After living in Colorado for over 12 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about the best time to visit Colorado. Sure, we have wild, sometimes unpredictable weather, but we’ve also got an abundance of sunshine. So when is the best time of year to visit Colorado?
The answer really depends on what you’re looking to get out of your trip.
I’ve lived in Colorado for over 12 years. It’s my day job to travel the great Centennial State so I’ve been virtually everywhere in Colorado during all times of the year. I’m on a mission to have you travel like a local, not a tourist. So if you want honest, local advice about the best time to visit Colorado, keep reading.
About this Guide to the Best Time of Year to Visit Colorado
Inside of this local guide to when to visit Colorado, you’ll find:
- The best time of year to visit Colorado
- Info about the peak tourist season in Colorado
- When to visit Colorado for wildflowers
- The best time to visit Colorado for hiking
- When are fall colors in Colorado
- Visiting Colorado for snow season
- When to visit Denver
- Additional Colorado travel resources
When Should I Visit Colorado?
I get this question a lot from friends, family, and followers who are interested in traveling to Colorado. The short answer is, it depends. Thanks to the abundance of sunshine in Colorado, there’s really no bad time to visit, but you can certainly optimize the time of year to visit that best suits your Colorado itinerary.
First, what do you want to do in Colorado? If you’re interested in enjoying the outdoors, such as camping, hiking or exploring Colorado’s mountain towns, you’ll likely prefer the summery months (July through September). But if you’re out here for snow, February is your best bet.
If you want to visit Colorado without the crowds, then the best times to come to Colorado are April, May, October, and early November. The weather isn’t quite ideal for camping in the mountains and many of the trails may have snow, but there are still plenty of things to do in Colorado during the quieter months.
What is Peak Season in Colorado?
Colorado has two distinct tourism seasons, summer and fall. The busiest peak season in Colorado is from mid-June through August. Most people are on their summer vacations and top places to visit in Colorado such as Rocky Mountain National Park and Glenwood Springs are packed with tourists. This is also a popular time to head out on a Colorado road trip.
September is a very popular time for locals to travel to the mountains for the fall color displays.
Winter is the second busiest season. Starting around the Christmas and New Year holidays through spring break (mid-March) are popular times for skiers and snowboarders. Colorado’s best ski towns burst with activity during these times.
When Do the Wildflowers Bloom in Colorado?
Locals and tourists alike flock to the mountains during the summer months to experience the incredible wildflower blooms. In fact, going one of the magnificent wildflower hikes in Colorado is a must-do activity.
Blooms are directly affected by snowpack and rain. If the snow takes a while to melt – meaning there was a lot of snow over winter – the wildflowers will bloom later. Less snow usually leads to earlier blooms. And different species of wildflowers bloom at different times.
In general, the month of July is a great time to be in the mountains and experience the blooms. Typically mid to late July is a good bet for blooms at higher altitudes. It’s not uncommon to have plenty of patchy snow above the treeline (the highest elevation where trees grow) over the 4th of July holiday.
The Best Time of Year to Visit Colorado for Hiking
With majestic rocky and mind-blowing wildflowers, Colorado has some of the most scenic hiking trails. If you’re out here to hike, July and August are the best months. The hiking trails are mostly snow-free and the wildflowers put on a colorful display that can’t be missed.
Keep in mind this is also the most crowded time to visit Colorado, so don’t expect to find too much solitude in places such as Breckenridge, Aspen, Estes Park, and more.
When it comes to hiking in Colorado during the summer, take care to watch the weather. July is “monsoon” season, which typically means that there’s always a chance of brief, yet intense afternoon thunderstorms.
Getting caught above treeline during a storm is extremely dangerous, so keep tabs on the weather.
Related: The Local’s Guide to Hiking in Colorado
When is the Best Month to See Snow in Colorado?
With the onslaught of climate change, Colorado’s snowpack is getting more and more difficult to predict. Overall, the weather is trending towards later snow seasons.
The optimal time to visit Colorado to ski or snowboard is in mid to late February. You’ll have the best chance for a fresh coating of fluffy white snow, which is a powderhound’s dream.
March isn’t a bad option either since it’s Colorado’s snowiest month, but it also coincides with spring break (meaning hordes of people stuffing the ski resorts).
Pro Tip: For backcountry skiers and mountaineers, visit in May to June for the safest snowpack.
Related: Your Colorado Bucket List for Winter
The Best Time of Year to Visit Colorado for Fall Colors
Fall is my favorite season in Colorado. The temperatures are cooler but still warm enough to camp, the thunderstorms have moved on, and the hills come alive with color.
One of the bucket-list things to do in Colorado is to see the mountains come alive with fall colors. Massive Aspen groves ignite the hillsides in glittering shades of yellow and orange.
Colorado fall colors peak depending on how much rain the mountains got over the summer, so the exact dates vary. Typically, the third weekend in September (Vail, Breckenridge, Aspen) through the first weekend in October (the San Juan Mountains, The Crestones, and Great Sand Dunes National Park) are the best times to leaf peep in Colorado.
What is the Best Month to Visit Denver?
With a bustling arts scene, pro-small business attitude, and plenty of events make Denver a year-round destination. In the summer you can enjoy the rooftop dining and drinking scene, catch a show at Red Rocks, or head into the mountains for the day.
Fall marks the kick-off of the Great American Beer Festival, the largest beer fest in the Americas. While in Spring the city comes to life, with beautiful flowers and lush scenery.
Lastly, in winter, Denver is actually quite mild. Days tend to be warm, with highs in the upper 40s on average. Sometimes there may be wind or a cold snap with some snow, but compared to other wintery destinations, Denver keeps the cold at bay.
Related: The Local’s Guide to the Best Things to Do in Denver
The weather in Colorado is generally dry and mild throughout the year. Oh, and plenty of awesome sunshine to go around. It’s never excessively hot or severely cold.
Summers are warm with thunderstorms in the afternoon. Don’t fret – thunderstorms typically only last around 30 minutes. The mountain temperatures are typically in the 70s while the 80s or 90s are common for areas like Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs.
Winters tend to be cold, dry, and windy in the mountains, with daily highs in the 20s and gusty winds along ridgetops. Denver and the Front Range are relatively mild with sunny skies.
Fall and spring are unpredictable. Snowstorms and violent rain aren’t uncommon. Fall tends to be windy, while spring tends to be unpredictable and stormy. Temperatures vary wildly from summertime highs to winter lows (sometimes even in a day).
Overall, the best time to visit Colorado is anytime. There are things to do in Colorado year-round, making it the ideal getaway destination.
Get to Know the REAL Colorado.
Explore Colorado like a local, not a tourist. Discover all the secret hiking spots and the most incredible Colorado scenery, sans the crowds with my customizable hiking itineraries that will have you uncovering the best Colorado has to offer!
Plan the perfect trip to Colorado with these outstanding resources:
- Local Tips for Visiting Colorado
- Colorado’s Most Scenic Drives
- The Complete Colorado Camping Guide