Located near Centura Health in Avon right off of I-70. An innovative natural science learning campus for residents and visitors of the Eagle Valley. Free and open to the public.

318 Walking Mountains Lane, Avon, CO 81620

Located at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola on Vail Mountain out of Lionshead Village, Vail. All visitors must have a pass to ride the gondola. Free and open to the public with valid gondola pass.
Nestled along Gore Creek near the Betty Ford Alpine Garden and Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail Village.
601 Vail Valley Drive, Vail, CO 81657

Curious Nature

Embracing the Mud Season

Posted by Walking Mountains Science Center on Apr 29, 2024 3:54:14 PM
Walking Mountains Science Center

As the last vestiges of winter melt away and the promise of spring begins to bloom, the mountains of Colorado undergo a transformation. This transitional period, known affectionately as "mud season," marks a unique time when the landscape shifts from the icy grip of winter to the vibrant hues of spring. In the high country of Colorado, mud season typically occurs between late March and early June. As temperatures rise, the snowpack begins to melt, creating muddy trails and slushy roads. This seasonal transition is a natural part of the mountain ecosystem, essential for replenishing rivers, nourishing vegetation, and preparing for the bustling summer months ahead. While mud season might deter some visitors, it offers an opportunity for adventurous souls to experience the mountains in a whole new light.


Stay prepared for those muddy shoes.

A note of caution to those looking to hike and bike on our local trails. Many trails are subject to seasonal closures for elk. During the spring, elk are raising their young, called calves. During this time they have limited food sources and are incredibly sensitive. Human (and pet) disturbance to elk calves poses a real threat to the survival of calves. Please respect any seasonal trail closures and any muddy trail is a closed trail. For more information about seasonal trail closures see Vail Vailley Mountain Trails Alliance (VVMTA) website.

While the high country is melting out, the deserts of Western Colorado into Utah offer a refuge for those craving dry trails and warm temperatures. The melting snow provides the desert with ample water for plants to bloom and turn bright green next to their orange rock counterparts. Camping, hiking, biking, climbing, canyoneering, and many more activities are in great shape in the slickrock deserts. Be sure to check the weather for incoming rain that can quickly change the dry desert recreation. Also, be sure to learn about LNT practices in the desert and travel responsibly in areas with cryptobiotic soils. 

Closer to home, there is still plenty to do. Many switch out their snow-sliding planks for whitewater boats and take the melting snow down the rivers. Late May into June typically offer peak flows for whitewater boaters, but you can start floating before then if you’re willing the brave the cold snowmelt water. The Eagle River Park is a great place to hone your skills before chasing bigger water.


Muddy trails and slushy roads.

Birds are great to watch since you can find them almost anywhere at any time. Open water like that found at the Gypsum Duck Ponds and the Colorado River Road offers great opportunities to view many different bird species. Bird-watching can be aided by many great phone apps. The Audubon app and the Merline Bird ID app are great resources for identifying birds you see or hear. Identifying birds can contribute to larger scientific efforts by logging your observations on eBird. While you are out observing birds open the eBird app and add each individual to a checklist. Submit the checklist and help document bird distribution, abundance, habitat use, and trends. Nesting birds should be given extra space. Large raptors are especially sensitive to human disturbance, so enjoy from a distance, or inside a vehicle.

In conclusion, mud season in the mountains of Colorado offers a unique opportunity to witness nature's transition from winter's chill to spring's vibrant renewal. While it may pose challenges with muddy trails and seasonal closures to protect wildlife, adventurous spirits can still find plenty to explore and enjoy. So, whether you're marveling at blooming desert flora or paddling through whitewater rapids, embrace mud season as an opportunity to connect with the natural wonders of Colorado's mountainous landscapes.

Riley Gaines works at Walking Mountains as the Community Science and Hiking Coordinator. When he isn’t avoiding muddy trails, he can be found staring at maps and plotting his next adventures. 

Topics: Curious Nature

Walking Mountains Science Center

Written by Walking Mountains Science Center

Our mission is to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education.