This article will help you understand pros and cons of visiting Kinnaur Valley in different seasons and also help you opt for the right time to travel. In general, the roads to Kinnaur Valley remains open all around the year barring few days of heavy snowfall on Hindustan Tibet Highway, especially near Narkanda. There is no high mountain pass that falls on the Hindustan Tibet Road, so even in winters, there isn’t much issue about closing the road. However, there are certain factors that should be kept in mind depending on the month you plan to visit Kinnaur Valley.
You can travel to Kinnaur Valley by taking the route from Delhi / Chandigarh to Solan – Shimla and then further towards Narkanda – Rampur and enter Kinnaur Valley. Alternatively, you can travel from Solan – Chail – Kufri – Narkanda route as well to reach Kinnaur Valley. The first major attraction that falls on the route to Kinnaur Valley is Sarahan village, just about 16 KMs diversion from Jeori after you enter Kinnaur dwar. Some people will travel directly to Kalpa or Sangla from Shimla / Narkanda and then while coming back they will stay at Sarahan. And if you are traveling further towards Spiti Valley to visit Kaza – Tabo, and exit from Kaza – Kunzum Pass – Manali road, then it is much better to halt at Sarahan for a night. However, the road from Kaza to Manali over Kunzum Pass remains closed for about 6 months in winters. Hence, people traveling to Spiti Valley in winters will have to go & come back from Kinnaur Valley side only as there is no other choice. Sarahan is just the start of Kinnaur while there are some other interesting places in Kinnaur Valley as well such as Kalpa, Sangla, Chitkul, Nako and many unknown yet extremely beautiful villages. I will talk about these beautiful villages of Kinnaur Valley in some separate dedicated articles on them.
Best Time to Visit Kinnaur Valley
In the remaining part of this article, let’s check in detail that how the whole year looks like as a good time to visit Kinnaur Valley. After reading the article, you can evaluate which month or period shall be best for you to travel to Kinnaur Valley.
March to April, is the time period when snow melts and flowers in apple orchards bloom in the spring season. Perfect time to see snow-laden peaks of Kinnaur region and enjoy the colors of the beautiful landscapes. The road to Chitkul also opens by the second week of March and the rivers emit some beautiful colors of water too. You can even hike around to get to snow and play with it especially in March. The nights and early morning are a bit cold and rest of the day is cool to warm. Fewer tourists also visit Kinnaur Valley before May and hence, very nice time to travel to Kinnaur Valley.
However, keep in mind that in March – April the snow melts, so road does gets blocked often and are in not so good conditions. Also, expect slush on roads and occasional rainfall/snowfall too.
May to Mid – July, is the peak season for Kinnaur Valley and Spiti Valley. The road from Manali to Kaza also opens by that time, so a lot of people come down as well from that route. Mostly all the link roads to various sightseeing places or remote villages in Spiti Valley are open during this period and you can plan your visit. It is the time when holidays are in school and HEAT is beating the humans in North Indian cities. People just travel to get the cool air and refreshment from the summers. You can really enjoy and camp along the rivers in Sangla / Baspa Valley or around Chitkul (Read more about Baspa Valley at the wiki link here). If you are traveling further to Spiti Valley then I will suggest you follow our golden principle of “Leave Early, Sleep Early” very strictly to avoid heavy water flow in water crossings.
In the recent past, June appears to have good pre-monsoon showers in Kinnaur Valley and not to forget the recent (June 2013) tragic flash floods in Kinnaur district. So, the weather is somehow becoming unpredictable nowadays and hence, always better to check weather updates before embarking on the journey. In any case, this period is considered as one of the better times to travel to Kinnaur Valley.
Mid – July to August, is the time when the monsoon is in full flurry in Kinnaur Valley and lower Himachal region. Please DO NOTE that Kinnaur Valley is not a place to be in monsoons due to its fragile mountains and history of massive landslides. In this period, roads are almost in a bad state as compared to the rest of the year in Kinnaur Valley. If you are traveling to Spiti Valley, keep in mind that Spiti Valley falls under Trans Himalayan region which is generally rain shadowed. However, in recent past, even Spiti Valley gets frequent drizzles and overcast skies. In my opinion, generally, this time shall be avoided, if possible. If still, you want to embark on the journey to Kinnaur Valley in monsoon time then you should have enough number of buffer days in hand to face intermittent delays or even cancellation of the trip.
Around August, even Apple season starts too in lower Himachal and Kinnaur. So, crop transportation creates a good amount of traffic jams owing to a high number of trucks that ply on Kinnaur Valley route to transport the apple crop. If you happen to be there, then do take one or two cartons of golden apples or red apples from Kinnaur Valley.
September to November, is the time which is my favourite especially late September/October when the fall or autumn season is at its peak. The colors of the valley are surreal and blooming with oranges leaves on the trees enhancing the beauty of magnificent backdrops by many levels. The aqua colors of water in the river just add jewels to the pristine beauty of Kinnaur Valley. The temperatures become warm in the day time with cool to cold nights. So, carrying woolens clothes and light jackets is highly recommended. If you are going further to Spiti valley, then you can also get your hands on super delicious Spiti Apples around Tabo or Hurling and even in Kaza at the house of locals. DO NOT miss to taste them or buy them if possible, I am sure you would not have tasted such an apple before.
The roads are in the best conditions as compared to rest of the season with minimal roadblocks. However, if you are a snow lover then this is not the time for you as most of the snow melts away from the peaks by this time of the year.
December to February, is when winter starts to set into Kinnaur Valley. The road to Chitkul closes down for 4 months due to heavy snowfall and even at times, the road to Sangla gets closed for a prolonged period. Kalpa is the best place to enjoy winter in Kinnaur Valley. If you plan to visit higher Kinnaur Valley like Nako, Hangrang and further then while traveling you need to go through lots of hardships of ice on the roads, lack of electricity, extreme winter conditions with sub-zero temperatures. Also, only basic facilities and food will be available. Sometimes you need to use boiled water in hotels as even pipes tend to freeze, so running water in toilet becomes difficult to get. A lot has already been discussed about this time period in the article on visiting Kinnaur Valley in winters.
If you need modest adventure, have some buffer days in hand and loves to enjoy snow/snowfall in abundance then Kinnaur Valley is a less risky option than more harsh & unforgiving Spiti Valley in winters.