Best Time To Visit Colorado

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Although Colorado is a popular go-to winter destination, this US state’s beauty is enjoyable beyond the snowy winter months. It’s a fantastic destination, providing fun-filled activities, breathtaking scenery and a relaxed atmosphere throughout the year. So, the best time to visit Colorado depends on what you’re looking for in your vacation. Do you want a snowy ski trip? Perhaps a colourful flower-blooming hiking vacation? Maybe you want to explore Colorado’s National Parks? Or you might be dying to see mountains surrounded by autumn foliage?

Though busier, the best time to see many of Colorado’s National Parks, such as the Rocky Mountain and Mesa Verde National Parks, is during summer. Destinations like Breckenridge, Pagosa Springs and Boulder are essential winter spots. Telluride, Aspen and Crested Butte are perfect for those shoulder seasons of autumn and spring.

Colorado’s winter is defined by heavy snowfall, but there are also glorious days when the sun is shining. Winter temperatures can be as low as 45°F (-7°C). But head to the state during summer and temperatures are sweltering at around the 86°F (30°C) mark. If you can’t decide where or when to go, check out this guide for the best time to visit Colorado.

Best Time To Visit Colorado

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Colorado in Summer

Colorado is best known for its powdery snow and unparalleled skiing and snowboarding, but head there in summer, and you’ll also be in for a treat.

Colorado summers are generally mild and are ideal for hiking and exploring.

Although the sun shines and temperatures can reach 86°F (30°C), Colorado generally has pleasant weather at this time of the year.

Though winter is often considered a popular time to visit, summer can also be busy.

When heading to the Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde and the Great Sand Dunes National Park it’s best to start early before the crowds hit the parks.

Summer has, on average, 14.5 daylight hours, giving you plenty of time to squeeze in as much as you can to your Colorado itinerary.

Temperatures based on Denver, Colorado

  • June (15h01m, 81 °F – 50°F, 27.2°C – 10°C)
  • July (14h45m, 88° – 65°F, 31.1°C – 13.3°C)
  • August (13h46m, 86°F- 54°F, 30°C – 12.2°C)

Five Things To Do In Colorado In Summer

1- Rocky Mountain National Park
when is the best time to visit colorado blue sky and car on road
One of the best times to visit Colorado if you’re keen on driving the mountain roads is summer when the Rocky Mountain landscape is lovely and green.

You can’t go to Colorado and not visit the Rocky Mountains, after all, it is called the Rocky Mountain State.

Although the Rocky Mountain National Park is also great to visit in spring and autumn, there’s something special about the park in summer as it has breathtaking scenery and a lot of wildlife to be seen.

Visiting the Bear Lake Road Corridor should be part of any Rocky Mountain itinerary and there are many lakes to walk around for the views.

Visiting the Rocky Mountains between June and October is ideal for discovering its stunning scenery.

2- Mesa Verde National Park
best time to visit colorado national parks cliff palace under the rock
If you’re keen on exploring the prehistoric site of cliff dwelling ruins in Mesa Verde National Park, the best time to visit Colorado is in summer.

Situated in the west, Mesa Verde National Park is a spectacular national park in Colorado.

Perched on a cliff, an old Puebloan settlement with an intricate network of buildings is both architecturally incredible and historically significant.

Heading out early to Mesa Verde is the best option for cooler temperatures and fewer people.

3- Vail
best time to visit vail colorado city center and surrounding mountains
The best time to visit Vail, Colorado, may be winter but you’ll find some exciting things to do in summer too.

If you want to hike during Colorado’s summer, head to Vail. This mountain town is the perfect hiking location.

Check out The Gore Range for jaw-dropping vistas with mountains and lakes.

Eagle’s Loop is a popular quick scenic trail that starts near Eagle’s Nest and loops around a mile.

For something more intense, check out the Lost Lake 7-mile round-trip hike.

4- Great Sand Dunes National Park
best time to visit colorado for camping with RV with the Great Sand Dunes in the background
The best time to visit Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes for an exhilarating desert adventure is in summer.

Great Sand Dunes National Park is home to some of the largest dunes in North America.

It always feels appropriate to visit sand dunes during summer for the ultimate desert-like experience.

What’s better is that after you enjoy the dunes, you can splash around in Medano Creek, the perfect spot for taking in the scenery and cooling off in the water.

5- Denver

You’re likely to arrive at Denver airport if you’re visiting Colorado.

The mile-high city is a fantastic place to visit, either at the start or the end of your Colorado vacation.

There are fantastic restaurants, breweries, bars, city and mountain panoramic views, Denver’s got it all.

Top tips:

  • Though temperatures don’t hit the big figures, make sure you don’t underestimate the mountainous altitude and weather changes.

Colorado In Autumn

best time of the year to visit colorado old barn near Telluride surrounded by fall colours
The fall scenery around Telluride makes it one of the best times to visit Colorado for photography.

Fall is one of the best times to visit Colorado because there are fewer people, and the autumn colours and mountain views are incredible.

