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Behind the Scenes with Shannon Dennison, an interview with Denver Mountain Parks Director

Welcome to a special bonus edition of our blog series, where we sit down with Shannon Dennison, the Director of Denver Mountain Parks, to delve into the exciting activities and exhibits planned for International Archaeology Day 2023.

Red Rocks Park, View from Geologic Point.

Nestled within the majestic embrace of the Colorado Rockies, Red Rocks is not just a concert venue but a cultural and natural wonder. In the spirit of International Archaeology Day, it serves as the perfect canvas for celebrating our past, connecting with the community, and unearthing the mysteries of our heritage.

Shannon Dennison, Denver Mountain Parks Director.

Shannon Dennison, a dedicated steward of Colorado's mountain heritage, will guide us through the event's unique offerings and how Red Rocks' iconic location enhances the exploration of archaeology and history. Join us as we discuss the seamless blend of history, archaeology, and community engagement, and how events like International Archaeology Day contribute to a deeper understanding and appreciation of Colorado's vibrant past within our local community.

Let's dig in!

Can you tell us more about the specific activities and exhibits you'll be hosting at International Archaeology Day 2023, and what makes them particularly exciting for attendees?

"I am thrilled to be able to offer guided tours in areas of Red Rocks that have been closed to the public for many years. More than a decade ago, Denver Mountain Parks made the difficult decision to close all off-trail areas of the park for public safety. This has been highly successful and has saved many visitors from serious harm, but the unfortunate consequence is that people no longer get to see some of the most spectacular and interesting parts of Red Rocks. The ranger-guided tours we’re offering as part of IAD will let people peek behind the curtain at places that are otherwise closed to the public, including the magnificent Seven Ladders rock and the historic Civilian Conservation Corps camp that supported the workers who constructed the amphitheatre. We are also offering behind-the-scenes tours of the Buffalo Bill Museum, which is located on Lookout Mountain close to Red Rocks. My hope is that these programs will help people connect more deeply to Red Rocks and the Denver Mountain Parks and to catch a glimpse of why these places are worthy of support and protection."

The event's location at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is iconic. As the Mountain Parks Director, what advantages does this location offer in terms of showcasing archaeology and history to the public?

"Hosting IAD at Red Rocks is a powerful reminder of how we as humans connect with landscapes. Archaeology is heavily science-based, but for many of us there is also a deep desire to connect with and understand those who came before us the world over. People have been drawn to this dramatic landscape for thousands of years before colonization, and sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that under layers of asphalt and urban development. Red Rocks represents so many layers of human history and culture, from deep indigenous history to the Great Depression to legendary rock n’ roll, and it connects to everyone somehow. Red Rocks easily hops the time bridge in ways that other places can’t and makes an extraordinary setting for IAD."

The event seems to blend history, archaeology, and community engagement seamlessly. How do you see events like IAD contributing to a deeper understanding and appreciation of Colorado's vibrant history and archaeology within the local community?

"Red Rocks IS the connective tissue of Denver’s musical heritage, and generations of people have seen performances from musical giants like the Beatles, U2, Jimi Hendrix, Dave Matthews, and Stevie Wonder. Red Rocks is a true force of nature in the Denver community. I love that IAD brings Red Rocks to life in a whole new way and will give people a chance to learn more about the park’s history, explore backcountry areas that have been closed to the public for over a decade, and connect with this magical landscape outside of the concert setting that most people associate with Red Rocks. Red Rocks has always been a place where people gather to share meaningful experiences, and I’m thrilled that IAD will be part of the fabric of Red Rocks."


As we conclude this short but enlightening conversation with Dennison, we are filled with excitement at for the first International Archaeology Day at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre! Dennison's insights have illuminated the exciting activities awaiting attendees at International Archaeology Day 2023. The iconic setting of Red Rocks provides a compelling stage for history and archaeology, enhancing the experience for all who visit.

In celebrating events like International Archaeology Day, we deepen our understanding and appreciation of Colorado's and the world's vibrant heritage within the local community. It's a testament to the power of shared knowledge and the enthusiasm of individuals like Dennison, who are dedicated to preserving our past.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Shannon Dennison for sharing her expertise, to our readers for joining us on this exploration, and to all those who strive to uncover the stories of our past. As we continue to unearth the hidden treasures of history, we look forward to future adventures and discoveries together. Thank you for being a part of our journey!

Jasmine (left) and Jess (right).

Join us next week for the second chapter, where we'll unravel more fascinating "behind-the-scenes" interviews with Amy Gillaspie, Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Bonnie Gibson, Statistical Research Inc. Your curiosity and engagement inspire us to keep sharing the wonders of history and heritage! Stay tuned and thank you for being part of our adventure! Don't miss out—subscribe now to stay updated!

See you soon!

Jasmine & Jess (J&J) 🌳

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➡️ Don't miss the upcoming interviews with Amy and Bonnie next week!

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