After living in Colorado for over 12 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about the best time to visit Colorado. Sure, we have wild, sometimes unpredictable weather, but we’ve also got an abundance of sunshine. So when is the best time of year to visit Colorado?
When Should I Visit Colorado?
I get this question a lot from friends, family, and followers who are interested in traveling to Colorado. The short answer is, it depends. Thanks to the abundance of sunshine in Colorado, there’s really no bad time to visit, but you can certainly optimize the time of year to visit that best suits your Colorado itinerary.
First, what do you want to do in Colorado? If you’re interested in enjoying the outdoors, such as camping, hiking or exploring mountain towns, you’ll likely prefer the summery months (July through September). But if you’re out here for snow, February is your best bet.
The Best Time of Year to Visit Colorado for Hiking
With majestic rocky and mind-blowing wildflowers, Colorado has some of the most scenic hiking trails. If you’re out here to hike, July and August are the best months. The hiking trails are mostly snow-free and the wildflowers put on a colorful display that can’t be missed.
Keep in mind this is also the most crowded time to visit Colorado, so don’t expect to find too much solitude in places such as Breckenridge, Aspen, Estes Park, and more.
When it comes to hiking in Colorado during the summer, take care to watch the weather. July is “monsoon” season, which typically means that there’s always a chance of brief, yet intense afternoon thunderstorms.
Getting caught above treeline during a storm is extremely dangerous, so keep tabs on the weather.
When Should I Visit Colorado for Snow?
With the onslaught of climate change, Colorado’s snowpack is getting more and more difficult to predict. Overall, the weather is trending towards later snow seasons.
The optimal time to visit Colorado to ski or snowboard is in mid to late February. You’ll have the best chance for a fresh coating of fluffy white snow, which is a powderhound’s dream.
March isn’t a bad option either since it’s Colorado’s snowiest month, but it also coincides with spring break (meaning hordes of people stuffing the ski resorts).
Pro Tip: For backcountry skiers and mountaineers, visit in May to June for the safest snowpack.
The Best Time of Year to Visit Colorado for Fall Colors
Fall is my favorite season in Colorado. The temperatures are cooler but still warm enough to camp, the thunderstorms have moved on, and the hills come alive with color.
One of the bucket-list things to do in Colorado is see the mountains come alive with fall colors. Massive Aspen groves ignite the hillsides in glittering shades of yellow and orange.
Colorado fall colors peak depending on how much rain the mountains got over the summer, so the exact dates vary. Typically, the third weekend in September (Vail, Breckenridge, Aspen) through the first weekend in October (the San Juan Mountains, The Crestones and Great Sand Dunes National Park) are the best times to leaf peep in Colorado.
When to Visit Denver
With a bustling arts scene, pro-small business attitude, and plenty of events make Denver a year-round destination. In the summer you can enjoy the rooftop dining and drinking scene, catch a show at Red Rocks, or head into the mountains for the day.
Fall marks the kick off of the Great American Beer Festival, the largest beerfest in the Americas. While in Spring the city comes to life, with beautiful flowers and lush scenery.
Lastly, in winter, Denver is actually quite mild. Days tend to be warm, with highs in the upper 40s on average. Sometimes there may be wind or a cold snap with some snow, but compared to other wintery destinations, Denver keeps the cold at bay.
The weather in Colorado is generally dry and mild throughout the year. Oh, and plenty of awesome sunshine to go around. It’s never excessively hot or severely cold.
Summers are warm with thunderstorms in the afternoon. Don’t fret – thunderstorms typically only last around 30 minutes. The mountain temperatures are typically in the 70s while the 80s or 90s are common for areas like Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs.
Winters tend to be cold, dry and windy in the mountains, with daily highs in the 20s and gusty winds along ridgetops. Denver and the Front Range is relatively mild with sunny skies.
Fall and spring are unpredictable. Snowstorms and violent rain isn’t uncommon. Fall tends to be windy, while spring tends to be unpredictable and stormy. Temperatures vary wildly from summertime highs to winter lows (sometimes even in a day).
Overall, the best time to visit Colorado is anytime. There’s things to do in Colorado year-round, making it the ideal getaway destination.