Colorado is a great state to visit any time, but certain times of the year are better for different activities and interests. This western state attracts visitors all year long for excellent skiing, hiking, rafting, camping, dining, and much, much more!
In this guide, we’ll look at the best times to visit Colorado by both seasons and interests so you can quickly pinpoint the best time for your Colorado vacation.
Colorado: At a Glance
Colorado is a diverse state offering visitors everything from cities and deserts to canyons and mountains. Its capital, Denver, sits 5,280 feet above sea level, giving the city its famous “mile high” nickname.
Other popular Colorado cities include Breckenridge, Aspen, Vail, Colorado Springs, and Telluride.
The state boasts an impressive 4 National Parks and 11 National Forests, making it an ideal vacation spot for anyone interested in outdoor activities and natural beauty.
Visitors can fly into Denver International Airport (DEN) and then rent a car to explore the state or fly directly to smaller airports throughout the state.
Hot Tip: There are plenty of hotel options in Colorado, including big-name hotels you can book with points and boutique options in places such as Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs.
The Best Times To Visit Colorado by Season
Spring (March, April, May)
Spring is a great time to visit Colorado if you want to avoid huge crowds, but keep in mind that the weather can very well still feel like winter. March and April are often the state’s snowiest months, with higher elevations getting more snow than low-lying areas. Spring can be a great time to plan a ski vacation in Colorado since the temperatures are a bit warmer, the days are a bit longer, and there is still plenty of powdery snow covering the mountains.
Spring skiing is popular in spots like Breckenridge, a ski town that also offers a fun downtown area, lots of restaurants, and multiple events throughout the season. Other great activities this time of year are snowshoeing, sledding, and visiting a hot spring.
In late spring, snow starts to melt and temperatures start to rise, giving way to a plethora of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and rafting.
Hot Tip: If you’ll be skiing over spring break, check out our ultimate guide to season ski passes around the world!
Summer (June, July, August)
Summer is one of the most popular times to visit Colorado. That means, of course, that it can also be one of the most crowded times in the state.
During the summer in Colorado, the weather can be hot and dry, making it a great time for water activities including kayaking and rafting. Temperatures can be especially hot in July and August, with many days reaching over 95 degrees. Summer is also peak season for festivals.
One of the most recognized landmarks in Colorado is Red Rocks Amphitheater, and if you can arrange to see a summer concert there, you won’t be disappointed. There are also activities like Yoga on the Rocks and Film on the Rocks that allow you to experience this one-of-a-kind space in a different way. Plus you can visit when there aren’t any events planned to see the space and hike on the neighboring trails.
A summer trip to Colorado is also a perfect time to visit one of the state’s 4 National Parks or 11 National Forests.
Hot Tip: If you’re planning on staying in Denver and are looking to save some money, check out these inexpensive hotel options.
Fall (September, October, November)
Once the summer heat begins to recede, fall brings a chill to the air and colorful foliage is visible in every direction. Peak times for fall color vary each year and are also different depending on where you are in the state. Generally speaking, mid-September through mid-October will offer the best chances of seeing blazing fall colors in Colorado.
The highlight of fall leaf peeping in Colorado is seeing the Aspen trees turn a golden yellow color. These white-barked trees are found throughout North America, but one of the largest concentrations of them is in Colorado. The stark contrast between the yellow foliage and white bark set among the snow-capped mountains is a sight to behold.
Hot Tip: Check out our guide to amazing places to see fall foliage in the U.S.
Winter (December, January, February)
Not surprisingly, winter is one of the most popular times to visit Colorado. When the days get shorter and colder, ski season heats up. While the most snow actually doesn’t come until March, January still sees high levels of snow with many popular ski towns including Crested Butte, Vail, and Steamboat Springs seeing more than 30 inches during the month.
Be sure to pack your warmest gear because the coldest month in Colorado is January when high temperatures are between 25 to 49 degrees with lows ranging from 22 to -8 degrees.
Of course, there’s more to Colorado in the winter than just skiing. Visitors can also try out fun activities like snowmobiling, ice skating, ice fishing, dog sledding, tubing, snowshoeing, and even visiting a hot spring!
Hot Tip: Check out our printable ski and snowboard packing list so you don’t forget anything for your winter getaway.
The Best Times To Visit Colorado by Interests
The Best Times To Visit Colorado for Outdoor Activities (Hiking, Rafting, Camping)
If you’d like to spend time outdoors enjoying activities like hiking, rafting, camping, or kayaking, then you’ll want to plan your trip to Colorado between June and October. This time frame offers the warmest weather for outdoor activities. Be prepared for crowds, as these months are also among the most popular times to visit Colorado.
The Best Times To Visit Colorado for Skiing
The ski season usually starts in late November or early December and goes through early April, but the best months for skiing in Colorado are January and February. These months are the coldest and have ample snow on the ground. Try to avoid weekends and holidays if you can to avoid large crowds. There’s still good skiing to be had in March, but stick to the beginning of the month to avoid the spring break crowds.
Since peak skiing season can be expensive, this is a great time to redeem some of those hotel points you’ve been earning.
The Best Times To Visit Colorado To See National Parks
Colorado is home to 4 national parks that are popular with travelers looking for outdoor activities like hiking and camping. Summer is the most popular time to visit the parks, so they can get crowded.
The Best Times To Visit Colorado To Avoid Crowds
The shoulder seasons will be the best time to visit Colorado to avoid crowds. Since summer and winter are peak travel times in Colorado, spring (April to May) and fall (October to November) will offer the best chance to avoid crowds.
The Best Times To Visit Colorado To Save Money
The least expensive times to visit Colorado are usually during the shoulder season months of April, May, October, and November. January can also be a cheap time to visit — it’s the month with the cheapest airfare, according to Skyscanner.
Hot Tip: If you’d like to save money on your trip to Colorado, check out these websites for cheap flights and cheap hotels. You can also set up flight deal alerts to keep track of flight prices.
Colorado is a diverse state offering excellent outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and biking, as well as tons of natural beauty, lots of festivals, and plenty of fun activities for all types of travelers.
The best time to visit Colorado will depend on what you’re looking for, but it’s safe to say you won’t be disappointed whenever you decide to visit this unique state.