We are considering visiting Colorado for next year and trying to decide the best time to visit. We are travelling from the U.K. and would be coming for 16 days flying into Denver.
We will spend a couple of days in Denver before heading around the state to the west in a loop stopping at 3 different places for 4 nights each. We are considering places like steamboat springs but open to options.
We can either come over Easter so the last couple of days of March into the middle of April or the beginning of August.
Is there still a lot of snow in early April or would it be a good time to visit?
We are stuck to those times due to school holidays.
Colorado (Denver) can snow up until May but it’s not common to have snow on the ground all the time up to then. Denver and Boulder (30 mins away) will usually be fine except for the occasional snow storm. In general though, snow is cleared quickly and while you may not be able to ride if you come during a storm, it’s sunny almost all the time otherwise and a very comfortable 35-45F during colder months during the day. Comfortable meaning, when it’s sunny out, it’s really easy to ride, not massive wind.
Most riding at higher elevations will still have too much snow end of March/beginning of April. Denver and the Front Range may be good (or have just gotten hit by a storm), but that’s still prime ski season. If you want to do any high country riding, beginning of August is definitely the way to go.
A lot of people who haven’t visited before expect Denver to be in the mountains, it’s not. It’s at the point where the plains transition to the mountains.
If you want to spend time in what we call the high country, in the actual mountains (usually around 2,400-3000 meters) then as others said it will still be snowy in most places in March and April. August would be much better for that.
Denver on the other hand may be extremely hot in August for what you’re used to coming from the U.K. Mornings are cool and it’s easy to do rides out of Denver-metro up into what we call the foothills (but are actually just the mountains closest to Denver) with nice temperatures, but the afternoons down in the metro itself are going to be 35-37 deg C regularly.
Given the added info you gave, I think I’d still recommend August. Gravel rides in the Front Range (Denver/Boulder/Ft. Collins) will be doable in March/April but almost certainly not up in the mountains (you mentioned Steamboat, but other mountain towns will be the same way). If your wife is looking to stay in small mountain towns, while they’re great year-round (I’m a skier and cyclist, so I’m biased), if you’re not a winter/winter sports fan, that time of year isn’t going to be as enjoyable because there’s almost certainly going to be snow, and it likely will be cold. Rental housing may also be harder to come by during ski season. I think it’ll be more enjoyable to explore the small mountain towns with a non-sport focus in the summer than in the spring.
@tgarson is right about the Denver metro potentially being really hot in August (although having moved here from the eastern US, at least it’s not ungodly humid too), but it’s still rideable that time of year, so I think you’d be better off from a riding standpoint in August. You might consider focusing your ride time in the mountains anyhow as the scenery is really fantastic up there, and I think you’ll find better gravel rides to do.
Fat bikes can be rented still in Colorado. Winter bike series in Leadville runs into April, still riding 100% on snow. April is usually thensnowiest month in Colorado. Mountain passes with seasonal (winter) closures aim to be open on Memorial day weekend (end of May). Gravel about 12000 feet dtill has lots of snow cover, and we are coming up on July 1st. The southern part of the state, and western part open up a lot earlier, argusbly being open year round…
Since this thread has the attention of Colorado folks, I figured I would look for some advice on my summer trip.
I would like to do a ~weeklong trip this summer to CO, for gravel riding and hiking.
From what I’ve gathered from this thread and other discussions, I’ve come up with something like this:
Aug 20: Arrive and spectate or volunteer at SBT Gravel. Might be fun to volunteer at an aid station
Aug 21: Ride the SBT Gravel 60 or 100mi route (it looks like the route is almost all on open roads, just two short private land segments with easy reroute to public roads?)
Drive to Fairplay/Alma. Gravel riding there and hike a 14er probably
Drive to Boulder, gravel riding there
Are these good places to visit?
Is it too much and I should just stick to two places (Steamboat and Boulder?)
Is there somewhere closer to Steamboat/Boulder that I could go to instead of Fairplay?
I live in Summit County. There’s some great gravel out in Park County. We recently did 100 miles or so out there. Barely any cars. No gas stations or anything like that though. Gravel in park county route: https://www.strava.com/activities/9116736642 There are smaller routes out there too you can loop.
Great gravel in Kremmling. I’ll be there this weekend racing KowTown gravel. Kremmling is like an hour from Steamboat if that. So you could easily loop those two for a few days if you wanted. There’s also some great off road/gravel riding in Eagle/Gypsum which isn’t too far away from Steamboat. Honestly, there’s so much good riding out in Steamboat/Kremmling, you might just want to do that and go to Boulder County.
One of my favorite rides is Breck to Como and back over Boreas pass. though, there will be a decent amount of cars since tourists love to drive up to Section House at the top of Boreas Pass.
That’s typically primo riding season on the western slope (aka, Grand Junction, Fruita) if you ride mountain bikes. Also, Colorado National Monument is a great ride. Usually loads of people out riding at lunch loops, kokopelli and 18rd around that time and lots of free BLM camping. Further south you’ll have Cortez (Phil’s world) for more great trail and some good riding near durango but bring your cold weather gear!
Thanks a lot that gives me some good ideas. I might leave the middle of the trip open to either stay in Steamboat/Kremmling area or go down to Park county. But it looks pretty likely that I’ll have enough to do staying in Steamboat. Park county looks pretty sparse for food/lodging too, I would probably end up staying in Breck if I did go down there.
The Steamboat and Boulder area are great places to visit and ride. I’ve spend time the last two summers in Steamboat. Did SBT GRVL last year. You are correct - the routes are mostly public open roads and some beautiful country to ride through. I believe the SBT website has the non-race day routes you can use. Local bike shops and clubs have other routes online.
I have family in the Boulder area and travel there frequently to ride road and gravel. I’ll be there next week riding gravel up in the mountains above Boulder and in Boulder valley and then hiking a 14er. Great roads and tons of cyclists out riding around Boulder every day. Routes out of Boulder up to Nederland, Gold Hill, Jamestown, Ward, etc. are challenging and beautiful rides. Roads range from “Champaign” smooth gravel to challenging jeep trails. Boulder is a great town to visit as well.
I was in Boulder mid-April of this year and did some great riding, but got snow in the middle of my trip. I took the snow day off, went for a hike the next day, and was riding again by the 3rd day. As long as the snow doesn’t keep falling for multiple days, it burns off pretty fast there.
While in Boulder, there are some great hilly routes as mentioned above, and if you want some flatter roads with a gravel/pavement/singletrack mix, head up around the Reservoir, Nywot, Hygiene area.