What to Wear Hiking in Colorado

When you’re spending time planning a hiking vacation in Colorado, pouring yourself into the details, you’re envisioning everything goes right. You’re picturing smiles and laughter, time unplugged in nature, and memories made – whether by yourself or with your family. However, there’s a relatively easy way for things to go wrong. 

Being unprepared for Colorado’s weather patterns can not only put a wringer in your vacation – it can compromise your safety, too. We’ve put expert advice together to compile this informative overview of what to wear hiking in Colorado. You can also check out our other post on Hiking Safety in Colorado

Typical Weather

Before you can decide what to wear hiking, accommodate yourself with Colorado’s climate

  • Spring: Spring weather in the Colorado Springs area means pretty drastic temperature shifts from day to night. Highs can be anywhere in the 50s and lows in the 20s. 
  • Summer: Summer in the Colorado mountains is definitely warmer than spring. However, with highs in the mid-80s and lows in the low 50s, these significant shifts in temperature from day to night mean you’ll still need to pack more than just a t-shirt and sunblock. 
  • Fall: Highs in the 60s and lows in the 30s is just about perfect weather for hiking in Colorado, but it doesn’t mean you don’t need to bring plenty of layers – just in case you are hiking later in the day than you planned. 
  • Winter: Temperatures in Colorado Springs hang out in the 40s in the day and high teens at night during the winter.
Photo by Reymark Franke on Unsplash

Layering

Wearing and bringing extra layers with you is crucial when hiking in Colorado’s mountains. At the very least, your basic hiking outfit/packed extras should contain the following:

  • Moisture-wicking base layer.
  • Moisture-wicking undergarments.
  • Insulating layer. In summer, this may be a warm fleece, depending on the weather forecast. In winter, this needs to be a heavyweight insulated synthetic or down stuffed jacket, like a “puffy.”
  • Rain jacket
  • Wool or fleece hat
  • Extra socks. We prefer wool.
Photo by ArtHouse Studio from Pexels

The Problem with Cotton

There’s a phrase in the outdoor world that warns us, “Cotton kills.” While this sounds extreme and is not the case in every climate, it should definitely be kept in mind when hiking anywhere in Colorado. 

Cotton is hydrophilic, which means it loves water; the plant fibers attract moisture and hold onto it, so it dries out very slowly. It’s highly absorbent and can hold up to 27 times its weight in water. This means our bodies must work extra hard to heat ourselves along with the cotton fabric in an attempt to dry it out. This can be dangerous in climates such as Colorado’s that have major temperature shifts from day to night and storms that seem to come out of nowhere. 

Unsafe Cotton Scenarios

Imagine you’re hiking in any season – you’re working hard and exerting yourself physically, so naturally, you work up a sweat. Your hydrophilic cotton shirt is absorbing every drop of sweat your body generates as you’re hiking up and over mountains. 

Now, imagine you’re wearing that sweaty cotton shirt, and it’s getting late in the day, and the temperature is dropping fast. You’re going back down the mountain, and although the descent is brutal on your knees, your body temperature is dropping quickly because you aren’t using much energy hiking downhill. With strong winds that can decrease your body temperature in seconds, things can take a turn for the worse very quickly from here.

However, the good news is that this scenario is entirely avoidable with knowledge, good preparation, and mindful packing. When packing for your hiking trip in Colorado, it’s best to keep the phrase “cotton kills” in your mind.

What to Wear Hiking Instead of Cotton

Head to any outdoor gear store, and you’re bound to see the term “moisture-wicking” on dozens of tags. Moisture-wicking fabrics like synthetic and wool fabrics are the opposite of cotton: they are hydrophobic, meaning they resist water penetration. 

Polyester and nylon are top contenders among synthetic moisture-wicking fabrics, and wool is the leader (and my personal favorite) when it comes to natural fibers. Whether you get soaked in a downpour or sweat profusely on your hike, your moisture-wicking shirt, pants, and socks are going to dry super quickly and not leave you cold and clammy like cotton will. 

Additionally, wool is a superb natural insulator. This makes wool the leader in fabrics that transition from daytime to nighttime hiking in areas where temperatures shift dramatically, like Colorado. 

