Colorado has two main tourist seasons: warm and cold. Those who want to see the state's parks and other scenic wonders by hiking, mountain biking, or rafting usually visit from May through October; those who prefer skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling will have to wait for winter, usually from late November through March or April, depending on snow levels. Although you can visit most museums year-round, some close in winter.

The best way to avoid crowds at the more popular destinations, such as Rocky Mountain National Park, Garden of the Gods, and Pikes Peak, is to try to visit during the shoulder seasons of March through May and October through mid-December. Generally, those traveling without children will want to avoid visiting during school vacations.

To hear Coloradans tell it, the state has perfect weather all the time. Although they may be exaggerating just a bit, the weather here is usually quite pleasant, with an abundance of sun and relatively mild temperatures in most places -- just avoid those winter snowstorms.

Along the Front Range, where Denver and Colorado Springs are located, summer days are hot and dry, and evenings mild. Humidity is low, and temperatures seldom rise above the 90s (30s Celsius). Evenings start to get cooler by mid-September, but even as late as November the days are often warm. Surprisingly, winters here are warmer and less snowy than winters in the Great Lakes or New England.

Most of Colorado is considered semiarid, and overall the state has an average of 296 sunny days a year -- more sunshine than San Diego or Miami Beach. The prairies average about 16 inches of precipitation annually; the Front Range, 14 inches; the western slope, only about 8 inches. Rain, when it falls, is commonly a short afternoon thunderstorm. However, if you want to see snow, simply head to the mountains, where snowfall is measured in feet rather than inches, and mountain peaks may still be white in July. Mountain temperatures can be bitterly cold, especially if it's windy, but even at the higher elevations of some of the nation's top ski resorts, you'll find plenty of sunshine.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.