Best time to travel to New Mexico

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area in New Mexico

This open-air natural museum attracts visitors by its uniquely pristine landscapes

Best time: all year round (best time: September–November)

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area
Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area
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Wind and water-carved clay hills of Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah were formed over the last 75 million years. Olive-colored cliffs, mushroom-shaped hoodoos, ancient fossils, and arches spread on a 6 mi (9.7 km) area. This route is perfect for those who like to travel off the beaten track.

Located in northwestern New Mexico, this wilderness study area is a destination for self-contained travelers. No shops, tourist centers, trail marking, or restrooms are available. Mobile service can also be weak. So prepare everything from food/water to sun protection and downloaded maps.

Although Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah is available all year round, every season has its challenges for the visitors. Winters at an elevation of 6,000 ft (1,828.8 m) can be cold, and hiding from the summer sun in an open area is impossible. While spring may bring dust storms, fall is guaranteed to be the most comfortable season for an enjoyable hike.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area?

The wilderness study area is open throughout the year, but visiting from September to November is ideal due to mild temperatures and spectacular fall colors. During summer, the heat can be intense, and in spring, dust storms are common. Winters can be chilly, with snow covering the unique geological formations. Therefore, it's best to visit the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area during the autumn season for an enjoyable experience. Show more

Where is Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area located?

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area lies in northwestern New Mexico, bordering Colorado. The region, known as the Chaco Plateau, is sparsely populated, arid, and features fantastic sandstone formations, canyons, and mesas. The area is approximately 161 miles north of Albuquerque, making it a remote location to explore. Show more

What kind of landscapes can visitors see in Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area?

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area is a unique natural museum showcasing a host of distinctive geological formations. Visitors can witness sandstone hoodoos with mushroom-like shapes, multi-colored clay hills, arches, and fossils from ancient times. These unparallel formations resulted from erosion activities over millions of years, unveiling layers of sedimentary rock formations. Show more

How should I prepare for a trip to Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area?

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area is a remote location with no shops, restrooms, and cellular service. Visitors are advised to bring sufficient water and food and wear sturdy and comfortable shoes. Carrying the trail map is essential for exploring the region. Temperatures can be extreme due to high elevation, so dressing in layers and bringing sun protection is necessary. Show more

Which season is the most comfortable for hiking in Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area?

The best season for hiking in the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area is the fall season, from September to November. This period is characterized by mild temperatures, fewer crowds, and great colors. Winters are chilly, and some formations are concealed in snow, while summers are scorching. Spring has dust storms, making hiking uncomfortable. Therefore, hiking the area during the Autumn season guarantees the most comfortable experience. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin