Rocky Mountain High Guitar Lesson – John Denver

In this acoustic guitar lesson video, I will show you how to play John Denver's incredible "Rocky Mountain High" note-for-note!

The first thing you will need to do is get into the proper tuning. You will need to put your guitar into Dropped "D" tuning D A D G B E then capo it at the 2nd fret. This is exactly how John Denver performed it live.

After you have this tuning down, you are ready to start this Rocky Mountain High guitar lesson!

The song contains a lot of the same chords throughout, so it is important to learn the intro very well. The intro that you learn is the exact same as the chorus and is very similar to the verse as well.

When the verse starts, you will be playing the same melodic figure around the D major chord shape that appears in the intro with an additional C and A chords thrown in there. Oh and just as a reminder, throughout the video lesson I will be referring to some chord shapes as if the capo is zero fret. So that D major chord shape will be played two frets above the capo just like a regular D major chord shape, however, because of the tuning and capo it is actually an E major chord. I do it this way to keep it as simple as possible.

The pre-chorus of "Rocky Mountain High" is really the most involved when it comes to the amount of guitar chords used and the area of the fretboard you will have to encompass. John Denver was an excellent guitarist who could keep the instrumentation very interesting with lots of activity in the guitar parts that were accompanying his vocals. If you watch him do this in a live video, you will see that is was virtually effortless for him to do.

Take your time with the pre-chorus. There are some rhythmic challenges as well as a few uncommon chords that will need to be played rather quickly. Just remember that you don't need to play it along with the original recording right away. It is much better to take your time and get everything together and in sync at a slower tempo then gradually bring it all up to speed at the same time.

As I said before, the chorus is the same as the intro. 🙂

So have fun with what is perhaps the ultimate campfire classic "Rocky Mountain High"!


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Rocky Mountain High Guitar Lesson - John Denver


  1. Jon Sweeney on January 7, 2024 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks, Carl. Great old song.

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