Travel Tips and Green Living

Snow in the Mountains, Sunshine in Denver

Snow in the Mountains, Sunshine in Denver

The climate along the Front Range is one of Colorado's best-kept secrets. Don't tell anyone that I shared it with you, because the natives--exhausted by hordes of newcomers--will send me straight back to the Midwest if they find out.

Snow in the mountains, sunshine in Denver

One of the greatest myths that I often dispel when I tell people that I live in Denver: No, we don't get a lot of snow. The mountains do. In fact, this weekend, areas just a half-hour away from my home are getting as much as 27 inches. Not for the year, but over the next few days. Here in Denver? It's in the 40s and 50s and sunny.

The Rocky Mountains, with their incredible peaks exceeding 14,000 feet, do some weird things to the weather. It's colder the higher you go, of course. Dramatically so. You'll find pockets of snow year-round in the highest elevations. And it snows much, much more. 

But the buck stops at the foothills. While they're getting snow in the mountains, we might be enjoying sunshine in Denver. And our sunshine is intense, since we sit at 5,280 feet above sea level even downtown. It's not uncommon to go golfing in January along the Front Range on a mild, sunny, 60-degree day.

We do get the occasional wild snowstorm in the metro area. In fact, the only two months of the year when we haven't had snow in Denver are July and August. (And I may be tempting fate by putting that out there.) But more often, our snow events are a dusting that disappears in the next day's sunshine. 

If you're prone to wilting on gray days like me, that sunshine is the very best part of it all. We enjoy 300 days of it per year here on the Front Range, more than Florida. Take that, Sunshine State. Coming from Indiana, where a chilly gray can settle in sometime in October and stretch till May, I marvel that there's anyone left in the Midwest. 

In fact, our climate in Denver is semi-arid, meaning we have dry days and cool nights all year. Other bonuses: almost no mosquitos, and the best sleeping weather ever. Really, should I be telling you this? The state's natives may revoke my Colorado drivers' license, but the strip of land just east of the majestic mountains is a bubble of weather goodness. 

A couple of caveats: Sometimes we get ridiculous winds coming down off the mountains. The impact ranges from an unwelcome dirt-and-sand exfoliating facial to trucks pushed off the road. We also get hail, particularly during the daily June afternoon thunderstorms. It will break windows and dent cars and cause a slight panic in one's belly if you're out on the road when the clouds roll in. 

That bubble of weather goodness doesn't extend super far, either. Go east of Denver International Airport, and you'll face all kinds of tornados and blizzards. It seems as if whatever kind of chaos is contained in the clouds as they skate high in the sky from the Rockies in the west floats right over the Front Range and descends with punishing force on the Plains. 

Me, I'll stay put in my safe band of mild. If I want to enjoy the snow in the mountains, I can drive up between storms. It *is* lovely, thick and glittering on the ground or pelting the peaks with flakes the size of footballs. 

But most days, I'm really glad for my happy sunshine in Denver. Just keep our perfect winter climate on the down-low, would ya? Don't let the Colorado natives know that I sent ya.

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