Thinking about spending September in Colorado? Here’s everything you need to know!
September is one of my favorite months in my home state of Colorado. There’s something really fun and energizing about Colorado in the fall, probably in part because many locals actually look forward to the winter. The winter in Colorado is famous for being sunny and having lots of outdoor activities, especially skiing.
September feels like the perfect mix of the ending of summer and the beginning of fall. The days are warm enough to wear a tshirt most days, but cool enough that you can actually enjoy the sunshine.
It’s also when the leaves are just starting to turn shades of gold and red, and you can see them by driving into the mountains where the air is cooler. If you have the chance to go hiking in a field of changing aspen leaves – take it! The experience is unforgettable.
September in Colorado: Is it a good time to visit?
If you’re planning a trip to Colorado, September is one of the best times to visit. The weather is warm without being hot, the leaves are starting to change, and the mountains start to show signs of having snow capped peaks.
You can go hiking, swim in the rivers and lakes on warm days, and generally enjoy being outside while the weather is nice. Most days are warm enough that you can wear a simple t-shirt and overshirt, though you’ll want to throw a warmer sweater in your bag if you’ll be out after the sun goes down.
Whether you’re contemplating moving to Boulder/Denver or just planning a short getaway, September is one of the best times of year to go to Colorado. When I was last visiting, I spent my trip eating at many of my favorite restaurants, wandering around Golden and Boulder’s bustling downtown areas, and exploring Colorado Springs. It was sublime.
Weather in September
In Denver, the average high in September is 74°F and the average low is 47°F. The city sees about one inch of rain during September, but the rain rarely lasts more than a few hours at a time. I was speaking with an acquaintance recently and she told me that rain still feels exotic after many years of living in Colorado.
It’s important to remember that the altitude impacts the weather and temperatures in Colorado. You can expect to see much cooler weather up in the mountains, with warmer weather down in the metro areas like Denver or Boulder.
In Breckenridge, for example, the average September high is 55°F and the low is 38°F, substantially chillier than the temperatures in Denver. You’re more likely to see flurries of snow in the mountains in September than you are in the Denver area.
Does it snow in Colorado in September?
Yes, Colorado tends to see snow in September, especially in the mountains. September is when the Rocky Mountains start to form their trademark snow capped peaks, so snow flurries are common. I’ve personally seen snow flurries in the mountains starting in August, usually at high elevations.
Flurries in Denver in September are not unheard of, but the weather tends to be sunny and warm. Most days, the highs reach into the 70s and 80s – perfect weather for t-shirts and long pants.
Winters in Boulder/Denver start around mid-November, so September is solidly early fall weather in Colorado.
What to Pack for September in Colorado
It can be challenging to know what to pack for Colorado anytime of the year, but it’s even trickier during spring and autumn. It’s not uncommon to need a warm jacket in the morning, a t-shirt in the afternoon, and then a light sweater in the evening hours. Layers are the key to staying comfortable in Colorado.
If any portion of your trip involves driving into the mountains, be sure to also bring a warm jacket, as well as gloves, a hat, and wool socks.
September Packing List
When visiting Colorado, it can be hard to know exactly what you’ll need to bring to be comfortable during the day and at night. Here’s what I would recommend that you bring when packing for a trip in September, in addition to essentials like socks and underwear.
Dress (if wearing – I’d recommend longer styles)
Light/mid weight jacket
Sun hat/ball cap (if desired)
If traveling into the mountains, also pack:
Hiking boots or sturdy tennis shoes
Things To Do in Colorado in September
Because the weather is generally warm during the day and cool at night, you’ll have your pick of both indoor and outdoor activities in Colorado. Here are some of the best things to do in Colorado in September, regardless of how long you’re planning to visit.
People visit and move to Colorado for its incredible hiking, and for good reason. There are trails within a short drive of the major cities in Colorado, with many options to suit even the most beginner or advanced hiker.
Colorado Springs is one of the fastest growing cities in Colorado, but it’s still mostly known for its access to great hikes and outdoor activities. You can explore the Garden of the Gods – a free park that’s just a short drive from downtown Colorado Springs.
One of my favorite easy Colorado hikes is Rattlesnake Gulch in Eldorado State Park, located just outside of Boulder. The hike to the first and second Flatirons are also wonderful, as is the hike to Royal Arch. All of these trailheads are within about an hour of Denver.
