It’s Mud Season here in the Rockies. The ski resorts and snowmobile hotspots have closed and snow from the mountains is melting. Trails, unpaved roads, and basically anywhere with dirt all turn to mud. Summer isn’t quite here yet—in fact, it’s forecasted to snow “up to a foot and a half” this Friday and Saturday. 😳
When I arrived on May 2 and drove down to the Grand Lake Marina, there was still ice on the lake—as you can see in this photo.
Two weeks later, the ice is gone and the marina is already full of boats, anxiously awaiting summer tourists.
What is Mud Season?
Mud Season usually lasts from mid-April through the end of May, though it’s all variable based on the amount of snowfall over the winter and spring.
Grand Lake, Colorado averages 129 inches of snow per year. According to a couple of shop owners I talked to the other day, this spring has been drier than usual, so there isn’t much actual mud.
It typically snows every few days around here, even in May. My time here this May has been mostly dry. There has only been one significant snowfall, though this weekend’s forecasted weather should change that.
Getting ready for summer
Mud Season is when many local shops and restaurants close for a bit—to give owners and employees much-needed time off between the busy winter and summer tourism seasons.
But they don’t rest for too long.
The town is starting to wake up. I try to venture out in my car every day to explore the area, and each day another business re-opens or another building has a fresh coat of paint.
Construction and maintenance crews are everywhere. Putting new roofs up. Knocking down walls to expand shops. Getting the pools, campsites, and recreation areas ready for summer. Like the trees and flowers, it’s fun to witness the tourist areas coming back to life after winter.
It’s so quiet here—and I love it.
Mud Season, considered a shoulder season in the tourism industry, provides a very peaceful atmosphere. Hardly anyone is on the trails or even most of the side roads I’ve gone down. It’s like I have the area to myself!
Because it’s a quieter time with fewer visitors, everyone is in such a great mood. I’m turning into my mom—talking to strangers as if we’re already best friends. And they do the same! I’m not sure if they’re just excited to see someone in their businesses or if they’re always like that. I’m quite certain it’s the latter.
As I learned on Sunday when visiting Gore Canyon, spring is also the perfect season for whitewater rafting. The rivers are flowing with all the melted snow draining from the mountains and the air temperatures are perfect—even if the water is a bit cold.
If you’re ever considering a vacation to this quieter west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, I highly recommend it. I can’t believe I only have 11 days left here. It’s going too fast.