Best Time of Year to Visit Colorado Springs

As tourism across Colorado continues to rise, Colorado Springs has become a popular destination during all seasons of the year. However, like any tourist destination, there are peak seasons, shoulder seasons, and off-seasons. 

Are you trying to avoid crowds?

Do you like to whitewater raft?

Are you thinking more of a foodie city tour?

The best time to visit often revolves around the type of activities you like to do, when you have time, and your personal preferences. To match your travel needs, find out when the peak tourist season is as well as our favorite time of the year.

What is the peak tourist season in Colorado Springs?

Like many areas of the United States, summer tends to be the peak tourist season. The reason summer is peak tourist season is because that’s when children are off of school and families can vacation together. There also happens to be some pretty stellar weather for outdoor activities.

Although summer is a beautiful time of the year, summer in Colorado Springs is hot and dry. The average temperatures range from 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is warm but not too hot to stop outdoor activities. In this region of Colorado, summer is also a popular time for festivals and special events, drawing in even more visitors and providing more options for activities.

When visiting at the peak of the summer tourist season, remember that we have afternoon thunderstorms in the mountains. So, hiking in the mountains can be cut short without proper planning. If you’re new to hiking in Colorado, the safest option is to book a hiking tour with experienced guides and locals that can keep tabs on essential things like weather for you. 

If you’re not a fan of crowds, it is a safe bet to steer clear of visiting during the summer months. Overcrowding at popular destinations like Pikes Peak or Garden of the Gods is expected in the summertime, so if you are seeking solitude, try a different time of the year. 

Best time of year to visit Colorado Springs

In our opinion, the best times of the year to visit Colorado Springs are March to May and September to October. The Spring and the Fall still see a decent number of visitors but won’t be as crowded as Summer. 

The temperatures tend to be colder in both shoulder seasons, but they are still quite comfortable for outdoor activities. Visiting Colorado Springs in the shoulder seasons also means fewer crowds and potentially lower prices on lodging and tours. 

Spring in Colorado Springs

Visiting in the Spring is a great option, especially if you are looking for outdoor activities to do. The temperatures range from 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit most days, which is excellent for those that want cool hiking temperatures. 

Another popular attraction during the Spring is the whitewater. With the mountain snow melting, the water rises and quickens in rivers and streams around the area. The higher water levels mean an increase in the opportunity for kayaking and rafting. 

Fall in Colorado Springs

Fall in Colorado Springs has begun to grow in popularity with tourists as many visitors enjoy the fall colors in the mountains. The Fall colors bring in a lot of day-trippers and weekenders, but as the temperatures begin to drop, so do the number of visitors. 

The average temperature in the Fall ranges from 45-70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is decent weather for hiking well through the first weeks of October. One of the best ways to see the Fall colors is to join one of our zip line tours. You’ll get a unique view of the foliage and get the best overlook in the area. 

If a zip line isn’t your scene, the views are still breathtaking when taking a trip up Pikes Peak by car, hiking, or choosing a Cog tour

Photo by Matt Noble on Unsplash

The offseason

While we enjoy the Spring and the Fall for outdoor activities, do not discount Winter vacations in Colorado Springs! Winter in this part of Colorado is not too cold. The average temperatures sit around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. When it does snow, the snow tends to melt quickly as well. 

The only catch with visiting in the winter is that some of the hotels and other tourist attractions are closed. So, if you plan to visit in the winter, check-in in advance and book ahead of time to make sure that you can find a hotel during your stay. Plus, the hotels that remain open tend to have much better prices than any other time of the year. 

With more affordable prices in the winter, it is one of the best times to stay at the Broadmoor Hotel. If you love the holidays, you’ll enjoy the city, and the Broadmoor decorated for the season’s festivities. A winter vacation in Colorado Springs is ideal for those that like quiet winter hikes, snowshoeing, and cozy activities like cooking classes, fine arts, and food tours. 

Although it doesn’t tend to be a primary winter sports destination, it is still close enough to take a trip up the pass to ski or snowboard in Vail, Keystone, or Breckenridge. 

