Red Rocks Tips and Jedi Mind Tricks

photo by the joker: Pretty Lights/STS9 7/25/09

It’s finally the week of Red Rocks. Many of you have tickets in hand; many of you don’t. I am in the camp that does not have tickets…so if you have an extra, im your man.

But this post is really about getting prepared for Red Rocks. I used to work there, and I have seen countless shows there. Don’t believe idiots on Phantasy Tour. I know what I’m talking about. Here are some helpful tips:

Getting There: There are 2 main ways to get there from Denver: I-70 and Exit Morrison Road, or from 470 through the Town of Morrison. Morrison is cute, but I avoid it because of more stops and turns. I find it confusing. If you are coming from downtown Denver, take 6 or I-70 west, get on I-70 and exit Morrison Rd. Turn left (south) and boom, you are driving to Red Rocks and only have to make 1 more turn (right) into the Entrance 1 (North Lots) or Entrance 2 (South Lots/Will Call).
If you are stocking up on beer or food, it is best to do this before you get too far out of Denver. There are a couple of gas stations around Red Rocks but you will find better selection and faster purchasing dropping by a Liquor store or Grocery before heading to Red Rocks.

Parking/Lots/Will Call: There are 2 main entrances. Entrance 1 will take you to the North Lots, Entrance 2 takes you to the South Lots and Will Call. I don’t imagine many will need to go to will call, but please if you do note that it is about a ½ mile hike down from the venue entrance.
Generally speaking, I like the south lots. The south lots are bigger, and have more of a scene. If you are looking to buy something, the South lots are where you will have the best luck. Also, this is where I’ll be slinging LOST T-Shirts.

The north lots do have their advantages, though. The north lots are higher in elevation, and you enter from the top of Red Rocks. If you want to hike less, park in the north lots. If you are taking a limo or party bus to Red Rocks, most of the time they drop off and pick you up at the top/north lots.

It has been a wet summer, and it seems cooking out is allowed in the Red Rocks lots as long as it is a gas grill. If you bring charcoal you may have a person walk by and ask you to put it out or risk getting a fine (this happened to me at Bisco Inferno).
Choosing an entrance: If you park in the south lots, you have 2 choices: the ramp or the stairs. The Ramp is on the south side and is a little easier on your legs than the stairs, but the ramp can sometimes have a longer line to get in. For those with strong legs, I recommend the Stairs on the north side.

Weather: This week it is forecast to be mild in Denver. 70-80s during the day and 60’s at night. Lets get down to it: If you don’t bring a hoodie to Red Rocks you are a fucking idiot. But, you may be a genius if you bring a rain jacket and it rains like it did this weekend at Red Rocks for Pretty Lights/STS9. Out of all the shows I’ve seen at Red Rocks, I would say that at least 1 out of 4 there is some sort of rain during the show. So if the odds come up, one of phish shows will have some weather.

Where to sit: This show is GA for the first 24 or so rows, then there will be a yellow rope for a “Reserved” section rows 25-55 ish, and then GA up at the top. There are 70 rows and a video screen on Fishman side. I like the sound from rows 15-25 the best. The Soundboard is in the middle about rows 12-17. There will be a lot of “tarping” in the GA section. Fans get there early (like noon), line up, and once the doors open run to put down a tarp to stake their territory. Some of these people are my friends. People with a tarp are very nice until you stand on the tarp. Love it or hate it, this is the way it is going to be. And yes, if you have a reserved ticket, you can sit in the GA section. Ushers will not look at your ticket and tell you where to sit unless someone comes up to them with a complaint and is trying to kick you out of their seats In the reserved section.

One alternative to the GA section is the planters that are on the sides of the seating area. These planters have a tree in the middle of them and are GA as well. I actually think the planters on the North side/Page Side are a great place to sit/stand/dance and see the show.

Restrooms: There are nice restrooms at the top in the Visitor’s center. If you need to take a shit, go up there. Seriously. The Visitor’s center is almost like a hotel bathroom.

There are some “secret” bathrooms that are sometimes less crowded on the South side/Fishman side down some stairs. Look for them and you will find them.

Whatever you do, DO NOT PISS on or around any of the trees on the north side of Red Rocks. This is one of the few things you can do to get kicked out.

Smoking: Smoking cigarettes is not allowed in the seats and the ushers will actually enforce this. Smoking pot is not a big deal and generally will not get you in trouble as long as you are in the crowd.

Sneaking in yourself: Climbing the rocks is risky and can get you a $999 fine plus a broken leg. Crashing the gate is not going to work. Jedi mind tricks? Could work. Greasing the usher? Could work, but the managers there are watching closely and it has a low probability of working if the manager sees you. The managers are the ones in the Blue shirts/Red jackets. The hourly employees are wearing yellow.

