When is the best time of year to visit Colorado? The four seasons in the Gunnison Valley are distinct, each with its own unique beauty. Spring, summer, fall and winter feature different weather, outdoor activities and events. This guide to Colorado’s seasons will help you pick the best time to plan your trip to Crested Butte and Gunnison based on your preferred activities. It will also give you a sense of what the weather will be like when you visit Colorado.
From December to March, the Gunnison Valley turns into a snow globe. Snow covers the mountains in a blanket of white, and the buildings along Elk Avenue look like gingerbread houses.
This playlist on YouTube features winter scenes and things to do across the Gunnison Valley.
Downhill skiing draws thousands of visitors to Crested Butte every winter. Crested Butte Mountain Resort has some of the steepest (and most beautiful) in-bounds terrain of any North American ski area. Epic skiing pairs well with the cozy mountain town vibes of Crested Butte and Gunnison.
Popular winter activities include downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and exploring the idyllic downtowns of Crested Butte and Gunnison.
In addition to the usual holiday festivities around Christmas and New Year’s, there are also several downhill ski and cross-country ski races.
Make reservations, especially if you are visiting around holidays, long weekends or spring break.
There’s nothing quite like summer in the Gunnison Valley. The mountains turn vivid green. Wildflowers carpet the mountainsides around Crested Butte, peaking in July. This season is the most popular time to visit Colorado and the Gunnison Valley.
Wondering what summer looks like in the Gunnison Valley? This YouTube playlist features scenes from the mountains in their green summer glory.
Easy public lands access and hundreds of miles of trails attract adventure-seeking travelers to the Gunnison Valley every summer. Wildflowers bloom in June, July and August.
Hiking, mountain biking and fishing are the most popular summer activities in Crested Butte and Gunnison.
Live music can easily be found in Crested Butte, Almont or Gunnison nearly any night of the week. Beloved annual events such as the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival are held each summer.
Summer is the most popular time to visit the Gunnison Valley. Before your trip, make reservations for lodging and activities. Please also take care of the land while you’re here, and keep in mind it takes an army of volunteers and nonprofits to keep this place pristine.
Aspen leaves peak in September, but the entire fall season is a delightful time to visit Gunnison and Crested Butte. The weather is nearly always sunny, and all the trails are open and ready to be explored.
Visitors flock to Colorado’s high country every year to view the changing aspen leaves. Fall brings clear weather and excellent trail conditions.
Experience the changing aspen leaves by hiking or biking through leaf-covered trails. Scenic drives are another way to enjoy the fall scenery.
Crested Butte’s famous Chili and Beer Festival is held each September. Several running and mountain biking races offer opportunities for athletes to prove their mettle at high altitude.
Many travelers agonize over predicting exactly which week the leaves will peak. It’s impossible to know when the leaf color will be best, but the scenery will be stunning even if you don’t precisely hit the peak. As in summer, make lodging reservations in advance. Stay on the trail and practice the principles of Leave No Trace—even when you’re trying to get that perfect fall photo.
Spring is a tranquil time to visit Crested Butte and Gunnison. After the buzz of spring break in March, the ski resort closes in early April. The snow melts, and rivers gush. Gunnison shines during this time of year, when Hartman Rocks bursts into life.
Luxuriate in the Gunnison Valley’s quietest time of year—spring. The ski area in Crested Butte usually closes in early April, leaving several months before trails fully thaw out in the north valley.
On average, more snow falls in March than in any other month in Crested Butte, creating excellent conditions for downhill skiing. Spring runoff causes creeks to rise for kayakers, rafters and boaters keen on exploring the creeks and rivers of the Gunnison watershed. Take advantage of excellent mountain biking conditions at Hartman Rocks in Gunnison in April, May and June.
Western Colorado University students graduate in May. Several large parties and races celebrate the end of downhill and cross-country ski season.
Businesses may be closed or have limited hours during this period of low visitation. However, there are two sides to this coin—you might find lower rates on lodging during the spring months.