Megan Simpson Photography

Capturing Perfect Pictures: The Best Time to Visit Estes Park

June 11, 2020

Neighboring Rocky Mountain National Park, where there’s over 300 miles of trails and 415 square miles of protected mountain land, is a picturesque little mountain town that I spent my childhood summers running around.

Scenic Estes Park is one of my favorite places to book photo sessions, and you’ll soon see why. Whether you’re getting engagement photos done, or taking photos of the whole family, this gorgeous town makes the perfect backdrop.

If you’re planning a session, you’re probably wondering when the best time to visit Estes Park is. If so, please allow me to help!

Read on to discover the best time to visit Estes Park.

About Estes Park

Situated in the heart of the scenic Rocky Mountains, Estes Park offers majestic scenery, lovely mountain views, and peaceful rivers.

Best of all, it gets about 300 days of sun every single year. Considering pretty much everyone looks their best in natural light, that’s a big plus for planning a photo session.

Another huge bonus for Estes Park is its proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park, which is spectacular at any time of the year. If you’re big into hiking, you probably already know this is a must see if you’re anywhere in the area.

Estes Park is a beautiful place to visit, a stunning destination for a wedding, and just an all-around perfect backdrop for whatever type of photo session you could have in mind.

Spring in Estes Park (March-May)

couple and dogs embrace in Estes Park Colorado

Springtime is the best time to visit Estes Park if you’re into flowers! In general, the days are cooler and relatively mild, with highs in the 50-60 range and lows around 20-30°F.

If you’re booking a photo session for the spring, a word of caution: it can get super windy! Winds over 20mph can kill a pretty photo session, and winds over 30mph are just a deal breaker. Be prepared to be flexible and talk with your photographer about having a backup date. One day could be great and the next could be terrible. Your photographer needs to have a pulse on the weather, but more specifically the WIND.

Summertime in Estes Park (June-August)

family plays in a field in moraine park in estes

If you’re wondering when the best time to visit Estes Park is, summer is a solid option! This is especially true if you prefer warmer weather, or if your outfits are more suited for hotter days.

Summers in Estes Park are generally considered to be mild, with occasional high temperatures in the low-to-mid-90’s. However, the most frequent temperatures tend to range in the low 80’s, making Estes Park one of the more moderate places to be in the hottest summer months.

One thing to consider, however, is the amount of rainfall that happens during the summers in the park. Frequent thunderstorms happen in the afternoon, so I always suggest sunrise sessions if you can pull yourselves out of bed early enough.

During the night, temperatures drop considerably, sometimes going below 50°F. So, if you were thinking about an evening photo session, or spending some time in nature after we’ve finished taking your photos, that’s something to consider! Bringing a sweater or other additional layers is never a bad idea.

There’s also a variety of fun events to attend in the summer, such as Jazz Fest, Scandinavian Midsummer Festival, and the Estes Park Marathon! Just be sure to book your session beforehand, of course!

Fall in Estes Park

Estes Park family photos in the rain

Autumn is truly spectacular and the best time to visit Estes Park, in my opinion! Estes Park’s fall colors can’t be beaten if you’re looking for a great backdrop for your engagement shots, or sessions featuring the whole family.

The weather in Estes Park during the fall is much cooler and crisper than in the summer, with high temperatures in the 50-60°F range. Lows can drop down to the 30’s at night, so be sure to dress accordingly!

A big benefit of taking your photos during the fall in Estes Park is that there are way fewer thunderstorms to look out for. That way, we can get our session complete without getting stuck in the rain!

Winter in Estes Park

Couple walk in the snow during engagement photos in Estes Park

Surprisingly, winter doesn’t bring a lot of snow to Estes Park. Because there’s lots of sun, it also tends to melt really fast when it does happen. 

Temperature-wise, it gets pretty cold in Estes Park in winter, with highs ranging in the 40’s and lows at about 15-20°F. However, since it gets a bunch of sun, it doesn’t feel as cold as you might think. Still, dress accordingly of course!

