Considering a trip to Colorado in November and need some help? We’ve got you covered!
November in Colorado brings weather that trades Autumn’s fall foliage for Winter’s snowy mountains. The Thanksgiving Holiday can be celebrated in lots of different towns, with holiday decor and restaurant specials offered. Late November is typically the start of the ski season for some resorts.
Colorado in November is an autumn dream; filled with beautiful fall foliage, colder weather and the anticipation of the holiday season. November is a perfect time for travelers who are looking to spend less on their vacation and participate in some of the cold weather events before the Winter crowds come. It’s also a great time for those looking to have a very relaxing trip in the Rockies.
Whether your goal is to hit the early-season ski slopes or simply savor the final days of fall, this comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip.
This article is part of Roundtript’s series of expert Colorado travel guides for every month of the year.
Spring in Colorado
Summer in Colorado
Fall in Colorado
Winter in Colorado
For a summary of each Colorado month & season all in one place, check out our big guide to the Best Times of the Year to Visit Colorado.
Colorado Weather in November
Colorado Weather in November starts 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. Most higher altitude locations will have significantly lower temperatures than low altitude locations. It’s best to prepare your wardrobe like you would in the Winter months, with some lighter layers for random warmer days.
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 winds also begin to pick up in this month, though they won’t reach their full power till January.
No matter the time of year, altitude will always be a factor when traveling to Colorado. Some towns like Alma have an elevation of 10,300′ and others like Wray have an elevation of over 3,000′. As a matter of fact, altitude sickness affects nearly 10% of all visitors. You can prepare your body by eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, sleeping well, resting frequently and avoiding alcohol.
Colorado Affordability & Crowds in November
Colorado crowd levels in November come to one of the lowest points in the year. Though the holiday season is quickly approaching, this month has the lowest attendance for the Fall season. Cities across Colorado will experience this decrease in visitors, making it an optimal time to get some last minute hiking or first time skiing in before the weather gets cold and the crowds roll in.
Hotel rates will vary by city, with most ski towns offering a wide range of rates, small towns being the cheapest and the capitol city of Denver averaging around $150 – $200 per night for the best hotels. Booking hotels, restaurant reservations, excursions and tours will be pretty easy this month, although some of the smaller towns could have hotel and restaurant closures before the ski season begins.
Colorado Snow & Skiing in November
Colorado snowfall in November becomes heavier and more prevalent, bringing ski runs their best conditions since Spring. Some areas will definitely see more snowfall than others, especially if they are located at higher altitudes. Since snowfall can be sporadic, so most ski runs will be making snow to accommodate guests.
Most ski resorts will begin to open this month, usually after Thanksgiving. The best part about coming in November is that there will be fewer people on the lifts and the runs, even though some lifts and runs may be closed at this time. Ski passes will also be discounted in some areas, making your trip a little cheaper than peak season.
Best Colorado Ski Resorts in November
Arapahoe Basin & Loveland
Both of these excellent ski areas are located in Dillon, CO in the Arapaho National Forest. Both are more suitable for a quick casual ski trip where you aren’t in it for frills or expensive meals. Expect to stay outside of the area and travel in to ski each day. In November, the snow on the ground might be lighter at the beginning of the month and thicker at the end of the month.
Loveland has 1,800 acres of skiable terrain and a summit elevation of 13,010′. It’s said to be one of the best places for guaranteed snow early in the Fall season. They have great options for beginners and experienced skiers with both the Valley and Basin ski areas.
The Valley has it’s own lifts for novice skiers and offers a safe space for practice, while the Basin has wide open runs, steep drops and exhilarating trails. There are also On-Mountain Cabins available for rent, an on-mountain restaurant and a child care facility at the base.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is highly regarded as one of the best places to ski year round. Arapahoe Basin offers the ultimate Rocky Mountain experience with some of the lowest crowds and most incredible landscape views. It’s equipped with 1,428 skiable acres with a summit elevation of 13,050′. It’s appropriately nicknamed “the Legend” for it’s epic terrain that appeals best to intermediate and advanced level skiers.
