The Best Time of Year to Visit Colorado

Boasting one of the largest concentrations of craft breweries in the country, world-class skiing, a rich history and so much more, every season offers a wealth of things to do in Colorado. So, regardless of the time of year, grab your calendar and start planning your next great adventure in the Centennial State.

Fall colors in Rocky Mountain National Park
Fall colors in Rocky Mountain National Park
Beaver Creek Golf Club
Beaver Creek Golf Club
Cross-country skiers in Salida
Cross-country skiing in Colorado
Colorado whitewater rafting
Colorado whitewater rafting
Updated:

Save time by jumping straight to fall, spring, winter or summer.

Fall

Each fall, a cascading wave of crimson red, sunlight yellow and forest green covers the ancient mountains and valleys of the Colorado Rockies. Leaf peepers travel from all around to capture this natural phenomenon in all its mesmerizing and awe-inspiring glory. Fortunately, Colorado offers an astounding number of ways to experience fall colors — whether it’s hiking, biking, driving or riding a historical train.

Scenic byways & colorado national parks

Colorado’s 26 scenic byways are rife with eye-popping fall colors. The Peak to Peak scenic byway, for example, takes you on a winding 55-mile drive from casino towns Black Hawk and Central City north to Estes Park. Along the Continental Divide, you’ll find meadows and ravines bursting with seas of gold and vibrant orange, and our 12 total national parks and monuments are teeming with leaf-peeping opportunities. Rocky Mountain National Park is a gold mine for fall colors. Hike Gem Lake Trail and make your way through the towering aspen groves, culminating in a satisfying panoramic view of the park below.

historical train rides

If you’d like to give the vibrant aspens your full attention, opt for a historical train ride. Originally built in 1880 to serve the silver-mining district of the San Juan Mountains, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad departs from Antonito and can’t be missed. Another gem is the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which takes you on a postcard-worthy joyride over rolling rivers, along dizzying cliffs and into stands of vivid aspens.

Harvest festivals, pumpkin patches and corn mazes

The most colorful season isn’t just about exploring Colorado’s wild outdoors side. Festivities of all kinds like harvest festivals, pumpkin patches and corn mazes are a great way to fill out the day. At Adam's Apple Orchard & Country Store in Ault and Ya Ya Farm & Orchard in Longmont, you’ll find a different kind of fall foliage — rows upon rows of lush red and green apples, ripe for the picking. Diana’s Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze in Cañon City and Anderson Farms in Erie are brimming with fall activities like mind-bending corn mazes, pumpkin picking and farm animals to play with.

breweries & wineries

To unwind from your adventures, stop by one of Colorado’s famed breweries or wineries. Breckenridge Brewery Farmhouse in Littleton offers seasonal events in their sprawling beer garden and Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins provides a staggering variety of frothy pints with their seasonal beer menu. Carboy Winery has locations in Littleton, Palisade and Denver, offering charcuterie boards and beautiful patios to enjoy the fall weather. Blue Mountain Vineyards in Berthoud provides a little more seclusion along with private wine tastings and other events.

Spring

Spring yields cooler weather and an extended life on winter activities in the mountains. From late March to late May, Colorado’s ski resorts see fewer visitors, warmer weather and maybe one last snowfall (or two).

spring skiing & Hot springs

Arapahoe Basin (A-Basin, as it’s often called by locals) is famous for its exceptionally long ski season. Just over Loveland Pass, you’ll find the family-friendly Loveland Ski Area. Barrel down the black-diamond runs at Loveland Basin or head down to Loveland Valley for beginner terrain. Hot springs are one of Colorado’s more leisurely mountain activities and provide a nice relief for sore muscles — Indian Hot Springs, Mount Princeton Hot Springs and Glenwood Hot Springs are all great options.

golfing & fly-fishing

Warm spring days can be enjoyed with a round of golf or a peaceful day of fly-fishing. The varied geographic features — from towering pines to rolling plains — of Colorado make for some challenging holes, and the perfect backdrop for photos. Beaver Creek Golf Club and Ballyneal Golf and Hunt Club in Holyoke provide distinct, but equally satisfying features. While fly-fishing is a year-round endeavor in Colorado, spring offers some unique opportunities for anglers. Fish tend to slow down when the water is cooler, making for an easier catch. The meandering waters of the Yampa River south of Steamboat Springs and the South Platte River near Deckers are just two of many impeccable spring fishing spots.

spring festivals & events

Festivals and events are a great way to occupy your breezy spring days. During the Monte Vista Crane Festival, you’ll experience the seasonal migration of thousands of sandhill cranes to the San Luis Valley. Greater Prairie Chicken Tours will take you on an educational journey across Wray to learn about the once-endangered prairie chicken. And at the Great American Horse Drive, you’ll see hundreds of horses trot through the streets of Maybell. Stick around for lunch, afternoon festivities and the chance to see the wild horses of Sand Wash Basin.

museums

Make your way inside to experience some of the state’s most renowned museums. Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum in Denver will take you on an immersive odyssey through the history of flight — from single-engine planes to spacecraft and everything in between. Built in 1895, Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs contains a variety of Victorian-era artifacts, a tea room and garden. And at the Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum you’ll explore the rich history of Ancestral Puebloans and Native Americans in Dolores.

