Popularity for traveling to Spiti Valley is increasing day by day. Now more and more travelers want to know about the best time to visit Spiti Valley or travel on the road to Spiti Valley either via Shimla – Kinnaur or Spiti Valley.
The road to Spiti Valley remains open all round the year through Shimla – Kinnaur while the road from Manali side closes in winter as soon as Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass close. So, tourists must know about the right time to travel to Spiti Valley.
In this article of the series, “Comprehensive Travel Guide for Spiti Valley”, I will try to share my inputs on the best time or season to travel the road to Spiti Valley or in other words what is the best time to visit Spiti Valley.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
When is the best time for Spiti Valley road trip?
We all know that you can travel to Spiti Valley by two routes. One traverses the roads from Delhi via Manali to Kaza, Spiti Valley as Manali – Rohtang Pass – Gramphu – Chattru – Kunzum Pass – Kaza (Spiti Valley). And, then the other one goes from Delhi to Kaza via Shimla – Kinnaur Valley as Shimla – Kinnaur – Nako – Sumdo (Spiti Valley) – Tabo – Kaza.
Shimla to Kaza Route
The route via Shimla – Kinnaur is also commonly known as Hindustan – Tibet Highway or NH-05. The Hindustan Tibet Road remains open throughout the year via Kinnaur Valley, and you can make a journey to Kaza or Spiti via Shimla – Kinnaur all around the year because there is no high mountain pass that comes on this route which gets heavy snowfall.
It is said to be motorable all around the year; however, traveling to Spiti Valley, especially in the winter months, is not that easy as it reads. The road conditions in winters on the Hindustan – Tibet highway are quite challenging and tough.
Hence, you should avoid traveling to Spiti Valley in winter in case you do not want to try extreme winter cold conditions and live the extreme adventure.
Manali to Kaza Route
Traveling to Spiti Valley via Manali side, by and large, depends first upon the opening of Rohtang Pass and then opening of the route from Gramphu to Kunzum Pass and Kunzum Pass in itself. The snow clearance operations begin in March and continue till May end or June the first half when the road from Manali to Kaza gets open.
This generally takes time and hence, Manali to Kaza route remains closed for almost six-seven months in a year. Rohtang Pass generally opens after April and further, the route to Kaza over Kunzum Pass opens by the second week of June.
So, you have very little time in a year (mid-June to October), in case you are interested in the entire Spiti Valley circuit that is Delhi – Shimla – Kinnaur – Kaza (Spiti Valley) – Kunzum Pass – Rohtang Pass – Manali – Delhi.
But, still, the question is :
When is the best time to visit Spiti Valley?
In the following part of the article, let’s check in detail, how the whole year month-by-month looks like in terms of traveling on the road to Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh. After understanding the Spiti Valley weather for these months, you can evaluate which month or season shall work out best for you to plan a Spiti Valley road trip.
Spiti Valley in January – February – March
January, February, and March are called the extreme winter months in Spiti Valley when there is a dense blanket of white snow all around you in Spiti. The road from Manali to Kaza is closed, and most hotels are shut off. You need to rely on limited homestay options in Spiti Valley. Hence, you need to prepare very well for your trip to Spiti in these winter months.
You should not expect much from facilities in Spiti valley in these months. The Spiti Valley temperature in winter can go well below -20 deg C, so you must go well prepared with proper woolen clothing. As snowfall can happen anytime in this period, you should keep buffer days for road closures.
There aren’t any toilets with running water or water available in Spiti Valley in the months from January to March. Hence, you need to use dry pit toilets. You should carry a hand sanitizer with you to best maintain sanitization wherever possible. The food will be pretty basic as available in the homestay. Carry a good temperature rating sleeping bag with you as well to beat the cold in homestays.
Roads within Spiti Valley are open only to an extent. Kaza to Losar is closed, and hence it is not the best time to visit Kunzum Pass because the road is closed. Kaza – Langza – Komic – Hikkim – Kaza road remains also closed during peak these winter months.
January has the least snow while February and March have snow in abundance in comparison to all other months. In my honest opinion, March is one of the best time to enjoy winter Spiti trip.
