If you’re thinking about making a visit to Estes Park, you won’t be disappointed!
Estes Park is a must for nature lovers, showcasing beautiful snow-capped mountains and plenty of wildlife, as well as endless activities to take part in.
However, knowing when to visit can be overwhelming with so many different factors to take into consideration.
If you’re planning a trip to Estes Park and wondering when’s the best time to go, then this article is for you.
Maybe you want to skip the crowds, but not miss out on the best events. Or, you might be on a tight budget and want to keep costs low while still getting the most bang for your buck. Keep reading to find out how!
In this guide to visiting Estes Park, we’ll cover:
- What to expect in each season at Estes Park (Summer – Winter), including weather, activities, and the pros and cons of each season
- How to choose the best time to visit Estes Park, weighing up all the factors to make the best decision
- Some additional factors to consider
- A close-up look at some of the unique features of each season.
Let’s get into it!
What to Expect in Each Season in Estes Park
Each season offers a unique experience at Estes Park, with golden hues abundant throughout fall and plentiful outdoor activities for snow lovers during the winter.
No wonder knowing when to go can be such a challenge! In this section, we’ve uncovered the main events, activities, weather, and pros and cons of each season at Estes Park.
Estes Park is a town resort located in Northern Colorado and approximately one hour’s drive from the city of Denver.
The stunning Rocky Mountain National Park is the area’s main drawcard, being one of the top five visited national parks in Northern America. Therefore, visiting the area is a must on any traveler’s bucket list!
Hiking is a huge attraction in the area, as well as taking scenic walks and drives.
For one, Trail Ridge Road is a must-do drive for a lot of travelers. This road lies in the Rocky Mountain National Park and takes travelers up 4000 feet through a huge range of jaw-dropping scenery.
Trail Ridge Road closes from mid-October through to May each year due to winter weather and snow conditions, so bear this in mind if it’s on your must-do list!
Let’s take a closer look at what each season has to offer:
Unsurprisingly, summer is when you will find the warmest temperatures in Estes Park, with daily temperatures reaching up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, the temperatures will drop in the evening, so make sure to bring additional layers!
Despite the summer weather, it’s still possible to encounter snow at higher altitudes.
Therefore, it’s important to always be prepared to encounter any weather if hiking the trails. Afternoon thunderstorms are also a distinct possibility.
Despite the stunning weather during the day, one of the main drawbacks of summer is the crowds!
This is the time of year that sees the most visitors to Estes Park, so bear that in mind when planning your trip.
Events at this time of year include Memorial Day Weekend, marking the beginning of summer and bringing plenty of crowds and activities. As a result of the large crowds, accommodation prices will be higher during this time.
If you want to avoid the crowds, fall is an excellent choice!
Numbers have started to drop off from summer, but the temperatures are still pleasant. The daily temperature in fall hovers around the mid-70s at the start of the season to the 50s by the end of the season.
If you decide to visit in the fall, you won’t be disappointed by the golden hues of the fall leaves! Autumn is also a great time for wildlife with many elk and bighorn sheep in sight.
There are also plenty of events in fall, with fall festivals including Elk Fest, as well as The Shining Ball for horror enthusiasts that’s held at what is considered one of the most haunted hotels in America!
One thing to bear in mind in the fall is that Old Fall River Road closes in early October, with Trail Ridge Road also closing around mid-October.
If you plan to head to Estes Park in the winter, it’s a great time for outdoor snow activities!
You can partake in skiing, sledding, or snowshoeing. It’s also a great time to see the wildlife out in full force, as they move to lower elevations in the cold weather.
Temperatures in winter hit around the 30s during the day, so make sure to bring plenty of warm clothes!
It’s also the most festive time of year, so despite the cold weather, there is the comfort of the holiday season and plenty of shopping opportunities in the area.
At this time of year, Trail Ridge Road is also closed.
Spring brings the largest amount of snow of all the seasons, though the temperatures have warmed up since the winter months.
Average temperatures during the day reach the 50s. This is a special time of year when you will see the wildflowers blooming, yet can still continue with the snow-based activities!
Spring is also a great time to get out and enjoy some hiking or more casual strolls while the weather is more temperate.
There is a huge variety of different trails available for all fitness capacities. The only downside to this time is that the Trail Ridge Road usually does not open until the end of May.
How To Choose The Best Time To Visit Estes Park?
As you can see, choosing the best time to visit is not easy as each season has its unique benefits!
Things you should consider when weighing up when to visit are how much you would like to avoid crowds, your budget, activities you wish to do, and special events you wish to attend.
Overall, if you want to avoid the crowds and peak tourist season (and prices), we recommend visiting during the fall.
The fall temperatures are moderate, so it’s a great time for hiking and seeing wildlife. The season also offers a unique experience due to the golden hue created by the fall leaves.
Consider visiting in summer for warm weather
If you’re someone who only wants to venture out in the warmest weather, you may prefer to visit Estes Park in the summer!
This is peak season, but if the crowds don’t bother you and you’re willing to pay full price to enjoy the sunny rays, then head on down!
The benefit of the summer season is that the atmosphere is bustling, and there’s plenty of opportunity for socializing and mingling with other travelers.
