Spring Backpacking in Colorado – Top 10 Backpacking Trails You Must Try

Backpacking in Colorado during spring can be a new experience to add to your list. Spring comes with an outburst of sunshine and day heat in Colorado. Blooming flowers, scenic landscapes, and various outdoor activities will surely sway your thoughts into backpacking in Colorado when it is spring — April, May, and June.

The Centennial State consists of several famous and underrated backpacking trails. All these uphold both exquisite beauty and adventure. You may ask why spring, though? The answer is that it is the most suitable backpacking period as it doesn’t urge extra preparations like in winter or monsoon. Not to mention the smaller crowd and its overwhelming spring beauty.

Weather of spring in Colorado

Spring comes here in mid-April and stays till late June. In April, the temperature remains 60-65 degrees; in May, it gets milder and stays 65-78 degrees; and in June, it gradually becomes 78-88 degrees Fahrenheit.

The southern part of Colorado has below-average precipitation, and the northern region has above or below-average rainfall in the spring. Overall, backpacking in Colorado in May and June is considered to be the best times.

Hence, The weather of Colorado is counted as a roller coaster. It can be turned into the exact opposite situation in 12 hours. You may experience snowfall, spring showers, and rain the same week.  You can feel the snow in higher areas like mountains, even in May.

So, to keep yourself prepared for every situation possible, you must pay extra attention while backpacking. Remember to have layers you can put on or put away according to the weather demands because temperatures here frequently change. Bring rain gear and comfortable boots to avoid rainy and muddy walks.

Best trails for spring backpacking in Colorado 

There are many backpacking trails. The weather in spring is generally mild and comfortable. Green Valley, implicating rocky mountains, flowers wherever your eyes go, and picturesque landscapes, can be the best definitive of Colorado in the spring season — April, May, and June. Backpacking in the middle of such beauty will give you a mind-blowing memory to cherish.

1. Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

As the snow melts, the rocky mountains get accessible, having breathtaking alpines touching the sky, deers roaming freely, over 415 square miles of landscapes, and alpine tundra lifting over 60 granite peaks with an elevation of 12000 feet. All these are just in one place, like a packaged deal!

If you are a summit hiker planning for a spring backpacking with the exquisite beauty of nature, this is one of the best choices for you.

2. Seven Bridges to Jones Park

This is one of the most popular sites in Colorado for backpacking, hiking, and camping. It is a moderately tricky 5.78-mile hiking-only trail located in North Cheyenne Cañon. A mighty stream following the path will surely catch your attention. 

The best time for backpacking here is March to November or in the spring and summer seasons. It takes about 4 hours to complete the trail. It also has Forests, aspen groves, talus slopes, hilltops, and valleys. Wear good hiking shoes as the pathway is pebbled and the mountains are steep. 

3. Lost Creek Loop

Lost Creek Wilderness is another famous backpacking spot in Colorado. It is situated near Denver. It has every element a backpacker looks for. You’ll find natural arches, rounded granite, domes and knobs, and rock formations at higher and lower elevations. Bison Peak is the highest peak here.

As it is a much lower elevation, you can add it to your spring or off-season backpacking tab. You can also go rock climbing, cross-country skiing, and many more. You can choose your trail from a variety of options. 

It is named after an underground stream that disappears and reappears nine times or more at the site by turn.

4. Crested Butte

It is another mildly elevated area for spring backpacking in Colorado. The specialty of this place is wildflowers. It is often called the wildflower capital of Colorado.

Having a less strenuous backpacking trail, Crested Butte offers a dreamy experience in the middle of flower heaven. Colour bursts out from every direction when spring hits the crested butte. Flowers and sunshine altogether will definitely blow your mind.

So, if you are up for backpacking along with spring flower sightseeing, this will easily make it into your list.

5. Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument

If you are here to search for backpacking in a deserted area, this might be a fit for you. You can immerse yourself in the striking desert region here, in the western part of Colorado.

There are several trails that you can choose from. Liberty Cap Trail, black ridge trail, the Monument Canyon Trail, etc., are some of the most popular courses. Monument Canyon is The main attraction, which includes rock formations such as Independence Monument, the Kissing Couple, and Coke Ovens.

