Shoulder season is simply the time between peak seasons and since we pride ourselves here in Colorado on our winter and summer activities, shoulder season is the time between those two. So, technically, there are two shoulder seasons per year.
One of them happens in the Spring. This is also commonly known as Mud Season because all of the snow is melting and the ground is pretty consistently wet/muddy. The other is what we think is the actual Shoulder Season or the time between Summer and Winter when the days are cool and the nights are cooler but it’s still easy to get out and enjoy that bring and warm Colorado sun.
Well, the shoulder season is typically a time when not many folks are flocking to Colorado. Generally. There is a sweet spot in there when the Aspen leaves are turning their fluorescent yellow, which is coming up, and that is when we see more people than other times during the Shoulder Season. People gether in Colorado all summer for our high-alipine environment which offers a reprieve from the heat that all those lower-elevation folk feel but not here! It’s also the time before everyone plans their big winter vacations. So, in general you can expect that not too many families or groups are planning to come to Colorado during this time.
The weather is usually phenomenal. September and October are when you can still have 70-degree days but you can also get 30-degree days with snow falling. So, really, you can experience quite a difference in weather even over the course of a weekend. Don’t let that scare you though, it’s mighty fun to be able to see a vast sunny Colorado get blanketed with snow overnight. It just means you really need to dress for the probably changes.
There is no “best” place to go for Shoulder Season so we recommend ALL of Colorado 🙂
But if you head to the San Juan Mountains, which are in Southwest Colorado, you will find Telluride and Purgatory Ski Resorts and some absolutely amazing scenery with jagged peaks and quaint mountain towns. This are of Colorado is a little more tough to get to because it is a further distance from Denver and other bigger cities but that makes it all the more enjoyable.
You could head to the Western Slope and check out areas near Sunlight and Powderhorn. Huge Mesas will catch you eye as they drift beyond the sights of the pretty Aspen trees. There is also some great hiking to be found here.
You could head to the Roaring Fork Valley and see the Aspen mountains and be blown away by Independence Pass but be careful, the Pass closes if there is too much snow on it!
About 1-2 hours from Denver you will find Winter Park, Elora, Echo, Arapahoe Basin, Copper, Cooper and Loveland ski areas and those are also great areas to check out. Berthoud Pass and Loveland and Kenosha passes which are all so much fun to drive over and to see some incredible views. There is also amazing camping and hiking to be found here.
Lastly, the Yampa Valley is a stunning planning to visit. You’ll find Steamboat and Howelsen Hill there and you’ll have to go over Rabbit Ear’s Pass – another phenomenal drive with great sights.
Overall, Colorado is some place that you should explore during shoulder season. There is so much to do outside and there is so much to see that you will surely go home with instagram-worthy pics and the need to come back for more.