Considering a trip to Colorado in September and need some help? We’ve got you covered!
September is a good budget-friendly month to visit Colorado. Crowds have decreased since school has started and the fall weather is just beginning, bringing cooler air and nicer temperatures. Late September will be ideal for witnessing the beauty of Autumn’s changing leaves.
Without question, Colorado in September is a crowd-pleaser, offering guests with a limited timeframe or limited budget many things to do. September kicks off the Fall season in the Centennial state, so not only could you get a discount on airfare, accommodations or vacation packages this month.
The crowds tend to die down in the Fall months, which allows visitors to choose from a wide variety of options without having to plan really far in advance. You’ll also experience the shifting colors sweeping over the mountains, valleys and meadows.
If you’ve been itching to see Colorado’s Autumn beauty in the month of September, we’ve compiled every detail you need to help you make your trip the best it can be.
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 September
September marks the beginning of the Fall season in Colorado, which goes through some of the most beautiful color changes in the leaves of trees and bushes all over the state. 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.
Colorado’s 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.
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 September
In September, Colorado tourist levels tend to drop after Labor Day, as do most destinations across the country. With this drop in attendance, it’s possible that a lot of the smaller towns will close hotels and restaurants taking a break from the Summer season and gearing up for the Winter ski crowds.
Fall all over the state of Colorado is absolutely gorgeous, so it’s a great time to take advantage of lower crowd levels before the cold of Winter sets in. In September, you won’t have to worry as much about places booking up like they would in July and August, making travel a little easier.
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. September’s lower attendance will help a lot of the rates for most places to come down a bit.
Colorado Snow & Skiing in September
Colorado snow is starting to pick back up in September. However, since this is the very start of snowfall and there was absolutely none throughout the Summer months of June, July and August, chances are slim that any ski runs are covered enough to host skiers.
Skiing is not going to be very good in most parts of the state and the popular resorts won’t be opening back up until late November. Despite this, there are a few more natural areas where avid skiers will thrive in late September.
Best Colorado Ski Resorts in September
Arapahoe Basin & Loveland
Both of these ski areas are located in Dillon, CO in the Arapaho National Forest where you’ll have to drive in to ski. They’re more suitable for a day trip and we wouldn’t expect to find loads of runs ripe for skiing. During September, the amount of snow on the ground will be limited significantly.
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 in September. 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.
Best Things to Do in Colorado in September
Below are some of the best places to visit in the month of September. In addition to these places, other Fall activities available this time of year include ATVing, backpacking, ballooning, boating, camping, canoeing, fishing, golfing, paragliding, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing, water skiing, water rafting, and ziplining.
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 September with lower crowds and travel rates.
In September, a lot of the sports teams have games that you can attend. The Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies and Colorado Rapids should all have games with available tickets to home games. Keep in mind that the morning and afternoon games may have hot temperatures in town, while the night games can get chilly this month.
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 museums, restaurants and 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.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, for example, can be beautiful with September’s fall foliage. It’s located about 20 miles outside of Denver. Typically, it serves as a concert and music space, but when it’s not hosting an event, it’s available for exploring. Dinosaur Ridge is another nearby destination that look s beautiful this time of year.
Experience Grand Junction
Grand Junction is a city located in Colorado’s Western Slope region; a gateway to some of Colorado’s top attractions like Colorado National Monument and the Grand Mesa. The beauty of fall is beginning to set in September.
Colorado National Monument offers more than the typical Colorado Rockies mountain scenery. It’s filled with beautiful landscapes of rock formations, canyons, arid plants and beautiful blooming flowers in August. It’s very popular for long distance biking, trail hiking and off-road driving adventures, but car trips are highly recommended in the summer heat.
The Grand Mesa is the largest flat-topped mountain in the world, stretching over 500 square miles. The Grand Junction gives easy access to the Grand Mesa, which is a great escape from the approaching summer heat (the summit never rises above 80°F (27°C). Hiking, fishing, biking, driving and camping are all easily achieved at the Grand Mesa.
The City of Grand Junction has loads of additional experiences when you’ve had your fill of outdoor activity, including many shops and restaurants. As a matter of fact, it’s best known for being in the heart of Colorado’s wine country, so there’s no better place to taste wine in the state. The third week of September is the prime time to be in Grand Junction when they put on the Colorado Mountain Wine Festival.
