Wondering what month or season is really the best time to visit Colorado?
Colorado is one of the United States most popular destinations for independent travelers, families and adventurous vacationers. Year after year, visitors come to view Colorado’s scenic Rocky Mountain vistas, explore the vast landscapes of the National Parks and take in the beautiful surroundings and historic towns.
Generally, the best time to visit Colorado is during ski season in late January through mid-March. This is when the snow is at it’s best, with lots of snow pack on the mountains and fresh powder blowing in each day. The Summer months of May through August are also great times to visit the National Parks and to go exploring, hiking and mountain biking through the Rocky Mountains.
If you’re booking a trip to Colorado this year and wondering when you should go, we’ve got every single detail fleshed out for you.
In this article, we’ll be describing each season of the year, the best times to visit and many different excursions and activities that are great for the outdoor enthusiast, the fun-loving family and the adventurous couple.
Everyone will be visiting Colorado for different reasons, so we’ve broken down the best times for various circumstances:
The Best Times to Visit Colorado: Quick Summary
Best Time for Fall Colors in Colorado: September and early October
Best Time for Skiing & Snow Sports in Colorado: February and March
Best Time for Families to Visit Colorado: March, May, July, November and December
Best Time to Hike in Colorado: almost all year, with the most ideal months being summertime; May, June, July
Best Time to Visit Denver: April, May, September and October (slow seasons)
Best Time for Festivals in Colorado: Winter and Summer
Best Time for Lower Crowds in Colorado: May and October, followed by April, September and November
Best Time for Lower Prices in Colorado: April, May and November, followed by September, October and December
We’ll explain each of these times of year in greater depth later in this post, as each topic deserves a more detailed description of why it’s best to select specific months for certain purposes.
Colorado Seasons At a Glance
Peak Ski Season: Ski season actually kicks off on Thanksgiving Day in November each year, but some resorts will have snow as early as October. Since the snow is at it’s newest this time of year, crowds don’t start packing in till late January when it’s more packed in. The whole ski season generally lasts from November to March with the best weather and great snow conditions occurring in February and early March.
The optimal weather for winter activities makes February and March a great time to go, especially with the bustling tourists bringing life to the ski towns, but the down side will be higher pricing on hotels and lodging. Snowstorms will blow in regularly in this time, but the weather is usually sunny with mild temperatures to make skiing more enjoyable for all.
Peak Vacation Season: Summer rivals Winter for the most popular time to visit Colorado. Families are more apt to travel this time of year with their children breaking from school. The biggest crowds come in July, but it will also be fairly busy on the front end in June and the back end in August.
The weather is at it’s hottest in August for most parts of the state and rainstorms are a regular occurrence. The warm weather allows for fun outdoor activities like hiking, as well as fishing, camping, climbing and mountain biking. Tourists take advantage of the warm weather this time of year by visiting the National Parks when the snow has completely faded, making excursions much easier for the whole family.
Slow Seasons: As expected, Spring and Fall tend to be the slowest seasons in Colorado, mainly due to the shifts in weather from the drastic chill of winter to the hottest days of summer. There aren’t a lot of tourists visiting in April and May or September and October, which have their pros and cons.
The down side to visiting in these months is that hotels and restaurants tend to close during their slowest periods and the weather can prevent certain outdoor activities, which Colorado is popular for. On the bright side, Colorado doesn’t have a lot of bad weather days, which can make an outdoor adventure in an historic small town much more enjoyable with lower rates.
The Best Season to Visit Colorado
Colorado is best known as a ski destination, with that perfect powdery snow that the state is known for. We highly suggest a trip in the winter months, especially in late February or early March when the snow is in absolutely perfect condition for skiing.
February is considered peak ski season, so crowds and pricing may be maxed out in this month, but you’ll understand why when you experience the weather on your trip. If you’re a ski guru or have a fondness for winter sports in general – like snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or even HeliSkiing – February is the best month for you.
If you’re more of a casual skier and would rather not be competing with crowds for the slopes, or perhaps you want to travel with your family, Spring Break time in March is the optimal time to go. Early weeks in March have the nice packed in snow topped with fresh powder for skiing with ease. If you go later in March, however, snowmelt may begin to occur at some ski resorts.
