When enough people say to me “you really should check this place out,” I tend to listen. Sometimes even if said place involves hiking.
On a recent trip to Denver, I was so surprised to find that the Red Rocks Amphitheater was just a short drive away (read: as usual, I did no research beforehand). Because of this fact, I was equally surprised that the place wasn’t crawling with urban escapees. As I drove near, the already-huge sky opened up even more and the impossibly blue sky blending into the mountains and massive, burnt-orange rocks made me need to pull over for a moment to collect myself. Gaaaah, Nature!!
I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a line of cars waiting to have the opportunity to be in this place. But, less people and dogs to see me panting as I try to climb a hill? I’ll take it!
Once I’d arrived, I drove past several entrances which looked suspiciously like ‘incredibly-hard’ climbs until I finally found myself in the very John Denver-inspired music museum which doubles as the basement of the visitor’s center. Needless to say: the bathrooms are down there, too. But who doesn’t love an unexpected John Denver tribute?! Okay but also yeah my #1 pro tip for hiking: always use the bathroom first.
My second pro tip is to ask a friendly steward to point in the direction of the absolute shortest, easiest trail. I was duly pointed, and headed out into the sunshine. I’d forgotten that I do actually enjoy physical movement when I’m alone – the breeze on my face, deep breaths of air, as many rest stops as a I may or may not want/need to take along the way.
Because I started at the trail closest to the visitor’s center, you better believe I was delighted by the mostly-downhill terrain. What luck! The color of the rocks wooed me, the gentle descent allowed me to take in my surroundings and appropriately ooh and aah and appreciate the wonder of nature around me.
Now, this is normally where I’d say “what goes down, must go back up” and prepare you for some tales of misery, but it wasn’t actually that bad. Mostly because there weren’t many people on the trail, and I really only notice my own suffering when other people are around to witness it.
After I’d completed the loop, I drove up to the top of the Red Rocks Amphitheater, because hellll no was I going to walk up there after I’d just finished already walking! What am I, an athlete?!
I did have to climb both up and down some stairs to get there, and that was enough.
I stood at the top for a while, watching people jog along the bleacher rows, position themselves over two benches for maximum push-up power, and simply sit, taking in the view. One woman did a lot of stretching and yoga moves and just-so hair flipping, so before I even heard the click, I knew she was posing for some sexy workout shots. I took advantage of the professional photographer nearby to ask for a sexy photo shoot of my own. It, um, turned out…okay?
If you find yourself anywhere near Denver, please don’t miss the opportunity to visit Red Rocks. Even if you drive to the top, sit there and stare, and then turn around and leave. I think if we don’t live around it, we tend to too easily forget that there are some incredible, awe-inspiring natural wonders out there in the world. Sometimes in our own country. Sometimes in your backyard. Get out there!
(I say this from the warmth of my own kitchen table, wrapped in a blanket, but you get my point, right?)