Best Time to Visit Colorado (When to Go in 2023, By a Local)
The best time to visit Colorado is from June through October. The weather is warm and, in most cases, the snow has melted so mountain passes are open and you can spend time outdoors.
As a Colorado local with the inside scoop, I’m here to help you decide the best time to visit the state.
Colorado is pleasant to visit year-round. But it does help to know when to time your visit based on what exactly you plan to do in Colorado. Winter is great for a variety of snow sports, and spring and fall are good for discount travel during the off-season. We’ll cover everything you need to know in this post.
Table of Contents
- When is the Best Time to Visit Colorado
- Colorado Travel Seasons
- Colorado Weather and Climate
- FAQs About When to Go to Colorado
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When is the Best Time to Visit Colorado
In general, the best time to visit Colorado is June through October, when visitors can enjoy Colorado’s scenery with hiking trails, water sports, and drives through high-elevation mountain passes. Although lower elevations can get hot in summer, you can always escape to the mountains to cool off on sweltering days.
Of course, there’s a lot to consider as you’re deciding when to visit. You’ll want to take into account what kind of activities you plan to do, your budget, who you’re traveling with, and any other circumstances unique to your trip.
Next, we’ll take a look at the best time to visit Colorado for a variety of travelers and look at what you can expect to do in Colorado at various times of the year.
When to Visit Colorado for Good Weather
Plan your trip between June and October if you plan to do some outdoor activities like hiking Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, kayaking, and visiting a national park such as Rocky Mountain National Park. Some activities, like rafting, have an even shorter window, and you’ll want to plan those from June through the end of August.
It’s not unusual to get snow in May, but by June Colorado has consistently warm weather. Much of the snow has melted, except on high peaks and on scenic mountain passes. Independence Pass, which winds its way to Aspen, and Trail Ridge Road at Rocky Mountain National Park, are generally open during the summer.
The Aspen Music Festival runs from the end of June through the end of August, which is the perfect time to visit Aspen. Meanwhile, the Colorado Music Festival also takes advantage of the warm summer months with concerts from late June through early August in Boulder.
This is also a great time to catch a Rockies game in Denver. It’s also perfect for a craft brewery tour, which is one of the best things to do in Denver, in Fort Collins, or in Boulder.
📚 Related Reading: The Best Time to Visit Denver (By a Local)
When to Visit Colorado for Cheap Prices
The peak seasons in Colorado are summer and winter, which means the spring and fall seasons are usually less expensive. Hotel and travel prices should be lower during those off-seasons, but there is still plenty to do in Colorado in the spring and fall. Many ski areas are open until early to mid-spring, and a few Colorado ski resorts can even stay open until June.
Hot springs are also a wonderful budget-friendly Colorado experience. Many Colorado hot springs are open year-round, so you can enjoy a soak in spring or fall after a day of exploring.
You can also do some great Colorado hikes and mountain bike routes in the off-season. The weather in fall usually stays nice through the end of October, and even when it does snow, it melts quickly. Trails in spring are likely to be muddy and you’ll want to bring layers for unpredictable weather.
Finally, there are plenty of indoor activities to do in Colorado as well. In fact, some Colorado attractions are priced differently depending on when they’re most popular, so you could save some money on admission fees if you’re not visiting during peak seasons.
When to Visit Colorado for Ski Season
Of course, many people plan to visit Colorado for the many winter activities. If you love to ski or snowshoe, then February is the best month to visit. Ski resorts have a great base of snow by February, and all areas of ski resorts are usually open.
March is also a great month for winter sports, so if you’re planning a spring break trip that month, you should be in good shape.
When to Visit Colorado for Families and Kids
Summer is a great time for families and kids to visit Colorado, as there are tons of activities for kids in Denver and around the state. The weather will also be pleasant for hiking, horseback riding, or rafting.
Of course, many families love skiing with kids as well. There are several Colorado ski areas that cater especially well to families and have kid programs and lessons.
When to Visit Colorado to Avoid Crowds
The peak seasons in Colorado are summer and winter. In particular, it gets busy from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and spring break. If you want to avoid crowds, then travel after Labor Day until early December, or after spring break until Memorial Day.
However, there are some challenges with traveling in the off-season. The weather, especially in spring, is unpredictable. If you’re planning to do outdoor activities, then you’ll want layers that range from a winter coat to a t-shirt.