Keystone is located in the high country of Colorado and is often one of the first resorts to open each ski season. Most years, Keystone will open in late October, but they wait some years until November if snowfall comes late. The resort comes with six different areas for expert jumps, moguls and rails with a summit of 11,980′. Skiers of all levels will find a sweet spot inside the 3,180 acres of terrain at this resort.
Breckenridge Ski Resort boasts one of Colorado’s biggest ski areas with 2,908 acres of skiable terrain, a summit elevation of 12,998′, and the longest run at 3.5 miles long (most resorts have 2 mile long runs). There are suitable runs for all levels of skiers, including a 3,398 vertical drop, a 22′ superpipe and 187 different trails to experience.
The ski season at Breckenridge usually begins in early November. November is the optimal time to go before the crowds pour in, since Breckenridge is one of the most visited ski resorts in the state. With 11 on-mountain restaurants to choose from, the Gold Runner Alpine Coaster and over 150 boutiques in the shopping area, there’s plenty of entertainment to fuel your vacation.
Vail is considered one of the classiest, most upscale ski resorts in Colorado, drawing thousands from all over the world to it’s beautiful slopes. The ski season in Vail usually begins in the middle of November when the snows have had time to build up on the mountain. It’s got an 11,250′ summit with over 5,000 acres of skiable terrain.
Vail is one of the best places for both skiers and non-skiers to enjoy. Skiers will love the various terrain that accommodates all levels, as well as the 7 miles of back bowls to explore. Non-skiers will appreciate the two main base areas with heated walkways, excellent shopping and dining options, along with beautiful luxury resort accommodations.
Steamboat Resort is one of the best family-friendly vacation destinations in Colorado. There’s so much for parents with kids to enjoy, ski classes for beginners and lots of greens for young skiers. The ski season also opens mid-November and draws visitors of all ages and abilities to it’s nearly 3,000 acres of skiable terrain.
Beginners will have fun on the open green runs at the top of the summit, with an elevation of 10,568′, which features smooth terrain and intermediate tree runs for more adventurous types. Expert level skiers will appreciate the bump runs with moguls and many blue-black slopes on the mountain. The resort is often referred to as “Ski Town, USA” as there are many Olympians that practice here during the ski season.
Beaver Creek is essentially an offshoot of Vail and is considered a luxurious ski resort on it’s own. Beaver Creak is built for vacationers who love to ski but enjoy loads of entertainment, dining experiences and other excursions throughout their trip. The last week of November is opening time for Beaver Creek. This month is great not only for good snow conditions, but also for lower crowds and subsequently lower rates.
It’s got 1,815 skiable acres with a summit elevation of 11,440′. There are also plenty of ski-in/ski-out homes and base camp hotels to choose from. Beaver Creek Ski Resort is equipped with four different village areas with their own lodging, restaurants and shopping districts, giving visitors lots of options for a stellar ski vacation.
Crested Butte is a little more secluded and best for expert skiers. The main town is nothing fancy, but will have fun activities and great recreation and amenities throughout the year, located three miles from the ski resort. The ski season opens around Thanksgiving Day most years. This small town provides vacationers with good lodging options and a host of eateries.
Best Things to Do in Colorado in November
Below are some of the best places to visit in the month of November. In addition to these places, other Fall activities available this time of year include ATVing, apple picking, camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing, sight-seeing, spa retreats and ziplining.
November Holiday Towns
Breckenridge is obviously a top-tier ski destination, but (while the skiing is good and the slopes are less crowded in November) there’s such much more to enjoy. There’s no better time to take advantage of the low crowds, so get into the historical sites and museums while you can.
The ski town also offers a Breckenridge Dining Passport at the Welcome Center that will get you discounts at select restaurants, and bars will also offer specials throughout the month. There are also many guided hikes and tours led by experts who will take you through scenic walks or historic areas.