Sneaking in other things: if you are smart and smooth and get the right person, people have been known to sneak bottles, pipes, etc in.

What did I miss, and what else would you like to know?


Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
the joker said…
thanks jennifer! or
Scott Bernstein said…
AMAZING post. Thanks so much!
Justin said…
Much needed. ;)
Unknown said…
Thanks for the info. Any advice on how to simply get into the lots without a ticket?
the joker said…
to my knowledge they are not checking tickets at the entrance. By the will call at entrance 2, they will try to give you a flyer for upcoming shows but will not make you turn around if you dont have tickets (again, as far as I know) Most of the time I dont even stop if they try to give me a flyer, I just keep on driving. If they ask for your ticket, just say you are working for Argus and are late for work. Argus is the company that does the security. Basically, just drive like you know where you are going. Ive seen a situation where the lot is full, and in that case usually a cop makes people turn around, but this is a different issue. If you are ticketless you will probably be getting to the lots early.

Plus, Red Rocks is a public park. Simpling walking (granted it will take you 15 min or more to walk up the hill) they can't stop everyone from hiking in.
Shap said…
Great post!

The only thing I think you could have mentioned, in reference to the lots, is that the North lots are easier to get to from I-70, while the South lots are easier to get to from I-470.

I personally think that the I-70 approach is less congested, but I have friends that will argue the other way around. Going the I-70 route helps you avoid driving through Morrison proper, though.

Hope you find your ticket(s)!!
Shap said…
Also - random question/clarification as the Red Rocks site appears to be down for the moment.

Do you know what types of 'tarps' Red Rocks will allow you to bring in? I remember going to a SCI show in the past and having to stash my picnic blanket in the bushes at the entrance. (Don't worry, I found it on the way out)
Broseph said…
priceless inside vet knowledge
jahcolforbinn said…
I was just at Red Rocks this past weekend for The Day out of Time. RE: Tarps..

They basically allowed anything from a 5 foot blanket to a 15 foot camping tarp; as I saw both in the first 5 rows.

Have phun! Wish I could make it!!
Unknown said…
My flight gets in at 6:25 Friday and I have a ride picking me up to head straight to the venue. Sounds like I-70 to the North lots will be my best bet to get in there in time.... Any other advice for one in a time crunch?
the joker said…
Shap: I agree, getting there I forgot to mention. Ill add some more comments to the original post but i prefer the I-70 route.

RE: Tarps
I jsut go to Wal-Mart and get a blue/grey/whatever tarp folded up in a package. I keep it in the package until i get through the gates and duct tape it down to the benches. I suggest this over a blanket cause secuirty will make you take out the blanket and go through it, wasting valuable time in a land grab. Get a tarp big enough that 3-4 people can defend if you are gonna try this. If your tarp is too big, like if 2-3 people are saving room for 20, forget it. But if your crew is 8 people and they can all stand on the tarp and you have 3 people defending it, it will work. ask the question on, those panic kids are pros and thats who i learned this from.
the joker said…
re: time crunch
I would take I-70 and go in entrance 1 to the north lots, and get a cab driver that speaks english. Its gonna be probably $60 or more from the airport to Red Rocks. Ive never taken a cab from the Airport to Red Rocks, but its a long way.
Shap said…

Thanks for the extra advice about tarps. I think the footprint for my 2-person tent should be perfect, it folds up really tight and small.

Heath - coming from the airport you should definitely go the North (I-70) route. Anyone heading up from South of Denver (Littleton, Englewood, Highlands Ranch, etc.) would probably prefer 470.
justnoah said…
Awesome post, thanks!

What time do the lots really open and what time is doors?

It says lots 90 minutes in advance of doors, but I remember for the Phish shows in 1996 that we were in line at 10am.

Any advice what time to get there?
the joker said…
I have friends that are going to line up around 12-1pm. I personally am going to err on the side of getting there early. If you roll up at 6 or 7 pm you may risk having to park on one of the roads and hike up cause the lots are full.
Unknown said…
People who come in and canvas whole rows for their "buddies" are fucking lame and I refuse to play their games. I paid for a GA ticket just like them and if their friends aren't there yet, sorry.. I got there first.
the joker said…
Alex- people dont tarp whole rows. i did this post to tell you how it is, if you dont agree with some strategies, fine. but im telling you like it is as a red rocks vet. once you have been to red rocks a couple of times you will get it, and perhaps even you will bring a blanket or tarp so you do not have to sit in one space for hours. you will have to go to the bathroom at some point, and you probably have friends that want share space together. i agree that people should not save space for 20 absent people, and this is abuse...but saving space for a few friends is going to happen. and the whole point is that the people that tarp- at lease a few of them- they got there before you. you can fit 3 people in 1 "seat" at red rocks.
Unknown said…

I agree with you that saving for a few people (like 3 max) around you is acceptable. I'm referring to what I saw at Hampton where one girl literally had blankets and hoodies on roughly 20 seats in her immediate proximity. Upon trying to even get NEAR any of these seats, she screetched at me and started yelling obscenities.

