The name does not sound attractive. In fact, it sounds dirty and sad. But don’t let the name fool you. Mud season is Colorado’s low season, the period of time between the closing of ski resorts and the start of summer activities. The weather heats up and melts the snow before wildflowers and grass fill Mother Nature’s carpet. Therefore, mud.
The effects of the mud season are most prominent in ski towns such as Vail, Steamboat Springs, and Aspen. You won’t feel as much of an impact in the city of Denver and outlying metropolitan cities. Spring is also the best time of year for other warm-weather destinations, such as Mesa Verde National Park in southern Colorado, to prepare to reopen all attractions for the peak season.
However, as the slopes close and skiers pack their sticks for the season, the ski resorts are completely transformed. Here are the reasons why you should visit Colorado during the mud season.
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You can plan a fun road bike trip to Visit Colorado
While backcountry trails can be too cluttered to drive, April and May is the best time to plan a Colorado road bike trip. Many cities in Colorado are totally bike-friendly. Fort Collins, Denver, and Boulder have received national attention for welcoming cyclists.
For a scenic ride, take your bike to River Road in Steamboat Springs, which runs alongside the Yampa River. Or stroll through Rabbit Ears Pass, a favorite destination, especially when the wildflowers begin to awaken.
If you still want to get off the pavement, rent a chunky bike with extra-wide tires and go through the mud for a messy but exciting adventure. Or take an off-road jeep tour and make the mud part of the fun.
It’s cheaper this time of year
As in any low season, the demand decreases and so do the prices. You can stay at some of the highest-end resorts in the mountains for a fraction of the price, often more than half. You won’t have to fight for a good room either. You can choose your place.
Not only the accommodation has great discounts, but also the restaurants and shops. Find major sales as ski shops prepare to close for the summer or as regular shops try to get the last of their cold-weather gear to make room for biking and hiking.
Although many restaurants may only feature abbreviated menus (and some close entirely during this period), what is left on the menu tend to be cheap. Hope happy hours are happier.
For example, you can stay at a luxury hotel like the Four Seasons in Vail and enjoy high-end dining at their restaurant and bar. The views, heated outdoor pool, a beautiful spa, a high-quality fitness center, and all the luxurious in-room amenities remain unchanged. The only difference is that you feel like you get the whole complex to yourself.
You get the city run
There are no long lines to see the attractions. There are no crowds in the streets. She does not circulate for hours looking for parking. You don’t have to wait long to get into a popular restaurant or bar.
The ski towns are yours to explore at your own pace. This is great for traveling families. Best of all, this is the only time of year when traffic on I-70 isn’t a nightmare. (Tip: Still, don’t try to climb the mountain from Denver during rush hour.) You will save time without sitting in your car. Instead, use that time to see the wildflowers bloom on an easy hike.
You can find a campsite
Camping off the field may not be your best option at this time of year because temperatures can still be cold and mud makes some trails difficult to navigate. But many of the drive-thru campsites are open year-round, and you’ll have a better chance of getting one in the spring.
Mid-week to late May is the best time of year to visit Medano Creek and Great Sand Dunes, a popular tourist spot in Colorado. The temperature usually hits the 60s and 70s, and the creek really starts to recover. On nice days, especially later in the afternoon, after the sun has warmed the water, you can float down the stream in an inner tube. And if you plan your trip before June, you won’t have to battle horrible weekend traffic, a crowded beach, and overloaded campsites.
You can attend a spring festival
Summer can be the peak season for festivals, but you can also find some fun spring events.
The Estes Park Mountain Music Festival is typically in mid-May, towards the end of Colorado’s downtime. This fun event is filled with live bluegrass music and is centered around the Estes Park event complex.
While in Estes, visit the dramatic and famous Stanley Hotel, which claims to be haunted. In the fall, especially around Halloween, it can be difficult to rate a room at this hotel. And summers are full of weddings. In the spring, you might be lucky enough to land a room at Stanley, maybe even one of the so-called haunted.
Note: Do not attempt to drive the popular Estes Trail Ridge Road. It doesn’t open until Memorial Day, and sometimes not until June, depending on the amount of snowfall.
You can enjoy Colorado’s ‘Banana Belt’
Craving a little warmer than Colorado’s spring weather? Head to the Salida area, known as the “banana belt” of the Colorado Mountains.
While that term may be a bit generous, Salida experiences milder temperatures than the rest of Colorado due to its location and interaction with the air moving over the mountains. The average temperature in Salida does not generally drop below 49 degrees Fahrenheit in January, however, the summers are not too hot. Average July temperatures are a perfect 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Annual rainfall is usually not more than one foot. Here, it is soft, warm, and dry. The city claims more than 330 sunny days a year.
It’s perfect for the Hot Springs Loop
A fun fact about western Colorado – it’s filled with naturally warm or hot springs that create hot springs. You can plan a complete vacation by following the Historic Hot Springs Loop, which takes you through Chaffee County, Ouray County, Pagosa Springs, Glenwood Springs, and Steamboat Springs.
The loop itself spans 720 miles, but if you break it down into a week, you don’t drive much per day. The loop will take you to at least 19 different hot springs, including an underground steam cave to an optional clothing-only hot spring spot called Orvis Hot Springs.
No restaurant waiting
In winter, it is almost impossible to get into some of the most popular restaurants in ski towns. After the slopes close, some of the restaurants also close, but not all.
For example, the Tavern on Arrabelle Square in Vail is usually open during mud season. By name, this restaurant is located right in the heart of the action in Lionshead Square, making it very popular. But in the spring, you can usually walk straight in, picking tables, and order off the menu (limited but highly discounted). Highlights here include a BLT skirt and bison chili. The Tavern even has a special gluten-free and vegan menu.
Hiking is less crowded
In the summer some of the more popular hikes can be a nightmare for bodies and a lack of parking. In the spring, although not all trails are open due to mud, ice, and other conditions, many of them are. Check with the park rangers in your area to confirm which trails are safe.
A place to try: Mount Sanitas in Boulder. During the summer this beautiful hike can be too busy, but if you catch it on the correct spring day, you are less likely to see tourists, although locals hike year-round and don’t seem to notice the weather.
Rate shopping offers
The mud season is the best time of year to shop for winter clothing because ski town shops are unloading their inventory to make room for summer stuff. Find winter jackets, skis, snowboards, hats, and memorabilia at incredible discounts. If any of the warm weather stuff from last season is still in the store, it will be even cheaper. Not all mountain shops are open during the low season, so call ahead or visit the website.