For taking photos, winter might not be the best time to visit Estes Park because it gets windy. Winds up to 40 mph are not uncommon, which is downright miserable for everyone. I always plan backup dates for my winter session to make sure we get good conditions.

Avoiding the Tourist Crowds

During the coldest months of November through April, the monthly tourism number generally doesn’t go too far beyond 150,000 visitors. Once you hit May, that number grows to around 300,000 tourists in a single month.

The most popular times for tourism are during the months of June through September, where the monthly visitor numbers can sometimes top 900,000. If you hate crowds, it can get a little iffy!

October, on the other hand, calms down quite a bit while still having Estes Park’s fall colors to enjoy. In terms of weather, it’s still very similar to the much busier month of September.

So, what does this mean for our photo session? Well, it’s always easier with fewer people around.

However, I’ll always do my best to accommodate you, no matter how many people keep stepping in and out of the scene. There won’t be any tourists in your photos, I promise.

The Best Time of Day for Photos in Estes Park

Generally, the best time of day to plan a photo session in Estes Park is early in the morning. This is especially true if you plan to brave the tourist crowds during the peak months of July through September.

Try planning to arrive somewhere between 7 and 8 o’clock in the morning. Estes Park is one of the most popular trail entrances to Rocky Mountain National Park, so there may be a line of cars if you wait til later. By arriving as early as you can, you’ll have a much easier time getting situated and preparing for your photo session.

Plus, the earlier we can wrap up your photos, the more time you’ll have to explore the surrounding areas! Take it from me, you won’t want to miss it.

So, What’s the Verdict?

Now that we’ve considered everything from the weather to the tourism density, allow me to give you my verdict on when the best time to visit Estes Park is.

I’m going to say it’s (drumroll please)…autumn!

I just love Estes Park’s fall colors, plus there are fewer tourists around AND the wind isn’t going to knock your socks off. We also won’t have to worry as much about our session getting rained out. As an added bonus, you’ll get to see the most gorgeous autumnal scenery you’ve ever seen in your life!

Planning Out the Best Time to Visit Estes Park

Now that you’ve heard my take on the matter, let’s talk about you for a second.

What I love most about working with so many different people is this: everyone has their own individual points of view. What might be my (or anyone else’s) idea of perfection might not be what’s right for you. 

Here’s how I see it: these are your photos. This is YOUR experience in beautiful Estes Park. I’m here to help you get the most out of it, on your terms.

That said, feel free to take everything I’ve said with a grain of salt here. If you’re not one for autumnal colors and crisp fall afternoons, then the best time to visit Estes Park might mean something different to you. That’s totally okay!

No matter what time of year we decide to book our session, you can count on getting amazing photos from me. I’m here to work with you, not the other way around! 

Getting the Most Out of Your Stay in Estes Park/Rocky Mountain Park

Now that we’ve spent some time going over the fantastic benefits of Estes Park when it comes to taking photos, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the other things you can plan to do during your stay. If you’re interested in seeing the sights, then let’s factor that into your decision of when the best time to visit Estes Park is.

Estes Park neighbors the magnificent Rocky Mountain National Park, which you’ll surely want to visit while you’re out there for your photography session. After all, spending a few wonderful days (or more!) enjoying nature will help attach even more meaningful memories to the photos we take while you’re there.

Planning Your Visit To Estes Park

Estes Park is truly one of my favorite places to visit. Plus, it makes for some stunning photos, whether you’re planning an engagement session or a group photo of the whole family!

Again, just keep in mind that the best time to visit Estes Parks is all about your personal preference. I personally prefer the fall, but any time of the year is doable. Although if we can avoid rain and wind, let’s do that!

Now that we’ve talked about when the best time to visit Estes Park is, contact me now to get your session booked!







I book a limited number of couples and families every year... and you deserve to be one of 'em right?!

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