If you’re planning a trip to Colorado, chances are you’re looking to switch off and immerse yourself in the great outdoors. With mountains, lakes, waterfalls and valleys, Colorado is an adventure playground with hiking trails, outdoor activities and nature galore. The climate in Colorado varies throughout the state and the best time to visit really depends on what you want to do. We’ve put together this guide to help you plan your next trip.

Weather in Colorado

Colorado is a huge state and the climate varies a lot depending on where you are. There’s a bit of everything, from continental to tundra to humid-subtropical. Generally, the weather is cooler in the mountains and valleys, and it can get particularly chilly in the evening and early mornings even in the warmer months. A large variance between daytime and night-time temperatures is common throughout the year, so make sure you pack clothing that you can layer up or down. One of our favourite things about Colorado is the sunshine – an average of 300 days per year!

Winter is very cold with average temperatures ranging between 15-54°F. However, in places like the Eastern Plains, it’s often much colder and temperatures can drop as low as -10°F. Colorado also receives about 70 inches of annual snowfall, but in mountainous areas it's much higher with a whopping 200-400 inches per year.  

Spring is an awesome time to visit. Daytime highs average a pleasant 50-60°F. Towards the end of the season when the snow starts to melt, nature quite literally springs back to life and wildflowers add bright pops of colour to hiking trails in the valleys and mountains. Late spring is also a great time to go chasin' waterfalls or go white water rafting as the snow melts down from the high country. 

Summer weather is hot and dry in many parts of the state, with average highs hovering between 90-100°F. The hot weather creates prime conditions for hurricanes, thunderstorms and wildfires, but it also draws in big crowds who want to enjoy reliably warm and sunny weather on their summer vacations. Places like Denver and Colorado Springs are particularly busy, especially when the summer festival season kicks off.

Colorado's nature game is strong, so you can imagine the spectacular colours and scenery that emerge once autumn arrives. The mountain trails turn into a photographer's paradise with bright yellow, orange and red foliage thanks to the many groves of Aspen trees dotted around the state.

Average temperatures in Colorado

MONTH

AVERAGE HIGH (°F)  

AVERAGE LOW (°F)  

January 

46

18

February

44

18

March

56

28

April

62

34

May 68 43
June  85 54
July 89 60
August  88 58
September 82 51
October  66 37
November  55 26
December  45 18

When is the best time to visit Colorado?

The best time to visit Colorado depends on what you want to do. If we’re talking about crowd-pleasing weather, mid to late spring (March-May) and early autumn (September-October) offer great weather conditions for long days spent hiking and cycling. The weather is still comfortable and pleasant, and you’ll miss the uncomfortable summer heat and the severe winter weather. The crowds are also smaller in the shoulder months.

Best time for hiking

Many of Colorado's trails in Denver, Colorado Springs and Pawnee National Grasslands are open all year round. You should only tackle trails at higher elevations if you know how to navigate more severe conditions and have the right gear. Late spring through early fall is undoubtedly the best time to go hiking in Colorado's national parks and valleys such as the Rocky Mountains, Colorado National Monument and Steamboat Springs. The weather is comfortable and dry, and daylight is plentiful. If you plan on hiking in the Colorado Desert, just note that summer is extremely hot, so perhaps consider going in the shoulder season to avoid the heat. 

Best time for white water rafting

The best time of year for white water rafting is generally May through late August, but this may vary depending on the river. If you're rafting on the Arkansas River in Salida, you'll get the highest, most exhilarating rapids from the end of May until late June when the warm temperatures melt the snow at the top of the mountains. The rapids calm down by mid-August when the snow starts to fall again. 

Best time for snowsports 

Colorado is home to some of the USA's top skiing and snowboarding destinations including Aspen, Boulder, Wolf Creek Ski Area and Steamboat Ski Resort. Not only can you enjoy perfect powder snow for hitting the slopes, but the winter scenery and views from the top of the mountains are incredible. December and January are usually the best time for soft, fluffy snow, but you'll have to share the slopes with more people. And it's also really cold! If you want to beat the crowds, enjoy the snow and would prefer slightly warmer temperatures, late February through March is your best bet.

Best time for festivals 

If you love music, food, art and culture, summer in Colorado is calling your name. The festival calendar is jam-packed with events from open-air music concerts and wine festivals, to dragon boat races and wildflower festivals. There are plenty of events scattered throughout the other seasons, but nothing beats sitting outside on a balmy summer's evening enjoying the festivities.

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