Have you ever dreamed of a trip to the Rocky Mountains? Did visions of powdery ski slopes, snow-capped peaks and adventure fill your head?
If so, then a visit to Colorado just may be in order. With breathtaking mountains, charming small towns and all the activities you can imagine from hiking, biking to kayaking, fishing and more.
There’s something for everyone in this beautiful state. But if you’re traveling on a budget or trying to stick to one, have no fear.
You can still experience all that Colorado has to offer. In this article we’ll explain when is the cheapest time to travel and explore Colorado while sharing insider tips on finding budget-friendly deals year round.
The cheapest time to visit Colorado
Colorado is a beautiful state that offers a fantastic array of landscapes, from lush forests to snowy peaks.
For budget-conscious travelers, finding the cheapest time to visit can make a real difference. If you’re flexible with your dates, then planning a trip to Colorado during the shoulder season can help you save money.
The shoulder season typically refers to the period between peak and off-peak seasons, and it’s when you’re likely to find fewer crowds, lower rates on accommodation, and discounts on activities.
In Colorado, the shoulder season typically falls between April and May or September and October, but make sure to research the specific areas you want to visit to find out the best timing.
Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, the cheapest time to visit Colorado is a great way to make your trip even more enjoyable.
Tips for Saving Money on Your Colorado Vacation
Traveling to Colorado doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. By following these seven tips, you’ll be able to save some money on your next trip to Colorado without sacrificing any of the attractions the state has to offer.
★ Travel during shoulder season
One of the easiest ways to save money on your Colorado vacation is by traveling during the shoulder season.
This is the period between peak and off-peak seasons when prices are lower, and crowds are fewer. For example, in ski resorts, this is typically late fall or early spring.
Going during prime hiking season in the summer can lead to bigger crowds and higher prices, so consider exploring the state during less touristy times.
★ Look for affordable accommodations
When looking for accommodation options in Colorado, there are plenty of affordable alternatives to staying in traditional hotel rooms.
Hostels, vacation rentals, and camping are all great ways to reduce lodging costs. If you’re up for a little bit of a drive, look to stay in smaller, lesser-known mountain towns for more affordable options.
★ Save on dining
While there are plenty of fine dining experiences to have in Colorado, keep your eyes open for cheaper options.
Colorado is known for its delicious street food, but there are also tons of grocery stores located everywhere that have delis or hot food sections that could be a good option for a quick, on-the-go meal.
Taking advantage of happy hour specials can be a great way to indulge in delicious food and drinks for less.
★ Take advantage of free activities
Some of Colorado’s most stunning attractions are entirely free to enjoy.
Take a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, visit the Colorado State Capitol building in Denver, or walk around Pearl Street Mall.
These activities are a great way to explore the state without breaking the bank. Most towns in Colorado host free events during the summer months, so check out a local calendar or events page to learn more.
★ Consider public transportation
While renting a car in Colorado can be convenient, it’s also expensive, especially if you plan to park it downtown.
Instead, consider utilizing public transportation, like Denver’s light rail or ride-sharing apps for getting around.
In mountain towns, many activities and hikes are accessible without a car and are just a quick walk or bike ride from your accommodations.
Exploring affordable activities in Colorado during shoulder season
There are plenty of affordable activities to enjoy in Colorado, regardless of the time of year. See the list below:
■ Visit National Parks:
During shoulder season, national parks in Colorado tend to be less crowded, and admission fees may be discounted.
Rocky Mountain National Park, for example, offers discounted admission fees during the shoulder seasons.
Take advantage of this time to explore the park’s scenic hiking trails, majestic mountains, and wildlife watching opportunities.
■ Explore Historic Sites:
Colorado has a rich history, and visiting historic sites is a great way to learn and explore the state’s past.
Visit Mesa Verde National Park, home to ancient cliff dwellings, or the Georgetown Loop Railroad, a historic narrow-gauge railroad.
■ Take a Hot Springs Soak:
Nothing beats a relaxing soak in a natural hot spring, and Colorado has plenty of them. During shoulder season, hot springs may be less crowded and offer discounted rates.
Check out Mount Princeton Hot Springs, Glenwood Hot Springs, or Pagosa Hot Springs for an affordable and relaxing soak.
■ Go Wine Tasting:
Colorado is home to several wineries and vineyards that offer affordable wine tasting experiences.
During shoulder season, many wineries offer discounted rates and smaller crowds. Visit Palisade, Colorado’s Wine Country, and explore the tasting rooms at local wineries and vineyards.
■ Enjoy Fall Colors:
Colorado is known for its stunning fall foliage, and shoulder season is the perfect time to enjoy the changing leaves.
Take a scenic drive through the mountains, hike through golden aspen groves, or go on a photography tour to capture the vibrant autumn colors.
■ Experience Festivals and Events:
Shoulder season in Colorado is home to several festivals and events.
From the Great American Beer Festival to the Denver Film Festival, there’s plenty to see and do in Colorado during shoulder season.
Many events offer discounted tickets and smaller crowds, making it an ideal time to attend.
■ Take a Scenic Train Ride:
Colorado is home to several scenic train rides that offer breathtaking views of the state’s mountains, valleys, and forests.
Take a ride on the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, or the Royal Gorge Route Railroad.
Where to Find Budget-Friendly Accommodations in Colorado
When visiting Colorado on a budget, finding affordable accommodations is key.
If you’re a budget-conscious traveler, hostels are the perfect option for you. Colorado has many quality hostels that offer affordable dormitories or private rooms, as well as common areas, kitchens, and activities.
Some of the best hostels in Colorado are the Denver Hostel in Denver, the Crested Butte Hostel in Crested Butte, the Adventure Hostel in Breckenridge, and the Hostel Fish in Denver.
Hostels not only save you money on lodging but also give you the opportunity to meet other travelers from all over the world and share travel tips and stories.
Airbnb is a popular alternative to traditional hotels and resorts, especially for budget-minded travelers.
You can find a wide variety of Airbnb rentals in Colorado, from cozy rooms in local homes to entire apartments or houses.
Airbnb usually offers more space, privacy, and flexibility than hotels, and can be a great way to experience Colorado like a local.
Some of the best Airbnb destinations in Colorado are Aspen, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, and Telluride.
Camping is another affordable way to experience Colorado’s natural beauty and activities.
The state boasts an abundance of national parks, state parks, forests, and wildlife areas that offer a range of camping options, from primitive sites to RV parks.
Some of the most popular camping spots in Colorado are Rocky Mountain National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Chatfield State Park, and Cherry Creek State Park.
Camping not only saves you money on accommodation but also allows you to immerse yourself in nature, enjoy outdoor recreation, and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Homestays are a growing trend in the travel industry, especially for adventurous and cultural travelers.
A homestay is a type of accommodation that lets you stay with a local family or host and experience their lifestyle, culture, and hospitality.
Homestays vary in size, type, and style, and can range from a spare room to a cottage or a farm.
Some of the best homestays in Colorado are the Barn on the River in Basalt, the C Lazy U Ranch in Granby, the Lazy J Ranch in Crested Butte, and the Lost Forest Bed and Breakfast in Montrose.
Homestays not only give you a unique perspective on Colorado but also allow you to make meaningful connections with great people.
Colorado is a fantastic destination for travelers of all kinds. Whether you to ski, snowboard, explore the outdoors or just relax in one of the many charming towns and cities, there’s something for everyone.
By planning your trip during the shoulder season and taking advantage of discounts and deals year round, you can enjoy breathtaking views at a fraction of the cost.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be able to enjoy all that Colorado has to offer without breaking the bank.