Spiti Valley in April to May
When the months of April – May come, the snow starts to melt, and some link roads within Spiti Valley start to open up. These roads including the road to Losar from Kaza and the road to Pin Valley towards Mud, the road to Lhalung – Demul, or the roads to Langza – Hikkim – Komic circuits.
The opening of Kunzum Pass and the further road towards Manali from Kunzum Pass takes more time. Generally, Manali to Kaza via Kunzum Pass gets open in June only.
However, overall, as the temperature in Spiti Valley comes into a positive scale in April – May, the conditions in Spiti Valley become bearable. The road journey to Spiti Valley is not that hard this period of April – May. The season for Spiti starts to open in these two months only when adventurists from various parts of the country start planning their trips to Spiti Valley.
Hotels start to come out of hibernation, and things, including fruits/vegetables, start to arrive in Spiti Valley frequently. If you are interested in watching snow-studded peaks or want to play in the snow at Kunzum Pass, then this is the ideal time to be in Spiti Valley.
If you are one of those who wants to feel the deserted roads, low tourist count, OK with basic facilities and OK to take a chance on giving up a place or two as that link road might not have opened then it is OK for you to travel in this window. But, keep in mind that you will not be able to do the complete circuit from Shimla to Kinnaur to Kaza to Manali as the road from Kaza to Rohtang Pass to Manali does not get open.
Spiti Valley in June to July
June – July is the beginning of the actual main season to travel to Spiti Valley when a large number of tourists make their journey over these. The season eventually takes the rapid move as the road to Kaza from Manali over Kunzum Pass also opens by the second week of June. This time would mean that the road to Chandratal from Manali will also open up in June and Chandratal is one of the most popular places to visit in Spiti Valley.
In June – July, mostly all the link roads to various sightseeing places in Spiti or remote villages in Spiti Valley also get open in this period. So, you can plan your visit to Langza, Hikkim, Komic, Demul, Lhalung, Pin Valley – Mudh Village, Gete, and Tashigang villages.
Hotels in Spiti Valley are all also open with full facilities, and there is quite a lot of hustle-bustle of tourists all around in Spiti Valley, especially Kaza town. Even Chandratal lake becomes accessible in June soon after the Kunzum Pass opens.
Well, it is one of the good times to make a road trip to Spiti Valley and a desperate retreat from the HEAT of northern cities of India. There are many water crossings active during this period as the snow melts, so it is always better to reach the destination well in the afternoon to avoid getting stuck either in one of those water crossings or behind it.
Hence, follow my “Leave Early, Sleep Early” principle very strictly. In the recent past, June appears to have good pre-monsoon showers on the way to Spiti Valley, especially in Kinnaur, and even Spiti experiences one or two spells of snow in June as well, not to forget the (June 2013) tragic flash floods in Kinnaur district. So, even the Spiti Valley weather is somehow becoming unpredictable nowadays. However, this is considered one of the better times to travel over the road to Spiti Valley that is Hindustan Tibet Highway.
Spiti in August
This is the time when the monsoon is in a full flurry in Kinnaur Valley and other parts of Northern India. You MUST understand that Kinnaur is not a place to be in rains with its history of massive landslides and the live landslide zone of Malling Nalla ahead of Nako.
In this period, the roads leading to Spiti Valley are almost in a horrible state as compared to the rest of the year, especially in Kinnaur Valley. In recent years, even the roads from Delhi to Manali have also caused major concerns.
Having said all that, it does not mean that it is not a season to travel to Spiti Valley. The Spiti Valley region falls under the Trans Himalayan region which is generally rain shadowed but in recent past rains have started to reach even Spiti though not that much just frequent drizzles and overcast skies. So, generally, this time shall be avoided, if possible. You may only think about it when you have enough buffer days in hand to face intermittent delays or even cancellation of the trip.
Once you reach Spiti Valley, things remain mostly OK. But do not forget that you have to return via either Manali – Kaza or Kaza – Kinnaur again, which DO experience good monsoon rains, especially Rohtang Pass will be in a big mess, and roads to Mandi may be submerged.
