The Climate of Colorado

By | August 27, 2022

The US state of Colorado (CO) is located in the western United States. Colorado has been home to several Native American tribes for thousands of years, who inhabited both the mountain valleys of the Rocky Mountains and the plains of the High Plains. The landscape of Colorado consists for a fairly large part of mountains, which are part of the Rocky Mountains. These sometimes very inhospitable mountains dominate the western part of Colorado. The eastern half is defined by plains belonging to the Great Plains. Steppes, prairies and grasslands dominate this vast area, which lies between 1010 meters and almost two kilometers above sea level.

Climate info Colorado

Colorado is a fairly dry state, where mainly the cold steppe climate occurs. On the many mountain peaks this changes into a cool to moderate continental climate. There are also a number of microclimates in the mountainous west, including the fairly extreme high mountain climate. In the winter months there is mainly powdery snow in the mountains, which can remain for quite a long time. Eternal snow does not occur in Colorado, in mid-August the last remnants of snow have disappeared from the mountain tops. The cold winters with ample snowfall mean that Colorado has some excellent ski resorts. Perhaps the best-known is the fashionable Aspen, where the jet set is mainly used in the winter months.

Extreme weather

Colorado is a fairly dry state, where mainly the cold steppe climate occurs. On the many mountain peaks this changes into a cool to moderate continental climate. There are also a number of microclimates in the mountainous west, including the fairly extreme high mountain climate. In the winter months there is mainly powdery snow in the mountains, which can remain for quite a long time. Eternal snow does not occur in Colorado, in mid-August the last remnants of snow have disappeared from the mountain tops. The cold winters with ample snowfall mean that Colorado has some excellent ski resorts. Perhaps the best-known is the fashionable Aspen, where the jet set is mainly used in the winter months.

Climate figures

The figures below are based on long-term average climate statistics. The temperatures are displayed in degrees Celsius (°C).

maximum temperature minimum temperature hours of sunshine per day days of rainfall per month
January 7℃ -9℃ 7 6
February 8℃ -7℃ 8 5
March 11℃ -4℃ 8 8
April 16℃ 1℃ 9 8
May 21℃ 5℃ 10 10
June 27℃ 10℃ 11 9
July 31℃ 13℃ 11 11
August 29℃ 12℃ 10 10
September 24℃ 8℃ 9 8
October 19℃ 2℃ 8 5
November 11℃ -4℃ 7 5
December 7℃ -8℃ 6 5

The climate of Alamosa

Alamosa is a small town in southern Colorado, not far from New Mexico. The city is located in the county of the same name, in the San Luis Valley. Alamosa is best known for its location near the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. This area consists of more than 80 square kilometers of sand dunes, some of which can be over 200 meters high. More than 200,000 people visit this park every year. The highest mountain near Alamosa is Blanca Peak, with an elevation of 4,372 meters.

Due to its higher location, Alamosa has a moderate continental climate, with little precipitation throughout the year. The little precipitation that falls there will mainly come down as snow during the winter months. The winter months can be extremely cold and temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius and below are certainly no exception. The summer months are warm and pleasant and very hot from time to time.

The climate of Aspen

Aspen is a small town in the central-western part of the US state of Colorado. The city is located in Pitkin County in the Rocky Mountains. There are four ski areas around the city, each with its own character. The oldest of the four is Aspen Mountain, which has 76 runs with 8 lifts. The Aspen Highlands has 118 runs (5 lifts), including The Highland Bowl. The Buttermilk Ski Area (44 ski runs and 9 lifts) is especially suitable for families and novice skiers. The later added and largest is the Snowmass Ski Area, with 88 ski runs of which the longest is 8.5 kilometers. This whole area together is known as the Aspen/Snowmass and is known all over the world as an exclusive ski resort. You will notice this in the prices for the ski passes as well as in the hotel room prices. A few hundred dollars a night in Aspen is a steal.

The temperate continental climate of Aspen

Aspen has a moderate continental climate, with an even distribution of precipitation, although during the winter months this precipitation will only come down as powder snow. Due to the low temperatures, the snow stays here for a very long time. However, there is no eternal snow. Due to Aspen’s elevation, the average temperature during the summer months is very low compared to other parts of Colorado. The sun shines exuberantly during the summer months. As a result, even at this altitude (more than 2400 meters above sea level) it can still get warm in the months of July and August. On average, the maximum temperatures are well above 20 degrees. Sometimes there are days when the mercury rises above the tropical limit of 30 degrees. In winter, minimums are possible that dip below -30 degrees.

The climate of Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is a large city in the central part of Colorado. Colorado Springs is located in El Paso County on Fountain Creek. The city is located on the eastern side of the southern Rocky Mountains, not far from Pikes Peak. A number of military bases are located around the city, such as Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base, NORAD and Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, and the United States Air Force Academy. These military bases are an important part of the city’s income. The main control station for GPS satellites is also located here.

Colorado Springs has a cold steppe climate, with one distinct rainy season, lasting from April through October. The other months of the year are particularly dry. Winters can be particularly cold and long periods of frost are no exception. During the summer months, the average temperature is just below 30 degrees Celsius.