Now that you have the info on each season in Colorado, take a look at the breakdown for each month to help you determine which time of year is best for you. Each month in Colorado has slight changes from the other, so we covered these in short detail from month to month.
Colorado in January
January in Colorado is cold and snowy, often seeing some of the highest snowfall across the state. Most of the state will have a nice blanket of snow, with the deepest snow seen at the highest altitudes. The average highs for the month of January will typically be in the mid 40’s°F (6.7°C) and lows will drop to the high teens about 17°F (-8.3°C) at night. Some of the high altitude locations will see lows around 0°F (-17°C).
January is an ideal month for those who are comfortable with mid-range rates for hotel and resort stays in Colorado. Since Christmas is over and there’s a short lull before the height of ski season, travel prices will be a little lower. This makes it an optimal time for taking a less crowded vacation in most Colorado cities, though the ski towns may be buzzing.
Best Activities in January: Skiing, Snowmobiling, Sledding & Tubing, Ice Climbing, Fat Biking, Sleigh Rides, Backcountry Skiing, Snowshoeing, Horseback Riding, Ice Skating, Dog Sledding, Nordic Skiing and HeliSkiing.
Events in January: Steamboat MusicFest, Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships, Winter X Games, Winterskol, Estes Park Winter Festival, Ouray Ice Festival, Rio Frio Ice Fest
Colorado in February
February in Colorado has great mid-Winter snow, creating the perfect cushion for snow sports. Snow covers every mountain, tree and meadow across the state. The air is cool and dry and there is a good balance between cloudy days and sunnier days. The average daily highs will be around the mid 40’s°F (7°C) in most parts of the state and average lows will in the high teens, about 17°F (-8°C). However, it’s not unlikely that you’ll see a few colder days slip in depending on the weather that year.
February is considered the height of peak ski season in Colorado; there will be lots of skiers coming in for the fresh and set in powder Colorado is known for. This is an ideal month for those who are in for the action and energy of ski season in Colorado.
Best Activities in February: Skiing, Snowmobiling, Sledding & Tubing, Ice Climbing, Ice Skating, Horseback Riding, Fat Biking, Sleigh Rides, Backcountry Skiing, Snowshoeing, Dog Sledding, Nordic Skiing and HeliSkiing.
Events in February: Steamboat Winter Carnival, Durango Snowdown, Cripple Creek Ice Fest, Denver Restaurant Week
Colorado in March
Colorado weather in March is known for having the most “bluebird sky” days, with the sun shining on the cold snowy mountains. However, snowmelt will begin to happen in the lower parts of the valleys and lower altitude cities. The average daily highs will be around the mid 50’s°F (10°C) in most parts of the state and average lows will in the low 30’s°F (-1°C).
Late March is one of the more relaxed times to visit, as some of the ski crowds have left, and lodging is more available than in peak ski season. However, lodging rates tend to stay higher through March since the snow is ideal and many travelers are vacationing for Spring Break.
Best Activities in March: Skiing, Nordic Skiing, Sledding & Tubing, Snow Shoeing, Dog Sledding, Horseback Riding, Ice Climbing, Ice Skating, Fat Biking, Sleigh Rides, Backcountry Skiing, Snowmobiling and HeliSkiing.
Events in March: Bud Light Rocks the Boat, Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Colorado Springs St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Colorado in April
April in Colorado is cool and beginning to warm with frequent rainfall and some snowfall throughout the month. Depending on your destination, the temperatures, climate and general conditions may vary. But for the most part, expect highs in the mid 60’s°F (15°C) and lows in the 40’s°F (4°C).
Most of the ski resorts shutter their doors to the mountains this month, though a few ski areas around the state will remain open through late Spring. Since April begins the slow season, some of the hotels and lodging options will be closed in latter April, as the locals take a deserved break after all the activity of ski season and leave town.
Best Activities in April: ATVing, Ballooning, Boating, Camping, Cross-Country Skiing, Fishing, Golfing, Paragliding, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Hunting, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Sight-seeing, Water Skiing and Ziplining. (Skiing for one to two weeks).
Events in April: AspenFilm Shorts Fest, Taste of Vail
Colorado in May
May in Colorado has mild temperatures, with very low chance of snow flurries and a decent amount of rainfall. Spring is fully underway, melting the snow at the center and lower areas of the mountain ranges, creating muddy areas along trails and pathways. May is mud season and slow season at the same time; it’s also the start of river rafting for the Summer.
