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How Far Do You Have to Walk to Access Red Rocks Amphitheater?

A LiDAR and aerial imagery 3D model created in Surfer of Red Rocks amphitheater using LiDAR and aerial imagery download from the USGS.

Colorado summer is in full swing! As locals, we know the summer can linger into mid-fall, and we have plenty of more sunshine to come. Many of us here take advantage of the gorgeous weather by hiking, biking, fishing, tubing, enjoying live music, and countless other outdoor activities. Non-locals recognize how lucky we are to have great natural assets and frequently visit our colorful state to take advantage of many of these outdoor activities. As far as enjoying live music goes, Denver is home to one of the nation's best parks and music venues, Red Rocks Amphitheater, in Morrison, CO. 

Similar to the other outdoor activities in Colorado, accessibility can always be a challenge. With an estimated 750,000 visitors trekking to Red Rocks each year (source: Denver Post), visitors wonder how they are going to access the amphitheater and commonly ask questions like "Where is the best place to park?" and "Which is the best path to take into the venue?"

A view of the Red Rocks Amphitheater from the lower south parking lot created from the 3D model. This is the farthest parking area from the venue.
I have decided to answer some of these questions to help those who visit this beautiful landmark. I began by gathering data from USGS's Earth Explorer website to create a 3D model of Red Rocks to see how far a visitor needs to walk to get into the amphitheater. Within the park, there are six different locations where you can get dropped off or park your car. I thought it would be interesting to compare the distances from each of these parking lots to the center seating area of the amphitheater.

To create the 3D model in Surfer, I downloaded a LiDAR dataset from the Earth Explorer site, gridded it, and created a color relief map. A NAIP image of the amphitheater was then draped over the model to give it a realistic appearance and to better see the parking lots and paths into the venue. After the model was created, Surfer's Profile tool was ideal to measure how much vertical and linear distance there is between the 6 different parking lots and the center of the amphitheater. You can see the model and profile comparisons below.

A map created in Surfer that compares the profiles of journey from the five different parking lots at Red Rocks Park into the concert venue. The walk from the lower south lot has the most vertical distance to travel.

I was able to easily make the comparison using the model between parking in the five different parking lots. As you can see, the profile tool was able to depict the distance to travel for the comparison, but more importantly, the amount of vertical distance a visitor must trek to get into the venue. This is especially important for visitors from sea level. If you park in the Lower South parking lot, you will have by far the furthest distance to travel, and the most vertical distance to cover to get into the amphitheater. Compare this with parking in the Upper North parking lot, where you will have a much shorter travel time into the venue. 

Hopefully today's blog with aid you the next time you are trying to decide where to park or get dropped off at Red Rocks park!


Comments 2

Guest - Ang on Saturday, 21 September 2019 15:50

Thank you for this! Heading to Red Rocks tonight for The Revivalists show!

Thank you for this! Heading to Red Rocks tonight for The Revivalists show!
Guest - Kathryn Gerber on Wednesday, 08 August 2018 14:56

This is so informative and will really help us on our next visit Sept. 6th! Thanks for the great article!

This is so informative and will really help us on our next visit Sept. 6th! Thanks for the great article!
Friday, 09 December 2022

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