Late spring and early fall offer smaller crowds
However, if you want more of a peaceful relaxed getaway, we recommend heading down in the spring and fall.
These seasons offer smaller crowds, and you’ll likely find more affordable deals on accommodation.
Spring and fall are both great times for hiking, avoiding both the crowds and the harsh temperatures of summer and winter.
It’s also a great time for scenic drives and walks along the many trails in the area.
Early summer for wildflowers and lush landscapes
The scenery in Estes Park during summer is breathtaking, with blooming wildflowers and abundant greenery.
If you love nature at its most liveliest, then this time of year will be your favorite!
Wildflowers that you might expect to see in the Rocky Mountains during summer include alpine sunflowers, alpine forget-me-notes, sky pilots, and yellow snow lilies.
To see the best wildflowers, check out the Ute Trail, Cub Lake Loop, Bluebird Lake, and Chasm Lake.
Late September for fall foliage
Fall is spectacular in Estes Park, with tree leaves turning many shades of orange and yellow.
Things will look quite different during this time in comparison to summer or winter and will leave you with a unique experience. For those who love the fall, this is definitely the best time to come!
Avoid winter if you don’t enjoy snow and cold
For those that don’t enjoy the cold: skip winter!
If snowboarding and skiing aren’t your thing then you won’t miss out if you don’t come during the cold season.
Plan your trip for the warmer summer months instead, or even early fall when the weather is still relatively balmy.
Special events and festivals
There are lots of different events and festivals that happen throughout the year at Estes Park, so it pays to know when they are in order to plan your trip.
Events of note are the Wine and Chocolate Festival, Jazz Fest, Elk Fest, and the Rocky Mountain Craft Spirits Festival.
Elk Fest happens during elk mating season in early fall, when there are plenty of elk to be seen around the town. It is also one of the busiest weekends at Estes Park annually.
A great event to attend during the colder winter months is the Wine and Chocolate Festival, held every year in February. This is an event where the area’s best wines and chocolates are available for tasting!
During the summer months, Estes Park Jazz Festival is a must. The Jazz Fest is a weekend of live music held in Performance Park, a great time for music lovers.
The Rocky Mountain Craft Spirits Festival is another highlight of the year, showcasing craft spirit tasting, bar games, and live music. This festival is held every year in October.
There are plenty of other festivals and events that are held at Estes Park, so it pays to research any events you might want to attend or what’s happening in the area before you go!
Research wildlife migration patterns
It would be remiss not to mention the amazing wildlife that Estes Park has to offer!
The wildlife you see will depend on the time that you visit, due to the animals’ natural migration patterns.
In the winter, wildlife will move to lower elevations – and as such, you will see plenty of elk and deer around the town.
In the spring you will see plenty of animals in the lower valleys preparing to return to the meadows as the temperatures become warmer.
The best time to see wildlife is during the winter, spring, and fall when animals move to lower elevations.
If you’re coming to Estes Park to see specific wildlife, researching their migration patterns before you come is a great idea to ensure you arrive at the ideal time!
Base your visit on your preferred outdoor activities
It makes sense to visit Estes Park when your preferred activities are most available!
If you’re visiting Estes Park for some snow-based activities, then the best time to come is undoubtedly during winter.
Alternatively, if you want to hike, then spring and fall may be your best options. And if you’re looking to take the scenic drive up Trail Ridge Road, then visiting during the summer months will guarantee that the road will be open!
Book accommodations well in advance for peak seasons
If you’re set on heading to Estes Park during the summer or winter, then it pays to book your accommodation well in advance!
This will also help you to get the best deals possible. Accommodation tends to book out quickly – especially during the summer months – so make sure you don’t miss out!
Accommodation options range from cabins to luxury lodges, so there’s something for everyone and every budget. Also, bear in mind the distance you are willing to stay from Estes Park; day trips are also a popular option too!
Spring and fall offer milder weather for hiking
If you’re a hiking enthusiast, then spring and fall is a great time to visit when the weather is much more temperate.
Winter conditions can be harsh, and summer temperatures can get fairly high. There is a huge range of hiking trails to choose from in the National Park, from short easy tracks to longer and more challenging hikes.
What month does Estes Park get the most snow?
Estes Park sees the most amount of snow during the months of March and April.
The snows are not as cold as during the winter months but are typically wetter and heavier during these spring months. If you’re out hiking make sure you’re prepared for these conditions.
Is November a good time to visit Estes Park?
November is the end of fall, with average temperatures of 30 degrees Fahrenheit. November is a great time to visit if you don’t mind the cold with Thanksgiving festivities in the air, and is a great time for a wine-tasting tour.
Is October a good time to visit Estes Park?
October marks the middle of fall, and daily temperatures sit around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a great time of the year to visit with moderate climates and lush scenery for hiking or drives, as well as Halloween festivities.
Is Estes Park open in December?
Estes Park is open during December and is a great time to visit for snow activities and scenic drives. Estes Park is a town despite the name, and does not close during the holiday period, There are also plenty of shopping and restaurants open during this period.
Is Estes Park worth visiting in winter?
Winter is a great time to visit Estes Park if you are an outdoor enthusiast! Skiing and snowboarding opportunities are abundant. Daily temperatures sit around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure you wrap up warm!