A Great Place
When should you visit very special and unique places in the world that touch you? Places with an atmosphere you can’t describe or where you even get overwhelmed with emotion.
Do the hike up the dunes before sunrise to avoid the heat of the day and enjoy a magnificent experience. That way you'll also dodge the crowds which are present during the day. Another great time is sunset of course. Check our Death Valley Guide for detailed tips for each season.
Horseshoe Bend is a truly magical place at almost any time. Read our tips about the best time for photos and how to avoid the ridiculous crowds:
Time of Day (Photography)
Ask ten people about the best time of day to photograph Horseshoe Bend, and you’ll get ten different answers. Read these quotes if you don’t believe us: Best Time To Visit Horseshoe Bend. Sure, at certain times there might be a lot of shadows in your picture, which you might not like: Sunrise to Sunset Photo Series. However, it’s never bad, just different.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
As a local said: ‘Now, it’s always crowded as hell!’ During daytime, you’ll face tourist crowds year-round. It’s slightly less busy in off-season and shoulder season: From October/November until February. Regardless of the season, it’s always very busy during sunset. Our tips to avoid the crowds:
Be there around 8 AM (maybe a little earlier). This is a perfect time before it starts to get busy. More people arrive between 9-10 AM. After 10 AM it starts to get heavily crowded with tour buses and everyone else arriving.
Be there around sunset. Of course, it’s still super crowded. Wait until the sun goes down and the crowds will start to dissipate almost completely. You’ll have the place almost for yourself. Perfect for stargazing. Carry a flashlight for the short hike back up to the parking lot.
If you head to the extreme left or the extreme right of the viewing point up there, you’ll get away from most others. It’s not the perfect spot in the middle anymore, but you can still take great photos.
Weather Details: (you can switch betwen °C and °F): Page, Arizona Climate Details
This is our complete Blue Lagoon guide with every question answered. Fully updated for 2019/20. Need quick tips? Jump directly to our 9 Must-Know Tips and the ultimate guide above it. Below the tips: Even more tips about viewing the Northern Lights, Opening Hours, Prices in US Dollars and Euros.
Tip: If you stay in Reykjavik and prefer it comfortable, book one of these tours: Blue Lagoon Tours incl. Transfer from Reykjavik. Some also include a 'small' Golden Circle tour with excellent guides!
Nearby Must-Do: If you have a rental car (click here for rental car deals), you must visit the stunning Skógafoss Waterfall (recent article written by us) nearby (2 hour drive from Blue Lagoon or Reykjavik)
Now: What about Blue Lagoon tickets? Pre-booking your admission tickets is necessary for this famous spa in Iceland, as they only allow a limited number of visitors. In this way, they avoid a heavily crowded lagoon. However, regardless of the season and month it still gets busy during the day. Read on for our best time to visit tips before you go:
Avoiding the Crowds
Long waiting lines, hectic locker rooms, ... In the year 2015 Bill Gates reserved the entire Lagoon for a swim at midnight without the crowds. We have a much cheaper solution for you: Enjoy a much more peaceful lagoon and its surreal surroundings by visiting either very early in the morning or as late as possible. Stay at a close hotel as it's more comfortable, but not at the super expensive new 'internal' Retreat (from 1000 EUR) or the Silica (from 500 EUR) hotel. Our more budget friendly but still top class hotel recommendation is the Northern Light Inn, because it's right there and excellent value for the money! (Bookmark the link to compare prices later if you like! You can read more about this hotel below in the hotel section). Also try to avoid weekends (Friday - Sunday), because it's busier then, even in the morning or evening. Make your reservation a couple of weeks in advance to get your tickets for the desired slot:
Book a ticket the first time slot available (see opening hours below). Being there first thing in the morning, you won’t see any crowds and no waiting lines, regardless of the package you booked. Often there are only 20-30 people within the first hour of operation.
It usually thins out in the evening. Book tickets for a time slot about two hours before they close. Timing your visit for sunset will make your photos even more amazing. After sunset, there is even a chance to see the Northern Lights in winter. Check sunrise and sunset times here: Sunrise / Sunset Grindavík
Weather and Water Temperature
Regardless of the season, weather and outside temperature, the water is always kept at 37–39°C (98–102°F). However, if it’s really cold and windy, some parts of the lagoon can be cooler (different temperature zones). Check the monthly weather details for the area, as well as average rainy days here: Average Monthly Weather Grindavík (you can switch between °F and °C). Keep in mind, that the weather is unpredictable, particularly in the winter months. However, almost everyone says that a visit is always a fantastic experience, even on a cold, windy and rainy day. The warmth of the water and the shelter of the heaters help a lot. Especially with rain and fog the atmosphere is just otherworldly and even more amazing.
Sweet spot months in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) without the heavy summer crowds, open Trail Ridge Road and a good chance of nice weather are late May until early June or September after Labor Day (mid-week) until mid-October. However, snow is possible at both times. September is also great for wildlife because of the elk rutting season (peak mid-September to mid-October). In fall the air is clear and crisp and the skies are blue. Please make sure to read our full season guide below (including monthly weather), seasonal crowd tips, hotel suggestions as well as more useful tips at the end of this article (scroll down!)
Top Tip (Very Easy Hikes)
Tip: Venture off Trail Ridge Road to experience the real beauty of RMNP. If you can't do any strenuous hikes but still want to be awed, then take a look this guide on Amazon: Best Easy Hikes Rocky Mountain National Park. It covers amazing hikes for everyone, even suitable if you visit with small children (like 0.5 miles or 2 miles round-trips). But also hikes which are slightly more challenging. Like John Muir said 'Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.'