You can also go for scenic drives, bicycling, and horseback riding here. It hosts a wide range of wildlife, including rattlesnakes, golden eagles, and other types of rare birds. So be sure to take necessary safety measures along with the permissions and information on water sources.

6. Golden Gate Canyon

This is another outstanding spot to backpack for flower lovers. Spring brings all its grace here with dense forests, small lakes, and blooming flowers. There are many trails for backpacking for both advanced and beginners.

The park provides a range of outdoor activities. You can go fishing and mountain biking along with backpacking. Birdwatching is a popular activity here. 

 You must pay to enter the park and have permission to stay overnight. Before visiting, check their official website for trail updates and seasonal activities. 

7. Chicago Basin

Chicago Basin is a popular spot for summit hiking. It is located in the San Juan mountains of Colorado. It has several high peaks commonly known as ‘fourteeners’.

Several trail options will lead you to different peaks. Mount Eolus, Windom Peak, and Sunlight Peak are the most hyped peaks that create the upper portion of the basin. If you want a backpacking experience on the mountain, you can give it a go.

Remember to have permits and check weather forecasts, as mountain weather changes frequently.

8. Colorado Trail

The Colorado trail is believed to be America’s highest thru-hike.  The trail passes through forests, alpines, desert canyons, and all other beauties of Colorado. With an elevation of about 10000 feet, it offers mountain biking too, which you can rarely find anywhere else. 

It would help if you explored from the eastern part during the shoulder season. Snow from this part melts earlier, making the trails accessible.

Depending on your route choice, you may need to have permits. Check the weather before heading out. Focus on the elevation, as you might get altitude sickness once you are up.

9. Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Mosca Pass Trail and sand ramp trail are the most popular backpacking trails here. You have to walk across Medano Creek to reach the park during spring. The creek shows us a waterfall during spring, which indeed makes everything dreamy.

Sandboarding and sand sledding are popular activities here, usually done on specially designed equipment that can be rented just outside the park entrance. Star gazing is another admired activity as it is a designated international dark sky park. Bring binoculars if you want to enjoy a stunning star-gazing night here.

You must know that this area has extreme midday and extremely low temperatures at night. Hence, permissions and weather precautions are a must here.

10. Dinosaur National Monument

Located on the border of Colorado, it has an enriched paleontological appeal with stunning landscapes and numerous outdoor activities. Scenic drives, hiking, lakes and rivers, camping, wildlife viewing, etc., are the main attractions here.

Containing over 800 paleontological sites, this park offers you to enjoy ancient petroglyphs. The most visited trails are the Jones Hole Trail, Echo Park Loop, and Lodore Canyon.

The park already has some designated backpacking trails, so contact the visitor center to get a free pass and spend your night in this great wilderness.

Flora and Fauna in Spring

Spring is the best season to experience Colorado wildflowers. If you visit Colorado this time of the year, you’ll see fields filled with wildflowers, butterflies, and birds. Other than this, Mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, black beer, coyotes, etc., are primarily seen in spring.

Keep a safe distance from wildlife and store your food properly when you are backpacking in such a site that is a wildlife habitat. Also, remember to take all kinds of safety measures to avoid unwanted situations.

Try to follow ‘Leave No Trace’ principles to protect wildlife and make this world a better habitat for them. 

Safety Tips

As Colorado presents more remote and elevated backpacking trails, you should take some primary safety measures to make your journey smooth.

Plan properly before embarking on a trip. As Colorado weather is frequently changing, you should check the weather forecast before heading out, no matter where you are.

Pack your gear according to the weather and your route. Try to have proper information on water resources, follow the ‘leave no trace’ rule, store your food wisely, and be aware of altitude sickness and permits are the essential safety measures you can follow while backpacking in Colorado during the off-season.

Final Thoughts

By being prepared and well-informed, spring backpacking in Colorado can be an unforgettable experience. Following these tips and guidelines, you can have a delightful trip and enjoy the beauty of Colorado’s wilderness during this shoulder season.

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