But isn’t wool too hot for summertime hiking?

You can purchase 100% wool hiking attire that is lightweight enough to wear while hiking in the summer in Colorado. Just look for base layers – they can be pricey but incredibly versatile and suitable for all of Colorado’s seasons.

Things to Remember

When considering what to wear while hiking in Colorado, it’s important to think past just your clothing. 

  • If you have sensitive skin, make sure you bring sunscreen to apply on all exposed skin, following the bottle’s directions. 
  • Sunglasses and hats can protect your eyes, neck, and face from the sun.
  • Bug spray will help keep the gnats at bay.
  • Colorado is home to over 27 types of ticks and 20 tick-borne diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. To prevent ticks from crawling onto your skin, opt out of the shorts, and wear long pants tucked into your socks. Even if it’s hot, your moisture-wicking pants will keep you cool enough to hike. Also, remember to learn more about Colorado tick bite prevention, dangers, and bite protocols.
  • Footwear should be closed-toed and provide adequate ankle support for optimal safety. 

Conclusion

Safety is the most important thing to consider when planning what to wear hiking in Colorado. If you’re unclear on how to hike safely, consider coming on one of our Guided Hiking Tours in Colorado Springs. We’ll make sure you’ve dressed appropriately, show you around Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods, and keep you safe!

Colorado Springs Attractions You Don’t Want to Miss

When you’re going on vacation (or even a staycation), you want to make the most of your time. You didn’t take time off work, set up dog sitters, and play Tetris with your luggage in the back of the car to visit a bunch of attractions that you ended up not enjoying. You want to get what you came for and experience the most exciting things to do in Colorado Springs – the ones that you have to do in order to say you’ve truly been to Colorado Springs. 

But with the overwhelming number of brochures at rest stops and online advertisements begging for your attention, how do you decide which places to visit?

To explore Colorado Springs the way it deserves, you should focus on a few key elements: getting in nature, gaining knowledge about both ancient and recent history, and spending time relaxing to soak it all in. We’ve compiled a complete list of places you must visit in Colorado Springs with all of those points in mind. This guide will give you some direction in your travels as you’re looking for things to do in Colorado Springs. 

Cog Up/Bike Down Pikes Peak Adventure

If you’re looking for an exciting way to summit the second most-visited peak in the world – Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, CO – then this Broadmoor Outfitters adventure is for you. 

First, you’ll catch a ride up ‘America’s Mountain’ on the world’s highest cog railway – The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway. Then, you’ll ride a custom-built cruiser bicycle the whole 19.5 miles back down the mountain!

Image by VIT DUCKEN from Pixabay

This adventure is one of the most unique things to do in Colorado Springs. The Cog Up/Bike Down Adventure is suitable for anyone ten or older at any fitness level. Broadmoor Outfitters provides all the safety gear, including full-face helmets, high visibility vests, and gloves. The pace is set by a Broadmoor guide who will lead the way for the duration of the ride, and you’ll feel safe knowing a sweep van will follow the group to pick up anyone who ends their ride early. Remember, you’ll need to book this adventure at least two days in advance to secure your spot!

Woods Course Zipline

Ziplining is where exhilaration meets exploration! Hiking and biking are excellent ways to explore Colorado Springs, but ziplining is incredibly cool as you get a bird’s-eye view of the landscape! You’ll be 150 feet from the ground, sailing through ponderosa pine forests, gliding over the gorgeous Midnight Falls, and soaring through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains on this Broadmoor Outfitters adventure.

Image by Dragan Tomić from Pixabay

The Woods Course Zipline is suitable for beginners, but Broadmoor Outfitters also offers other, more advanced ziplining tours for people looking for a big thrill.

Explore Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods was named by Rufus Cable when he stood atop Pikes Peak, saw the glorious rock formation, and declared the area “…a fit place for the gods to assemble.” 


The Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center is a paradise and one of the most popular Colorado Springs attractions. You’ve got plenty of options for how to explore these 300-foot tall sandstone rock formations; there truly is something for everyone! There are activities for explorers at all fitness levels, including but not limited to hiking, rock climbing, and Jeep and Segway tours.

Photo by Jude Infantini on Unsplash

Western Museum of Mining and Industry

To bring your adventurous Colorado Springs vacation full circle, we recommend getting some historical context of the area by visiting the Western Museum of Mining & Industry. This museum offers 27 acres of exhibits, each containing over 4,000 artifacts from the 19th and 20th centuries. 

As you wander the campus, you’ll also get to see the Reynolds Ranch House – an Edwardian Lake-style ranch home that is included on the State Register of Historic Properties. This isn’t an ordinary museum; exhibits are set up both indoors and outdoors and feature restored steam engines and mining equipment, as well as a fully operational Stamp Mill and Blacksmithing Demo Shop. You’ll learn about the environmental impact of mining on wildlife and local plants and see the Mine Reclamation exhibit, which shows visitors the process of turning abandoned mines into useful land.

Manitou Cliff Dwellings

From 1200 B.C. to 1300 A.D, Native Americans known as Anasazi lived within natural and, eventually, constructed settlements high in the cliffs of canyon walls. In the Colorado Springs area, the ancient Anasazi cliff dwellings are located at the foot of what we now call Pikes Peak. The Manitou Cliff Dwellings are open to the public for self-guided tours. 


As you wander among the rooms carved within the vertical canyon walls, it’s only natural to wonder, “How in the world did they (the Anasazi) get up here?” That mystery, along with the settlements’ astonishing beauty, makes the Manitou Cliff Dwellings a popular attraction in Colorado Springs. Check out the FAQ section of the Manitou Cliff Dwellings Museum website to learn more about how to visit this architectural wonder.

Photo by Cupcake Media on Unsplash

Organic Spa at Broadmoor Resort

This luxurious partially organic Spa at Broadmoor Resort is featured in the Forbes Travel Guide. It’s certainly one of the best Colorado Springs attractions for those looking for a bit of pampering. 

This spa is the perfect way to relax after a full day of adventuring in Colorado Springs! Before your desired spa treatment, you’ll sit quietly in the Mountain View Room, overlooking the lush Broadmoor Golf Course greens. In the background, a stunning scene of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains invites you to pause, unwind, and relax. 

Overview

This breathtaking Rocky Mountains sanctuary is an inviting destination for both solo travelers and families. There are plenty of Colorado Springs tours and attractions that appeal to adventurers of all ages, history buffs, and people looking to unwind in the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. Remember to make reservations for all these things to do in Colorado Springs well in advance, and most importantly: have fun!

Safety Tips for Hiking in Colorado

We’ve all heard horror stories about accidents happening in the wilderness. Most of us are familiar with the novel and film “Into the Wild,” which recounts Christopher McCandless’s beautifully tragic and fatal story that takes place in the depths of the Alaskan wilderness. We’re painfully aware of notable accidents because they make for great television. However, the reality is, these tragedies are actually few and far between; there are exponentially more “successful” outings than tragic ones. The key to avoiding accidents altogether, and mitigating risks when they occur (because nature is nature, after all), is being prepared and knowledgeable before hiking in Colorado

These safety tips will cover important points you need to remember when exploring Colorado. So read on, and they’ll prepare you so that your stress is minimized and fun is maximized.

Image by Jonáš Sanislo from Pixabay

Share Your Plan

Planning and communicating that plan are both key components of hiking safety. You should never head out for hiking in Colorado (or anywhere!) without first telling someone. Whether you’re planning to hike for only one hour, overnight, or a couple of weeks, let someone know the ins and outs of your trip. For example, tell the person when you’ll be leaving and returning, where your car will be parked, and which trail(s) you’re planning to be on. Furthermore, let that person know if you change your route or any aspect of your plan. That way, if you get lost and need to be found, people will know where to look.

Be Prepared For Bad Weather

Two words: no cotton. Even if there’s no rain in the forecast, weather can change fast in Colorado. If you’re hiking during the day and get sweaty and are still in the wilderness when temps drop at night, you don’t want to be stuck in a wet, cold cotton shirt. From head to toe (or hat to socks), all of your hiking clothing should be made out of a moisture-wicking fabric such as wool or any synthetic fabric blend that’s marketed as quick dry. Bring a raincoat, an extra shirt in case of a sudden temperature drop or rainstorm, and an extra pair of moisture-wicking socks. Wear good-fitting, broken-in hiking boots that provide ankle support. Lather on the sunscreen even if it’s cloudy. 