Also, many mountain town businesses take advantage of the slower season to close for inventory, save money on staff, or so owners can take their own vacations. If you plan to stay in the mountains, make sure you check the opening and closing times of any restaurants and shops you want to visit.
When to Visit Colorado for Fall Foliage
Fall in the Rocky Mountains is a sight to behold. The aspens turn a shade of yellow that’s so brilliant they appear to be glowing, and the mountains light up with fall colors. Usually, the best time to catch those fleeting colors is between mid-September and mid-October. Just about every local news station and paper in Colorado publishes a guide, letting you know where in the state the colors will be at their brightest and when.
Planning the optimal time to see the colors is a little tricky. Variables like weather and the amount of water the trees got that year can affect when they change. Generally, colors turn in the mountains first and then make their way down into lower elevations like Denver and Boulder.
👉 Pro Tip: If you plan to cover a lot of Colorado while you’re here, you’ll want to rent a car through Discover Cars. You won’t regret it – not only will you enjoy your destinations, but many of the drives through Colorado are beautiful and scenic all on their own!
Colorado Travel Seasons
In addition to the below summary, see our full guide to the best festivals and events in Colorado.
January through March
- ⛷️ Skiing and Snow Sports – These are the best winter months to take advantage of Colorado’s snow. Resorts are open, and February and March have great conditions and awesome powder. There’s a reason Vail, Aspen, and Breckenridge are known around the world as great resorts (which is the best? see our guide to Breckenridge vs Vail vs Aspen to find out!). If you’re skiing with little ones, Keystone is extremely family-friendly, and Ski Cooper and Granby Ranch are less expensive.
- 🤠 National Western Stock Show – Fun fact about Colorado: the National Western Stock Show in January is a Colorado tradition that begins with cattle parading through the lobby of the upscale Brown Palace Hotel in Denver. That’s followed by two weeks of rodeos, livestock shows, auctions, and more.
- ❄️ Winter X Games – The Winter X Games will take place in Aspen through at least 2024, and are free to attend. Over three days, visitors can view the Ski and Snowboard SuperPipe, Slopestyle, Big Air, and more.
April and May
- 🍷 Taste of Vail – Taste of Vail is a food and wine festival every April that features the town’s best chefs and wines from around the country. It’s a great time to visit Vail.
- 🎊 Denver Cinco de Mayo Festival – Celebrate Denver’s Cinco de Mayo Festival with dancing, music, food, and crafts in downtown Denver.
- 🖼️ Denver Arts Festival – Check out local and national artists at the Denver Arts Festival at the end of May. There is live music and a variety of booths where you can purchase art and crafts.
📚 Related Reading: 21 Best Mountain Towns in Colorado (By a Local)
Memorial Day through Labor Day
- 🏃♀️ Bolder Boulder 10K Race – Celebrate Memorial Day by running “America’s All-Time Best 10K” (according to Runner’s World Magazine). You’ll find serious runners, plus plenty of people there to have a good time. Some groups run in costumes, and there are plenty of bands and entertainers along the sidelines cheering you on. Also, there’s no feeling like the roar of the crowd when you run onto Folsom Field at the end.
- 🎺 Five Points Jazz Festival – This June festival features local jazz musicians performing various concerts throughout the day at various venues in the Five Points neighborhood. It also recently named to our list of the best things to do in the USA this summer. Grab some food and see why Denver was once known as the Harlem of the West.
- 🍎 Farmers’ Markets – Since Colorado has a shorter growing season than warmer areas of the country, we get pretty excited when our own fruits and veggies are in season. You’ll find farmers’ markets across the state, from Grand Junction to the eastern plains. The Vail Farmers’ Market runs from June to early October and has more than 148 tents. The Boulder Farmers’ Market is another big one – it runs April through November, but June is when the summer produce starts coming.
- 🌼 Crested Butte Wildflower Festival – The ten-day Crested Butte Wildflower Festival every July features hikes, workshops, photography classes, and more as everyone gathers to celebrate colorful flowers.
- 🎡 Colorado State Fair – The Colorado State Fair in Pueblo runs from the end of August until early September and celebrates all things Colorado. Ride carnival rides, check out the livestock and 4-H competitions, and see arts & crafts from Colorado artisans.
