The Best Times To Visit Colorado


Known for its stunning mountain scenery, vibrant cities, and endless outdoor recreation, Colorado is a premier year-round destination that offers distinct and memorable travel experiences across all four seasons. From winter adventures in the snow-capped Rockies to soaking up the mountain sunshine in the summer, Colorado caters to every interest and budget.

This article will serve as a complete guide on the best times to visit Colorado. It considers weather, costs, crowds, and seasonal activities to help travelers determine when to plan their Colorado vacations.


  • Spring and fall offer mild weather for outdoor adventures without summer crowds or high winter prices.
  • Winter is the peak season for skiing and snowboarding with holiday festivities, but costs are the highest.
  • Summer brings warm weather for hiking, rafting, and music festivals but attracts more visitors.

Overview of Colorado Travel Seasons

Colorado’s diverse terrain and geography translate into varied weather and travel conditions. While mountain towns see significant snowfall in winter, the eastern plains and western valleys have milder winters. Elevation is also a key factor, with higher elevations experiencing cooler summer temperatures.

In general, Colorado has four distinct travel seasons:

Winter (December-February)

This time of year offers prime snow conditions for winter sports and holiday festivities. Lodging and airfare are most expensive during peak ski periods.

Spring (March-May)

Springtime brings mild weather and wildflower blooms, with plentiful snow still at higher elevations for spring skiing. Crowds and prices are lower than summer.

Summer (June-August)

Summer is the peak season for hiking, biking, rafting, and music festivals. Temperatures are warmest, but afternoon mountain thunderstorms are common. Travel costs increase along with visitor numbers.

Fall (September-November)

Autumn delivers brilliant golden aspens set against bluebird skies and festivals celebrating fall harvests. The weather is cool and crisp but dry, ideal for outdoor activities before snow starts to fall.

Local Experiences and Culture

Beyond the natural wonders, Colorado offers a wealth of authentic local experiences and cultural richness. Exploring local arts, cuisine, and communities provides insight into what makes Colorado so captivating.

The Santa Fe Arts District in Denver showcases over 60 galleries and studios, while First Friday art walks in Fort Collins and Durango spotlight local talent. For performing arts, the Colorado Symphony and outdoor Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver draw acclaimed artists.

Farm-to-table dining shines in Boulder and Basalt, where restaurants source ingredients from local purveyors. Sample craft beers in Fort Collins, known for its breweries, and try Palisade wines from the state’s wine country.

Attend cultural events like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Durango’s Snowdown with wacky winter competitions, or heritage celebrations at Mesa Verde National Park. Interacting with local Native American tribes offers a profound cultural experience.

Seasonal Highlights in Colorado

While spectacular year-round, each season in Colorado has its unique draw.


During winter, Colorado transforms into a wonderland for snow sports. Top ski resorts like Vail, Aspen, and Steamboat offer world-class downhill runs, while Breckenridge and Durango deliver exciting snowboarding experiences. The state has over 20 resorts with options for all abilities. Towns like Keystone and Winter Park also offer sledding, ice skating, and sleigh rides.


Springtime welcomes warmer weather and discounted room rates, making it a budget-friendly time to visit. Hiking and biking trails open as snow melts, especially in lower elevations like Colorado Springs and Grand Junction. Go river rafting as rapids gain intensity from snowmelt, and view wildflowers at Rocky Mountain National Park.


The warm summer months allow visitors to fully explore Colorado’s outdoor offerings. Summit peaks by hiking 14ers–those mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation. Be sure to take proper precautions before heading up. Ride the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad past colorful canyons. Attend food and music festivals in Telluride and Aspen. Go canoeing, fly fishing, rock climbing, and more.


Autumn months dazzle with golden aspen leaves combined with crisp air and blue skies, ideal for hiking, biking, and scenic drives. Marvel at fall foliage displays in Steamboat Springs, Crested Butte, and Rocky Mountain National Park. Sample fresh apples and attend harvest festivals. Hunt elk or deer across western Colorado. Wax your skis and get ready. Ski resorts open for the season in October.

Outdoor Adventures

Colorado delivers endless outdoor recreation spanning its diverse terrain, from hiking and biking to rafting and climbing.

Rocky Mountain National Park has over 300 miles of hiking trails ranging from leisurely lakeside strolls to challenging mountain ascents. Climb a fourteener or find seclusion in the remote Weminuche Wilderness. Bike down single-track trails on Buffalo Pass near Steamboat Springs or cruise the car-free Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park.

Whitewater rafting reaches Class V rapids along the Arkansas River through the Royal Gorge. Glenwood Springs is a hub for adventure companies offering rafting, zip lining, horseback riding, and more. Take an off-road tour through the remote San Juan Mountains. Backpack and camp across Colorado’s twelve national forests.

The state also has 42 state parks, offering activities like stand-up paddleboarding at Cherry Creek near Denver, boating across Blue Mesa Reservoir, or exploring ancient cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde.

Family-Friendly Vacations

Colorado is an ideal destination for memorable family vacations with its wealth of family attractions and activities.

