Best month to visit Rocky Mountain National Park?
What to do and what to expect:
January is the coldest month with an average high temperature around freezing and an average low of 4F. Temperatures have been recorded as high as 57F and as low as -43F but those don’t last for long! Average precipitation is 1.5 inches but we have had Januaries where it felt like all the winter snow arrived in one month, and Januaries that were dry and sunny! The snow is crisp and firm. The lakes are frozen solid, great for ice-fishing and cross country skiing. The Three Lakes Fishing Tournament is this month on Lake Granby. Snowmobile trails are well packed with a strong base. Soak in the Hot Sulphur Springs after being outside all day. Don’t forget to dine fireside at the Rapids Restaurant before retiring to your comfy room at the Rapids Lodge.
February marks the beginning of the change. Days are a little warmer with marginally higher average temperatures (ave. high 36 and low6) but the days are a little longer, allowing for more sunshine hours and that makes midday feel warmer than the bitter days of January. The snow may soften a little in the middle of the day. There is the Annual Pond Hockey Classic, Ice Addiction Fishing Tournament and the Snowmobile for Life Poker to enjoy. What is there to do for kids in Grand Lake? The Winter Carnival is a must. President’s Day Long Weekend along with Valentine’s Day offer great opportunities to escape to the mountains. The Romantic Lodge Guest Rooms are just perfect!
March is generally the last month for good snowmobiling and skiing but can be the heaviest snow month. The beginning of the month temperatures are pretty similar to February but real change is seen and felt towards the end of the month. T-shirt sunny days are welcomed. Snowpack melts off road surfaces and around town, snowmobiling meadows may get a little dense and on hot days, pools of water may form on the lake ice although the ice is still nice and thick at this time. It is still a perfect winter playground out there. It’s a good idea to get out snowshoeing and cross country skiing early before surface snow softens. Average high temperatures are around 43F and the average low is 13F but record temperatures of 72F and -36F have been set. Stay in a cozy Rapids Suite for Spring Break. These one bedroom units offer a full kitchen, sleep up to 6 people and some are dog-friendly.
April brings the big melt but Spring is still a long way away. The big piles of winter snow around town are still evident and will take a while to disappear. Of course trails in Rocky Mountain National Park still require snowshoes and you might get too hot, so dress in layers. Soaking up the sun on good days becomes a must for locals. The average high temperature is 51F (record73F) and average low 20F (record -21F). When temperatures are around 20F, locals consider it to be pretty warm. The dry Colorado air makes the cold so much more bearable and it doesn’t feel anything like the East Coast biting cold of Winter. Some of the lake ice may be dicey so always check to make sure it is safe before venturing out. If you are wanting to fish, there are always some open spots like the channel between Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Reservoir. We can direct you there. Nordic Centers and Ski Resorts begin to close but there is still plenty to do. If you bring your own snowmobile, trailer to Idleglen and ride from there. Moose and other animals in the National Park increase their activity and are frequently seen in the meadows where snow melts faster in the sunshine. Of course you can have a sunny day and a blizzard day all in one! Book a River View Condo at the Rapids and stay inside enjoying the fireplace while looking out onto a picturesque Tonahutu River.
May brings all kinds of weather. Average highs are around 60F and lows around 28F. We have had an 82F day and a 1F night. Days are really noticeably longer and when they are sunny, they can be deliciously warm. Snow storms will still pass through but the new snow doesn’t stick around long. Migrant birds arrive and liven up the skies and the river at the Rapids loses its ice. The lakes may melt off in late April or later in May but Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park won’t open until Memorial Day Weekend. An air of excitement is in the air. Locals know that things are going to liven up when the road opens and visitors flood into our part of the world. Everyone is busy getting ready for the summer season, grass is greening up and Aspen leaves pop out in the latter part of the month. Bring t-shirts and heavy coats – you just never know. The river at the Rapids is often at peak or near peak flow as June approaches. The Rapids low season rates will be available all the way up until just before Memorial Day Weekend. Take advantage of the great rates.
June means being prepared for all weather. It may be sunny and warm in Grand Lake but when you get to the top of Trail Ridge Road it may be snowing with artic blasts of wind (of course not all the time). The Tonahutu River or North inlet, is flowing high and is just magnificent to watch. Trails can still be muddy in the early part of the month but will start firming up towards the end of the month. Peak season usually kicks in around June 23rd when you can expect hotels to be full and people everywhere. If you hike a little off the beaten track you can soon find solitude. Boats, golf courses and all the summer fun options are available to you. Average high temperatures are around 71F and the low 34F … so if you are worried about no air-conditioning, just open a window. Records are noted to have reached 89F and 16F). This is month to look for animal babies everywhere. The Rapids Condos are perfect for watching the river roar by from the comfort of your room.
