Considering a trip to Colorado in October and need some help? We’ve got you covered!
October in Colorado is a picture of autumn splendor, with rich oranges, reds and yellows on the mountains and in the valleys. It’s a great time to travel on a smaller budget and experience cooler weather while hiking, camping or sightseeing before the snows begin to fall in Winter.
October is without a doubt the epitome of the Fall season in Colorado. The weather is cool, clear and dry and the trees are bursting with red, orange and yellow colored leaves. Visitors will love the full splendor of Autumn, as well as the many activities going on throughout the state this month.
One of the best things about visiting in October is the fact that there aren’t a whole lot of other travelers competing for hotels, restaurants and excursion reservations, so your trip should be much easier to book at this time.
If you’ve been wanting to see Colorado in the Fall, October is going to be the perfect month to experience it before the Winter chill comes in. This guide will cover the in’s and out’s to help you 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 October
October weather 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.
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 October
Colorado crowd levels in October can vary, but generally the entire Fall season has low tourist numbers as it’s considered an “in-between” season for the state. Colorado thrives on the Summer visitors and Winter skiers, so Spring and Fall will usually have lower crowds.
Since it is considered off-season, low attendance could affect the hotel and travel rates positively, giving you better options for your stay. Restaurants and excursions will be significantly less crowded, though Fall festivals and Halloween events may get packed out. October is a great time to be in Colorado if you want to save some money on your trip.
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 – $250 per night for the best hotels.
Colorado Snow & Skiing in October
Colorado snowfall in October is not heavy and has not yet covered all the runs in order for skiing conditions to be ideal. Some areas will definitely see more snowfall than others, especially if they are located at higher altitudes. Therefore, you can’t completely rule skiing out of your trip, but there will only be a select few places with enough snowfall to open up for skiers.
Skiing is not going to be very good in most parts of the state and the most popular resorts won’t be opening back up until late November. Despite this, there are a few more natural areas where avid skiers can have a thrilling time in October.
Best Colorado Ski Resorts in October
Arapahoe Basin & Loveland
Both of these excellent ski areas are located in Dillon, CO in the Arapaho National Forest. They’re ideal for a casual ski trip for expert skiers who don’t require the comfort of a big ski town and are comfortable finding the good ski runs. During October, the amount of snow on the ground will be fairly limited.
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. Keystone usually opens in October, but will have a varying timeline each year depending on their snowfall that season. 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 here.
Best Things to Do in Colorado in October
Below are some of the best places to visit in the month of October. 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.
Ride Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
Located in Antonito, CO, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is absolutely gorgeous in early October. This narrrow-gauge railway ride offers multiple tours throughout the month, traveling from Osier, CO. You’ll have the opportunity to see the trees in their full Fall color at the beginning of the month, with the colors fading and falling in the later weeks.
This National Historic Landmark is considered one of the most scenic train experiences you’ll ever climb aboard. The ride through the Rocky Mountains is intended to take you back to the height of train transportation in the American West, with a lunch included in the trip. Along the way, you’ll get gorgeous views of mountain terrain, desert lands and extensive meadows.
The trip takes a full day to complete, hiking through 64 miles of Colorado’s picturesque scenery. But those who’ve ridden say it’s the best American train experience they’ve had and are eager to return.
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 October when the crowds have left and travel rates have dropped.
In October, there are lots of events going on in celebration of the Fall season leading up to Halloween. Some of our favorites include Denver Zoo’s Boo at the Zoo for families looking to celebrate Halloween in a not-so-scary way. Others are more geared towards adults like Denver Botanical Gardens’ Glow in the Gardens night events.
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.
There are also a fair share of free things you can do in and around Denver. Some great suggestions include the driving to see Red Rocks Park or Dinosaur Ridge, about an hour outside the city. You can also take a scenic drive through the Rockies in full Fall color on the Lariat Loop, Guanella Pass Scenic Byway or Peak to Peak Highway.
Experience Estes Park
A short trip outside Denver will drop you off near Rocky Mountain National Park and the town of Estes Park. While Estes Park isn’t necessarily considered it’s own week-long trip destination, it’s got lots of great things to accomplish in October and during the Fall season.
Rocky Mountain National Park is easily accessible from the town of Estes Park. If you feel a hiking excursion may be too cold in October, 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. 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.
Elk Fest is going on in town at the beginning of October, celebrating the annual elk rut. Attendees can participate in a photo hunt challenge, as well as the bugling competition for the best manmade elk call. The popular Peak to Peak Highway and Scenic Byway mentioned above is another great opportunity to getting out to see explore the mountainside from your vehicle.
Tour Canon City
Canon City is a small, historic town not far from Pike National Forest and the famous pink and orange granite Pike’s Peak. Also in driving distance is Manitou Springs’ drawing tourists to its cave dwellings and Miramont Castle Museum, and the town of Cripple Creek featuring the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine.
