The Best Time to Visit Denver in 2023 (By a Local)
The best time to visit Denver, Colorado is typically between April and May, as well as September through October. Summer and winter may also be ideal times to visit Denver, but this depends on your preferred activities and budget.
There are a variety of considerations when choosing the best time to visit Denver. I’m a local to the Mile High City, and am here to help! Think about what things you want to do in Denver, and what costs and weather you’re comfortable with.
This article will explain the pros and cons of each travel season. I’ll overview the best time to visit for good weather, for avoiding crowds, for key events, and on a budget. We’ll also cover the best time to visit key destinations in Denver.
Oh, and if you need accommodation, be sure to check out our guides to the best areas to stay and the best hotels in Denver.
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- When is the Best Time to Visit Denver?
- Denver Travel Seasons
- Denver Weather and Climate
- Tips for Visiting Denver
- FAQs About When to Visit Denver
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When is the Best Time to Visit Denver?
April through May and September through October offer the best value when visiting Denver. During these shoulder seasons, the weather is ideal, hotel prices are reasonable, and the crowds are limited.
However, Denver has pleasant weather and attractions year-round. Every season offers something unique to explore. Here’s a breakdown of when to visit Denver based on your preferences.
When to Visit Denver for Good Weather
Overall, Denver offers the most consistently pleasant temperatures from April through October. Though summer afternoons may climb above 90°F, afternoon rains and cool evenings make even the hottest days comfortable. Plus, the nearby Rocky Mountains provide an escape from the city heat. The average temperature in the foothills is usually several degrees cooler.
In my opinion, September and October are ideal for outdoor activities. The dry season means no mud on the hiking trails near Denver, and the yellow aspens are a beautiful sight.
If traveling to Colorado for its ski resorts, I recommend visiting in March. During that month of ski season, you can expect warm weather and deep powder!
🚗 Need a rental car? To access hiking, skiing, and other attractions outside the city, book with Discover Cars. Our preferred search engine will help you find the best rates and ideal vehicle for your stay.
When to Visit Denver on a Budget
If you’re visiting Denver on a budget, consider avoiding travel to Denver from June through August. The summer months are by far the most popular time to visit, and therefore, the most expensive. During this peak travel period, flight and hotel prices soar.
For the best value, visit Denver post-Labor Day weekend through early November when the weather is still mild. It’s a lovely time of year to wander a city park, see live music at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and experience the Great American Beer Festival.
You can also find affordable rates in January and February, but the winter months often bring freezing temperatures. However, Denver offers many indoor activities. Check out the Denver Art Museum, Winter Brew Fest, and the National Western Stock Show.
🛎️ Looking to find a deal on your stay? Browse a wide selection of hotel options in Denver. You’re sure to discover ideal accommodations for every budget!
The Best Time to Visit Denver for Avoiding Crowds
Not only are January and February budget-friendly months to visit Denver, but they’re also some of the least popular. Though the time frame brings in ski tourists, the ski resorts near Denver are less busy compared to March’s spring break period.
During these winter months, you can pause at one of Denver’s best museums. Take tourist-free photos of the Colorado State Capitol Building and other downtown attractions. Or, enjoy the Denver food scene without reservations.
Though you should expect snow and cold weather, Denver boasts 300 days of sunshine. Step out for fresh air and explore Denver’s city center without the crowds and at your own pace. Visit Cherry Creek, a luxe shopping and business neighborhood. Or even take a stroll through the Denver Botanical Gardens, open year-round.
The Best Time to Visit Denver for Families and Kids
Overall, households with children will love experiencing Denver from May through September. Several family-friendly Denver events occur in the summer months. This includes the Denver Chalk Art Festival in June, showcasing artists’ work on the pavement of Larimer Square. Kids and adults alike will enjoy watching a Colorado Rockies baseball game at Coors Field.
Summer is also an ideal time to visit Lakeside Amusement Park and Elitch Gardens Theme Park. The waterpark at Elitch is a great place to escape the summer heat. Alternatively, take the kids tubing down the South Platte at Confluence Park!