If you’re travelling during autumn, it’s essential to prepare yourself for the cold.

Temperatures in autumn can reach highs of 78°F/25 °C but can also drop below 32°F/0°C.

Not only is autumn a beautiful time of year to visit, but because it’s considered off-season, you can find some reduced rate deals on accommodation.

  • September (12h30m, 78°F – 44°F, 25.6°C – 6.7°C)
  • October (11h13m, 66°F – 33°F, 18.9°C – 0.6°C)
  • November (10h02m,54°F – 23°F, 12.2°C – -5°C)

Five Things to do in Colorado in Autumn

1- Telluride
colorado best time to visit mountain slopes in autumn colours
The best time of year to visit Colorado may be winter but the ski resort of Telluride is just as stunning in autumn.

This Rocky Mountain town is known for its skiing but visit during autumn, and you’ll indeed have a good time.

Telluride in autumn is spectacular, and you will be blown away by the colours of the vibrant trees that look as if they are on fire.

Head to Ingram Falls or Bridal Veil Falls for peaceful vistas.

Not only is Telluride beautiful, but there is also a three-day festival to enjoy at the end of September.

The Telluride Autumn Classic is a transportation lover’s dream event that pays homage to all things classic, from cars to motorcycles and aircraft.

2- Kebler Pass
best time to visit colorado to camp mountain reflected in the lake
The glassy reflection of the East Beckwith Mountain in Lake Slough near the Kebler Pass is a classic landscape.

The Kebler Mountain Pass is one of the best places in Colorado to check out the fall foliage and otherworldly landscapes.

The Kebler Pass connects Crested Butte and Paonia, and its highest point is more than 10,007 ft (3050 m) above sea level.

Drive along the pass and pull in at countless spots to gawk at the impressive fiery trees, rugged mountains and blue puffy cloud-filled sky.

3- Grand Lake
when's the best time to visit colorado yellow and green trees
Yellow Aspen trees fills the landscape in the fall, making it one of the best times to visit Colorado.

There is nothing better than lake reflections in autumn.

Grand Lake provides visitors with endless autumnal beauty and plenty of things to see and do.

Walk around the lake looking at the beautiful cottages and rusty orange colours; it’s well worth visiting this Colorado attraction.

Book a place to stay right on the lake for the most magical autumnal vacation getaway.

4- Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs is one of Colorado’s autumnal hidden gems with many things to do.

During the day it’s warm while the nights are cool, offering a cosy evening atmosphere.

There are ample opportunities to go hiking, biking and walking.

There are also many camping spots, horse-riding opportunities, and the hot springs.

The Old Town Hot Springs must be on your Steamboat Springs itinerary.

5- Aspen
best time of year to visit colorado autumn trees reflected in the lake
The best time to visit Colorado for colour is in autumn. The iconic Maroon Lake is a breathtaking picture of nature.

Of course, you may wish to visit Aspen when the snow is out for some of the best skiing around at this luxury mountain range.

However, Aspen is also fantastic in autumn.

Hike through the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, mountain bike, or wander around the town.

Aspen has an entirely different vibe in autumn, and it’s more affordable during this time of year.

Top tips:

  • Check the dates of autumn festivals; usually, there are many events held during the autumn months in Colorado.

Colorado In Winter

best time to visit colorado to ski slopes on a sunny day
For breathtaking winter wonderland views, of course, the best time to visit Colorado is in winter. Here’s an amazing view of ski slopes in Colorado near Keystone.

Winter is the ultimate time to visit Colorado, especially if you are a winter sports lover because it’s a winter paradise offering snow activities like skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, tubing and ice-skating.

One of the best things about Colorado winters is that the days are sunny but still provide the much-needed snow.

Many of the mountain passes that you can explore during summer are completely shut off during winter.

Depending on where you are travelling, a 4×4 or 4WD vehicle may be required.

  • December (9h25m, 46°F -16°F, 7.8°C – -8.9°C)
  • January (9h43m, 47°F -16°F, 8.3°C – -8.9°C)
  • February (10h46m, 49°F – 18°F, 9.4°C – -7.9°C)

Five Things to do in Colorado in Winter

1- The Vail Valley
best time to visit colorado for snow winter road
Although winter is a popular time to go to Colorado, be careful when driving the icy roads.

The Vail Valley is a fantastic ski destination in Colorado.

Vail Mountain offers something for both experienced skiers and snowboarders as well as beginners.

There are seven back bowls, long meandering runs, and tree-lined routes. But, of course, the views alone are worth the journey.

2- Gunnison

So, first, a warning, Gunnison is very cold during winter.

But go prepared with winter gear and embrace the cold, and you will have a good time in Gunnison.

The Black Canyon is Colorado’s least visited national park and is highly underestimated.

People are seriously missing out, as this destination during winter is rugged, breathtaking and awe-inspiring.

During winter, entrance into this national park is free, meaning you’ll see amazing views without paying a cent.