Explore Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods is a national landmark near Colorado Springs, most well known for it’s extremely unique landscape with rock piles, jutting peaks and towers. There are fifteen miles of walking trails with lots of beautiful mountainous scenery, making it an excellent hiking destination.
September is a great time to visit since the crowds of Summer have vanished, leaving the picturesque scenery peaceful and quiet. Not to mention that the warmer weather during the day will create a lovely setting for your hiking tour before the cool breezes of the night roll in.
In addition to hiking, other fun and adventurous activities include rock climbing, mountain biking and horseback riding – all of which you can do on your own or through a guided tour with the Nature Center. They also offer Electric Bike Tours, Segway Tours and Open-Air Jeep Tours.
We recommend beginning the journey at the Park Visitor & Nature Center, where you’ll get a history lesson, tour the museum and see exhibits and displays unique to the park. Afterward, you can sip on coffee and take in the scenic views through the large windows of the center, or go on one of their guided nature walks offered daily.
Tour Pike National Forest
Pike National Forest is home to over one million acres of beautifully preserved aspen forests, streams and mountain areas. Visitors love the outdoor activities including hiking, fishing, boating and camping in the cooler days of September. The National Forest is easily accessible from the city of Colorado Springs and is well known for it’s great hike to Pike’s Peak, made of beautiful pink and orange granite.
This is one of the most ideal camping trips for families with kids who love the outdoors, but could also make a relaxing trip for couples, as well. Visitors can hike many of the intermediate trails that leads to Manitou Park, picnic by the lake, drive along any of the scenic roads or fish in Eleven Mile Canyon. Hiking up to Pike’s Peak is also a great challenge for the brave of heart, 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.
Pike National Forest is surrounded by several small towns that really enhance the experience. Explore Manitou Springs’ cave dwellings and Miramont Castle Museum, see Canon City’s Royal Gorge Bridge Park or hop over to Cripple Creek and experience the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine.
See the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
The Black Canyon 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 September such a great month to go is the incoming Fall weather. The heat of June through August may prove a little dangerous for such a secluded part of the state, but September has much gentler breezes and cooler daily temps, but remains dry for trekking through the park.
Black Canyon in Colorado is the equivalent of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. While the Grand Canyon is primarily made of red clay and rock, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is truly a sight to behold, made of strikingly dark Precambrian rock: in other words, the structure of the canyon dates back to the earliest parts of the earth’s history.
There are many activities to take part in while visiting, including hiking, fishing, stargazing and even skiing in the Winter time. 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.
Ride Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad
Located in Antonito, CO, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is just gearing up for a great Fall season in September. This narrrow-gauge railway ride offers multiple tours throughout the month, traveling from Osier, CO. You’ll have the opportunity to see the beginning of the tree color shifts on the Rockies at the start of the month and see their full color by the end of the month.
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.
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.
September in Glenwood Springs is one of the last months to experience the last warmth before snowfall, but there may be rain during your trip as this month tends to be rainiest in this area. In addition to the relaxing amenities, the town also has paragliding, zipling, sky diving, roller coasters, and high ropes courses that the whole family can enjoy.
September Events in Colorado
There are many events to experience in Colorado. Below we’ve listed the biggest and most popular long term events that appeal to most travelers in September.
Colorado State Fair
Colorado State Fair starts up in the last week of August, running for a full week (usually ending the first days of September) and open to anyone and everyone who wants to engage in the festivities. Throughout the week, the Fair holds 4H and FFA events, concerts and stage shows, all centered around the premier rodeo show.
Keystone Resort in River Run Village hosts an annual Oktoberfest every Labor Day Weekend for the last decade. The festival celebrates German heritage and spirit with a variety of featured New Belgium-brewed Oktoberfest beers, a slew of retail vendors, a 5k run for charity and a concert.
Oktoberfest Denver is a huge festival that runs two weekends in September, with a variety of ticket packages to accommodate your style. The event includes live music, multiple competitions from drinking to bowling, and a costume contest for adults. Don your best lederhosen and braid your best pigtails for a fun celebration that everyone can enjoy.
