Part of Denver’s Theatres & Arenas Division, Red Rocks in Colorado Amphitheatre is a naturally formed, world-famous outdoor venue just fifteen miles west of Denver. Red Rocks in Colorado is recognized for its star-studded concert roster, natural acoustics and ambience, as well as its awe-inspiring hiking and biking trails. The Visitor Center features interactive educational displays, a short film on its geologic and musical history, a Performer’s Hall of Fame and delicious food at Ship Rock Grille.
The Front Range of Colorado has rock known as the Fountain Formation that begins 14,000 feet underground, then works its way to the surface at angle. A lot of it is hidden beneath dirt and rock, but when it gets exposed above ground, it creates incredible monuments of red sandstone. There are red rocks in colorado hiking trails that begin as far north as Fort Collins, and run all the way down south of Colorado Springs that wind through these strange rock features.
Red Rock Canyon History
The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada is an area managed by the Bureau of Land Management as part of its National Landscape Conservation System, and protected as a National Conservation Area. It is located about 15 miles (24 km) west of Las Vegas, and easily seen from the Las Vegas Strip. The area is visited by over two million people each year.
Red Rock Canyon in Colorado itself is a side-canyon accessible only by a four-wheel-drive road off of the scenic loop. The unnamed but often-visited valley cut through by State Route 159 is commonly, but incorrectly, referred to as Red Rock Canyon. The massive wall of rock called the Wilson Cliffs, or Keystone Thrust, can be seen to the west along this highway.
Towards the southern end of the National Conservation Area are Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, the western ghost town replica attraction of Bonnie Springs, and the village of Blue Diamond.
- Native Americans
The first humans were attracted to the Red Rock area due to its resources of water, plant, and animal life that could not be easily found in the surrounding desert. This made the area very attractive to hunters and gatherers such as the historical Southern Paiute and the much older Archaic, or Desert Culture Native Americans.
As many as six different Native American cultures may have been present at Red Rock over the millennia. The following chronology is an approximation:
- Southern Paiute 900 to modern times
- Patayan Culture 900 to early historic times in the 1800s
- Anasazi 1 AD to 1150.
- Pinto/Gypsum (Archaic) 3500 BC to 1 AD.
- San Dieguito 7000 to 5500 BC.
- Paleo-Indians (Tule Springs) 11,000 to 8000 BC.
2. Modern history
In the early 1900s, around the time the first people settled in nearby Las Vegas, a small sandstone quarry was operated by the Excelsior Company near the northern area of the scenic loop. It proved to be uneconomical and was shut down. Evidence of the quarry’s existence includes some of the huge sandstone blocks that have been left behind. In 1967, the Bureau of Land Management designated 10,000 acres (4,000 ha) as the Red Rock Recreation Lands. By 1990, special legislation changed the status of the Red Rock Recreation Lands to a National Conservation Area, which also provides funds used to maintain and protect it.
The Howard Hughes Corporation, developer of Summerlin, has transferred land adjacent to the protected area, to provide a buffer between development and the conservation area. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is adjacent, on the west side, to the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.