If you’ve ever visited Summit County, you may have heard of “mud season”. Mud Season refers to the shoulder season or off-season spring months here, roughly May and June. A second shoulder season occurs around September and October in the fall. While the name “mud season” may not sound appealing, these seasons are actually some of the best times to visit the county.
The seasons are slightly different, but they have a lot in common. The spring season is muddier than normal as the snow melts and flows towards the lakes. The ski areas close down one by one as the season progresses. Fall is drier as the grass and vegetation die off, but storms start to be more common. During the fall you can count on an afternoon thunderstorm or two to be the area, although they are usually relatively short. The weather is usually mild during these months, staying a moderate 65-70 degrees F during the day. Nights can still be chilly, dropping to 30 or 40 degrees.
One of the most notable differences during these months is the lack of people. Most ski season tourists are gone by the end of April, returning with the snow around the beginning of November. Summer tourism starts around July, when hiking trails dry up and bike parks open, and slows around Labor Day. The lack of tourists makes it easier to visit sites and trails, and even popular restaurants. This is the time of year to find deals on gear and apparel as well. In the spring retailers are looking to unload excess stock, and in the fall you can find deals on new inventory.
In the spring trails are unpredictable, often still sloppy with ice, snow and mud cover. Although there may be snowshoeing, cross-country, or hiking trails open, conditions can change from one day to the next. Fall is a great time for hiking and biking, with fewer folks out on the trails, and milder weather compared to the summer. Because of the potential for afternoon storms, get an early start, and you’ll be enjoying some of the best weather of the year.
As soon as the snow melts in the spring, greenery begins to take hold. Go on a walk to see wildflowers starting to take hold everywhere. In the fall when conditions are right, the Aspen trees put on a spectacular display of yellows and oranges that explode everywhere in the county, bringing in one last burst of color before the snow starts falling.
One of the most well-kept secrets in this county is spring skiing. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to ski or snowboard in a T-shirt, this is your time of year. Arapahoe Basin stays open into June, and now Breckenridge stays open almost as long. What you may not know is that both resorts often have heavy snowstorms through the month of May! Also going into fall the resorts often have the best base they’ve had all season. That means killer snow conditions, sun, and tons of fun left to be had on the resorts, with far fewer people.
The last thing you can expect from the shoulder season is deep discounts. Find a luxury hotel or condo getaway for a fraction of the cost of peak season. Stay better and longer, and don’t share the hot tub. Many restaurants also offer deep discounts and more specials. While some businesses are closed and unavailable, plenty are still open to appreciate your business.