Denver weather can be unpredictable but the city enjoys four distinct seasons—although winter sometimes lingers a bit longer than other locales. It’s not uncommon for winter conditions to interfere with outdoor springtime activities, like Easter services at Red Rocks Amphitheater or even high school baseball games.
Many think wintertime produces the most snow, but springtime flakes are a given and snowstorms with an occasional blizzard can be expected as well. Residents know that the key to year-round outdoor comfort in Denver is dressing in layers and carrying rain or snow protection. Venture into the area foothills just minutes west of Denver along the I-70 corridor, and things can get even more unpredictable. With the right conditions, summertime snow showers are even a possibility.
Denver’s climate is dry, so humidifiers are high on the request list at area hotels, and body lotion is a daily must-use staple. Even with its mile-high altitude, the city is situated up against elevated foothills in a “valley” of sorts. Wind sometimes can be a factor as it comes barreling down the mountainside gaining speed and blowing across the city, changing temperatures and wreaking havoc with anything not tied down. Conditions also can cause stagnant air pollution at times, keeping those with respiratory conditions indoors. The good news: Denver’s air is generally remains crisp without the sauna feel of humid climates.
December, January and February winter days are the quintessential time to “bundle up” from head to toe with a hat, gloves, snowboots and parka. While December can produce some unexpectedly sunny and warm days, Denver’s coldest temperatures traditionally occur in January and February, and icy conditions are likely—even residents aren’t immune to spills on snow and ice. Winter high temperatures might average in the 40s, but multi-day, single-digit readings are always expected. What to wear: Sweaters, hats and ski gloves, plus boots that can help combat snow, ice and cold. In December, a light jacket can suffice during occasional warm, sunny days.
Springtime in March, April and May features some of the most confounding weather patterns, as well as some of Denver’s most beautiful and comfortable conditions. March and April generally produce rain and snow showers of varying intensity, along with an occasional spring blizzard. March is Denver’s snowiest month, followed by April. May boasts the most precipitation with rain, but it’s also known for comfortably warm temperatures during the day and also for the “greening” of Denver—when flowers and grasses bloom mightily. Low temperatures finally rise above freezing in May and high temps generally range from mid-50s to 70s throughout the spring. What to wear: Denverites don’t put away their parkas until May and keep snowboots (plus shovel and ice-scraper) handy through April. In May, most days call for shorts and shorts sleeves during the day, with an added jacket for chilly nights.
Summer weather in the “Queen City of the Plains” arrives in June, July and August. Conditions can range from ideal hot days and cool nights to rain, thunderstorms with hail and a few tornadoes. A common pattern in June and July features sun in the morning, with an afternoon thunderstorm around 3pm. Summer is the time to keep an eye on the sky for lightning strikes and flash-flooding throughout the metro area. High temperatures can range from 70s to the 90s, with about a week’s worth of 100s thrown in, generally in July or August. What to wear: Shorts and flip-flops are fine for hot city days, but venture into the mountains and you’ll want more substantial, closed footwear plus a jacket. Nights in town can get cool especially in June, so a light jacket or long-sleeved shirt is recommended
Defining the state’s “Colorful Colorado” catchphrase, Denver weather in September, October and November runs the gamut from comfortable temperatures to downright wintry conditions—snow included, even possible in early September. Halloween snow is not uncommon, but oddly enough, Thanksgiving often features beautiful, mild and sunny conditions with temperatures in the 50s or even 60s. What to wear: from shorts to ski wear—anything is possible in the Mile High City during erratic fall weather patterns.
The best times to visit Denver for idyllic spring-like conditions is late May and early June. For the best of fall, visitors generally enjoy sun and moderate temperatures (plus gorgeous aspen leaves) in mid- to late September.
A mile may not seem like much, but Denver’s altitude can affect visitors. Altitude sickness sometime occurs and symptoms may manifest within six hours. Those affected might experience a pounding headache, dizziness, extreme fatigue and an upset stomach. While getting acclimated to the city, visitors are advised to drink lots of water, keep physical activity to a minimum and avoid alcohol. Mountain elevations can rise to 12,000 feet and above—symptoms there may come on more suddenly and be more severe.
Sunny days are a Denver delight and the city experiences more than 300 sun-filled days a year. But skin cancer is a constant threat, especially among outdoors-loving Coloradans. Denver’s mile-high elevation puts visitors at immediate risk for sunburn, even during cloudy days. Sunscreen is a must no matter what the season, along with hats and protective clothing.
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