What’s the best time to visit Colorado? [Things to do + best hiking trails]

Colin A. Borden
Colin A. Borden
The best time to visit Colorado

From the breathtaking mountains to lush green forests, Colorado offers a plethora of natural wonders just waiting to be explored.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast seeking thrilling hiking trails and majestic ski slopes or a city dweller searching for the perfect mountain views, Colorado is the ideal place to visit year round.

With so much beauty and adventure around every corner, it can be difficult to decide when’s the best time of year for a trip – luckily, we’ve compiled all the information you need to make your decision.

Keep reading for insight into weather patterns in different regions of The Centennial State as well as suggestions on what activities and attractions are available at certain points throughout the year.

Weather Patterns of Colorado

With its fluctuating weather patterns, it can be confusing to decide the best season to experience the state’s scenic beauty. Stick around, and we’ll help you decide when to visit Colorado to make the most of your trip.

Winter Season (December to March):

Colorado is a winter wonderland during this season, with major resort towns like Vail, Breckenridge, and Aspen turning into ski paradises for visitors who love a winter adventure. The weather is cold, with temperatures dropping as low as negative degrees, so make sure to pack lots of warm clothing. From skiing to snowmobiling, ice skating to snowshoeing, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to experience during this season. 

Spring Season (April to May):

Springtime in Colorado offers some of the most beautiful sights, from the blooming of wildflowers to the melting of snow, unveiling the fresh and verdant landscape that the state is known for. The temperatures start to warm up a bit, averaging around 50 to 60 degrees during the daytime. Spring in Colorado is also the off-season for skiing, which means that availability and prices are most favorable, making it a great time to visit for those on a budget. 

Summer Season (June to August):

During the summer season, Colorado provides a plethora of warm weather activities such as hiking, biking, rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, camping, and everything in between. The climate is largely dry and sunny, making it the perfect time for outdoor enthusiasts to get their fill of adventure while admiring the beautiful and diverse landscape. Some popular attractions such as the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Garden of Gods are often crowded during this season, so be prepared for a few extra crowds. 

Fall Season (September to November):

Fall in Colorado is famous for its foliage when the trees turn into beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red. The beautiful scenery creates the perfect theme for outdoor activities such as hiking, horseback riding, and scenic drives. The weather is cooler than summer, with the temperature ranging between 50 to 70 degrees during the daytime. The season also marks the annual Oktoberfest celebrations throughout the state, with beer, music, and food from Bavaria’s finest.

Holidays in Colorado:

The holiday season creates a magical atmosphere in Colorado. The snowy mountain towns are bustling with festivity and winter sports, making it the perfect time to enjoy the fun and relaxation of a charming mountain holiday. The holiday season also means an uptick in tourists and their prices, so plan accordingly. 

The best time to visit Colorado

If you’re planning a trip to Colorado, you want to make sure you pick the best time to visit.

While the state’s natural beauty is breathtaking year-round, there is something special about the months from June through October.

The weather is warm and sunny, allowing for optimal outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and fishing.

Plus, the wildflowers are in full bloom, adding bursts of color against the stunning mountain backdrop.

If you’re a music lover, you’ll also want to check out some of the state’s popular festivals like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and the Aspen Music Festival.

Don’t miss out on this picturesque state during its prime season.

Must-see attractions in Colorado:

If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful state between June and October, you’re in for a real delight. From national parks and historic sites to colorful festivals and unique events, Colorado has something for everyone. Here are five must-see attractions to visit during this time of year.

🚀 Rocky Mountains National Park:

The Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the country, and it’s easy to see why. With its snow-covered peaks, dense forests, and crystal-clear lakes, it’s a unique location to explore. The park consists of over 400 square miles of land, with over 300 miles of hiking trails. June to October is an ideal time to visit and explore the park, as the weather is mild, snow has melted, and wildflowers are in full bloom.

🚀 Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve:

If you’re looking for some unique Colorado scenery, the Great Sand Dunes National Park is a must-see. It is home to the tallest sand dunes in North America, with some of them reaching over 700 feet tall. Visitors can hike or sled down the dunes, or take a tour of the diverse ecosystems that surround the dunes. The park is open year-round, but the best time to visit is in the summer months when the weather is warm.

🚀Colorado State Capitol:

The Colorado State Capitol is a perfect blend of history and modernity, featuring intricate designs and a gold dome. The building is home to the state’s government, but visitors can take a tour of the capitol building and learn about the state’s history, art, and culture. The building is open from Monday to Friday, but it’s worth checking the website for tours to avoid any inconvenience.

🚀 Telluride Bluegrass Festival:

The Telluride Bluegrass Festival, held annually in June or July, is a must-see event for music lovers. The festival is held over four days and features some of the best Bluegrass acts in the country. The festival takes place in the mountain town of Telluride, offering visitors a unique blend of music, scenery, and local cuisine.

