The best thing about springtime in the Rockies of Colorado is that it lasts four months. That’s because altitude plays such an important role when plants and wildflowers come out. In May, you can smell the lilacs of the Denver plains. The lower mountain towns like Georgetown will see lilacs in June. By early July, you can still enjoy their light blue flowers blooming in higher elevation resorts like Breckenridge. Go even higher, up above Timberline, there is a place known as “the land above trees” because it stands above 12,000 feet of elevation. There, you won’t see your first wildflowers until July.
There’s a trade-off, of course. While May is springtime for much of the country, in the Colorado mountains it’s “mud season”. It’s a time when snow banks are still close. Many of the trails, roads and even the weather changes by the minute. Sometimes offering all four seasons in the same day! The popular road to the summit of 14,260-feet-high, Mount Evans –the highest paved road in North America -is usually open only from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Some years it’s mid-June before snowplows can fight through 20-foot snowdrifts
So How Do You Enjoy Spring In the Rocky Mountains?
THINK LIKE A PLANT; PLAN FOR ELEVATIONS THAT GO WITH YOUR DESTINATIONS.
April is Denver’s second snowiest month (after March). When it’s not snowing, it can be gorgeous. From the red rocks of Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, to the beautiful tulip beds on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, to pedaling on Denver’s 850 miles of bike trails -especially along Cherry Creek lined with gorgeous cherry trees that burst into color-May is a delightful time to see green and spring flowers all along the Front Range
April can also bring small snow storms. Here is Buffalo Bill’s grave top, located on top of Lookout Mt.
A big change when you head down to Cherry Creek bike path
All roads are open, but it’s still winter up in the high country. A Basin ski area has stayed open in June and Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park can be lined with high snow banks. This is a great time to don a wetsuit and begin rafting rivers like Clear Creek in Idaho Springs, where spring flowers will just start spurting along the riverbanks.
Kayaking in El Dorado near Boulder
A spring runoff at Seven Falls in Colorado Springs.
Most trails are snow-free. Due to melted snow, you may have to get muddy if you venture above timberline. The resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek, and Aspen will be a burst of color with flower baskets and gardens. It’s time to start mountain biking, fly fishing, kayaking and camping, though always bring a light jacket at night.
LATE JUNE TO JULY 4TH
While most people think it’s summer and time for backyard grills, on top of Colorado’s fifty-four 14,000-ft. peaks, spring is finally arriving with dozens of wildflowers bursting into bloom. Their harsh life at this altitude is short, but they make up for it with a dazzling display of color. If you’re not up to hiking a 14er, you can drive to the top of Pikes Peak and Mount Evans that even has a wildflower trail which goes high above the trees.
Wild flowers starting to bloom
Perfect hiking weather at Mt. Toll