The best time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park is from June to September.
You can enjoy the pleasant weather with comfortable daytime temperatures in the 70s and plenty of summer sunshine. Most of the roads and trails are usually snow-free by now, and you can experience as much of the region. as you’d like to.
In September, you can experience the unique Rocky Mountain elk rut first-hand.
June to September
June to September is the peak season and also the best time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. According to NPS, the weekends are 50% busier than weekdays.
The Trail Ridge Road is open to traffic, and the trails and attractions are open and easily accessible to visitors.
While daytime temperatures are often in the 70s, nightly lows can reach the 40s, so bring additional clothes for layering.
What’s on :
- Estes Park Jazz Fest (June)
- Estes Park Marathon (June)
- Scandinavian Midsummer Festival (June)
- Performance Park Summer Concert Series (June to August)
- Autumn Gold Festival (September)
- Elk Fest (September to October)
October to May
There is a drop in visitors between October and May as the area is frequently covered in snow. It’s extremely cold in January and February when daily average temperatures are in the 20s and 30s and may dip below freezing at night.
Nevertheless, if you’re fortunate, you might have some great days in the early fall or late spring with at least semi-moderate temperatures and the park almost to yourself. At lower elevations, the region’s wildflowers also bloom in late April and early May.
What’s on :
Best time for good weather
The best time for good weather in Rocky Mountain is July.
In July, the average daytime temperature is between 70ºF and 85ºF, with comfortable conditions, even at higher elevations. While temperatures can certainly get cold at night overall, July provides the best weather conditions for outdoor adventure.
Keep in mind, however, that storms and fickle weather conditions are possible all year long in Rocky Mountain National Park. This is particularly true at higher elevations, which are frequently affected by afternoon thunderstorms and even the occasional mid-summer snowstorm. So, be sure to pack your rain jacket and rain pants, even in the summer!
Best time for camping
The best time for camping in Rocky Mountain National Park is from June to September.
Throughout the summer and early fall, all of the park’s campgrounds are open and the camping season is in full swing.
During this time, you can also apply for a wilderness permit for backcountry campsites, such as those at Fern Lake. Of course, summer and early fall are very popular times of year to camp in the park, so make your site reservations 6 months in advance. On the other, dispersed campsites are free and are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Be mindful that nighttime temperatures can be cool throughout the park, even after a very warm summer’s day, so a quality summer sleeping bag is essential.
Best time for hiking
The best time for hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park is in August and September, though anytime from June to October is ideal.
Since snow is known to stick around at the highest elevations in the park until mid to late June, hiking in August and September brings the best chance of snow-free trails.
Throughout these months, you also have an excellent chance to see wildflowers and plenty of wildlife. So, pack your hiking camera bag and your favorite camera to ensure you get that perfect shot.
Best time to avoid crowds
The best time to avoid crowds in Rocky Mountain is in April and May.
During the spring months of April and May, many of the trails in the park are still covered in snow, though the conditions aren’t ideal for skiing or snowshoeing. As a result, spring is the shoulder season in Rocky Mountain, so visitor numbers are at a minimum.
However, despite some of the snowy trails, you can still have a fantastic time in the park during the spring. Stick to low elevation hikes, such as the trail to Emerald Lake and Bierstadt Lake, to experience wildflowers and beautiful mountain scenery that the Rocky Mountain spring has to offer.
Best time for scenic drives
The best time for scenic drives in Rocky Mountain is from July to September.
By July, the park’s roads are almost always snow-free, including Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road. Since the roads are often blanketed in snow by the middle of October, scenic drives in the park are best during the late summer and early fall months.
Best time for wildlife watching
The best time for wildlife watching in Rocky Mountain National Park is from June to August.
The park’s hearty wildlife flock to the meadows to eat as much as they can before the return of winter. Therefore, the summer is an ideal time to spot mule deer, bighorn sheep, black bears, and moose in Rocky Mountain.
For a particularly exciting wildlife watching experience, however, mid-September to mid-October are ideal times to visit the park. That’s because the annual elk rut takes place during the early fall, giving you a chance to hear bull elk bugling and fighting to win over potential mates.
Best time for a guided tour
The best time for a guided tour in Rocky Mountain is from June to August.
In the summer, the park’s rangers offer a number of different guided tour options, including evening programs, lectures, ranger-led walks, and even star-gazing events. But, the rangers offer guided tours all year long, including organized snowshoeing adventures in the winter months.
Best time for rafting
The best time for rafting in Rocky Mountain is from May to July.
Throughout the late spring and early summer, the snow melt in the park is at its peak. This results in prime whitewater rafting conditions for paddlers of all ages, particularly after record snow years.
That being said, if you’re new to rafting or prefer to stick to tamer rivers, August and September are also nice months to go rafting due to the lower water levels in the region.
Best time to visit the waterfalls
The best time to visit the waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park is from May to July.
Just like with whitewater rafting, waterfall levels in the park are at their peak during the late spring and early summer months. As the snow in the higher elevation sections of the region starts to melt, this feeds the rivers that create the stunning waterfalls in the park.
Gaby is a professional mountain guide with a master’s degree in outdoor education. She works primarily in the polar regions as an expedition guide, though she can be found hiking, climbing, skiing, sailing, or paddling in some of the world’s most amazing places when not at work.