🚀 Pikes Peak Cog Railway:

Climbing up to 14,115 feet above sea level, Pikes Peak is a highlight of any trip to Colorado. The Pikes Peak Cog Railway is the world’s highest cog train, taking visitors on a scenic journey to the summit. Along the way, passengers can take in stunning views of the mountains and alpine forests. The railway is open from May to November, so visitors can plan their trip accordingly.

Best hiking trails in Colorado

To make things easier for you, I’ve compiled a list of the seven best hiking trails in Colorado that you must not miss.

🏞️Rocky Mountain National Park:

This national park is a paradise for hikers and offers over 350 miles of picturesque trails.

If you’re looking for a challenging hike, then Longs Peak Trail is perfect for you. It’s a strenuous 14-mile round trip that reaches an altitude of 14,259 feet.

But the views from the top are truly worth the effort. For a more moderate hike, you can choose the Emerald Lake Trail, which is a 3.6-mile round trip and takes you through the stunning views of the mountains and lakes.

🏞️Maroon Bells:

Colorado is home to countless enchanting hikes – and the Maroon Lake Scenic Trail ranks near the top of the list.

This popular trek features two iconic peaks standing tall at 14,000 feet – the majestic Maroon Bells! Families or beginner adventurers will love this accessible trail and its breathtaking views.

The meanders around serene lakes takes you alongside babbling rivers… and culminates with hikers reaching remarkable highs of over 9,500 feet altitude.

Embark on a journey here and discover why Colorado’s outdoor beauty makes it a hiker’s paradise!

🏞️The Great Sand Dunes National Park:

Standing grand in meet the sky, The Great Sand Dunes of Colorado are some spectacularly sandy sites to see.

Boating near towering 750 feet tall sand hills, overlooked by the distinct peak of Mt. Herard, is an once in a lifetime experience.

For those wanting to explore the fascinating area further—and those easily seduced by classic majesty of nature—the Medano Creek Trail is your breathtaking gateway from the serene exterior of their San Luis Valley home.

Step inside and behold views soaring with breathtaking horizon lines while admiring every rugged glimpse of captivating clarity within this unmissable continental wonderland.

🏞️Garden of the Gods:

This famous landmark in Colorado Springs is a must-see destination for any traveler looking for awe inspiring wonders.

With unique, craggy rock formations dotting the landscape and year-round stunning views, Gateway Trail is an increasingly popular destination for nature lovers and thrillseekers alike.

Not to be missed are some of the most mesmerizing examples of red rocks formations set against a backdrop of unprecedented colors that will simply blow your mind away.

Captivatingly vast and exponentially larger than life, the natural beauty of this incredible park will stay with you long after taking in its wonders.

🏞️Mount Sanitas:

Enjoy the longest hike with impressively panoramic views of Boulder from a soaring elevation of 1343 feet.

This 4 mile roundtrip hike in Boulder is the perfect combination of sleek and intense ascension. Get your adventure on, Glimpse the spectacular flatirons from atop the mountain crest, an apex akin to being above it all and within nature’s succor.

Free yourself, and escape the rhythms of city life for some stylish jogging up this serpentine hiking trail that ends close to heaven’s heights.

Reward yourself with personalized energy and views that you can only find, traverse and experience here on this challenging route.

🏞️Flatirons Vista Trailhead:

Boulder offers an incredible 3.3–mile hiking route, with a loop around scenic rolling hills.

Nature–lovers, take note—you may spot mountain views of Longs Peak, Mount Evans, and the Indian Peaks.

Enjoy one of the best outdoor experiences offered near Boulder. Taking this challenging trail offers a reward unlike any other—beyond the rocky path veering through wild grass lay vast breathtaking displays of tall peaks and snaking rivers. Marvel at remarkable wonders that exist right outside your doorstep.

That’s what makes the journey so worth it – embark on pure bliss as you explore this breathtaking hiking trail in Boulder.

🏞️Hanging Lake Trail:

Located in sprawling Glenwood Canyon, this phenomenal trail is no joke. It’s a 3.7 mile round trip challenge and the toils of this trek are fantastically rewarding.

During your journey, your breath will be taken away by those far-famed turquoise waters and strong forceful falls.

Colorado has long stood as America’s key mountain state, no wonder why it holds sites like these. With its serene landscape, quaint beauty, and vigorous struggle; this trail offers snapshot-worthy scenes throughout.

If you consider yourself an avid explorer or joyous hiker, then immerse yourself in this iconic trail ASAP.

A turner of eyod’s delight boasting one of the most naturally exuberant views in history plus being one of the simpler hikes included; seeing it should be undeniably added to every outdoor bucket list.

Best things to do in Colorado

After going through several breathtaking trails, take a break and enjoy some of the best things to do in Colorado.

From exploring historical sites to shopping in trendy boutiques, there is always something new and exciting to do in this beautiful state.

Explore the Great Sand Dunes National Park

Imagine standing on top of giant dunes, surrounded by mountains. That’s what the Great Sand Dunes National Park offers.