How to Layer for Fall Hiking in Colorado

If you are a big hiker or nature enthusiast, you know that fall is arguably the best season for hiking. The energizing nip of crisp air on your face, the colorful foliage as nature buckles down for winter – personally, it’s my favorite time of year. If you are hoping to enjoy fall hiking here in Colorado, you certainly need to know how to layer for hiking. These tips on proper layering techniques will help ensure you are prepared for the weather you might encounter on a fall hike in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

The Principles of Layering for Colorado’s Fall Weather

The first thing to know is that the term ‘layering’ doesn’t mean just wearing more and more clothes. In order to brave the elements and stay comfortable and safe, you need to wear the proper clothes in the proper order. First, the base layer serves to keep you dry when you sweat. Next, the middle layer is insulating to help retain body heat in Colorado’s colder weather. Finally, the outer layer protects against the harsher conditions you may experience on a fall hike.

We’ll start at the base layer and work our way out, so you understand what fabrics are best for each layer. We’ll also learn how to layer for the specifics of fall weather in Colorado and the hikes you are planning. As you likely know, fall in Colorado can range from warm to very cold. The weather can change quickly, and conditions can worsen with no warning. Especially if you are hiking to a higher elevation, say summiting one of the state’s many fourteeners, you will find temperatures and precipitation requiring a much different outfit than what you had on in the parking lot. It’s important to dress and pack well, as you will learn.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

The Wicking Base Layer 

You can think of the base layer as the clothing that touches your skin. This is more than just a t-shirt and shorts or a long-sleeved shirt and long underwear. Remember that the base layer also includes underwear (boxers, briefs, bras, and more) and socks.

The main goal of the base layer is to wick away moisture and keep your skin dry. As you know, sweat cools you down, stealing your body heat much faster than a cold breeze. In the hot summer, you may not mind a cotton shirt absorbing and holding your sweat. In the fall and winter, though, cotton is at the top of the “Absolutely Not” list. Seriously, it’s one of the most important hiking safety tips of all time.

Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

The Best Base Layer Materials

The best synthetic fabrics for base layers are polyester and nylon. You likely have these in your closet as your running or exercise clothes. You can go by personal preference, as long as it is ‘moisture-wicking,’ ‘dry-fit,’ or the like. Again, make sure your bras and boxers meet these criteria, too. A great natural fabric, especially for socks, is wool, as it wicks moisture and provides great heat retention. Wool is good for clothing, too, if you are in colder temperatures or hiking Colorado’s many mountains. It will keep you warm without being too heavy, but it also is more expensive than synthetic fabrics.

There are a few different options in terms of the weights of base layers, and you can decide based on the time of year and anticipated weather. No matter what you choose, your base layer should always be moisture-wicking. This layer should also fit snugly against your skin. You don’t want gaps between your skin and the material as it won’t be able to wick sweat away as effectively. A tight but comfortable base layer will keep your skin dry, which in turn will keep you warm and prevent skin irritation, like chafing and blisters.

Base Layering Tips for Colorado’s Fall Weather

Base layers are organized by weight; lightweight or ultra-lightweight for hotter weather and midweight or heavyweight for the colder months. This might mean shorts and a t-shirt in early fall when Colorado temperatures are in the 50s or 60s, and long johns and long-sleeved shirts in late fall when it’ll be in the 30s and 40s on average. Because the weather can change quickly here, especially in the mountains, I prefer to keep my base layer light and carry a heavier middle layer in my day pack.

Remember, the goal of this layer is moisture-wicking, where warmth is the job of the middle layer. That’s why lighter base layers make sense in Colorado’s fall conditions. You can always add more clothes later if the temperature drops up the mountain. The one exception to this is socks. My feet always run cold, so I highly recommend a thick wool sock for fall hikes, ones that cover your ankles! As long as your hiking boots are breathable, your feet will be happily dry and warm.

The Insulating Middle Layer

Next up, it is the job of the middle layer to retain body heat and keep you warm in colder temperatures. Where base layers tend to be stretchy and thin, you’ll recognize your middle layer pieces by their soft and puffy qualities. When shopping, you may see middle layer options listed as ‘soft shells.’ Depending on the weather, you can choose a lighter or heavier option, so it’s a good idea to have multiple middle layer pieces if you are planning on frequent fall hikes in Colorado. 

Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash

Middle Layer Options for Fall in Colorado

For lighter wear, you might go with a microfleece pullover or hoodie. Fleece is nice because it dries quickly and stays warm. It is also breathable so that you won’t overheat. This is a great option for the early fall in Colorado. However, if it’s windy, you will definitely need an outer shell, or you’ll find the breathability a weakness.

For the colder days, a down jacket is the best middle layer. I am partial to synthetic down, both for the animals and the water resistance. Down insulated jackets don’t hold up well when wet, but they compress better than synthetic down if you need to save space in your pack. If a softshell is all you plan on wearing, I’d recommend one with a hood, so your neck stays warm. In this case, though, you will definitely need to pack a waterproof outer shell, as the fall in Colorado sees rain or snow regularly.

The Defending Outer Layer

Once you’ve got the dry and warm inner layers set, the last part of knowing how to layer for hiking is protecting against the elements. Fall in Colorado can be all over the map in terms of weather conditions, and this outer shell is key for making sure the wind, rain, and snow don’t penetrate and leave you cold and miserable.

Photo by Daniel Lincoln on Unsplash

The Best Outer Layers for Colorado’s Fall Season

For both jackets and pants, you will want waterproof outerwear. Trust me when I say that “water-resistant” is not good enough! If you get caught in a downpour, a water-resistant layer is going to soak and leave you shivering. Also, be sure it has a hood. Rain dripping down your neck and back is truly an uncomfortable and dangerous way to spend a hike.

In addition to water- and wind-proof material, your outer layer should also be breathable. These pieces are more expensive, but if you plan on exploring Colorado’s fall hikes, this feature is a must. Breathable jackets, ones with zippers in the armpits and such, are key for longer hikes because they keep you dry while you work hard. If the inner layers are wicking away moisture, but your outer layer isn’t breathable, the moisture will condense against it and soak your middle layer. You need breathability to allow fresh air to move through and clear out the humidity. 

One final feature of a good outer layer is durability. Since this layer has to brave the elements, you want something that will stand up to a bit of a beating, especially for pants that you’ll sit on, trek through the brush, and more. If your outer layer gets torn, you’ll have leaks when it rains. And with the expensive nature of these clothes, you want to make sure to buy something that is a good investment.

Packing for a Fall Hike in the Rockies

Now that you know the options for layering clothes, let’s talk about how to pack for day hiking in Colorado. Seasoned hikers are always carrying day packs, and it’s not just for the granola bars. 

When you start at the trailhead, you might be in your base layer and outer shell. Mid-fall in Colorado is comfortable, and you might reason that it’ll only be a few hours. But as you hike up the mountain, the weather changes. It will get colder and windier the higher you go, with less protection from surrounding trees. You may even get an unexpected shower or snow flurry. 

Before you leave, always check the weather to know what to expect. Then, pack that insulating middle layer anyway. A light fleece or down jacket won’t take up much room or add much weight, and you will be glad you have it when you need it. Wearing appropriate clothing and knowing how to layer for hiking will keep you comfortable and protected during your hike so you can enjoy mother nature, no matter what weather she brings.

Best Places to See the Fall Colors in Colorado Springs

The fall transforms Colorado into a gold-rich state once again. The colors of the aspens flow through like liquid gold, rushing in and out quickly, so you need to know exactly where to see fall colors in Colorado. 

It’s time to cozy up and tackle the brisk Autumn air to let your eyes soak up Colorado Springs at one of its finest moments. These trails will take you to some popular, easy-access views and some hard-to-reach, hidden gems in and around Colorado Springs. 

Best places to see the Fall colors in Colorado Springs

Photo by Devonshire on Unsplash

1. Pikes Peak

One of Colorado Springs’ local Fourteeners brings a wide variety of options for those looking to get one of the best fall colors tours Colorado has to offer. At 14,115 feet of elevation, you are looking down on thousands of acres of national forest. The bird’s eye view lets you grab a completely different perspective from walking down on the ground.

It’s a view that everyone should take the time to see in their lifetime and one that everyone can. You can take the easiest route of driving to the top for a short day or hop on the Barr Trail for a 25-mile trek that will genuinely make you work for the views. The most challenging part of Pikes Peak is determining how you want to experience the mountain. 

Another option for the more adventurous is to hop on a bicycle and give your legs a real workout. Don’t worry. There are plenty of places to stop and catch your breath while enjoying the view. 

Check out our newest Cog Up, Bike Down Tour that shuttles you to the top of Pike Peak and turns the bike ride into a downhill cruise. 

2. Pikes Peak Greenway

In the fall, Pikes Peak Greenway gets a little less green and a whole lot more golden. 

Urban trails offer easy access and many options with how far you want to go and for how long. Plus, you can walk down to one of your favorite restaurants while still getting the feeling of an Autumn hike. 

The Pikes Peak Greenway runs through Colorado Springs. It’s mostly paved, sometimes gravelly, and is a well-maintained trail that connects several other local trails. Most bikes and all feet can take you around town to see how the fall colors transform Colorado Springs. 

The Greenway gives you easy access to loads of the local parks in Colorado Springs. This is the perfect choice for a walk around town that can end in a picnic overlooking beautiful fall colors. Stop off at Monument Valley Park, Boddington Park, or America the Beautiful Park for a great spot to sit and spend the day with a thermos full of warm drinks and a bag of delicious goodies. 

3. Cripple Creek

Just outside of Colorado Springs lies Cripple Creek, a small mining town that sits in a nest of aspen groves shining brightly in the fall. 

You can cruise towards town in several ways that allow you to experience the countryside differently. In town, you can hop onto the Cripple Creek and Narrow Gauge Railroad for a slow crawl through the forests you have been looking at from afar. 

Just make sure to get there in time; the railroad only runs until October each year. 

4. Mount Esther Trail

Just northwest of Colorado Springs sits a relatively small mountain dubbed Mount Esther. While the peak is “only” 9,505 feet above sea level, the climb to get there will test your endurance. 

The Mount Esther trail is 4.2 miles round trip. Trust us, it is worth the energy and the short, but steep climb. 

The treasure at the top of the trail is a golden meadow that reflects all of the colors of Colorado’s autumn season. If you push forward just a bit further, you will find yourself at the Crystal Creek Reservoir. Here, the colors are reflected off the glassy waters, bringing even more color to your world. 

5. Gold Camp Road

While there are loads of great drives in the area, some can be a bit more adventurous than others. Not all roads are smoothly paved yet, and those that aren’t let you get to some of the less traveled, more unique spaces of the Pikes Peak Region. 

If you’re equipped with a 4×4 or an AWD vehicle, be sure to check out Gold Camp Road, as it is where to see fall colors in Colorado with a bit of bump and spicy adventure. 

The name does a pretty good job of encompassing what the drive is going to get you. The rugged drive takes you through tunnels and corridors of aspens that puts you amongst some of the brightest fall colors the area has to offer. 

6. Best Fall Colors Tour in Colorado Springs 

If you’re looking to add in a bit of adrenaline to help warm you up on a brisk autumn day, a zipline tour is one of the best ways to see the fall colors of Colorado Springs. This option gives you a unique view that is constantly changing as you fly through the air. 

This zipline tour will engrain the memories of fall colors into your mind in a way that is hard to find doing anything else. 

An 1800 foot zipline gives you the chance to take in sweeping views of the colors while feeling the breeze across your body. A 1500 foot line takes you over a 150-foot deep canyon, really giving you a unique view of the forests below you.