Location: Jefferson County/Colorado
Note: Sometimes profound moments, truly kick-ass feelings can happen in sacred natural spaces. This is reason enough to get out there. These places can truly touch you. Don’t believe it? Look at the guy in the image above. In a single moment, there is a host of things to realize about what hiking, climbing, and achieving the peaks of mountains and forests is about. You can boast about how many dozens of mountain ranges you’ve seen, and climbed. You can impress everyone at the party with all your daring, and drive, for your past efforts. You can take credit for the beauty of an image captured, as if you created the landscape that produced it. But if you did all this, it would be obvious, that despite all that you’ve done, you haven’t understood even half as much as the young man featured in the image above. He is completely in tune. He’s in tune with that illusive peace-of-mind we all search for out on the trail, wherever that may be. All you have to do is look at him to know that it’s true. There isn’t even an ounce of distraction in his physiognomy. Everything about his posture says “thank you for my life”. It could take a lifetime just to reach this simple state, yet on this day, I turned a corner on the trail at Red Rocks State Park in Colorado, and there it was, right in-front of me.
To begin, it should first be noted that people coming from far away to the great South-West of the United States might be a little confused by the label “Red Rocks” when typing it in your search engine. There are actually two National Parks with this particular name. The larger, more exploratory ‘Red Rocks National Park’ is an exotic scene in Sedona, Arizona. Sedona is an artists and cross-trainers paradise, with massive ‘rock temples’, and Messas for miles. The second, much smaller ‘Red Rocks State Park and Auditorium’, (which is at present also a famous concert venue) is just south of Denver Colorado, a wonderful hiking park with a several hiking trails overlooking the surreal satellite-faced stones along a ridge of gorgeous small-mountains leaning over a dramatic valley below; and yes, both parks in Arizona and Colorado have ‘red rocks’. Red Rocks Colorado, this place, is where we found this epically tranquil young man in the image above, and the place that set me straight as to what real appreciation is.
The Scene At Red Rocks State Park: Welcome to an ancient geological center of photogenic oblong stone-slabs that seem to have been built into the mid-section of a small mountainside. The main trail here runs up through these stones, back down the face of the mountainside, returning to the trailhead in a sort-of ‘boomerang’ path back to the trailhead. The lower trail is clear, working away from the parking lot, lined with incredible wildflowers, super tough brush, and ridiculous views of the valley below while you begin a comfortable climb. If you are lucky there might be a concert happening while you hike, and you can listen to music booming-out all over the valley while you trek. The higher up you go along this singular Trail, the more obvious the uniqueness of the stones here becomes. Just about all of these slabs are facing the same angular direction, and this is something that should be noted. This place looks like a stone satellite center! How is it that these massive slabs are facing the path of the Sun in the sky, throughout the day?
The highest point of this relatively comfortable stroll, with a healthy incline, is a set of caverns and small cliffs of red stone. People are at play up here. I came across a couple having a full photo-shoot, complete with lighting and several photographers (that did not wish to be photographed), as well as the very “Zen” young man featured at the top image of the article. The path becomes a picturesque set of stairs leading you into this little world of colorful caverns, views, and people.The elevated scene here is a pristine and good energy just above the valley, where the wind drifts at you from really far away. It’s a quarky scene for those coming out of the experience of The Rockies’ to the North, with all its grandeur; but for every dominant scene, there are fascinating intimate scenes, of smaller scale, that are just as engaging and touching; Red Rocks is one of those beautiful and more eloquent experiences, where you don’t have to work so hard to sit and wonder, in a wonderful space. A surreal and significant ridge with several geological elements that look more magical than scientific, is unveiled up here. The trail sifts and continues through a small city of orange stones, before bending, and finally heading back down mountainside.
Reading these stones is a lesson in angular interpretation. The slabs are blatantly flat on their top-faces (Image/Below), and are situated towards the course of the Sun throughout the day. It just doesn’t look random at all, like the Easter Island Giant Stones, all facing one direction. You have to decide for yourself if you believe Nature flattened and angled these stones, or if it is the work of a culture attempting to capture the energy of the Sun, by crafting the stones. Take a look at the most iconic slab here at Red Rocks State Park; this Monolith sits like a keystone above everything; like an ‘example stone’ for all the other satellite style boulders on this ridge. There is clearly a cut-face on the top of this massive slab, made to face the course of the Sun through as much of the day as possible, and every other stone in the Valley is aligned and parallel to this “keystone”. The uniformity of these stones is almost mathematical in precision, and exacted to the point of complete parallels; how can we not notice this?