This national park has the tallest sand dunes in North America, and it’s a unique attraction. You can hike on the dunes, sled in the sand, or explore the nearby trails.

Tour the Garden of the Gods

A registered National Natural Landmark, the Garden of the Gods is a popular public park located in Colorado Springs.

It’s full of breathtaking red rock formations that are millions of years old. Thanks to the unique geologic formations, the park offers excellent photographic opportunities, hiking trails, and rock climbing.

Relax at the Hot Springs

Colorado is home to natural hot springs, which provide the perfect opportunity for relaxation.

Whether you’re looking for a spa-like experience or a more adventurous one, Colorado has something for you.

Some of the top hot springs include Glenwood Hot Springs, Pagosa Springs, and Mount Princeton Hot Springs.

Pursue Winter Sports

If you love winter sports, Colorado is the perfect destination for you.

Whether you are an expert in the field or just starting, you will always find something to do.

From skiing and snowboarding at popular resorts like Vail and Breckenridge to snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and ice skating, the possibilities are endless.

Visit the Colorado State Capitol

If you desire a little less nature in your vacation, the Colorado State Capitol should be on your list.

The building is one of the most recognizable symbols of the state, featuring a gold-plated dome that sits atop the building.

Guided tours are available to visitors to learn about the building and its role in Colorado’s history.

Experience Mesa Verde National Park

This park is among the most unique sites in the country.

It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains over 4000 archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings.

Here, you can step back in time and explore the ancestral Puebloan ruins. Mesa Verde is an excellent place to gain insight into the prehistoric history of the region.

Best restaurants in Colorado

Some of the best restaurants in Colorado, cover the food, ambiance, and overall dining experience.

Here are things you need to know about the state’s top dining spots.

Farm-to-Table Concept

Colorado’s culinary scene favors the farm-to-table concept, where local ingredients are used to prepare meals.

The concept has resulted in top restaurants sourcing their ingredients from nearby farms, promoting local businesses, and giving diners a taste of the state’s local flavors.

A great example is the Mercantile Dining & Provision in Denver, which sources its ingredients from farms within a 100-mile radius.

Innovative Cuisine

Another common characteristic of Colorado’s top restaurants is their innovative cuisine.

Chefs work with a blend of traditional techniques and modern styles to create unique culinary experiences.

For example, Poka Lola Social Club, located in Denver, uses locally sourced ingredients to prepare classic American dishes with a modern, elevated twist.

The result is a menu that excites the taste buds.

Rooftop Restaurants

Colorado’s beautiful scenery and comfortable weather make rooftop dining a popular experience.

Many restaurants offer lovely rooftop spaces for diners to enjoy the views while enjoying delicious meals.

One of the best rooftop restaurants in the state is the Linger Eatuary in Denver, which has an incredible skyline view.

Fusion Restaurants

Colorado’s ethnic diversity has played a role in the rise of fusion restaurants.

These restaurants fuse traditional flavors from around the world with local ingredients and styles to create unique experiences.

An excellent example is Saffron Grill in Denver, which fuses Indian cuisine with Mexican flavors, resulting in an incredible culinary experience.

Wine Culture

Colorado is home to over 150 wineries, and the wine culture has contributed to fantastic wine pairings in its top restaurants.

You can enjoy a blend of urban and rural wineries, adding to the dining experience. The Black Cat in Boulder has an extensive wine selection for wine lovers.

Sustainable Dining

Sustainable dining is a growing trend in Colorado’s top restaurants, and it is common to see many establishments embracing eco-friendly practices.

From using local ingredients to composting food waste, the sustainability movement is promoting green dining.

An excellent example is the Potager Restaurant in Denver, which uses vegetables and herbs grown at its backyard gardens.

World-Renowned Chefs

Colorado’s culinary scene has attracted some of the world’s most renowned chefs, bringing new flavors to the state’s restaurant scene.

Top chefs such as Bobby Stuckey, Jennifer Jasinski, and Alex Seidel have opened restaurants in the state.

In particular, Acorn in Denver is hailed for its seasonal, ingredient-driven menu.

Final Verdict

If you’re planning a trip to Colorado and wondering about the best time to visit, it all depends on your interests and preferred activities.

For outdoor adventurers, June through October is ideal, as the weather is warm during the day and cool at night.

This is the perfect time for hiking, biking, rafting, and other outdoor activities. The mountains come alive with stunning wildflowers during this time, and there are lots of summer festivals and events to enjoy as well.

But if your main goal is to sample some of the state’s top restaurant fare, you can’t go wrong with any season. Colorado’s culinary scene offers a variety of flavors and experiences for everyone, from farm-to-table concept restaurants to innovative cuisine, rooftop dining spots and fusion eateries, sustainable menus and world-renowned chefs.

No matter when you visit, you can be sure to find something delicious.

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Colin Borden wanderlust takes him to stunningly beautiful places, where he delights in discovering new cultures and cuisines. With a passion for storytelling and a vivid imagination, Colin captures his experiences through heartfelt words that bring his adventures to life.
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