A few weeks ago, my husband and I took the kiddos up to Red Rocks Amphitheater. (If you’ve never heard of it, you’ve clearly never seen U2 Live at Redrocks: Under a Blood Red Sky, and that is a terrible tragedy that you must remedy right away.)
Around the amphitheater are hiking trails that wind through the massive, ancient sandstone monoliths. 290 million years ago, these rocks were throttled to the surface by plate tectonics. Geologists have found dinosaur tracks and fossil fragments embedded in them.
The amphitheater itself is flanked by two huge monoliths, both taller than Niagara Falls, that form a natural, perfect acoustic environment. It opened in 1941 and since then many, many famous musicians and artists have played there – The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, U2.
There was a concert the day we were there, so we didn’t get to go into the amphitheater, which remains open on non-concert days for tourists. Runners like to jog up and down the rows.
But we did get to hike the short, easy Trading Post Trail.
Red Rocks is part of the “Fountain Formation,” a group of outcroppings that runs along the front range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and Wyoming. Marine invertebrate fossils have been found in the rocks, and geologists believe a shallow sea once stretched from Canada all the way to Mexico, essentially drowning the wild west, including the Rocky Mountain chain.
The stone that makes up the Rocky Mountains is the same stone that forms the core of the North American continent. It was formed deep within the earth 1.7 billion years ago, long before the Rockies were pushed into being. When I consider the age of Red Rocks and inconceivable age of the Rockies, I wonder what those stones have witnessed.
Nature is quiet and unassuming and overpowering. In it, I always feel insignificant and as brief as a breeze, and yet it welcomes me nonetheless. While we were hiking, my oldest son tried to climb a fence to get up onto a huge boulder that was sitting nearby, but the railing fell down. We replaced it, of course, but we joked that with all the rock climbing and wandering off the trail, the only thing we could possibly break in this stone forest was man-made. I hope to go back in the winter and get some pictures in the snow.