April through June is known for winter runoff where the snow in the high country melts causing water levels in our rivers and tributaries to rise, sometimes to dangerous levels. Spring is also one of the best times to view wildlife in the area because of spring migration, a large reason due to our area being home to the largest mule deer population in the country with 433,000. Elk, moose, bear, mountain lion, turkeys, eagles and other wildlife can also be seen in town and throughout the area. Popular spring recreation activities are spring skiing/snowboarding, wildlife viewing, hiking, fishing. Late spring is good for rock climbing and mountain biking after the moisture caused by runoff has dried for the year.
Colorado anglers know that spring fishing is some of the best of the year. After a long Colorado winter, water temperatures begin to warm which sparks insect activity and a trout’s need to feed. Many trout spawn in the spring and need to eat heavily both before and after. The water levels on certain rivers and creeks tend to be low in spring which provides good sight fishing allowing anglers to spot that massive trout. Some popular locations in the RIfle area are Rifle Creek between the dam and golf course, Rifle Gap Reservoir, Roaring Fork River between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, and the Fryingpan River between Ruedi Reservoir and Basalt.
The mountains of Colorado see the highest monthly snowfall in March, around 25-30 inches on average, with storms followed by warm, spring days where you’ll see people skiing in shorts and t-shirts. The combination of heavy snowstorms and bluebird days creates a fun atmosphere at our local resorts where you’ll see various events, tailgate parties, and shenanigans going on during the weekends and throughout Spring Break (during non-COVID years). Most of our local resorts close sometime in April, with a select few staying open longer.
Hiking in the Rifle area is superb no matter the season, but spring can be the most interesting because of winter runoff and unpredictable weather. Some of the most common spring hikes in the area throughout spring are Rifle Falls, Rifle Arch, Beaver Creek, and the Riparian Zone. For those looking to do some snowshoeing/cross-country skiing in March and April, head up to West Elk Creek (gateway to the Flat Tops) about 45 minutes from town where there are miles of trails for you to enjoy. You can also drive 60 minutes to access the trails of the Grand Mesa. Towards the end of Spring around Memorial Day, the area greens up and provides hikers with lush and bustling greenness all around.
The rock climbing and mountain biking seasons kick off in mid/late May when the rocks and land become dry from the warming temperatures. The most popular location to rock climb in Rifle is the World Famous Rifle Mountain Park, with numerous mountain biking trails in and around town.