Visit a Brewery
Although the metro areas of Denver, Boulder, and Golden are probably best known for their breweries, there are great spots worth visiting throughout Colorado. Denver has a few great breweries, including Cerebral Brewing – my favorite one on the scene.
If you don’t mind going a bit out of the way, Avery Brewing Co in Boulder has many of my favorite Colorado beers. Otherwise, Mountain Sun and Sanitas are great choices, and both of them are fairly centrally located.
Golden’s largest brewery is Coors, which offers tours to visitors Thursdays through Sundays. Be sure to book your tour as far in advance as possible, as the tickets are limited and tend to sell out quickly. Otherwise, there are a number of craft breweries in Golden, including Golden City Brewery and New Terrain Brewing Company.
Enjoy a restaurant or brewery patio
Denver and Boulder area restaurants are known for having sun soaked patios, great happy hours, and for being dog friendly. If you’re in the area, I’d strongly recommend finding a great spot to enjoy the last few hours of sunlight on a nice day in September.
My favorite patio is Kaos Pizzeria in Denver, which boasts a beautiful garden area. They have a great drink menu during happy hour and some of the best pizza in the area.
See a concert at Red Rocks
One of the most iconic and memorable things that you can do when visiting Colorado is see a concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. This natural sandstone amphitheater is surrounded by enormous slabs of rock and overlooks Denver’s metro area.
Although it’s not the largest venue in the state, it’s definitely the most iconic – a large seating area is surrounded by natural walls of red sandstone. As a concertgoer, the experience is unparalleled. If you don’t have room in your itinerary or budget for a concert at Red Rocks, you can still visit the amphitheater and walk around, so long as there’s not a paid event happening.
Check out the fall colors
The aspens start to show their fall colors in mid-September. The earliest colors are visible in the northern region of the state, while the southern portion of the trees start to turn in late September and early October. The Colorado State Forest Service released a guide to finding fall colors – it’s a helpful resource as you plan your trip.
Visit a national park
Colorado is home to four National Parks: Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, the Great Sand Dunes, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. All of these national parks are well worth visiting, but Rocky Mountain National Park is the closest to Denver and certainly the most popular. When I lived in Boulder, I went to RMNP a few times a month during the winter to snowshoe with friends.
Go for a soak in a hot spring
Colorado is lucky enough to have a number of natural hot spring pools throughout the mountain region. Note that there are no hot springs in the Boulder/Denver area, but there are several pools that are accessible by car if you can make a day or weekend trip to get to them.
My favorite Colorado hot springs are in Pagosa Springs, a small town about a five hour drive from Denver. The town has both premade pools and wild hot springs to choose from, and there are a few cute restaurants and bakeries that you can visit while you’re there.
Bonus: Drive to Taos and Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
Ok, so this recommendation is obviously not in Colorado, but if you’re in the region you might consider a trip to Taos, New Mexico. Taos is about a 5 hour drive from Denver and features incredible desert mountain landscapes, fabulous New Mexican cuisine, and natural hot springs.
Whenever I wanted a change of scenery while living in Colorado, one of my top picks for a weekend getaway was Taos. I usually camped near the hot springs or on BLM land, but there are some great hotels and Airbnbs in the area, too.
I’ve always wanted to try riding in a hot air balloon over the Rio Grande in Taos. The balloons tend to leave at sunrise. There are a few companies to choose from, but Rio Grande Balloons has great reviews and flies year round.
Where to Stay in Colorado in September
Colorado is full of fabulous places to stay to enjoy the last vestiges of summer or the beginning of fall. There are some great bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels, and unique stays throughout the state.
Top Pick for Denver
Denver is, in some ways, the most obvious first stop when you visit Colorado. It is home to the largest airport in the region and boasts plenty of great places to see and things to do. You can choose from interesting neighborhoods like the River North Art District (RiNo), adorable coffee shops, great happy hours, and lots of fabulous Mexican food.
I previously shared my top hotel picks in Denver, including some budget hotels in the surrounding suburbs. Among them, the Slate Denver, Tapestry Collection By Hilton offers the best location, value, and amenities. It’s set in an old public school building that’s just a few blocks from Civic Center Park.
Top Pick for Boulder
Boulder is a smaller city that boasts incredible access to the outdoors, a charming downtown area, and plenty of breweries to enjoy. It was my home for many years and is definitely one of my favorite areas in the state.