The climate of Cortez

Cortez is a small town in the southern US state of Colorado. Cortez is located in Montezuma County, not far from the borders of Utah and New Mexico. Cortez is located in an area that is very popular with tourists, mainly due to the Hovenweep National Monument, the Lowry Pueblo, the Yucca House National Monument and the Mesa Verde National Park. The latter park is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This park contains the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi Indians.

Cortez has a cold steppe climate, which is slightly influenced by the Rocky Mountains. The precipitation figures are slightly higher than in the more eastern parts of Colorado. You can speak of a four-season climate here, because there is a clear separation between the different seasons. During the summer months, the mercury can rise to potentially tropical temperatures.

The climate of Denver

Denver is the capital and largest city of Colorado. The entire metropolitan area also includes the city of Aurora and a number of smaller towns, which together account for a metropolis of about three million inhabitants. Because Denver is located one mile above sea level, the city is nicknamed ‘The Mile High City’. This nickname has nothing to do with the ‘Mile High Club’ that appeals to some people.

Denver has a four-season climate, which can be described as a cold steppe climate (type BSk) within the Köppen-Geiger climate system. With a total of less than four hundred millimeters of precipitation per year, Denver has a clearly dry climate type, which is accompanied by a high number of hours of sunshine. The sun shines more than 3100 hours per year in Denver. The summer months (June and July) are the sunniest months, with an average of 11 hours of sunshine per day. Winters in Denver are fairly cool, with occasional spikes. During a cooler period it can easily freeze twenty to sometimes even thirty degrees. On the other hand, the summer months are again markedly warm, with maximum temperatures in July and August around the tropical limit of thirty degrees.

The climate of Durango

Durango is a small city in southern Colorado not far from the New Mexico border. Durango is located in La Plata County, on the Animas River. The city was founded in the late 1800s on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. The city is surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, which are part of the Rocky Mountains. The Durango Mountain Resort is not far from the city. There are 85 slopes with 10 lifts in this ski area. The Mesa Verde National Park is located a few miles outside of Durango, near the village of Cortez. This park with its cliff dwellings of the Anasazi Indians is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Durango has a cold steppe climate, with a long cold winter period. During this winter period, the mercury can drop far below freezing and temperatures of minus 20 and colder are certainly no exception. The summer period here is relatively short and is slightly cooler than in the more eastern places in Colorado. The higher ski area has a moderate continental climate, with lower temperatures throughout the year. Most precipitation will come down as powder snow.

The climate of Fort Collins

Fort Collins is a large city in northern Colorado, not far from the Wyoming border. Fort Collins is located in Larimer County on the Cache La Poudre River and, along with the city of Loveland, forms the Fort Collins-Loveland Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city originated in the second half of the 19th century as a military outpost. In this period mainly farmers settled here who, among other things, started growing sugar beets. Colorado State University (27,500 students) has been in the city since 1870.

Fort Collins has a cold steppe climate, characterized by hot summer months and cold, harsh winter months. There is a four-season climate here. On average, the most precipitation falls during the spring. Average rainfall is just slightly higher than most parts of Colorado. During the summer months, the mercury can regularly exceed 30 degrees Celsius.

The climate of Glenwood Springs

The village of Glenwood Springs is located in the western US state of Colorado. The town is surrounded by mountains. What makes Glenwood Springs popular is the hot spring. This source has been turned into a tourist attraction called Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. Here you can enjoy two pools with pleasantly warm water that is full of minerals. In addition, you can do all kinds of activities in this village, such as rafting or kayaking. This makes Glenwood Springs an ideal destination for active holiday enthusiasts. Next to the Colorado River that runs through the town is a railroad that takes you to Denver or Salt Lake City.

Unlike the rest of Colorado, Glenwood Springs has a more stable climate. Extreme weather conditions can occur in the village, but in general the climate is semi-arid and mild. Along the Colorado River, the humidity can be a bit higher and the temperature a bit cooler than in the areas that lie against the mountains. In the summer months, Glenwood Springs has maximum temperatures of around thirty degrees. In winter the temperature regularly drops below zero. The months of December and January are the coldest, when it can get about ten degrees below zero. The low temperatures in winter mean that precipitation often falls in the form of snow during this period.

The climate of Grand Junction

Grand Junction is a medium-sized city in western Colorado and the largest city in the area. Grand Junction is located in Mesa County, where the Gunnison flows into the Colorado River. The city and region are very popular with mountain bikers, who mainly cycle here from the neighboring state of Utah from Moab. The Tabeguache and the Kokopelli route are the best known in this region.

Grand Junction has a cold steppe climate, which is characterized by low rainfall and many hours of sunshine. On average, Grand Junction has approximately 3,200 hours of sunshine on an annual basis. The winter months are cold, with long periods of frost, although in most cases this will only be night frost. There is just over 200 millimeters of precipitation on an annual basis. Due to this low rainfall, the city has characteristics of a cold desert climate.