3- Breckenridge
best time to visit breckenridge colorado snow-covered trees and lamp post
The best time to visit Colorado for fairytale scenery is in winter, when the trees are laden with snow. Pictured here is Breckenridge.

Breckenridge is a Colorado town at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and
Breckenridge’s ski resort is a popular skiing spot.

The resort has 187 trails; there are moguls, alpine bowls, tree skiing and endless Rocky Mountain views.

4- Pagosa Springs

After a cold day skiing in the San Juan Mountains, head to Pagosa Springs for a relaxing hot spring experience.

After a satisfying day of skiing in the cold, there’s no better feeling than to immerse yourself in steaming hot natural waters.

Not only is Pagosa Springs a fantastic place to soak in the thermal pools, but the town is also seriously charming and well-worth exploring.

5- Boulder
best time to visit boulder colorado
Boulder Colorado’s Flatiron Mountains stand out against the blue sky in spring.

Boulder is a fantastic year-round destination, but visiting this Colorado city in winter is a brilliant vacation idea.

It’s right at the start of the Rocky Mountain range, so there’s no way you can miss this vibrant city.

Cross-country ski at North Boulder Park or dive into the shops on Pearl Street; there is something for every taste in Boulder.

Top tips:

  • Be flexible with your activities. It isn’t uncommon to experience a warm and relatively mild day followed immediately by a bad snowstorm during winter.

Colorado In Spring

best time to visit colorado for hiking
The Garden of the Gods is a natural red formation in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

March to May is a favourite time to visit Colorado and although many visitors go in spring, popular places won’t be as crowded as in summer.

Although it can get chilly, the temperature is generally manageable if you travel with a jacket and a coat in early spring.

Colorado is an outdoorsy traveller’s paradise, and springtime is a beautiful season for nature lovers to explore.

Flowers are in bloom and the spring colours are irresistible.

Crested Butte is one of the best places to see in Colorado in spring; it’s a real reflection of the beauty of the spring season.

  • March (11h58m, 56°F – 25°F, 13.3°C – -3.9°C)
  • April (13h18m, 62°F – 33°F, 16.7°C -0.6°C)
  • May (14h25m, 72°F – 42°F, 22.2°C – 5.2°C)

Five Things to do in Colorado in Spring

1- Crested Butte
what is the best time to visit colorado green mountain slopes and mountains reflected in the river
The view of nature reflected in the Slate River at Crested Butte is beautiful in spring.

The wildflower capital of Colorado is a fantastic place to explore, especially if you enjoy nature or photography.

Crested Butte is a popular ski area in winter, yet with the thawing of the snow comes incredible colours and landscapes.

Enjoy mountain biking, fishing, paddle boarding and hiking in spring.

2- Glenwood Springs
best time to visit colorado in fall
The Colorado River flows through the White River National Forest in the western United States. If you love hiking and camping then the best time to visit Colorado is in summer or spring.

Spring comes early to Glenwood Springs, making it an excellent mountainous getaway destination to visit in early March.

While other mountain areas are still covered in snow, Glenwood Springs begins to turn green.

Mountain biking and hiking is popular in the Glenwood Springs area.

There are also other activities, including rafting, paragliding, and the famous hot springs.

3- Boulder Creek Festival
best time to visit colorado mountains
There’s no best time to visit Boulder Colorado as there’s plenty to see all year round. Pictured here is Chautauqua Park.

The Boulder Creek Festival is held around the end of May and has many activities to enjoy during this long weekend celebration.

There are carnival rides, live bands, art exhibitions, drag shows and incredible food perfect for families.

If you are in Boulder during May, usually around Memorial Day, make sure you plan your trip to enjoy the festival.

4- Keystone
best time to visit colorado in winter misty pine trees
One of the best times to visit Colorado for photography is in winter or early spring when the trees are sprinkled with snow.

The Keystone Resort area might be a popular skiing destination, but there are plenty of things to do when the snow disappears.

Keystone is in the River Run Village area at the bottom of the ski slopes.

It’s the perfect destination if you want luxurious spas, lodges and five-star restaurant experiences.

Keystone Lake is one of the most popular attractions where, in winter, people ice skate on its frozen water, but kayakers and paddle boats frequent the water as spring hits.

5- Royal Gorge
best time to visit colorado to hike aerial view of the gorge
One of the best times to visit Colorado for hiking is in spring. Pictured here is Royal Gorge, Canon City.

Royal Gorge is an overwhelmingly impressive canyon and one of the most popular Colorado attractions.

During spring, fewer people visit Royal Gorge.

This 1,200-ft (365 m) gorge is 10 miles (16 km) long, and the Arkansas River runs through the canyon.

The Royal Gorge Bridge is one of the highest suspension bridges in the world.

The vistas are incredible and you can also try some adrenaline junkie activities.

Raft along the Arkansas River, ride the Royal Gorge Train or skydive from Cañon City.

Top tips:

Check out the places you’d like to go first because spring often has lingering snow. During the first half of spring, you can still ski, so many places you may want to visit might be inaccessible or only accessible with a 4×4/4WD vehicle.

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harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!