Note that from early July to mid-August, temperatures may reach as high as triple-digits. During afternoon peaks, head indoors. Find summer exhibitions such as the interactive Discovery Zone at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Or visit indoor exhibits at the Denver Zoo and take a trip to the Downtown Aquarium.
For more tips for visiting Denver as a family, be sure to check out Laura’s guide to the best stuff to do in Denver with children.
👉 Hate Planning? Just follow Laura’s 3 Day Denver Itinerary!
Denver Travel Seasons
January through March
- National Western Stock Show – For more than a century, the National Western Stock Show has been a Denver, Colorado tradition. The January celebration begins with livestock and tractors parading through downtown Denver. Then during the two-week festival, attendees witness wild rodeos, dancing horses, and true Americana.
- Denver Restaurant Week – One of the city’s best gastronomy festivals, Denver Restaurant Week is a favorite among foodies on a budget. More than 250 Denver eateries participate in the ten-day fest, offering set multi-course menus for just $25-45 per person.
- Skiing and Snowboarding – The Rocky Mountains are famous for their ski resorts. Especially in March, visitors can enjoy warm weather, bluebird skies, and consistent powder days. Vail and Aspen are famed regions, and families love Keystone Resort. But if you want to ski with the expert locals, check out Arapahoe Basin or rent an avalanche pack to ski backcountry.
April through May
- Denver Botanic Gardens – Though open year-round, it can be argued that Denver’s Botanic Gardens are best enjoyed in the spring. Vibrant tulips emerge from the melting snow, reaching peak bloom in mid-April. Come May, visitors can admire Spanish bluebells, rose gardens, and columbines, the Colorado state flower.
- Cinco de Mayo Festival – The Cinco de Mayo Festival celebrates freedom and the expression of Latino culture. It’s been a tradition in the Mile High City for more than three decades. Taking place at Civic Center Park, the weekend draws in more than 400,000 attendees. Visitors dance to salsa and mariachi music, marvel at the community parade, and enjoy authentic cuisine.
- Denver Arts Festival – On Memorial Day weekend, the Denver Arts Festival showcases local and national artists. This free outdoor event takes place at Conservancy Green in Central Park, one of Denver’s neighborhoods. Have a glass of wine, listen to live music, and wander dozens of booths featuring all types of artistic mediums. It’s one of the best festivals in Colorado.
June through August
- Five Points Jazz Festival – Previously known as the Harlem of the West, Five Points honors its historic music scene with the annual Jazz Festival. After a two-year hiatus, this famed Denver event will be returning come June 2022. It’s one of the city’s best multi-artist music festivals, featuring some of the genre’s most famed performers.
- Cherry Creek Arts Festival – The Cherry Creek Arts Festival aims to provide all people access to cultural experiences and art education. This free event is hosted by a local non-profit, drawing over 150,000 visitors and featuring more than 200 unique artists. Set to occur the first week of July, it’s a lovely addition to Independence Day celebrations.
- Farmers’ Markets – Overall, Denver residents are health-conscious folks, and we love fresh produce. Take a trip to one of the many farmers’ markets that pop up in the summer season. Whether you visit downtown’s Union Station market or drive out to a nearby suburb, you’re sure to find regional favorites. Sample Palisade peaches, roasted poblanos, apricot jams, and more locally-grown goodness.
September through December
- Denver Beer Week – Experience one of the locals’ favorite Denver events! As America’s capital city of craft beer, it’s no surprise that we’ve dedicated nine days to celebrate. Truly, no other gastronomy festivals compare as it relates to beer. More than 160 events occur in the week, including tap takeovers, rare tastings, and of course, the Great American Beer Festival.
- Aspen Peeping – Many are drawn to Colorado for its natural attractions and outdoor adventure. Regardless of where you stay in Denver, you don’t have to travel far to spot autumn’s yellow aspens. Take a day trip to Golden or Rocky Mountain National Park for breathtaking views of the fall foliage. Or visit my favorite place for leaf-peeping, Kenosha Pass, offering great hiking and mountain biking trails!
- Mile High Holidays – In Denver, holiday magic is around every corner. See spectacular light displays at the Denver Botanic Gardens and Elitch Gardens Theme Park. Gaze at the Mile High Tree, skate around the Downtown Denver Rink, and purchase gifts at one of the city’s many shopping districts. Performing arts, parades, and pretzels at Christkindlmarket are all favorite seasonal traditions.