September and October
- 🎠 A Taste of Colorado – A Taste of Colorado features carnival rides, live music, arts & crafts booths, and, of course, tons of delicious food and drinks from more than 50 local vendors.
- 🍺 The Great American Beer Festival – It’s only fitting that a city with such an appreciation for a good craft beer would host one of the largest beer festivals in the country. The Great American Beer Festival features more than 3,500 beers from all regions of the country. And oh yes, you get to sample them.
November and December
- 🎬 Denver Film Festival – See new full-length and short films at venues all over the city at the Denver Film Festival! While Denver is proudly nonchalant about celebrities, and the film festival isn’t focused on stars, the festival has attracted guests including Emma Stone, Steve Martin, and Bill Murray in the past.
- 🎄 Denver Christkindl Market – The Denver Christkindl Market is the place to get in the holiday spirit with authentic German food, live music, and plenty of hand-crafted Christmas decorations and presents.
- 🎆 New Year’s Fireworks – Fireworks light up the 16th Street Mall each New Year’s Eve. The fireworks are synced to music played by live DJs along the street. There are two fireworks shows, at 9 p.m. and midnight.
Colorado Weather and Climate
Colorado has a variety of ecosystems including high mountains, woodlands, canyons, plains, and more. However, there are a few constants across the state.
For example, it snows everywhere in the state – it’s just a question of when and how much. Also, Colorado is universally dry. Colorado gets plenty of snow but not a lot of rainfall and the air has very little humidity.
Here’s a look at the different regions of Colorado and what you can expect in each:
Denver and the Front Range
The Denver area is the most populated area of the state. You’ll experience all four seasons here (we like to joke that sometimes you get them all in one day!)
The Front Range experiences a wide variety of temperatures, from an average low of 19°F in December to highs in the 90s and low 100s in summer. Fortunately, even on hot days, the weather cools in the mornings and evenings, and most of the year Denver and nearby cities are quite pleasant.
Denver’s first snow is typically in mid-October, but it often melts and you’ll get more pleasant days afterward. The snowiest month is March. The last snowfall is typically in early May.
🛎️ Need a Hotel? Browse hotels in Denver, and check out our recommendations on where to stay in Denver.
It’s hard to predict when it will snow in the mountains – in fact, some years the mountain regions get snow every month of the year. Mountain passes that close in winter are typically open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
When visiting the mountains, it’s important to pack correctly. Abigail has a handy Colorado packing checklist you can use.
Grand Junction and the Western Slope
Grand Junction gets considerably less snow than the mountains and Denver area. While Denver typically gets 60 inches of snow a year, Grand Junction gets a little over 15 inches. Average temperatures throughout the year usually range from a low of 20°F to highs in the 90s in the summer.
The Eastern Plains
Colorado’s Eastern Plains have a semi-arid climate and in summer, highs are usually in the 90s or low 100s. It does cool off at night, often dropping by 30 degrees or so. The Eastern Plains get significant snow, although not typically as much as Denver and the Front Range.
FAQs About When to Go to Colorado
When should I visit Colorado?
You should visit Colorado from June through October. The weather will be warm enough for you to do a variety of outdoor activities, and you can experience the mountain passes and hikes. If you’re coming to Colorado to ski or snowboard, you should visit in February for the best snow.
What is the best month to visit Denver?
The best month to visit Denver is April or May, as well as September through October. The weather is warm enough to enjoy wandering outdoors in the city, and there are plenty of exciting events and things to do in Denver that you can enjoy.
What is the prettiest place in Colorado?
Maroon Bells just outside of Aspen is the prettiest place in Colorado. It often tops lists of the most beautiful places in the state and is used frequently on postcards and in other pictures that showcase Colorado’s beauty.
What is the cheapest time to go to Colorado?
September, after Labor Day, is the cheapest time to go to Colorado. You’ll miss the crowds and prices from summer and be able to enjoy the state on a lower budget.
How many days do you need to visit Colorado?
You will need at least ten days if you want to visit various parts of Colorado. Denver, Boulder, the state’s four national parks, and mountain towns are all worth visiting on a trip to Colorado.
Thanks for reading my guide to when to visit Colorado! Your ideal time for visiting is going to depend on your personal preferences and what you want to do while you’re here. You can also check out our guides to the best time to visit Denver or when to visit Colorado Springs.
I hope I’ve helped you find out the best time to visit Colorado for your trip!
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