Expect average highs to reach around 70°F (21°C) and average lows to be in the low 40’s°F (4°C); higher altitudes can reach lows close to the high 20’s°F (-6°C) depending on the day. But generally, mild days and cool evenings are to be expected in most cities around Colorado in the month of May. May is the calm before the storm of Summer crowds start to roll in.
Best Activities in May: ATVing, Ballooning, Boating, Camping, Canoeing, Fishing, Golfing, Paragliding, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Hunting, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Water Skiing, Water Rafting, and Ziplining.
Events in May: Denver Pop Culture Con, Durango Wine Experience, Junior College World Series, MountainFilm
Colorado in June
June in Colorado is starting to warm up. The average highs will be around the low 80’s°F (27°C) and average lows are in the low 50’s°F (10°C). Typically the highest temps will be seen around the afternoon and the cooler temps will come through the night. The sun can be very intense at midday, so it’s highly recommended that you not only dress appropriately.
In June, the snow is gone in all lower altitude parts of the state and most of the muddy areas from the Spring snowmelt have dried up. This month will also see minimal rainfall, making your vacation warm and dry. June is a popular month and lodging rates will be higher than in April and May. This is an ideal month for those who look for energetic vacations with bustling crowds and warmer weather.
Best Activities in June: ATVing, Ballooning, Boating, Camping, Canoeing, Fishing, Golfing, Paragliding, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Hunting, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Water Skiing, Water Rafting, and Ziplining.
Events in June: GoPro Mountain Games, Telluride Balloon Festival, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Colorado Renaissance Festival, Greeley Stampede
Colorado in July
July in Colorado is consistently the hottest month of the year in Colorado, especially in the capitol city of Denver. Tourists typically like to take advantage of the Summer outdoor activities like hiking, biking and camping, where the mountain ranges will have some cooler temperatures than the low, flat parts of the state.
The average highs in July are in the high 80’s°F(31°C) and nights cool down to around the high 50’s°F(15°C). In addition to the heat, July is also considered the rainiest months of the year. July is the height of the Summer season and one of the busiest of the year. As a matter of fact, it’s consistently marked as the busiest month of the year, even over ski season crowds.
Best Activities in July: ATVing, Ballooning, Boating, Camping, Canoeing, Fishing, Golfing, Paragliding, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Hunting, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Water Skiing, Water Rafting, and Ziplining.
Events in July: Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Colorado Renaissance Festival, Hudson Gardens Summer Concert Series, Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series, Bravo! Vail Music Festival, Colorado Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, Central City Opera Festival
Colorado in August
August in Colorado is hot, dry and sometimes rainy. During the day, most locations will experience highs of around 85°F (29°C) and nightly lows in the high 50’s°F (10°C). As September approaches, the long summer days begin to fade away and the daylight hours may shorten slightly throughout the month. Rainfall is expected throughout August, and can come randomly throughout your trip, though most thunderstorms won’t see more than 1″ of rain.
August is not quite as popular as July, since schools are coming back in session and tourist numbers begin to fall. Since there is a little drop off in numbers, lodging rates tend to drop slightly, as well. August is an ideal month for those who want to take advantage of the last heat of the summer with lower crowd volumes.
Best Activities in August: ATVing, Ballooning, Boating, Camping, Canoeing, Fishing, Golfing, Paragliding, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Hunting, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Water Skiing, Water Rafting, and Ziplining.
Events in August: Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Hudson Gardens Summer Concert Series, Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series, Western Welcome Week, Boulder International Fringe Festival, Colorado State Fair
Colorado in September
September in Colorado marks the beginning of the Fall season, introducing the beautiful autumn colors throughout the landscape. If your goal was to experience Fall to the fullest, a trip to Colorado in late September will be your best bet for cooler temperatures and great Autumn scenery.
Average daily high temperatures in September can range from 74°F (23°C) to 81°F (27°C) throughout the day and reach lows in the high 40’s°F (8°C) at night. Rainfall may still be high for some areas around the state and snowfall is not highly unlikely as it was in the Summer months. Crowds are definitely starting to slow as season shifts from Summer to Autumn.