Canon City is a beautiful destination in October; as with most Colorado cities this time of year, it’s blooming with Fall glory. Visitors come from miles around to see their Colon Orchards Corn Maze this month, as well as Diana’s Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze. Definitely plan on making a trip to Pike National Forest, home to over one million acres of beautifully preserved aspen forests, streams and mountain areas.
Visitors can hike many of the intermediate trails that leads to Manitou Park, picnic by the lake and drive along any of the scenic roads. Hiking up to Pike’s Peak can be challenging in October, but a good alternative would be to climb to Devil’s Head Lookout which ends with a beautiful view of the forest valley from the service tower.
Another attraction in Canon City is the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Tourists can walk the highest suspension bridge in North America and get some of the most stunning photographs you could possibly get on a trip to Colorado. If walking the bridge is too daring for everyone in your party, try the scenic gondola instead.
The town of Gunnison is another gem hidden in the Colorado countryside. It’s loaded with beautifully aspens that glow brilliantly with Autumn coloring this time of year. All across the terrain you’ll find trees, bushes and meadows coming to life with beautiful oranges, reds and yellows. This is a destination for the truly adventurous as the town doesn’t have a lot of attractions outside of exploring the rocky terrain on foot, bike or horseback.
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 October such a great month to go is the crisp Fall weather. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is truly a sight to behold, made of strikingly dark Precambrian rock.
There are many activities to take part in while visiting, including hiking, fishing, stargazing and even skiing later in the season. Hiking and fishing along the Gunnison River are particularly great activities for all types of vacationers. We’d recommend adding the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to your vacation plans during the week, but not necessarily making it your full vacation – unless you plan only to visit for a weekend.
Hit the Trails in Fruita
Mountain bikers and biking enthusiasts – or casual bikers who want a fun experience – will really love the terrain near Fruita, CO. This area in particular has some of the best trails that you can bike through and September through November will give you that great cool Fall weather, leaving Summer temperatures in the dust.
The desert-like terrain makes for a unique series of trails you can experience along the mountain ridges, cliff ledges and valleys. Most notable are the 18 Road Trails, offering some of the most expansive scenery and considered the best all around. There is also Kokopelli Loops (beautiful scenery and long, multi-day singletrack trails), Lunch Loop Trails (steep, rocky expert terrain) and Rabbit Valley (6 miles of fast, scenic trails).
You can hit the trails on your own self-guided tour or book a tour with the local outfitters. Lodging is available through home rentals and offsite hotels, but to experience all that the great outdoors has to offer, we suggest reserving a camping spot at Highline State Park.
Visit Glenwood Springs
Glenwood Springs 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 September visitors will revel in the hot springs without the crowd. The springs sit between neighboring Lookout Mountain and Red Mountain, creating a gorgeous view, and even have options for those interested in golf or fly fishing.
Hiking in October is a great activity, as well. The weather may be crisper than September, but the snows will not have quite begun to settle in at this point. Glenwood Canyon is a great feature just outside the town where tourists can set out on one of the many winding trails. Hanging Lake is another interesting hiking destination, named for it’s curious way of “hanging” off the side of the mountain with trickling waterfalls and glowing green waters.
Hike Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park is the perfect destination for hiking enthusiasts and athletes who love a challenge. October is a perfect time to go when the crowds have left and before the snows come down. 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.
Ranger-led tours of the Park can be booked at the Visitor Center before arriving at Mesa Verde, located on the main highway leading up to the destination. The tours involve not only walking and hiking, but could also include times where climbing, crawling and awkward maneuvering are necessary. If you don’t want to exert this much effort to see the Ancestral Pueblan cliff dwellings, they can be viewed from afar at the designated overlook that you can drive up to.
October Events in Colorado
There are many events to experience in Colorado all throughout the year. October hosts a variety of different fall festivals, corn mazes, u-pick farm events and Halloween themed experiences. Below we’ve listed the biggest and most popular long term events that appeal to most travelers in October.
Maize in the City
The city of Thornton, CO, a short drive from Denver, puts on this special 20-acre corn maze for families to enjoy throughout the month of October. In addition to the “maize” attraction, there is a mini maze for younger children, and a small farmers’ market filled with local produce and fall decor for purchase.
Haunted Field of Screams
Thornton also hosts a scarier event (best for teenagers and adults) that chooses a different pop culture theme for Halloween each year. This particular corn maze is 40-acres filled with deranged people and monsters lurking in the corn. Guests are challenged with completing the maze while escaping the clutches of these ghosts, zombies and other such creatures.
