Absurdly large red rocks.
No, I’m not talking about the Valles Marineris canyon on Mars. I’m talking about the incredible Red Rocks Park in Morrison, Colorado; which, lucky for you, happens to be on Earth. And today, we’re going to cover three of the most unforgettable sights at this amazing and surreal park.
Hold onto your hats! It’s going to get rocky…
Huge Sandstone Formations All Around
As you’ll see, what makes Red Rocks Park so exceptional is its geology. All throughout the park are huge red sandstone formations jutting out of the ground, often at steep angles as if placed by a pair of giant hands in the midst of a massive art project. In reality, the current evidence indicates that around the time the Rocky Mountains were forming (during a period called the Laramide orogeny) tectonic forces tilted these ancient sandstone formations at the wacky angles they’re at today.
When I followed one of the small dirt trails toward the middle of the park, I noticed that a small stream was actually flowing down through a sandstone formation. At some points it ran right over the bare sandstone, suggesting that it was a relatively new stream. And after walking down a slope, I looked up noticed that a few people had climbed about 10 meters above me, nearly to the top of the huge formation that this trail went around.
I would see them again.
Farther down the slope, the stream became a bit deeper and the plant life became thicker. There was some shade here, and the way the plants and stream shaped themselves to the rock was photographic magic.
But no nature photography could compare to the harrowing sight I was about to see. Which was, of course…
1. People risking their lives for my viewing pleasure
After I’d walked to a higher point, I looked back and noticed that the kids were still gallivanting around the top of one of the larger formations. It was the kind of sight that requires a double take, like seeing someone climbing the Empire State Building, for instance. How had they gotten up there anyway? There were no trails leading up to there, and there definitely weren’t any stairs or railings. They must have found some path up a slope, and I suspect it was not an easy climb.
One part of me wished they hadn’t risked their lives, and another part of me took the picture. 😉
A Discovery of Four Blue Robin’s Eggs
While not in my top 3 unforgettable sights, a real treat awaited me father down the path. Somehow, I noticed a nest in a nearby tree and peeked in to see if there might be any eggs inside. To my delight, four beautiful blue robin’s eggs were nestled inside. It seems that even with so many visitors to Red Rocks Park, the local wildlife has adapted to the human presence enough to continue to make nests rather close to the paths.
2. A Series of Beautiful Clear Pools
Looking at Red Rocks from the road, you’d never guess that a sight like this could be in your immediate future, but Red Rocks turned out to be full of surprises.
After I’d walked up a pretty steep incline (made of sandstone, of course), I looked down and saw this. While I’m very pleased at how this photo turned out, it really can’t do justice to the actual experience of seeing this landscape. Dozens of clear pools of varying sizes filled the crevices of this huge sandstone formation. Here and there, deep green shrubs sprouted out from behind stray rocks, and I began to realize I was in a truly magical place.
The Sign that Captain Obvious Wrote
After a while, I decided to refrain from exploring the mysteries off the trail for a bit, and I rejoined the well-worn path. Almost as if the universe itself was poking fun at my explorations, soon after I got off the path, I noticed this sign announcing in big capital letters that the sheer cliff just beyond the sign was, in fact, dangerous.
Really? Going down a cliff without climbing gear is dangerous?
I shudder to think what might have happened if there wasn’t such an… insightful sign posted for all to see.
3. The Single Biggest Rock You Will EVER See: The Megaboulder
If you haven’t figured it out yet, Red Rocks Park is absolutely magnificent. Red sandstone formations reach out of the ground at absurdly beautiful angles; pristine streams and waterfalls flow like Shangri-La; but perhaps my favorite element of the park was this colossal megaboulder.
I reached a slightly precarious position to photograph this monster, but it was definitely worth it. Size is difficult to gauge because it was impossible for me to frame the entire super-boulder in one photo, even though I was a good distance away and used a wide angle lens. (It was that huge.) I can only estimate it was at least 20 meters (65 ft.) wide. Seeing it in person was completely breathtaking; and, as you may be able to imagine, completely unforgettable.
A Truly Magnificent Place (and it’s free)
From ineffable ancient rock formations, breathtaking views, and tranquil pools, Red Rocks Park is a truly magnificent place. Did I mention it’s also a concert venue? A particular place between two ridges creates the perfect spot for an amphitheater, and it’s been used as a venue for concerts and other events for over 100 years, including the beginning and finish line for the TV show “The Amazing Race 9” in 2006. Clearly, this place is as versatile as it is beautiful.
And the budget-minded traveller will be pleased to hear that admission to the park itself is free, so next time you’re in the Denver area, take some time to see it for yourself. It’s less than a half hour drive from Denver, and you won’t regret it. Basically, this place rocks.
What about you? Have you visited Red Rocks? What were some sights that stick out in your mind? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments.
And would you believe that, even after seeing all that, it was only the beginning of the majesty that my journey held in store. Next, I was blown away by the beauty and sheer brilliance of the Denver Chalk Art Festival. There, chalk art was fine art: