Colorado is a mild state when it comes to weather. Whether it’s the dog days of summer or the throes of winter, you’ll find a moderate temperature year-round compared to other parts of the country. Temperatures can fluctuate crazily in as little as 12 hours, but overall, if you dress in layers when visiting, you’ll be able to handle anything thrown your way by Mother Nature.
The closer you are to the mountains, the colder it’ll be no matter the time of year. One of the common misconceptions about Colorado is that it continually snows during the winter. While this is true in the mountains, the Denver metro area and surrounding areas don’t quite see as much snow as what’s depicted in movies and TV. Colorado does see an intense summer thunderstorm season, which we’ll dive into more as you learn more about the climate of The Centennial State.
Colorado’s Hail Alley
One of the most devastating weather events in Colorado that leads to tens of millions of dollars in damage each year is hail. Summer thunderstorms in the late afternoon shut down parts of the metro area, destroying cars, breaking windows, creating flash flooding at intersections, and wreaking havoc on whatever pocket they form over. Colorado is susceptible to dangerous hail because the Rocky Mountains allow rain to fall, turn to ice, get carried back up into the atmosphere, fall again, and continue to freeze until its heavy enough to do damage as hail.
When traveling in Colorado during the summer months, it’s essential to book flights early in the morning or later at night to avoid potential delays with air travel. If you’re driving, pulling off to the side of the road and waiting it out—even if your car gets dinged during it—is the safest option. Don’t try to stop under a highway bypass or other areas where you might block traffic and cause more harm than good.
Northern Colorado features bigger destinations such as Boulder and Fort Collins, popular destinations for Coloradoans and Wyomingites. Boulder features breweries, shopping, and more for travelers, especially during the summer months. Denver is cradled between the north and eastern part of the state but doesn’t see as much snowfall as other cities in the area.
Northern Colorado, particularly closer to the Wyoming border, see cooler temperatures year-round and more snow than Denver and the surrounding areas. The closer you get to Wyoming on I-25, the windier it gets, too. Northern Colorado will see temperatures fluctuate from the low 30s to low 60s during winter and high 40s to low 90s during the summer.
- Average High Temperature: 65 degrees F
- Average Low Temperature: 37 degrees F
- Average Temperature: 51 degrees F
- Average Rainfall: 20 inches
- Average Snowfall: 89 inches
Southern Colorado and its major cities like Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and Trinidad see moderate temperatures year-round. Colorado Springs is a destination for travelers, featuring the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, The Broadmoor Hotel, and the Air Force Academy.
Snowfall often accumulates more during the winter months in Colorado Springs but not so much in cities further south as you get closer to New Mexico. The Colorado Springs area does get windy during the summer and fall months. Southern Colorado will see temperatures fluctuate from the high 10s to the upper 50s during winter and low 50s to mid-80s during summer.
- Average High Temperature: 62 degrees F
- Average Low Temperature: 35 degrees F
- Average Temperature: 48 degrees F
- Average Rainfall: 16 inches
- Average Snowfall: 39 inches
Eastern Colorado is the gateway to the eastern portion of the United States. Filled with flat land and cities here and there, you won’t find as much traveling this direction as you will visit other parts of Colorado. There are festivals, farmer’s markets, and other quirky stops along the path out of the state through its eastern part.
Eastern Colorado is more likely to have tornados spawn during the summer and be hit by punishing winds and snow in winter. This part of the state is also more likely to see hail during those summer thunderstorms. Eastern Colorado will see temperatures fluctuate from the low 20s to mid-50s during winter and low 40s to the low 90s in summer.
- Average High Temperature: 64 degrees F
- Average Low Temperature: 34 degrees F
- Average Temperature: 49 degrees F
- Average Rainfall: 15 inches
- Average Snowfall: 45 inches
Western Colorado’s beautiful Rocky Mountain backdrop is almost like another state entirely when it comes to weather. From ski resorts to mountain towns, National and State Parks to visit, river runs, hiking trails, and everything you could imagine you could do outdoors—western Colorado is the destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Snow can accumulate year-round, even in summer, when the temperatures start to dip closer to fall. The majority of snow in the state falls across the mountains, with temperatures getting the coldest for travelers during the spring, fall, and winter months. Western Colorado will see temperatures fluctuate from the low 10s to the high 30s during winter and low 30s to upper 70s in the summer months.
- Average High Temperature: 53 degrees F
- Average Low Temperature: 22 degrees F
- Average Temperature: 37 degrees F
- Average Rainfall: 23 inches
- Average Snowfall: 175 inches
Spring in Colorado
Spring in Colorado is mild temperature-wise across the state. The mountains can still see snowfall well into May, as can the metro areas, so keep that in mind when traveling. Spring can be fickle with fog rolling in one morning and a freeze alert the next evening. Temperatures during spring can go from blazing hot one day to cold within 12 hours.
What to Pack: Layers. Make sure you have layers you can either peel away or add on because temperatures will fluctuate during your trip. You may not need a heavy winter jacket in spring if you visit towards the end of the season.
Summer in Colorado
Summer in Colorado is dry and hot. With temperatures often breaking 100 degrees F in Denver and the surrounding area, it can be overwhelming for travelers not used to being a mile above sea level. Afternoon thunderstorms are frequent, often coming out of nowhere, bringing with them wind, torrential rain, thunder and lightning, and hail in the thick of it.
What to Pack: Sunscreen and lip balm are a must for travelers—no matter the destination in the state during the summer. Bring a hat, sunglasses, and rain jacket if out and about to avoid being drenched by afternoon shower or thunderstorms.
Fall in Colorado
Fall in Colorado, like spring, sees mild temperatures, but they can change at a moment’s notice. Snow can come as early as late September some years. The wind picks up as winter gets closer, leading to leaves falling from trees and making it much colder than the temperate suggests.
What to Pack: Like spring, pack layers. Make sure you have a winter coat available, a hat, gloves, and scarf will help, too. Sunscreen and lip balm are also a must like summer months to protect yourself at a higher altitude from the sun.
Winter in Colorado
Winter in Colorado can be brutal, especially if traveling to the mountains. Temperatures will drop, the wind chill will freeze you to the bone, and the occasional blizzard will shut down cities like Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs down completely. Be prepared for winter driving with ice, wind, and poor visibility at a moment’s notice.
What to Pack: All things winter gear are a must during winter in Colorado. Make sure to have a good snow jacket, snow boots, and anything to keep you warm with the temperatures drop, and the wind picks up. Sunglasses are a necessity during snow, too, to help protect your eyes from the brightness.