Top spots like Colorado Springs offer families a mix of urban attractions and outdoor adventures. Visit the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, cave complexes, and the historic gold mining town of Cripple Creek with its railroad and mines. Enjoy hiking and fishing around Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods Park.

Estes Park serves as the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, which offers abundant wildlife, scenic drives, ranger-led programs, and hiking trails for all abilities. You can also ride horses alongside alpine lakes and take the kids river rafting on beginner rapids.

Keystone Resort has a tubing hill and snow fort for winter fun, plus ski lessons and easy runs for kids. Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad transports families back in time through the wilderness of the San Juan Mountains.

Across the state, living history museums, dinosaur fossil sites, historic trains, and parks with adventure zones cater to families looking for education and entertainment.

Cultural and Historical Exploration

Beyond natural wonders, Colorado has a rich cultural heritage and storied past waiting to be uncovered.

Designated historic districts in cities like Denver, Leadville, and Silverton showcase Victorian architecture interwoven with frontier roots. Tour museums chronicling Colorado’s mining rushes Native American history, and development of ski towns and railroads.

National and state parks protect ancient dwellings like the cliff palaces of Mesa Verde and petroglyph sites in Dinosaur National Monument. Reenactors bring to life historic forts while Creede, Central City, and Georgetown host summer theater productions in their historic opera houses.

The state has eight scenic byways threading past historic landmarks, from the Santa Fe Trail to the Silver Thread and San Juan Skyway. Discover ghost towns, Ute Indian museums, and lavish hotels with backstories tying into Colorado’s cultural identity.

Annual events mark key occasions, like historical reenactments for Colorado Day, the fur trade rendezvous, or the Pikes Peak or Bust gold rush festival. Cheyenne Frontier Days honors the state’s western roots with one of the largest rodeos.

Wellness and Relaxation

Colorado’s natural hot springs, serene alpine lakes, relaxing spas, and peaceful nature spots create the perfect setting for restoration and wellness.

Renowned hot spring resorts in Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springs, and Pagosa Springs have attracted visitors for over 100 years to soak in therapeutic mineral waters.

Spa towns like Aspen, Vail, and Breckenridge offer extensive spa menus with massage therapies, oxygen treatments, and other pampering services aimed at rejuvenation. The Broadmoor luxury resort in Colorado Springs offers over 100 different spa treatments.

Across Colorado’s public lands, lakes and waterfalls create ideal spots to practice mindfulness, yoga, and forest bathing. Watch wildlife in open meadows, find solitude in the backcountry, and awaken your senses surrounded by nature’s beauty.

Adventure and Exploration

Colorado delivers excitement across its varied terrain, from extreme sports to sightseeing adventures. Visitors can challenge themselves on rock faces, race down mountains, or explore sand dunes and slot canyons.

Expert skiers and boarders flock to extreme runs slicing through the back bowls of Vail and Telluride, while Silverton Mountain offers uncompromising expert terrain with helicopter drops. Test your stamina biking the demanding trails above Crested Butte.

Off-roading through the remote San Juan Mountains traverses abandoned mining roads with jaw-dropping scenery. Seek solitude backpacking into the Weminuche Wilderness or canyon country around Curecanti National Recreation Area. Paddle Class IV rapids along the Numbers near Gore Canyon.

Venture through the tallest dunes in North America at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Follow slot canyons down Black Canyon of the Gunnison’s steep gorge. Colorado’s adventurous spirit calls you to explore.


What is the best time of year to visit Colorado?

The best times are generally spring and fall when the weather is mild, crowds are smaller, and prices are lower than peak summer and winter travel seasons in Colorado.

What is there to do in Colorado with kids?

Family-friendly activities include steam train rides, living history museums, hiking easy national park trails, water sports, adventure zones, and ski resort activities like tubing.

Where are the best places to see fall colors in Colorado?

Prime spots for dazzling golden fall foliage include Steamboat Springs, Crested Butte, Rocky Mountain National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and the San Juan Skyway, which passes Telluride and Durango.

What is there to do in the winter in Colorado besides skiing?

Popular winter activities beyond downhill skiing include snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice skating, sleigh rides, soaking in hot springs, visiting holiday festivals, and taking scenic winter train trips.

Where can you relax at hot springs in Colorado?

The top hot spring destinations are Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springs, and Pagosa Springs. Smaller resorts are also found in Buena Vista, Alamosa, and Ouray. Soaking pools dot the state’s national forests.

This comprehensive guide outlines the best times to visit Colorado based on weather, prices, crowds, and seasonal attractions. With insight into travel seasons, local culture, family activities, history, and more, travelers can discover why Colorado is an unforgettable year-round destination.


About the author

Ransom Patterson

My expertise in Colorado life extends beyond just residing here; it’s also about living actively within the community. I spend my time cycling through Denver’s trails, experimenting with local cuisines, and immersing myself in the local music scene. These activities give me a unique perspective on the cultural and outdoor offerings of Colorado. This hands-on approach allows me to provide insider tips and personal recommendations that resonate with both locals and visitors alike.