Boo at the Zoo
On select weekends in the last weeks of October, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs hosts this family-friendly Halloween event that appeals to young children. Families get to come experience the zoo at night, seeing animals in a whole new way. You’ll also get the chance to collect candy, watch throughout a pumpkin patch and tour a specially decorated haunted house. All guests are encouraged to sport their best Halloween costume.
Fall Events in Denver
Denver hosts loads of different events throughout the Fall season, with many happening in the month of October. Visitors should look into attending one of the following to enhance their trip. Some are great for children, like Denver Zoo’s own version of Boo at the Zoo. Others are great for adults-only, like the Elitch Gardens Fright Fest or Denver Botanical Gardens’ Glow at the Gardens. This event encourages guests to don costumes and come experience the gardens at night, illuminated by glowing lights and jack-o-lanterns.
Other corn mazes are held across the state and may be close to the cities you plan to visit. Be sure to look into one of these if you’ll be in the area: Colon Orchards Corn Maze or Diana’s Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze in Canon City near Grand Junction, and Jack Lanterns Corn Maze in Fort Collins north of Boulder.
Colorado in October: Week by Week
The first week of October in Colorado presents a flurry of festivities for visitors to take part in. The state isn’t in it’s busy season this month, but there is lots to see and do. From fall festivals to pumpkin patches, corn mazes to Halloween events, there’s no shortage of fun to be had this month.
For outdoor activities, residents and visitors alike are taking advantage of the last few warm days to hike mountain terrain, bike the trails, and maybe get in a few more fishing or golf trips. Skiers will be pleased with more snowfall in select areas, but the conditions won’t be good across the state till late November.
Events going on this week include rural corn mazes and fall festivals hosted by local farmers and municipalities. Canon City is a great destination to experience the beauty of Pike National Forest, but also to have fun at the Colon Orchards Corn Maze or Diana’s Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze.
The second week of October in Colorado has a lot of the same activities and scenery as the first. Not much has changed and not much will change till later in the month, so visitors can enjoy plenty of adventures and outdoor tours and excursions across the state with beautifully mild weather.
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, along with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway and other similar experiences, are a great investment for your trip. The railroad adventures will take you back to the Old West while chugging along through the Fall foliage of the Colorado Rockies on various different mountain tours.
Thornton, CO really comes alive this week with the opening of two notable events it hosts every October. Maize in the City is a great attraction for families with kids to enjoy together, while the Haunted Field of Screams is decidedly very adult in nature. The town is located just north of Denver and can be easily added to your trip or could be the base for your trip to other close regions.
By the third week of October in Colorado, the Fall foliage may start to fade in areas, making way for the Winter winds that will begin to howl through the mountain ranges in the coming weeks. Crowd levels are still at a low point in pretty much every destination across the state, so trips this week will be easy-going.
Outdoor adventurers should get in their last hikes at one of the many great National Parks in Colorado. We recommend staying in Gunnison and getting out to the Black Canyon, staying in Estes Park and seeing Rocky Mountain National Park, or visiting Canon City and Pike National Forest. Our highest recommendation for a week full of adventure would be Glenwood Springs.
By this time, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs has begun its Halloween weekends in October event called Boo at the Zoo. This fun event is great for children to experience the zoo at nighttime. They can dress up, collect candy from different booths and see the animals in their exhibits and even some being escorted through the park.
The fourth week of October in Colorado may start to feel a little colder than earlier in the month, the Fall leaves may be fading and the snowfall will begin to pick up in most parts. Despite this, temperatures and the dry, warm air during the day could still make for a great hike or bike ride, or even paragliding or sky diving adventure.
Skiers should have their spick of a few different natural mountain runs, as well as a few resorts, as the higher altitude areas will have built enough snow to begin hosting ski fanatics. The conditions will not be as good as they would be in the Winter, but it will be fun for those with the highest ability levels.
The capitol city of Denver is a perfect place to be in the last week of October. Denver is a nice city to visit any time of year, but it’s best when the Summer and Winter crowds aren’t filling it. Halloween events and Fall festivities are going on all over town, including Boo at the Zoo in the Denver Zoo and Glow in the Gardens at Denver Botanical Gardens.
October in Colorado is not very busy, making a great vacation better with lower crowds. The Fall atmosphere with brilliantly colored foliage and festivals galore will make a trip in October one for the books. The most notable part about visiting Colorado in October, aside from the Autumn splendor, are the festivals being held around the state to celebrate the Fall and Halloween holiday.
If you were planning to visit Colorado in the Fall with mild days and chilly nights, October is the ideal time to go. It’s slightly cooler weather than September, with minimal rain and snow at high altitudes . There may be another significant drop in temperature later in the month, but overall guests can still experience the beauty of hiking, biking, driving and horseback riding through the Rockies before the Winter months come to heap snow on the mountains.