No music venue on earth compares to Red Rocks. The glowing rock formations stretch up to the night sky and amplify the music. The high-tech lights interact with raw nature in the perfect dance. Famous musicians consider it an honor to step on this stage, and fans know it’s an honor to witness them there. But there are a few minor details about Red Rocks Amphitheatre that, well, don’t rock.
The parking can be a nightmare. First, finding a spot. Then, the actual hike to your seats can leave you exhausted even before the opener.
After the show’s even worse because the massive stadium dumps out onto the narrow, winding, mountainside street. The post-concert traffic jam can take upwards of two hours just to break out onto the highway. And then there’s the drive home. Those 40 minutes back to Boulder can feel like 40 days and 40 nights.
Not to mention the game of rock-paper-scissors you must play to determine which of your crew has to stay sober to begin with. And for the rest, the $18 (yes, literally; that was a tall whiskey last time we checked) drinks in plastic cups with slothlike lines.
These hurdles have finally been cleared.
In 2018, a hotel recently opened up near Red Rocks that aims to eliminate all of these inconveniences — leveling up your Colorado concert in the mountains.
The Origin Red Rocks hotel opened as the “official” partner to the venue. To visitors, that means rockin’ deals and packages. Origin Red Rocks is located as close to the amphitheater as you can build; it’s just 10 minutes away.
The hotel itself is sleek and contemporary, but with wooden accents, decorated with creative, music-inspired artwork, like a mural created out of upcycled records. The walls in the rooms are lined with the latest Red Rocks news and events.
The beds are amazingly comfy, which you’ll appreciate after those bleachers, the 6,000-foot altitude and those stairs. Oh, the stairs. Red Rocks has two staircases on either side of the theater from the lower parking lots to the concession level. Each of those staircases has 380 steps. The venue itself has 69 rows of seats — equal to running three miles up and down the bleachers. Add in additional stairs and ramp elevation gain if you visit the upper parking lot; another 83 stairs between the stage to upper lot; and a quarter-mile ramp leading to 62 stairs to the upper concessions.
It’s no wonder hard-core athletes take over Red Rocks for workouts when it’s not booked for shows. (During our recent visit to Red Rocks, we clocked more than 7,100 steps at the concert alone.)
Needless to say, you’ll appreciate the cloud-like pillows and comforter.
The hotel makes transportation simple. There’s plenty of parking at the hotel. Then, a shuttle picks you up out front (for $15 per person) an hour before the show starts. It gets you there with ample time to conquer those stairs and score a good seat before the show starts. And it picks you up 30 minutes after the show ends. The drive back is short; the hotel is right at the bottom of the mountain.
Feeling like a VIP? Book the Red Rocks Suite, which showcases a rotating selection of memorabilia (posters, T-shirts, instruments) from the amphitheater’s own collection.
Another way to elevate your concert experience is to pre-party at the Nomad Taqueria + Beer Garden, the hotel’s on-site restaurant. Grab a table on the spacious outdoor patio, whether around the fire pit, in couches, on a small table or a long bench. You’ll find yard games, like giant Jenga and cornhole, and the margaritas here are better than any cocktail at the amphitheater.
The spicy marg, made with pepper-infused tequila, is the best, but even the house margarita is strong and tasty. It’s made with Sauza Blue Tequila, triple sec, lime juice and sour mix and it’s only $6. As a beer garden and in such a beer-centric town, it’s expected that Nomad would feature more than 20 local beers on tap. Enjoy your pre-show drink with a bowl of chips and a flight of salsa. Choices include grilled pineapple (the tastiest) and poblano pico de nomad.
Nomad’s inside space is also open and hip, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a fireplace, and it’s open late (until 2 a.m.), so you can order an after-show drink and food if you want to celebrate more.
In the morning, guests can get a full breakfast on site.
Staycation in Golden
You can make a whole staycation out of the concert when you stay at Origin Red Rocks. It’s located in Golden, which is about a half hour from Boulder and about 40 minutes from the Denver International Airport. There’s lots to do in Golden while you’re there, including the famous Coors Brewery and a half dozen breweries (Golden brews more beer than any other town in America).
Origin Red Rocks also provides complimentary bike storage and an in-house bike you can take out to explore the nearby trails.