I love living in Colorado and we always look forward to hosting friends who appreciate the outdoors. In the spring of 2022, our good friends Keonia and JP came to see us (and celebrate my getting older, aka my birthday). We didn’t have much time, but hit a few awe-inspiring highlights like Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre and Garden of the Gods.
From Arvada, just west of Denver, we took the scenic route through Evergreen, Colorado toward Morrison. This charming little mountain town has a lot to offer. We strolled around Evergreen Lake and then into downtown where we indulged into some ice cream.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre
Located in Morrison, Colorado, Red Rocks Amphitheatre is by far one of the best concert venues I’ve seen! Nestled between red rocks jutting upwards toward Colorado’s vast sky, the venue offers amazing acoustics as well as impressive views of Denver and its neighboring small towns. The first time David and I went to a concert there was for Independence Day in July of 2021. The band Blues Traveler has been performing every year on July 4th since 1994, except for 1999 and 2020. We appreciated the music but for me the true show was watching the fireworks in the distance (without the annoying loud booms), lighting up the sky across our 180 degree view above the stage.
In order to get to the amphitheater, one must take a short hike, so if you plan on visiting, skip the high heels and opt for walking/hiking shoes. Of course, you could also squeeze in one of the vans that take visitors up the mountain but then you will still have to climb a several sets of pretty impressive steps. You may also want to bring a stadium cushion or blanket to make your visit more comfortable and hold your seats. Refreshments are available at the concession stands downstairs or up top (which also offers more amazing views).
When Keonia and JP visited, we walked around and took in the spectacular views, witnessing the begging of spring: blooms and critter activity.
Garden of the Gods
From Morrison, we jumped on CO-470 and connected to I-25 heading south toward Colorado Springs. On our way, we stopped to peek at Airforce Academy, just past the town of Monument.
Designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971, Garden of the Gods has been a sacred place for many native tribes. The awe-inspiring rock formation took many years to form (300 million or so), shaped by ancient seas, sand dunes, and wind. There is evidence of prehistoric people being present in the Garden of the Gods as early as 1330 BC. The history of the place as we know it now is an interesting one: in the 1800s, land surveyors looking to establish a new town became intrigued by the peculiar sandstone formation. In true Colorado spirit, one of the surveyors wanted to start a beer garden among the rocks. His friend, however, had a better suggestion, pointing out that “it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble.” Thankfully, his suggestion stuck and the place has been called the Garden of the Gods ever since.
Visitors can stroll through the park, admiring the various rock formations, at no cost. There are hiking opportunities, as well as rock climbing options, if you are feeling adventurous.
We chose to take our time, walking and gawking. When we got a gap in the tourist flow, we heard a faint rustle coming from some bushes near a rock wall. We held our breaths long enough to see the reveal: a beautiful deer grazing gently popped its head up and looked at us for a minute before continuing its journey. Above head, flocks of birds floated and circled, while a blue pinyon jay (named after the pinyon juniper where they nest) called from the nearby branches.