The climate of Gunnison

Gunnison is a town in western central Colorado. Gunnison is located in Gunnison County in the Rocky Mountains, on the Gunnison River. Just outside the village is the Crested Butte Mountain Resort. There are 121 slopes in this ski area, served by 16 lifts. The longest run is the Peak to Treasury, with a length of 4.2 kilometers. The ski area also includes the villages of Crested Butte and Mount Crested Butte. The Gunnison River also attracts quite a few tourists in the summer months.

Gunnison has a moderate continental climate, which is mainly characterized by extremely cold winter months. During these winter months, the mercury here regularly drops below -30 degrees Celsius. The summer months are pleasantly warm, but night frost can still occur during these months. During the winter months, all of the precipitation will come down as snow.

The climate of Loveland

Loveland is a medium-sized city in the north of the US state of Colorado. Loveland is located in Larimer County and, along with the city of Fort Collins, forms the Fort Collins-Loveland Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city was created at the end of the 19th century with the arrival of the Colorado Central Railroad. The railroad crosses the Big Thompson River here. Colorado Christian University is located in Loveland. Near the town is the Loveland Ski Area.

Loveland has a cold steppe climate, characterized by low rainfall. The higher ski area has a moderate continental climate, with higher precipitation figures. Precipitation will mainly consist of snow and powder snow. In the town of Loveland, the mercury can really rise during the summer months and temperatures well above 30 degrees Celsius are certainly no exception.

The climate of Pueblo

Pueblo is a large city in the central part of the state of Colorado. Pueblo is located on the Arkansas River and on Fountain Creek, about 1,500 meters above sea level. The city is named after Fort Pueblo, which stood here in the first part of the 19th century. The town itself was created during the Colorado gold rush in the second half of the 19th century. The city has suffered some serious economic blows, such as the great flood in 1921 and the steel crisis in the 1970s.

Steppe climate

Pueblo has a cold steppe climate, which is mainly characterized by the low rainfall that falls in this area. The summer months can be quite hot. During the hottest days of the year, the mercury can reach tropical temperatures, only to cool off quickly in the evening. The winter months are cold and there can be long periods of frost, luckily this is usually limited to the evening and night.

The climate of the Rocky Mountains

Rocky Mountains is a large mountain area with a total length of almost 5000 kilometers in the United States of America and Canada. The highest peak of the mountain range is Mount Elbert, with a height of 4402 meters. Several rivers arise from this mountain range, such as the Missouri, the Arkansas, the Rio Grande, the Colorado and a few others on American soil. The Yukon and the Bow originate in the Canadian part of the mountain range. Much of the Rocky Mountains is protected by public parks and forest lands. The mountain area is a popular tourist destination, especially for hiking, camping, mountaineering, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding. There are several national parks in the Rocky Mountains. Rocky Mountain National Park and Yellowstone National Park are the most famous on American soil. Canadian territory includes Banff National Park and Kootenay National Park.

Cold Steppe Climate

The Rocky Mountains have a cold steppe climate, with a high mountain climate in the higher parts. There you will find eternal snow and glaciers. In the winter period, most precipitation will come down here as snow. Due to the vastness of the area, it is difficult to paint an unambiguous picture of the climate conditions in the Rocky Mountains. In general you can say that the northern part of the Rocky Mountains is a lot colder. The average temperatures here are lower than in the more southerly parts of this mountain range. The windward side has a higher precipitation average than the leeward side. The higher parts are colder than the lower parts. The data below is based on part of the mountain range in the US state of Wyoming.

The climate of Telluride

Telluride is a village in the southeastern US state of Colorado. Telluride is located in San Miguel County, on the San Miguel River. The city originated at the end of the 19th century, when gold was found here. The gold was found in a special alloy that makes it black, they called it Telluride. Telluride is a popular ski resort today. The Telluride Ski Resort features 125 slopes served by 18 ski lifts. The Galloping Goose is the longest slope with a length of 7.4 kilometers. A small village has arisen near the ski area, called Mountain Village.

Telluride has a moderate continental climate, with many cold days throughout the year. You have a chance of frost or night frost here all year round. Because the daytime temperature can rise considerably during the summer months, there is no eternal snow in Telluride. During the coldest months of the year, the mercury hardly rises above freezing here. The precipitation figures are a lot higher than in the eastern parts of Colorado.

The climate of Vail

Vail is a village in southwestern Colorado, next to the Vail Ski Resort. Located in Eagle County, Vail is surrounded by the White River National Forest. Vail was built in the mid-century to serve as the base for the Vail Ski Resort. This huge ski area has 193 slopes, served by 33 lifts. The Riva Ridge is the longest of these runs, at 6.4 kilometers in length. Vail is at an altitude of about 2,500 meters; the slopes of the ski area are about 1,000 meters higher. at 3,500 meters.

Vail has a moderate continental climate, with about 880 centimeters of snowfall per year. You have a chance of frost and night frost here all year round. During the winter period it can freeze hard and temperatures well below freezing are certainly no exception. Due to the high location of the city, the summer months are also on the cool side and temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius are rare.

Vail Colorado