Steamboat has lots to offer guests during the month of November. It’s ski slopes are open and the town is filled with festivities. This is the ultimate time for relaxation in Steamboat Springs, while the crowds are low and the Winter chill is blowing in. Strawberry Hot Springs may still be accessible at this point, but if not the Old Town Hot Springs will be a great place for the entire family.
Thanksgiving is made extremely special and easy with Moving Mountains chefs’ Luxury Catered Chalet package. It makes the entire day a breeze, so you and your family can have the most outstanding holiday experience imaginable. Saddleback Ranch also has a Dining Sleigh Ride (not necessarily available Thanksgiving Day) but it’s a very unique experience for families to enjoy together.
Telluride has a fun Thanksgiving Day (opening ski season) for residents and visitors to enjoy. The ski runs will open first thing in the morning and skiers and snowboarders will line up early to be the first ones on the mountain. After they tire toward mid-afternoon, they’ll come back down the mountain for apres ski at favorite local spots like Tomboy Tavern in Mountain Village. In addition to apres ski, several restaurants are open for Thanksgiving dinner, including Allred’s Restaurant and The View Bar and Grill – both of which have amazing scenic views and a full menu of Thanksgiving dishes.
Visit Glenwood Springs
There’s no better month than November to have a relaxing holiday in Colorado and Glenwood Springs blows other towns out of the water. Glenwood is a very hospitable town that makes a perfect base for your vacation. A stay in Glenwood Springs gives you access not only to it’s own amenities, but also to neighboring Aspen where you can easily drive to experience the ski town or hike Maroon Bells for the day.
Glenwood Hot Springs Resort is home to one of the largest natural hot springs on earth. This is a popular destination with Summer tourists, so November visitors will love the hot springs without the crowd. The springs sit between neighboring Lookout Mountain and Red Mountain, creating a gorgeous view. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is another great place to visit for the cave tours, or to catch live music and drink specials on the weekends.
Thanksgiving Day in Glenwood is a truly special time. The day is essentially the beginning of the Christmas season for the town and there are all-day festivities, including a Holiday Lighting & Wine Walk. The Hotel Colorado has a Christmas lighting ceremony with a fireworks display, there are free alcoholic beverage tastings featuring local wineries and distilleries, and kids can even meet Santa!
The Mile High City is best known for being the capital of Colorado; a true metropolis that began humbly as a frontier town that boomed in the Gold Rush. If you’re not looking to hike, climb or bike your way through the mountains, Denver is a great place to be in November before the Winter crowd comes in.
In November, there are many free days at the local museums and attractions. First Saturdays are free at Denver Art Museum and Veteran’s Day is free at Denver Botanical Gardens. Check the calendar at both Denver Zoo and the Denver Children’s Museum as one or two random days will be free to visitors in November.
There are many other things to do and experience in Denver, like the historic tours and Old West attractions. In addition to the many attractions all over the city, like Denver Union Station and other historical sites (a lot of these experiences are included in the $30 Mile High Culture Pass – three days of admission and discounts on transportation), you can easily escape to more secluded areas right outside the capitol – like Red Rocks Park or Dinosaur Ridge.
Free Days at National Parks and State Parks
Veteran’s Day is free at all the National Parks across the state of Colorado. This is a great time to plan a day of sightseeing and hiking at one of these beloved parks before the Winter blows over the mountain ranges, making the journey a little too cold for hiking.
Rocky Mountain National Park is best for hiking and seeing possible elk and bighorn sheep that are coming down the mountain before Winter. If you feel a hiking excursion may be too cold in November, you can experience the full glory of the Rockies from your car while driving on Trail Ridge Road, if it’s still open. For the true western experience, try out one of the Horseback Riding excursions, led by trained horsemen who guide you through the National Park’s lower regions.