Winter

When the temperature begins to cool down in Colorado, the outdoor recreation scene heats up. Ski resorts dot the Rocky Mountains, just begging for skiers and snowboarders to scout out those life-changing powder runs.

downhill & nordic skiing

Telluride, Aspen and Vail are among the finest ski destinations in the state, offering pristine terrain, high-class dining and accommodations, boutique shopping and more activities than you can shake a stick at. After hitting the slopes, glide gracefully through one of the outdoor ice-skating rinks or stop by the Frisco Nordic Center, Haymaker Nordic Center in Steamboat Springs or Never Summer Nordic in Walden to rent snowshoes or explore the freshly groomed cross-country-skiing trails.

ski-free snowy fun

If you’re looking for winter adventures but aren’t a fan of downhill skiing, few places can provide more than Snow Mountain Ranch near Granby. Set in a sprawling valley with mountains all around, this is the ideal destination for scenic sleigh rides, snowmobile rides, dog-sled racing, tubing and so much more. Rent a fat bike and explore all the trails this destination has to offer like Hallett’s Peak Trail or Fraser Canyon Trail. Take a trip down to Ouray in southwest Colorado and learn how to ice climb with San Juan Mountain Guides.

holiday lights & christmas markets

Holiday lights are the cornerstone of the winter experience in Colorado. Downtown Denver goes all out (and then some) with its light shows. Your first stop should be the Colorado State Capitol. Each year, this building is aglow with choreographed lights. Bundle up, grab a cup of hot cocoa and attend the Pueblo Parade of Lights and Catch the Glow Parade in Estes Park. And round out your holiday experience with festivals like the Georgetown Christmas Market, a European-inspired winter wonderland featuring delights like carolers in Victorian dress, roasted chestnuts and local vendors selling gifts.  

Summer

whitewater rafting

Make way for Colorado’s summer adventures. The Cache la Poudre River in northern Colorado has made a name for itself as one of the top whitewater rafting destinations in the state. It slows down to a gentle roll as it approaches Fort Collins, and at the Poudre River Whitewater Park, you can enjoy tubing, kayaking and other water activities. Rafters would be remiss not to hit the class III and IV rapids in Dinosaur National Monument at the confluence of the Green River and the Yampa River. Or make your way to Buena Vista for rapids that will treat everyone from beginners to experts in the Arkansas River.

concerts

Catch a live music performance at some of Colorado’s favorite venues like Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre in Morrison. This open-air amphitheater provides natural acoustics with its soaring rock formations. Alternatively, you could journey along the Colorado Historic Opera Houses Circuit to hear everything from opera to rock 'n’ roll in five different venues throughout Central City, Leadville, Aspen, Telluride and Ouray.

hiking, biking & ohv

Way out west, where lush mountain forests give way to rocky plateaus, Grand Junction is Colorado’s OHV capital. Grab your ATV, UTV, dirt bike or whatever vehicle you can muster and explore Bangs Canyon. Mountain bikers should make their way to Crested Butte and Monarch Pass for endless adventures along stately peaks. Hikers should head to the Flatirons in Boulder, a must-see landmark for all skill levels. These ruddy, slanted-rock formations are some of the most iconic features of the Colorado foothills. And water-lovers will find themselves right at home in Grand Lake — Colorado’s largest natural body of water and one of the lesser-known gateways to Rocky Mountain National Park. Go boating, fishing, swimming or SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) while you enjoy serene mountain landscapes.

rodeos & dude ranches

As a Western state, you won’t be surprised by the amount of bull riding, steer wrestling and rope throwing going on here. Rodeos like the Greeley Stampede, Meeker Range Call Celebration and Cattlemen’s Days in Gunnison attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, offering fun for the whole family including parades, carnivals and so much more. Another way to embrace your inner cowpoke is by spending the night at a dude ranch like C Lazy U near Granby, Vista Verde Ranch in Clark or Rawah Ranch in Glendevey. You’ll be treated to luxury accommodations, fine dining and outdoor activities perfect for romantic outings or family getaways. Finally, farmers markets offer an opportunity to meet with local farmers and to obtain fresh, organic produce directly from the source. The Greeley Farmers Market, City Park Farmers Market in Denver and the Boulder Farmers Market offer everything from fresh produce to artisan cheeses and handmade goods.

Want more?

Fall Festivals & Fall Drives: Perfect Colorado Pair >>

Top 7 Winter Train Trips in Colorado >>

Spring Events in Colorado >>

Summer in Colorado Ski Towns >