Highlight (Trail Ridge Road & Tours)
The stunning Trail Ridge Road is open from Memorial Day (last Monday in May) until mid-October. The official closing date is October 23, but they often close it a few days before that date. Even in June or September, it’s possible that it’s closed for hours or a day due to snow, often between 8 PM and 10 AM. Make sure to check more tips for the Trail Ridge Road in our section below the season guide (scroll down).
Special Tour Tip (from Denver or Boulder): If you're staying in Denver or Boulder and would like to experience the Trail Ridge Road as well as the most stunning viewpoints hassle-free, we suggest the Unique Rocky Mountain National Park Tour (from Denver and Boulder). It's an 8 hour day tour which includes driving the amazing Trail Ridge Road as well as other mesmerizing parts of RMNP. The views you'll get to see on this trip are just spectacular. Everything is taken care of, including pick-up service from Denver and Boulder (In case you need a hotel in Denver, check these deals: Denver Hotels)
Regardless of the season: The higher into the mountains you go, the colder it gets. In general, RMNP is known for its extreme weather patterns which can change very quickly, as well as wide variations between day and nighttime temperatures. Find detailed weather data here: Climate Estes Park - Colorado
Spring | April - May
Early Spring in Rocky Mountain National Park
The weather in spring is unpredictable: Up to 70°F (21°C) on one day and a temperature drop together with blizzards on the next day. It varies between warm and cold, wet and dry. Many trails are still snow-covered well into May, often even at the end of May. After a warm April, trails can be snow free in May, but are very muddy. This means you either have to deal with snow or with muddy trails. In general, snowfall is not uncommon in spring. Temperature ranges between 70°F (21°C) and 60°F (16°C).
Summer | June - July - August
Cub Lake in RMNP at Dawn
The most comfortable weather is in the summer months from July to August: The temperature climbs up to 75°F (24°C). However, afternoon thunderstorms can occur and wind is normal. Always prepare for temperature drops of 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that the highest elevation trails are snow covered well into June. Wildflowers are in bloom from late June to early August. What to wear in the summer? Always bring layers of clothes, even if you don't plan to hike at higher elevations. A morning can be mild and in the afternoon temps can drop remarkably. Always bring a rain jacket, as well as a warmer long sleeve shirt in your pack. Usually you can start with a short sleeve shirt for hikes or walks.
Fall | September - October - Early November
Autumn is usually a great time for a visit. September and October bring clear, crisp air, blue skies, and generally dry weather. Especially in September it's generally still mild and warm. However, mornings and evenings can be a lot chillier. Always bring a jacket! Early snow is already possible in October. Looking for fall foliage? Leaves start changing colors in late August at higher elevations, peak is around mid-September and the beautiful fall foliage lasts until October in most years at lower elevations. Early October is often still a good time for leaf peeping at lower elevations. At higher elevations the vibrant fall colores will be already gone in October. Elk rutting season begins in September as well and continues through mid-October at least. Like in spring you need to be flexible, check the forecast and bring gear and clothes for various conditions.
Winter | November - March
Winter in RMNP means snow and arctic conditions. However, lower elevations on the east slope of Rocky Mountain National Park are usually free of deep snow. The west side of the park experiences more snow, less wind, and clear cold days during these months. Most high country overnight trips require gear suitable for freezing temperatures. Skiing and snowshoeing conditions are best in January, February, and March. There are lots of other exciting activities in Winter: Sledding at Hidden Valley, Winter Wildlife Viewing, Ice Climbing and more. Visit NPS Rocky Mountain Winter Activities and 20 Things To Do in the Winter. Trail Ridge Road: While it's closed in the winter, keep in mind that you're allowed to drive the first 8 miles until Many Parks Curve overlook. Depending on weather conditions of course.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
With over 4 million visitors each year, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited Parks in the U.S. Expect the most crowds in summer and fall. The busiest months are June until August, with heavy crowds in July/August. During the week it starts to thin out after Labor Day in September (first Monday in September), but not on weekends. Also, try to avoid National Public Lands Day at the end of September. Entrance to to all National Parks is free then and RMNP will be extremely busy on this day/weekend!! Visiting mid-week in September means less crowds as well as enjoying elk rutting and pleasant fall temperatures at the same time.
In general from July through September: Avoid weekends and/or go early in the morning to beat the crowds. In the peak months arrive between 7 and 8 AM to get a parking spot. Usually, it starts to get busier after 9 AM. Especially popular entrances like Estes Park or trailheads like Bear Lake Trail are extremely busy. In general, the west side (Grand Lake) is less crowded than the Eastern side (Estes Park Entrance). Regardless of the month, season or entrance: Go as early as possible, head out on a trail, hike a few of miles from the busy areas and you won’t see too many others.
Regarding the weather and the crowds April, September, October, and early November are the best months to visit the "Heaven's Gate". Be prepared for showers, but if you are lucky you can get sunshine as well.
Avoiding the Crowds
Expect a busy holy mountain throughout the year except for winter (mid-November/December - February). The main season is from May until October with most visitors and rates at its peak. Heaviest crowds in July/August. A sweet spot month with mild climate but without heavy crowds is early-November until mid-November. Otherwise, March/April are considered months without massive crowds.
Great to visit any time of the year. Gets crowded on holiday weekends....but its still ok.