Mesa Verde National Park is the perfect destination for hiking enthusiasts and athletes who love a challenge. The National Park is filled with over 600 cliff-dwellings dating back to 600AD and has some of the most well-preserved archeological sites in the country. Not only will you get an educational history lesson of the area, you’ll get a serious workout just trying to get to these sites.
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is considered Colorado’s least visited National Park, therefore crowd levels should never be a problem when visiting any time of year. But what makes November such a great month to go is the crisp Fall weather. There are many activities to take part in while visiting, including hiking, fishing, stargazing and even skiing later in the season.
Great Sand Dunes is the ultimate outdoor adventure that thrill-seekers can take part in. This unique stretch of landscape in southern Colorado offers hiking, fat biking, sand sledding, camping and horseback riding, just to name a few. Though it’s open year-round, November is an ideal month to visit the Dunes for some of the lowest crowds. At night, the Dunes come to life with a brilliant starry sky. You can see the Milky Way, the bright Moon and even planets very clearly. You’re also encouraged to take nighttime walks, but use extreme precaution to find your way back.
Black Friday, or “Fresh Air Friday”
Colorado State Parks host visitors for free the day after Thanksgiving. Traditionally, Black Friday is a high-energy spending spree across the United States. The state parks determined one of the best ways to promote relaxation after our annual day of gratitude was to open these beautiful areas to the public for free.
The state parks have a lot of the same experiences available that the national parks have, but usually on a smaller scale. Some of the most popular activities in the state parks include hunting and fishing, hiking and biking, camping, boating and wildlife viewing.
Scenic Drives on Colorado Highways and Byways
Colorado is home to 26 scenic highways and byways all over the state, so there’s no shortage of drives you can take wherever your vacation takes you. November is considered the last month of the year to get your scenic drive in before the snow makes these roads difficult to pass. Below we’ve listed some of the most popular drives for tourists.
San Juan Skyway is a long nationally known driving loop located near Telluride. There’s a smaller drive on the beautifully scenic road called the “Million Dollar Highway”. Built in the 1880s, the Million Dollar Highway is one of the state’s most spectacular drives as the highway was cut into the side of the mountain range. The complete San Juan Skyway drive is a 235 mile loop that travels through some of the most lovely views in Colorado.
Trail Ridge Road is located near Estes Park, taking you through the gorgeous Rocky Mountain National Park. You can experience the full glory of the Rockies from your car while driving on Trail Ridge Road and get gorgeous pictures with sweeping vistas. Along the way you may find fall-colored alpines forests, herds of elk or bighorn sheep and steep cliffs.
Guanella Pass Scenic Byway is connected to the Front Range town of Georgetown. It’s got breathtaking views of the alpine forests, lush lowlands, steep divides and bubbling creeks. Since the pass grazes over the treeline, drivers can often get a 360 degree view of the Colorado mountains.
Peak to Peak Highway is another drive from Estes Park, near Trail Ridge Road, giving you a serene view of the Continential Divide. Residents suggest going early in the day for less traffic and a fair share of wildlife sightings. It also travels through old ghost towns with old clapboard siding and Victorian-era design.
November Events in Colorado
There are many events to experience in Colorado all throughout the year. November’s most notable holiday is Thanksgiving, and many cities in Colorado will be hosting events for the holiday with anticipation for the Christmas season. Below we’ve listed the biggest and most popular long term events that appeal to most travelers in November.
All Colorado Beer Festival
The All Colorado Beer Festival is held annually in the Chapel Hills Mall of Colorado Springs. It’s a nonprofit event that raises money for Colorado Springs organizations and is open to the public. It features local brewers and distillers who serve up special drinks and old favorites for guests in attendance.
Colorado Country Christmas Gift Show
The Country Christmas Gift Show is an annual event for shoppers looking to secure all items for their Christmas gift lists. It showcases many local boutiques, shops and craftsmen who offer unique gifts for the season. The first weekend of this event is held in Denver and the second is in Colorado Springs.