👉 Pro Tip: Visiting for Denver Beer Week, or simply love craft beer? Check out this pub crawl tour and sample pours at four of Lower Downtown’s best breweries.
Denver Weather and Climate
Denver, Colorado is located in the South Platte Valley, just east of the Rocky Mountains. Denver’s climate is considered semi-arid, and all four seasons are experienced. Weather ranges dramatically, with December averaging a low of 19°F and July averaging a high of 92°F.
Despite these desert-like extremes, overall temperatures are quite comfortable. With more than 300 days of sunshine, any snow accumulation melts just a day or two following a winter storm. Summer days may be sweltering, but cool mornings and evenings provide opportunities to get outdoors.
Little rain falls in Denver, just about 14 inches annually. Though, we receive an average of 60 inches of snow! But despite this, humidity is low and the region is generally very dry. Wildfires occur near the city at all times of the year and can be exasperated by winter winds.
Tips for Visiting Denver
Be Aware of Fire Risks
As a tourist, please be mindful of fire risks. When in wild spaces, be careful of where you drive and park your vehicle, avoiding dry grass. Be cautious of igniting any type of fire, dispose of cigarette butts properly, and extinguish campfires fully. Locals are very thankful for your consciousness!
Choose Your Vehicle Wisely
If traveling to Denver in December through early spring, consider driving an AWD or 4WD vehicle. While the city is generally good about plowing and traction after a winter storm, not all regions are this way.
If making a trip into the Rocky Mountains, plan accordingly. You don’t want to get stuck in a snowbank or slide on ice when in I-70 ski traffic!
🚆 Read Next: Ways to Get Around Denver (With and Without a Car)
Dress in Layers
At all times of the year, daily temperatures can range upwards of thirty degrees Fahrenheit. It’s not uncommon for Denver locals to start the day in sweaters and by afternoon, switch to t-shirts and shorts.
Before traveling, research the predicted weather and pack appropriate clothing. Layers are ideal, allowing you to stay comfortable throughout the day. If spending time outdoors, consider convertible pant styles and sun-protective clothing. Consult our guide to what to pack for Colorado if you need help remember what to bring!
Adjust to the Altitude
Perhaps easier said than done, but there are methods to help adjust to Denver’s high altitude. Aside from sun-protective clothing, be sure to wear sunscreen and SPF lip balm, even in the wintertime.
To combat the dry climate, drink plenty of water, as much as double your regular intake. Be careful when consuming alcohol and cannabis, as effects will be greater than what you experience at sea level.
Also, consider your travel plans and be conscious of your physical activity. If you plan on taking a road trip to a high-altitude mountain town like Leadville or have aspirations to climb a 14er, be sure to acclimate beforehand.
⛰️ Want More Denver Travel Tips? Check out my full list of things to know before visiting Denver!
FAQs About When to Visit Denver
When is the best time to visit Denver?
The best time to visit Denver is generally from April through May and September through October. Moderate weather and affordable hotel rates can be expected during these shoulder seasons. With lesser crowds than the summer months, these months are also ideal times for sightseeing in Denver.
What month is the hottest in Denver?
July is Denver’s hottest month of the year, with an average temperature of more than 75°F. The standard high is 92°F, with a low of 61°F.
What month is the coldest in Denver?
December is the coldest month of the year in Denver, with a mean of 30°F. The average daily high is 47°F while the average low is 19°F.
What month is the snowiest in Denver?
March is the snowiest month in Denver. The city receives more than 11 inches on average. The Rocky Mountains, too, receive the greatest amount of snowfall in March, making it an ideal month for skiing and snowboarding.
I hope my guide on the best time to visit Denver helped you understand your options. You can also read Laura’s guide to the best time to visit Colorado is you plan to travel more broadly in the state.
Your ideal travel period is really up to your personal preferences. Key events occur year-round and outdoor adventure is accessible every season. From families to remote workers and music lovers to even plant lovers, the Mile High City offers something for everyone.
To learn more about Denver, check out:
Safe travels and enjoy your visit to Denver.
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