Look over the National Lightning Safety Institute’s resource on lightning safety protocols. Better yet, print it out to have with you in case you need it.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

Bring Water and Snacks 

A good rule of thumb is to bring one liter of water for every hour you plan to be hiking. This is a great standard, and it’s also wise to pack a trustworthy water filtration system such as a Katadyn or Life straw, in case you are in the wilderness longer than you planned.  Bring snacks, too, as hiking burns a lot of calories. High-calorie foods like peanut butter, candy bars, granola, beef jerky, and trail mix are all great and easy options. Don’t just toss your food wrappers on the ground, however. Follow all Leave No Trace practices out of respect for nature, wildlife, and future generations of hikers to come. 

Keep it Realistic

We know how thrilling it can be to push ourselves and have new experiences, but staying safe, smart, and within our personal limits is the number one hiking tip we can offer. Plan your trip according to your experience. For example, if you’ve never been camping overnight, it’s probably not a good idea to head out on a week-long camping trip in the backcountry. If you’re not experienced at reading maps, stick to a well-marked trail, or even stay in cell phone range so you can use your phone’s GPS in case you get turned around. Finally, unless you’re in great shape, don’t embark on a ten-mile hiking trip as your first adventure.

If you would feel more comfortable hiking with a professional wilderness guide who knows the lay of the land, then stick to these Colorado Springs hiking tours for beginners.

Image by Inna Sherman from Pixabay

Stay Updated

Know what’s going on in the area you’re planning to hike. There will often be signs at the more popular trailheads informing hikers of recent wildlife sightings and how to behave if you encounter a bear, mountain lion, or coyote. Don’t worry – these animals are usually more afraid of you than you are of them! Check out Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s page on handling conflict with wildlife to stay safe and prepared.

In addition to staying updated about the wildlife, also acquaint yourself with general trail rules and alerts. For example, a gust of wind can make a simple campfire spread out of control during exceptionally dry periods. If you plan on having a campfire, use this comprehensive, up-to-date list of current fire bans in Colorado counties to avoid any fines, or worse, wildfires.

Our best recommendation is to visit the park website that manages the trail you’ll be hiking before heading out. There, you’ll learn about current trail conditions and potential hazards.

Bring a First Aid Kit

It’s wise to have an intentionally stocked first aid kit when you head out on any length of hiking trip. The American Hiking Society is a great resource for hiking tips, including how to stock your first aid kit. Depending on how much time you plan to spend hiking, you may also consider taking a Wilderness First Aid course, where you’ll learn how to handle accidents such as broken bones and allergic reactions. 

Bringing it Together

Hiking is a great way to get exercise, spend quality time with family, and enjoy Colorado’s stunning scenery. It’s important to do so safely, however. Even though accidents are rare and mostly avoidable, the chances of them occurring increase dramatically if you’re unprepared. So, use these hiking safety tips while you’re hiking in Colorado to stay safe and stress-free. Remember to tell someone your plans, prepare for bad weather, stay hydrated, learn about Colorado’s wildlife, and pack a first aid kit. If you’re prepared, you’ll have nothing to worry about!

Remember that you can always join us for guided hiking in Colorado Springs and enjoy all the knowledge and experience that our team has to offer!

Should I Book a Mountain Bike Tour or Rent a Mountain Bike?

Headed out to Colorado Springs for a family vacation? Or are you traveling solo and looking to pack as much outdoor activity into your trip as possible? Perhaps you’re a nature lover and want to spend some time leisurely exploring the Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Canyon, or Ute Valley Springs. No matter where you fall in these categories, mountain biking is a fantastic way to make the most of your time in world-renowned Colorado Springs! 