Denver Christkindl Market
This artisan marketplace replicates the grand Christmas markets of Europe. Taking inspiration from Germany and other markets around the continent, the Denver Christkinkl Market is a fun experience for families. It starts before Thanksgiving and runs up until Christmas Eve, offering European Christmas goodies and drinks, as well as handcrafted gift items for purchase.
Blossoms of Light
Denver Botanic Gardens hosts the Blossoms of Light beginning every late November and running through the holiday season. The gardens are aglow with twinkling lights and extravagant decorations, creating a glowing winter wonderland. The event is made complete with sips of Holiday tea and drinks, along with other goodies to snack on while touring the gardens.
Small Business Satuday
The Saturday after Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday around the entire country. Colorado cities and towns will be celebrating this day with local shops, artisans, farmer’s markets and boutiques staying open for longer hours to serve faithful patrons.
Colorado in November: Week by Week
The first week of November in Colorado won’t vary too much from the last week of October. The weather will be cool, with the chilliest temps coming in the late evening. Prepare to bundle up, but dress in layers as the days can still be a little warmer this late in the Autumn season.
Skiers can take to the slopes in a few of the open resorts this week, including Arapahoe Basin, Loveland and Keystone. The snows have fallen enough in these areas to create a good cushion for your backcountry and downhill skiing fun.
All Colorado Beer Festival is also happening this week in Colorado Springs. Guests can partake in local craft brews and taste samples from wineries and distilleries from around the region. The first weekend of the Country Christmas Market is taking place in Denver this week.
The second week in November is usually starting to see a downturn in temperatures in most parts of the state. Colorado’s high altitude areas will obviously experience the coldest weather at any given time of the year, but will make for great snowfall in mid-November.
Skiers can now access the slopes in Breckenridge and Vail, taking advantage of the early seasons at these popular resorts. It’s a great time for beginners to test the runs before the crowds come in, often having the slopes to themselves this early in the ski season. Pricing at these resorts will also be lower for lift tickets and hotel stays.
Country Christmas Market is going on in Colorado Springs for tit’s second and final weekend of the year.
The third week of November in Colorado is often Thanksgiving week, with festivities going on in all parts of the state. The best places to be this week are generally in the most festive towns of Breckenridge, Steamboat and Telluride. Visitors will enjoy the Fall season, along with several Thanksgiving themed events.
This also marks the beginning of the ski season for Steamboat Springs, Beaver Creek and Crested Butte. Skiers will love the open slopes with minimal crowds this time of year, experiencing the first snows of the season with little contest.
After Thanksgiving, the state parks are free to the public for their Fresh Air Friday (taking place of Black Friday). Small Business Saturday is also being celebrated across the state in every city, with discounts on shopping at local stores and boutiques. Denver Christkindl Market has also begun and will run up until Christmas Eve.
The fourth week of November in Colorado is Thanksgiving week some years when it doesn’t fall on the third week. The travel rates and crowds are still low through the end of November, so most travelers will enjoy the budget-friendly trips they can take at this time.
By this last week of November, all of the ski resorts have opened for skiers to come enjoy the runs. The snows have fallen a decent bit across all of Colorado, making it a great time to experience the powdery slopes before the ski crowds begin rolling in for the Winter.
Blossoms of Light is going on at Denver Botanical Gardens this week, running through the holiday season. It hosts many guests for this nighttime event, where you’ll see the gardens lit up by Christmas lights with a unique display of colors and shapes.
Taking a trip to Colorado in November, especially Thanksgiving week, has so many perks. Not only to you get the benefit of selecting a wide range of options for your Thanksgiving holiday, but you also have plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy on your vacation.
November in Colorado is perfect for those looking to save some money on traveling and hotel rates, while avoiding the big crowds and getting in on some of the first skiing action of the year. It’s also a nice time to get in some much needed rest and relaxation while leisurely experiencing some of Colorado’s best attractions during the off-season.