July has the reputation of being the warmest month. Highs around 77F and lows around 39F. Very rarely does it tip over 90F but a frost or two can still surprise you. Believe it or not, Grand Lake has even had snow on the 4th of July! An anomaly for sure, but evidently not impossible! Rain in the afternoon can be frequent so get out on the lakes and trails early before the water becomes choppy for kayaking or lightening becomes a risk for high elevation hikers. Wildflowers are at their peak! Getting sunburned at high elevation is easy so be careful. Always remember to drink a lot of water. The Colorado high country air is very dry and many visitors fine the elevation difficult but taking it easy and drinking a LOT of water can really help. Nights are still cool and almost always require a light jacket. Head into Rocky Mountain National Park to stargaze. It’s great to sit out under the crystal clear skies when it’s not too cold! All of our rooms have fans so even though there is no air conditioning, open a window, enjoy a breeze and savor the still chilly nights!
August is a fabulous month. The Grand Lake Yacht Club has their Lipton Cup Regatta in the first week, and all the white sails against the blue water of Grand Lake is stunning! We still get afternoon showers but often the days are just perfect. Average high temperatures are just a little less than July at around 74F and lows around 38F (record temperatures 92 F and 18F). Here and there, a stressed Aspen or Willow will begin to show a few yellow leaves. Rain frequency lessens towards the end of the month as we get closer to fall. If you want to visit in the summer but want to avoid the crowds, come mid-week during the last 2 weeks of August after most schools have started. The river at the Rapids will be running at much lower levels with lots of boulders visible. Choose from any of the four buildings on property to find the accommodation that is just perfect for you. All of our rooms are different and there is always something to please everybody.
September brings fall temperatures and beautiful weather with bluebird skies. Of course you may experience the odd snowstorm too. September is just about everyone’s favorite time in the Rocky Mountains so book early. Labor Day starts the month off with a bang. Enjoy walking around town and taking advantage of the end of summer sales. Leaves may start to change in earnest in the second week of September and peak color is usually around the third weekend in September. However, every year is different and fabulous colors may extend into October. Elevation also plays a part, so if the colors aren’t perfect at lower elevation, just go higher! The average high is still around 68F which means September days are warm and sunny. Nights now average around freezing which helps the fall colors along. “Indian Summer” days may bring a high in the upper 80’s and a cold front might drop the temperatures into the single digits. Trail Ridge Road can be very chilly and always plan for the fact that the road may close temporarily due to bad weather and unsafe road conditions at this time of the year. The bull elk start rounding up their harems in the meadows of RMNP and this experience should not be missed. The haunting bugles of the bull elk with their magnificent racks is quite a sight! The River View Condos have Aspen Trees in glorious fall color right outside along the river bank of the Tonahutu River. Soak up the colors!
October if often a really nice time to be in Grand Lake. Hunting season begins and the last fall colors will add to the quiet beauty without the crowds. If it snows, it won’t stay on the ground for long. Colorado is famous for sunshine and this month is no exception. The elk are still bugling and hiking at this time of year is fantastic, peaceful and meditative. Enjoy average temperatures between 24F and 56F, some “Indian Summer” days into the upper 70s and chilly refreshing nights. October is usually a fairly low precipitation month but snow storms are very different at high elevation so if a big one comes in, that may be the final curtain call for Trail Ridge Road. The road has been known to stay open into November. The Rapids begins to over our low season nightly rates around the second week of October – what a deal! The Rapids Lodge and Restaurant is perfect for any special event: weddings, rehearsal dinners, anniversaries,reunions, meetings … really any excuse for a special occasion will do! The Rapids is just 1 short block to the end of the main street in town and just 2 short blocks to the lake so you can walk everywhere.
November is a very quiet month in Grand County, Colorado. Hunters are still trying their luck in the woods but things are really peaceful. Snow at this time of year will begin to stick and ice will begin to form on eddies and still water in the Tonahutu River at the Rapids. Moose wander town at this time of the year, enjoying the remnants of the flower beds as they prepare for winter. Stellar Jays make their presence known again and are stunning as they flash brilliant blue among the trees. Nights can get as cold as -28F but usually hover around 15F. Days are in the 40’s but every now and again we get a hot, surprise “summer” day. If you want to do something different for Thanksgiving, come join us here at the Rapids Lodge. With Condos that sleep up to eight people, it’s the perfect place for a family gathering.
December brings winter and all the joy of the holidays! Folks get busy decorating town and businesses with a myriad of sparkling lights. Grand Lake is really one of the prettiest towns to be in at this time of the year, and you can’t beat New Year’s with our famous fireworks exploding over the lake, painting the snow all kinds of colors. The river at the Rapids will likely freeze and become silent, covered with snow. The lakes freeze in order. Shadow Mountain freezes first because it is the most shallow, then Grand Lake and finally Lake Granby. The lakes freeze anywhere from late November to mid to late December. The snowmobile trails in the Arapaho National Forest are open and ready for snowmobiling fun! The snowmobile trail from town is usually the last section to open and the National Park Service makes the decision based on the snow cover through sensitive sections that are within the Rocky Mountain National Park Boundary. Highs during this cold month hover around an average of 32F, lows around 5F. Unusual days may bring 55F or -35F. Brrr. When it is cold like this, the snow squeaks and moisture in the air crystallizes and literally snows out of a clear blue sky. It’s a magical time when all the winter sports are available and families and friends can make truly special memories!
Come see us here at the Rapids Lodge. No matter what month you visit in, there is always beauty and something special to experience.