Again at Asheville this happened with a group of two people who has reserved 2 (2!!!!!) entire rows Page side. How is that acceptable??
Unknown said…

Thanks for the guide... sorry I went on a rant ;)

See you there!
Nicholas Stock said…
Joker nice blog post I will be seeing you on Thursday my friend. I called into Red Rocks this morning they will not be stopping any cars from entering the park. Also they will not be stopping anyone from hiking the back hill during the shows. I plan on making the hike on Friday. Unless anyone has an extra. So straight from the Red Rocks Operator lots are open and so is the back hill for the ticket-less and destitute. Everyone be safe and have a good set of shows.

Phish On.
Ziggy Stardust said…
One more thing. If you don't want your pockets disturbed, GO UP THE STAIRS, NOT THE RAMP. I have no idea why this is true, but I've been in Colorado going to Red Rocks shows since 2000. It is true. As you're walking up from the lower south lot, there's a fork in the road from which you can look to the left and see the crowd waiting to get patted down on the ramp. Proceed straight rather than turning left, then go up 12,000 stairs. A little more work on your legs, but worth is every single time.
Ziggy Stardust said…
Oh yeah, don't bring in toy guns, or they might take your pipe and write you a paraphanelia ticket. Goddammit, why can't I ever spell paraphenelia, paraphernalia, there it is, I always forget that r. ARE WE EXCITED YET?!
Nicole & Fabio said…
Thanks a mil for the inside info!! I'm curious about vending... the site said specifically no vending in the lots -- how tough are the cops gonna be on this??? hearing the upper lots are better for this (south, esp) -- true??? Peace... see you on lot!
the joker said…
vending in a way that you can't walk around, meaning if you have a stove, a tent, probably not gonna fly.

im going to be walking around with tee shirts and will try not to have them taken away...blatant vending around the venue is generally discouraged but the area of the lots is so large its hard to catch everyone. we are all curious to see the size of the crowd tomorrow.
Ian said…
1) The Red Rocks website says lots open at 3 pm each day.

2) wheres the best place to fill a water bottle in Red Rocks... the bathroom? or are there water fountains somewhere?
the joker said…
Officially the lots open at 3pm but you can get there earlier if you want, most likely you will park in upper south.

best place to fill a water bottle is gonna be a bathroom.
Unknown said…
was at the show last night and it was awesome. some last second additions to the tips:

1. fill up water bottles at the visitor center at the top of the venue. bathrooms below the stage use non potable water.

2. They were doing some weird things with the parking last night, forcing everyone to park in a mowed field below the south lots. Makes for a long walk. go early to get to the north lots. if you have difficulty walking, tell the parking security that you have a medical condition (my wife's pregnancy worked nicely) and ask to have access to the upper or lower north lot. Once we got up into the actual park, there was available parking everywhere. not sure what they were trying to achieve.
Jesus said…
What is this "back hill" you guys speak of? I'm currently ticket-less and I wouldn't mind hiking to get in the show.
Unknown said…
Anyone know how fast the lower GA section has been filling up? If the
aphitheater opens at 6pm - what time is good to trek towards the
stairs/ramp to get center-ish upper seats in the lower GA? Thanks
much....see you Sunday!
the joker said…
My friends have been getting in line about 2pm and are getting a spot in Lower GA each night. bring a tarp and duct tape. last night i was on row 13 thanks to friends that got there in line about 2:30 with a tarp.

the back hill is just that...the huge hill behind red rocks. its a hike but there are trails up there. there has been a few hundred people behind red rocks on the hill each night. you cant see the band, but you can hear the music.
Unknown said…
couple of thoughts about the back hill:

1. security is probably not cool with it. I don't know what they would do but I would at least make sure you start your hike on the down-low. once you are a few hundred yards from them, there is little they can do, even if they do see you.

2. rattlesnakes - that is rattlesnake country so just be aware. make as much noise as possible and dont go sticking your appendages in between rocks or in holes or anything silly like that.

have fun.
Unknown said…
I sit at the first seat I find tarp or not. I waited in line for hours to get a good seat and the assholes who cover like 10 seats with a tarp for their friends still in the lot can suck my nuts.
Forever Living said…
I think hummer limo car more comfortable for all people.
limo hire London
Jo Poe said…
2015 and this is still helpful!!! thanks!!
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