If you have the room in your budget, the Hotel Boulderado is one of the best hotels in Boulder. This historic hotel features Victorian decor and is located just off of Pearl Street, the perfect spot for enjoying downtown Boulder. Some of the rooms even offer views of the Flatirons or Rocky Mountains.
Top Pick for Golden
Golden is an oft-underrated spot in the Denver Metro area, located about 20 minutes outside of Denver. Despite its proximity to Denver, it has a small town atmosphere with an old west flair. If you’re planning to stay in Golden, opt for a hotel or other accommodation near the historic downtown, which is the most vibrant part of the city.
I wrote a guide to the best bed and breakfasts in Golden, which includes many of my top stays in the city. Pansy’s Parlor Bed & Breakfast is a charming little bed and breakfast in an old Victorian House.
If breakfast isn’t included in your stay, grab a breakfast burrito at Bonfire Burritos. This local spot has lines out the door on the weekends, so go early if you’re in a hurry.
FAQs: September in Colorado
Planning your visit to Colorado in September and still have some questions? Here are the answers to some of the most common queries from travelers.
Is September a good time to go to Colorado?
Yes, September is generally a great time to visit Colorado. It’s an especially nice time to visit the Denver Metro Area, when the weather is warm and sunny. The weather is still pleasant in the mountains in September, but it’s substantially cooler when you reach the higher altitudes.
The weather is still nice enough to enjoy activities like swimming in Boulder Creek, watching a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater, and going for day hikes.
What is the weather like in Colorado in September?
In general, the weather in Colorado in September is very pleasant along the Front Range (Denver/Boulder area). The temperatures are pleasantly warm during the day and only slightly chilly at night, with cooler weather in the mountains.
When I was last in September in Colorado, I wore leggings, a t-shirt, and carried a very light overshirt that I wore when indoors or when the weather was breezy. I did go into the mountains for an evening and was chilly in my lightweight down jacket after the sunset; a medium weight down jacket would have been more appropriate.
Can you see fall colors in Colorado in September?
You might see some glimpses of fall colors in Colorado in September, especially towards the end of the month. However, the most brilliant colors typically come in October. The further north you travel in Colorado in September, the better chance you’ll have of seeing the aspens changing color. By October, you can see brilliant displays across the state.
Is it better to go to Colorado in September or October?
If you’re choosing between visiting Colorado in September or October, I’d recommend September. Although you could really experience any weather in Colorado, it’s likely to be warmer and more pleasant. September is great because you’ll miss most of the hottest weather, which typically hits in Colorado in July an August.
However, if you’re interested in the fall colors, early to mid-October is the best time to visit. By late October, it can start to get very cool at night, so be sure that you pack a medium weight jacket to stay warm after sunset.
Can you camp in Colorado in September?
Experienced campers can camp year round in Colorado, provided they have the right gear. So, you can absolutely camp in Colorado in September, but you’ll need to ensure that you have plenty of warm clothing, a warm sleeping bag, and other winter essentials like snow boots and ice equipment.
As I’ve mentioned a few times in this post, although the temperatures in Denver are still warm in September, the mountains tend to cool off much more quickly. I’ve experienced snow flurries in the Colorado Rockies starting in August. So long as you’re prepared for changing weather, possible snow, and winter conditions, you can have a great time camping in September.
Conclusion: September in Colorado
September is a great time to visit Colorado – one of the best times of the year, in my opinion. The summer season is wrapping up and the weather is still warm during the day, though it starts to feel a bit more crisp at night. There are plenty of activities to enjoy, like hiking, seeing a concert at Red Rocks, or simply soaking in a hot spring.
Although ski season starts in mid-November, you can still head into the mountains to enjoy the natural splendor of Colorado. As a bonus, the ski towns won’t be overcrowded, and many of them host outdoor concerts and other events during the off season.
The fall is a great time to go hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park or Eldorado Canyon State Park, to name a few. The weather is perfect for day hiking in September, and you might even get the chance to hike amongst the brilliant reds and golds of the changing aspen leaves.
Whether you choose to enjoy a sun-soaked and warm visit to Denver or a cooler and more colorful visit to the mountains, I hope I’ve convinced you that September is the perfect time to visit Colorado!