Best Activities in September: ATVing, Ballooning, Boating, Camping, Canoeing, Fishing, Golfing, Paragliding, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Hunting, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Water Skiing, Water Rafting, and Ziplining.
Events in September: Colorado State Fair, Keystone Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest Denver, Mountain Harvest Festival, Local Corn Mazes and Fall Festivals
Colorado in October
October in Colorado is beautifully clear and dry with occasional rain and snow. Average high temperatures tend to be in the low 70’s°F (21°C) and average low temperatures hover around 45°F (7°C). You’ll typically see the highest temps in the afternoon with the nights always cooling off throughout your trip.
One of the most notable things about going to Colorado in October is the scenic Fall beauty. Visitors will revel in the brilliant Autumn foliage that blankets the state at this time, with the most vibrant colors showcased at the beginning of the month and fading colors toward the end. Either way, October is a perfect time for gorgeous pictures. October is an ideal month for those who want to get the ultimate relaxation experience before the snows become heavy and the ski crowds pour in.
Best Activities in October: ATVing, Camping, Canoeing, Fishing, Golfing, Paragliding, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Hunting, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, and Ziplining.
Events in October: Maize in the City, Haunted Field of Screams, Boo at the Zoo, Elitch Gardens Fright Fest, Glow in the Gardens, Local Corn Mazes and Fall Festivals
Colorado in November
November in Colorado is starting to get chilly, seeing average daily highs in the high 50’s°F (13°C) and average daily lows in the high 30’s°F (3°C) across the state. Rain is coming to a stop as the snow takes over, with rolling storms coming in sporadically. Clouds will begin to blanket Colorado, with early November seeing clearer days and late November experiencing very foggy days with low cloud cover.
The spectacular fall foliage has fallen from the trees, and ski season is about to begin at the end of the month once the snow has started to pack in. Usually ski season begins on Thanksgiving Day, though some resorts will open earlier due to great snow conditions. Lodging rates tend to be lower for the holidays, which is unexpected for most destinations.
Best Activities in November: ATVing, Camping, Canoeing, Cross-Country Skiing, Dogsledding, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Hunting, Ice Climbing, Ice Skating, Mountain Biking, Sledding and Tubing, Sleigh Rides, Sight-seeing, Snowmobiling, Snowshoeing and Ziplining.
Events in November: Colorado Country Christmas Gift Show, Denver Christkindl Market, Blossoms of Light, Small Business Saturday, “Fresh Air Friday” (free days at State Parks) and Thanksgiving Day (Opening Day for Ski Season)
Colorado in December
December in Colorado is considered Denver’s coldest month, while the cool temps are just starting to drop in other regions of the state. The average daily highs are around 43°F (6°C) and the lows drop to 17°F (-8°C) in the evening. December doesn’t bring much rain, rather there will be decent snowfall throughout the month, blanketing almost every inch of the state in fresh, dry powder.
December is one of the more exciting months to visit, and lodging is more affordable than in peak ski season. Lodging rates tend to be lower for the holidays, which is unexpected for most destinations. This is a perfect time to vacation for the holidays, experience the start of ski season and score more favorable traveling rates for hotels, but not necessarily flights.
Best Activities in December: Skiing, Sledding & Tubing, Ice Skating, Dog Sledding, Ice Climbing, Hiking, Off-Roading, Snowmobiling, Backcountry Skiing, Horseback Riding, Sleigh Rides, Fat Biking, Snow Shoeing, Nordic Skiing and HeliSkiing
Events in December: Denver Christkindl Market, Georgetown Christmas Market, Dillon Ice Castles, 12 Days of Aspen
We are most partial to the winter months in the Colorado mountains and love the ski towns in early March when the snow is perfect and the ski crowds are beginning to fade. If you appreciate a nice ski trip like us, March is our best recommendation for a great time in Colorado.
Ultimately, you as the visitor determine what the best time of year is for going to Colorado. The Centennial State has so many different opportunities available all throughout the year, giving you a big range of choices for your own vacation. Whether you’re experiencing the modern luxuries of upscale lodging of Boulder or the capitol city of Denver, or trailblazing the mountainside of Rocky Mountain National Park or Pike’s Peak, each trip is sure to be an adventure of a lifetime.