Now, your adventure boils down to two options:

A mountain biking tour in Colorado Springs

Or, 

A mountain bike rental in Colorado Springs 

On a bike tour, you’ll have various trails to choose from and get to do your exploring with a knowledgeable guide. On the other hand, if you rent a bike, you’ll have free reign over your trip length and can hit the trail without a guide. 

At Broadmoor Outfitters, you’ve got both options! The main points to consider when deciding are skill level, budget, and interests. This article will help you decide which route to choose so your mountain biking in adventure in Colorado Springs is a wonderful experience.

So, let’s dive into what to consider when deciding on a mountain bike tour vs. mountain bike rental.

Skill Level

For people who can ride a bike but aren’t super skilled at navigating curves and rocks, a mountain bike tour in Colorado Springs, CO is definitely the way to go. 

Did a young family member recently ditch their training wheels? Our bike tour is perfect for families with children. Our tour guides are happy to speak with you about your comfort on a bicycle in order to fine-tune the tour to suit everyone’s unique needs. Your guide will also factor in how long you want to ride, and they’ll be able to navigate you back to “base” easily if anyone decides they’re done with the ride early.

Photo by Darcy Lawrey from Pexels

For athletic or even semi-athletic folks who are looking to pack in as much scenery as possible or can comfortably work up a sweat, a mountain bike rental might be the way to go. 

The rental option can also be ideal for families who have children that are close in age and riding level. It can be a fun and unique bonding experience for families to decide which trails to explore, navigate the trails together, and even choose when to take breaks for water and snacks.

Cost

Mountain biking in Colorado Springs is something anyone can enjoy on any budget. No matter how much you’re able to spend, there’s an experience for you. Here are some items to keep in mind as you consider your budget.

 How much time do you want to spend mountain biking? If it’s just one item on a long list of adventures you’re preparing to go on at Broadmoor Outfitters, you should go with a mountain bike tour.

Image by Fabricio Macedo FGMsp from Pixabay

Seeing as you’ll have lots to do and only want to spend a few hours on a bike, a guided tour is a cost-effective way to optimize your time. You pay for a few hours of riding versus renting a bike for an entire day when you plan to use it only for a short time. Your guide will help you make the most out of your trip. Then, you’ll have plenty of time left in the day for other activities. 

If mountain biking is your thing and you want to dedicate a day – or even more – to biking, then consider mountain bike rentals in Colorado Springs, CO. When renting, you’ll have a whole day or more to ride your bike to multiple areas of your choosing. You won’t pay for a guide, and you’ll have total freedom to make it an epic and unforgettable ride.

Interests

What do you want out of your trip and, specifically, this mountain bike ride?

If the purpose of your trip is to spend some solo time in nature, and you enjoy looking at trail maps and selecting your route, you’ll enjoy mountain bike rentals in Colorado Springs, CO. Just make sure you’re comfortable with navigating the area and, of course, follow all safety protocols. 


If your goal is to relax and let someone else do the planning, consider mountain bike tours in Colorado Springs, CO. We’ll take all the fuss out of figuring out which trail is perfect for you and your family. That way, all you’ll have to do is show up and enjoy the ride!

Image by Fabricio Macedo FGMsp from Pixabay

Bringing it Together 

Mountain Bike Tour in Colorado Springs

Pros

  • Efficient method to see the beautiful sights.
  • Stress-free! It’s already planned out.
  • There’s a guide with you – you won’t get lost, and you’ll have someone who knows the area in case of an emergency.
  • The trail is well-maintained. 

Cons:

  • The tour may not cover the area you want to see. 
  • Can only ride for a few hours or the duration of the tour

Mountain Bike Rental in Colorado Springs

Pros: 

  • Total control over where to ride. 
  • You can rent the bike for a whole day or more. 
  • Great for people looking to ride for exercise. 

Cons: 

  • It may be difficult to transport bike(s) depending on where you plan to ride. 
  • The trail may not be maintained/easily navigable. 

Still not sure? Don’t worry; you can’t choose wrong! The main characteristic that both mountain bike tours and mountain bike rentals have in common is that they’re a great way to experience nature and make memories that’ll last a lifetime. Have any questions before making your decision? Feel free to contact us and we’ll help you pick the perfect activity for your trip.