Weather – Rocky Mountain National Park
Predicting mountain weather can be a challenge because it can change quickly and without notice. The best solution is to expect anything and at anytime during the year. Keep your eyes to the sky and be aware of noticeable changes in the weather.
Snow can fall at the higher elevations of the National Park anytime during the year. If you are expecting to attempt some of the National Park’s higher peaks (Longs Peak, Mt. Meeker, McHenrys Peak, Pagoda Mountain, or any of the Mummy Range summits), you should pay close attention to the weather forecast, the weather conditions around you, and the distant weather appearing on the horizon. Please prepare accordingly. A bright, warm, sunny day can quickly change to a dark, cold and wet day rapidly.
During the summer months, one of the biggest dangers is the lightning associated with the daily thundershowers. Avoid high tundra slopes and try to be off of any summit by 10:00 am and back below the tree line by 12:00pm (noon).
You can expect beautiful clear mornings with increasing clouds as afternoon approaches. There is often an afternoon thundershower. These storms can produce serious lightning. Be aware and begin your hiking early in the day. Then you can be back below the tree line by the time the storms roll through.
These storms usually do not last very long. When they dissipate, the sky clears, resulting in fantastic evenings and clear nights. As a reminder, try to be off of any summit by 10:00 am, and back below the tree line by 12:00 noon. Ask the Lodge employees or other guests what to expect. If the weather starts to look bad, then turn around, if it looks great all day, then do not worry about it.
The temperature ranges from the 20’s to the 80’s during the summer months. Always expect cooler temperatures in the National Park.
Cool days and bright, blue skies are typical for a fall day in the National Park. Starting in September, there can be a large snow fall at anytime. The more consistent snow falls do not usually begin until the end of October or early November. This season is typically when the afternoon thundershowers are no longer an issue. Always, be aware of what the sky is cooking up!
Within the borders of Rocky Mountain National Park, winter conditions can vary greatly. In general, expect cold temperatures and wind. Hiking at lower elevations, you may see warmer and pleasant temperatures with a relatively snow-free trail. In the upper elevations, you can expect to have much colder temperatures and windy conditions. Additionally, there may be many feet of snow on the ground.
As a reminder, keep an eye on the weather. Heavy snow storms can often “leak” over the divide and turn a bright blue day into a windy whiteout, in the blink of an eye. Especially, if you are in the upper basins of the National Park. Dress in many layers and enjoy the winter paradise!
Precipitation can take on a variety of forms during the spring months. You can have a snowstorm in the higher elevations, with heavy rain down in the lower elevations, or a variety of each at any elevation. Temperatures can vary widely depending on localized weather, elevation, and the time of day. When packing for your hiking adventures, bring a wide variety of gear. Be ready for both winter and summer conditions. You will also need to pay attention to the threat of thundershowers and lightning.