Aside from this angular interpretation of these cliff faces, there are also the free-sitting boulders. These boulders are provocative when considering that they are almost always found in Neolithic sacred zones, near Dolmens and Standing Stones. I say this having discovered hundreds of free-sitting boulders in New England and Europ. The free-sitting boulder in the image below even looks as if it was ‘fitted’ to other rocks set beneath it (if you look close); it looks slid into place, and locked-in by the use of the smaller rocks. And notice the parallel nature of the face of the free-siting stone and the rock slab sitting beneath it; both parallel and level. Did the last Ice-Age reach this far into Colorado? Do people really believed ice aligned these boulders in perfect parallels with the rest of the ridge? It seems ridiculous when given real consideration, in real-time. This pattern is consistent with free-standing boulders in hundreds of other places across the globe. There is almost always an orientation where they are found. The greater question becomes: “why do so many Americans NOT look… just a little bit closer?” It’s not just with Neolithic sites, but with so many other important parts of the non-material/spiritual aspects of life? #WTFisgoingonwithAmericans? I don’t mean to belittle Americans too much, I am American, but why don’t Americans care, in the same way that the English. French, or Irish do; about the Neolithic sites in their country? Why don’t we designate these sites in the text books of our high-schools? Just a few thoughts that might enter your thinking while trekking through this beautiful zone.
Just beyond this free-sitting boulder is an enclosure at the top of the trail; like a miniature canyon. This enclosure has the feel of safety, seclusion, and the comfort of a secret garden. There is a fissure in one of the longer rock faces, with a massive boulder sitting directly above that fissure. It feels ‘centralized’ here, like a good space for concealed fires and domestic action. It’s a good bet that there were ancient occupants living here, and for how many generations?.. we may never know. And within all of this scene, the massive slabs of stone, the free-sitting boulders, all facing and absorbing the Sun in exact parallels, throughout the entire course of the day.
Continuing your trek you will pass the half-way point of the trail, and turn a corner inside these loose-leaf rock caverns. The Valley rolls continually beyond, with a stellar view of literally tons of “stone-tables”, all facing the Sun along the mountainside.
Coming down, beneath these satellite-sized slabs, you can get a real feel for the massive flattened faces of these parallel stones. The orientation of everything here is towards the Sun, and it must have been a sacred place to the ancients, most likely seeing this place as a solar oasis.
Just a few hundred yards back down the mountainside, and you will arrive at the lower trail, then finally back along the road to the trailhead.
Following the lower trail you will complete a simple path that runs just over 2.5 miles, arriving back at the trailhead by the road. There is a real sense of serenity, a vibe that has existed for thousands of years before someone was eventually smart enough to build a music venue in this acoustic cavern. This place must be such a gem for locals living in Denver, and total joy to visit for those coming from other parts of the world. It is one of the few hikes in the West where you can go for a hike, and then unwind with a great concert. Anthropologically and mathematically there is more to understand here. The stones obviously have a specific orientation which should be analyzed celestially. It is entirely possible to do this in this age of digitalized research, and it would most likely yield relationships to Solar and Lunar cycles, as well as constellational connections. It’s a mouthful I know, but it’s substantial stuff like this that gives an area that extra something that less eventful geological areas lack. An overall look back reveals a gorgeous place. If you spend time in Denver, definitely take the day to hike Red Rocks State Park, and see a concert after you’re done! If you’re lucky you may even catch that great vibe that the guy in the top image of this article exudes. And most reassuring of all, is the knowledge that a very real and extra special vibe is totally possible, and awaiting you, somewhere along the trail of your choice. Next time, the person in the “Zen” picture, and moment, could be you! Red Rocks State Park is another opportunity for just this type of wonderful day. It’s Denver’s little rock-and-roll Disneyland. Thanks for reading, and please share with a friend if you enjoyed this review. Go strong. Stonestrider.com