the main road. Entrance 3 requires driving all the way through tiny little Morrison, and when you have thousands of people trying to do the same thing, you will be stuck forever. We already got stuck in traffic during our lap around Morrison from the box office, and that was before 80% of people had gotten there.
Entrance 2 is still closed for construction, but the car in front of us finagled their way in to try to cut us off – they ended up in the same exact position, right in front of us, just farther up the hill. So just use Entrance 1.
You don’t want to park in a lot because they pack everyone in so tightly that there is no way you can leave unless all 200 of your neighbors are leaving as well. And then you’re all jammed in there together and have to crawl your way out. Parking on the road (pointed in the direction of the exit!) means you just get in your car and pull out. Everyone was courteous with their parking – I didn’t see anyone that got blocked in by someone desperate to park on the road. It’s not a bad idea to try to park close to the lot, though – that’s where the port-o-potties are!
Also, if you get routed into the first lot, drive to the other end and tell the parking attendant you need to go to the box office. They’ll let you back out….and then you can park on the road! This is the one instance that I am okay with lying.
Step 4 – Have The Time Of Your Life
With my first Red Rocks experience in the books, I can say without a doubt a concert there should be on everyone’s bucket list. Especially if you can be there for the 4th of July. Blues Traveler is there every year, and this year he had the ultimate 90s line-up with him: Uncle Kracker (meh), Smash Mouth (yes they played All-Star, and yes it was life-affirming), and Sugar Ray (Mark McGrath may not have his frosted tips anymore, but he sure as hell still puts on a good show).
They don’t have fireworks at Red Rocks, but from the amphitheater, you can see fireworks across the entire horizon, which is a sight I will never forget. Nearly 360-degree fireworks, the best music of my tween life, and beautiful Colorado scenery. Red Rocks has it all!
One last note – if you haven’t bought your tickets yet, I would get actual seats versus general admission. We were Row 33 and had a good view and a place to sit down between sets. Don’t forget to bring something to sit on, those wood benches get hard after a while!