Mountain Harvest Festival
Mountain Harvest Festival held in Paonia, CO is a celebration of the North Fork Valley. It invites guests from all over the country to take part in the festivities featuring local artists, crops from local farmers, live music, and a farmer’s market. The residents even host a chili cookoff to serve attendees who will vote on their favorites from the festival.
Corn Mazes and Fall Festivals
All over the state of Colorado, farmers in towns and cities are hosting their annual Fall Festivals to celebrate the Autumn season. Depending on the city you intend to visit, there could be at least one if not multiple properties that hold festivals with hay rides and corn mazes in the months of September and October.
Colorado in September: Week by Week
The first week of September marks a clear shift in changes from crowd levels to weather all throughout the state. The last of the Summer tourists have left, leaving room for locals and varied guests to play in the mild weather of the incoming Fall season.
Snowfall may start back up in this time, but is fairly rare for most of the state. You’ll typically see it in higher altitudes, especially where ski slopes are present. Rain is prevalent this month for some areas, but the weather (rain or snow) typically doesn’t mess with your trip so much if you’re planning a full day of outdoor activities.
In the first week of September the last days of the Colorado State Fair are ending. This family-friendly fair holds 4H and FFA events, concerts and stage shows, all centered around the premier rodeo show. Labor Day events are also underway around the state, the most notable including Keystone Oktoberfest in River Run Village.
The second week of September in Colorado doesn’t shift too much from the first week. Visitors will notice the beginning of the fall colors coming in over the mountain ranges, sprinkling flowers, bushes and trees with hints of yellow and gold. Most hotels and accommodations will have reached a low point at this time, making travel a breeze for most vacationers.
Tours are very popular at this time of year, weather they be historic tours of the Mile High City, epic train rides through the mountain ranges or hiking tours through Garden of the Gods and Pike National Forest. We recommend getting out to see the Black Canyon at this time before snows really begin to set into the area, making hiking a lot more dangerous.
The capitol city of Denver is hosting its first weekend of Oktoberfest, a huge event that draws tourists and visitors from all over the state. The event includes competitions that patrons can sign up for, specially packaged tickets that include exclusive drinking opportunities at the Beer Hall and a costume contest.
By the time we’ve reach the third week in September, the fall colors are really coming in all over Colorado. Vacationers will enjoy the beauty of the outdoors on their hiking journeys or while taking a driving tour on one of the state’s many scenic byways. Skiers are more likely to find snow in the higher altitudes starting this week, as well.
The third week in September is a great time to be in the Grand Junction area. Grand Junction is a perfect jumping off point for the Colorado National Monument, the Grand Mesa and the town of Fruita and its biking trails. The third week is typically Wine Week for them, a can’t miss event in Grand Junction which is considered the wine capital of Colorado.
Denver’s second weekend of Oktoberfest is open to the public this week and sees large crowds on both days. This festival is over 50 years old and thrives on live music, happy patrons and large steins full of delicious German beer. The event is free to the public, who only pays for the drinks they want.
The fourth week of September is ushered in with the most brilliant Autumn colors on display. Tourists will be delighted with the bold reds, oranges, yellows and browns of the Fall foliage, which makes for some of the best vacation pictures.
Glenwood Springs is a really nice place to visit this week, with so many activities to choose from that will satisfy a range of different vacation styles. The canyons and historical tours will please those in for learning about Colorado’s past, the natural hot springs will sooth anyone needing the ultimate form of relaxation and those itching to get out will enjoy the thrills of sky diving or paragliding off the mountain cliffs.
The small town of Paonia, CO hosts it’s annual Mountain Harvest Festival in celebration of it’s beautiful location in the North Fork Valley. Tourists are welcome to attend and learn more about this unique area through its farmer’s market vendors, local agriculture and arts, and taste homemade goodness at the residents’ chili cookoff.
September in Colorado sees a significant drop off in attendance, making a great vacation better with lower crowds. It’s a great time to take advantage of not only lower rates, but also the brilliance of Colorado’s Fall magic. The most notable part about visiting Colorado in September – especially late September – is the colorful changing of the seasons.
If you were planning to visit Colorado in the Fall but still wanted warm weather, September is the ideal time to go. It’s got only slightly cooler weather than August (though snow is not unheard of this time of year) with crisp nights. There may be a slight 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 cold really starts setting in.