Also, keep in mind that August is also the peak time of apple season and crop transportation, which creates a good amount of traffic jams owing to a high number of trucks that ply on the Kinnaur Valley route. If you happen to be there, then do take one or two cartons of golden apples or red apples from Kinnaur 🙂
You should read my tips on traveling to Kinnaur and Spiti Valley in monsoon time.
Spiti in September to mid-October
This is the time which is my favorite when autumn colors of Spiti are blooming with oranges leaves on the trees enhancing the beauty of magnificent backdrops by many levels. The aqua colors of water in the river add jewels to the pristine beauty all around Spiti Valley.
The Spiti Valley temperature at night and morning is quite cold, in some parts, almost close to 2-3 degrees Celsius. Hence, do carry heavy woolens or thermals at this time of the year with you. You can also get your hands on super delicious Spiti Apples around Tabo or Hurling and even in Kaza at a house of locals. Spiti Valley is famous for its apple. DO NOT miss to taste them or buy them if possible; I am sure you would not have tasted such an apple before 😉 …
If you are a snow lover then you will not like this month as almost all the peaks around you would be naked without any snow on them.
Regarding making the complete circuit, especially after mid of October, yes you can come from the Kinnaur side and go via the Manali side BUT do check the weather updates for few days before making the trip across Kunzum Pass in late October or November when you are at Kaza or Losar.
Kunzum Pass starts getting snowfall by September end and it can be very tricky and risky crossing over it in no man’s land in late October or November. Hence, you need to be very, very sure of the weather, especially in October, when making a move from Kaza to Manali beyond Kunzum Pass. My frank and modest advice will always be to avoid traveling from Manali to Kaza in later October and November.
Spiti Valley in November to December
November – December is generally the winter months in Spiti Valley or at least the beginning of winters. Spiti Valley weather is quite cold during this time, and water starts to freeze in the water pipes. Hence, running water is a luxury at this time of the year.
While traveling to Spiti Valley in November you go through some hardships of ice on the roads, lack of electricity, winter cold conditions with sub-zero temperatures topped with basic facilities as most of the guesthouses get closed.
Kunzum Pass gets closed by November for the next 6-7 months, so one cannot complete the circuit from Shimla – Kinnaur to Manali during this period. You should note that in this winter period, the water in the taps freeze, and people depend on hand pump water at certain places or boiled water in buckets. Kaza especially suffers from a shortage of water in these months and washrooms are big nightmares without tap water.
Do not forget to check what things and clothes to pack for Spiti trip?
So, in all this period, life is not that easy. In December, the link roads to various places like Gyu Mummy, Pin Valley – Mudh, Gete, Komik, Langza, Losar ahead of Kaza, etc. in Spiti Valley start getting closed one by one after snowfall starts.
Hence, you can only make a trip up to Kaza on this route, and there is always a chance of closure of roads for a few days if it continues to snow for some time during winters. So, if you are making a road trip to Spiti Valley in winters, be ready for extreme adventure and delays too!! Go very well prepared at this time of the year concerning mental levels, physical levels, and food to carry along with having some buffer days.
You should also check my article on the best time to visit Ladakh if you are planning a trip to Leh Ladakh and Spiti Valley together.
- When to visit Spiti Valley?
Well, the best time to visit Spiti Valley is, September to mid-October, if you love the vivid colors of nature or you are a photographer looking for natural colors or someone who loves to have fewer tourists around yourself but all at the cost of not having any snow around. Otherwise, if you are one of those who loves to see snow up there in Spiti road trip then make the journey to Spiti Valley in the period of Mid-May to June.
I hope this article will help you decide when to travel to Spiti Valley or Kinnaur Valley. Feel free to ask any queries or share your valuable inputs on the season to travel on the road to Spiti Valley in the comments section below.
I hope you are not looking for any Spiti Valley tour packages. If yes, before committing do check the guides and article on this website before you shell out that money.
If you know your friends or family are planning a trip to Spiti, do share this article with them to help them make a memorable trip.