Abundant sunshine and low humidity typify Colorado's highland continental climate. Winters are generally cold and snowy, especially in the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains. Summers are characterized by warm, dry days and cool nights.

The average annual temperature statewide ranges from 54°F (12°C) at Lamar and at John Martin Dam to about 32°F (0°C) at the top of the Continental Divide; differences in elevation account for significant local variations on any given day. Denver's annual average is 50°F (10°C); normal temperatures range from 16° to 43°F (–9° to 6°C) in January and from 59° to 88°F (15° to 31°C) in July. Bennett recorded the highest temperature in Colorado, 118°F (48°C), on 11 July 1888; the record low was –61°F (–52°C), in Moffat County on 1 February 1985.

Annual precipitation ranges from a low of 7 in (18 cm) in Alamosa to a high of 25 in (64 cm) in Crested Butte, with Denver receiving about 15.8 in (40 cm) during 1971–2000. Denver's snowfall averages 60.3 in (153.2 cm) yearly. The average snowfall at Cubres in the southern mountains is nearly 300 in (762 cm); less than 30 mi (48 km) away at Manassa, snowfall is less than 25 in (64 cm). On 14–15 April 1921, Silver Lake had 76 in (193 cm) of snowfall, the highest amount ever recorded in North America during a 24-hour period.