You’ll find there’s often a big difference in temperatures between Denver and the mountains that form the skyline to the west. Colorado weather is strongly influenced by these mountains, so major temperature swings in short periods of time are common. You can check the weather at www.weather.gov by entering the city followed by a comma and Colorado.
Be prepared for dramatic weather changes. In the summer Denver can hit 100 degrees, but the mountains are 10-20 degrees cooler. Even in June or July at higher elevations snow squalls can roll in quickly and temperatures can drop 30 degrees in an hour. Afternoon thunderstorms in the summer are the norm, so don’t get caught on a high mountain peak in the afternoons. If you’re heading into the mountains bring layers of clothing, gloves hat, water and energy bars. Even if the sun is shining, don’t be tempted to leave them in your car if you are going hiking or biking.
Getting stuck of I-70 because of snowy or icy roads, trucks that didn’t put on chains and slide sideways blocking the road, or traffic accidents, has happened to almost every traveler who frequently heads into the mountains in the winter.
Savvy Denverites who head into the mountains to ski, snowmobile or enjoy other winter sports keep bags in their car with extra layers of clothing, a blanket, water and energy bars. If you’re heading into the mountains in a rental car, or down to Colorado Springs for a day or a short vacation, request an SUV or an all-wheel rental car that’s properly equipped for mountain driving. (That definition will vary from one rental car agency to another.) Always start with a full gas tank, in case you get stuck, bring a few extra layers of clothing, some water and energy bars.
It’s always a good idea to check road conditions before heading into the high country.